Dad as Connector – Part 2

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In my last post, I shared the impact and importance of connecting with my son as his father by inviting him into my world and getting into his.  I’ve also tried to do the same with my daughters.  It’s been more of a challenge and I’m not sure I’ve succeeded but I can say, I’ve worked at it intentionally.

In addition to connecting to my children as their father, I have also worked at connecting my children to other adult men and women to help them mature.  As much as I want to think they just need my advice, I have come to understand, more than I want to admit, that it does indeed “take a village to raise a child” (just keep them away from the village idiot ;).

During the same year we celebrated my son’s entrance into manhood (see part 1), I also asked a few other men that I admire to speak into Bryan’s life during his 16th year.  One of them is a co-author on this blog, Leary Gates.  Additionally, he got connected to some other men of God who could speak to him with wisdom that I didn’t/don’t have and from personal experiences and perspectives of life that I couldn’t possibly offer.  The result has been that my son learned how to communicate, seek assistance and relate with older men.  My daughters have also had mentors enter into their lives to help shape and guide them.  These are relationships that will grow and flourish outside of our home.  And, I’m so thankful they have those relationships for seeking help, information and friendship.

Confession time — it wasn’t easy for me to invite other men into my son’s life.  There’s this little thing called “pride” that gets in the way of doing the things we should do.  While trying to connect Bryan with other men,  it meant laying down my sense of worth in trying to be the “perfect” father (like I could attain that anyway), and letting other men speak into his life.  If they gave him advice that I wished I had given or maybe didn’t agree with, my “nose got a little tweaked”.  Lessons around humility come from many places.  This was one of those that I had to learn–I don’t know it all.  My son is not mine to own but he’s on loan from God for a time to teach, lead and then launch.  He’ll ultimately spend a lot more time with others than he will with me.  Learning how to handle relationships and seek others for help, advice and camaraderie are critical to his maturing into full manhood.

The earlier you guide your children into relationships with other trusted, Godly adults, the more chance they have at learning what it really means to connect at deeper levels with other people.  It’s all part of the maturing process.  Here’s a little guide you can use as you search for these kinds of relationships for your children:

  1. Pray.  Pray that God would give you names of men/women who would be positive role models and mentors for your children.  These might be people you know or those God puts in your life.  Start praying early–like when they’re in the womb :).  If they’re already out, start today.
  2. Talk to your son/daughter about things that interest them and areas they’d like to explore.  These are things that might help you with your prayers for them and who you could pursue to help them build on those areas.
  3. For my wife and I, pursuing men and women who live fully devoted lives to Christ was key.  We believe that our children need to see how others live out their faith.  And, we want them to be able to ask honest questions as they pursue that area of their lives.  Sometimes carrying the title of “mom” or “dad” inhibits that kind of openness.
  4. When you think you find someone, talk to your child about their willingness to meet this other adult?  Determine the setting and frequency that might be best.  If they are a bit older they can start to make those decisions for themselves.
  5. Make sure that both you and the mentor recognize that they will have discussions that will need to be kept confidential and that it needs to be OK for that adult to withhold that information from you (unless to do so would damage the child in some way).  This kind of relationship comes out of trust between you both.  And, make sure your child knows that his/her relationship with the mentor will be kept confidential unless the child OK’s disclosure of discussion topics.
  6. Be a mentor yourself!  Seek out younger men/women that God has placed in your midst and seek to invest in their lives.  You don’t have to be perfect to be a mentor.  You just have to care about others and be breathing.  Perfection is not what they’re seeking.  Caring men and women who have been where they are going is who they want to connect with.

Bottom line–Connecting is a multifaceted process.  You need to connect with your children as I shared in part 1 and you need to connect your children to other Godly men and women who can help them grow to maturity.  Parenting is not for the weak but it is meant to be done in community!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?– How has mentoring affected you or your child’s life?  How have you been positively impacted by someone who shared their life with you in a real and personal way?

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