Archive for the ‘discipline’ Category

When Does a Rut Become a Grave?

May 7, 2011


I heard a pastor one time make this comment about the difference between a rut and a grave-“a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out”. One day you look up from the daily fray of life and realize that you’ve spent years being someone you wished you weren’t. You ask yourself “how did I let this happen” and begin to believe that it “will never change”. Those are the words of death to the soul. Without hope that things can be different, despite what has happened, a rut becomes a grave. However, you don’t have to continue to believe the lies.

I have made this observation – as good as it is to plan, no master plan will ever be carried out exactly as developed. Look back at the last year of your life. Is there ANYTHING that happened that wouldn’t have been or wasn’t on YOUR master plan for the year? Undoubtedly the answer is a resounding “YES”!

As my wife and I look back one year ago, we didn’t know our son would be getting married this summer or that my wife’s father would die exactly one year after her mother died. Though I had begun to map out a course of leaving a large international ministry as a full-time missionary, I didn’t know exactly how that would look and certainly wouldn’t have concluded it would look like it does today. Now, before all of you task masters and list makers hyperventilate, I’m not saying its bad to plan. I am saying you need to hold your plans loosely and that if you’re at a point in life where you feel it will not get better, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring since you probably didn’t plan on being where you are at today.

This applies to all facets of life but, as a dad, it’s a critical truth to ponder. No matter where you find yourself in relationship with your children, you can start today to change that legacy. Don’t let the rut of not having spent as much time as you wished you had with your kids, going to more of their events, spending one-on-one time with them, not telling them you loved them and how proud you are of them, etc. keep you from being the dad you’re children need TODAY. It’s not too late. Don’t let the rut of not having been the dad you wished you had been keep you from being the dad you can be NOW. Age or time is not a factor. Forgiveness and reconciliation may be necessary to heal real wounds. Don’t die in your rut of fatherhood. Rise up and let this year be the year you filled in the rut of your life as a man and dad, and purpose to let God bring you hope and joy.

Here are some things that I’ve done that have helped me rise above the rut and fill in the trench of my life so I could begin or regain hope in my life.

1. Don’t believe the lie that it can’t get better. Begin to pray and ask God to heal your heart and to give you hope. It’s why he sent Jesus – his life, death and resurrection showed that sin and death were defeated so we would no longer be a slave to either. You have to start with hope that God can and desires to give you freedom from your sin and despairs.

2. Find a trusted friend that you can meet with to share the hurts you’ve experienced or even perpetrated as a man and/or father. Isolation is the enemy to hope and growth.

3. Find some great resources about being the man and father that you were created to be. Organizations like FamilyLife and Focus on the Family as well as All Pro Dad and Men’s Fraternity have some great books, group studies and other articles, podcasts, etc., that can help you develop and take the courageous next steps

4. Do something! Take one of the steps mentioned above or do something like… Call your child/children. Take them out. Text them. Send them a video message. Write them an old-fashioned hand written letter or card telling them you are thinking about them. But don’t just sit there. Maybe you have a very damaged relationship that will need a lot of time to heal. But, you can and should make the first overture as a dad to begin the healing process (this doesn’t take into account some legal or other significant barriers that may exist in some circumstances). The hardest step to take is the first one.

There is hope for every one of us. That hope is that we are made for a purpose and we were given the responsibility to pass on a Godly and positive legacy to our children. You may not have started well but YOU CAN finish well.  Hope is the dirt.  Get help in filling your rut.  Don’t let your rut become a grave.


A DadPad Rerun: Father, Forgive them

October 15, 2010

by Leary Gates

[tweetmeme source= ‘dadpad’ only_single=false]

I had lunch this week with Dave, a friend of mine and father of three adult children.  The topic of this blog came up so I asked, “What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned as a dad?”  Dave’s answer was profoundly succinct, “Expect less, love more.

As I reflected upon his advice, I remembered Jesus’ prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)  Now that’s expecting less and loving more!

Then it hit me.  When it came to my kids—and many of my other relationships—I bought into another similar sounding message: “expect more, pay less.”  It’s the slogan of Target Corporation and it’s been heavily advertised into my heart.

It’s too easy to expect more of my children, particularly as they grow into young adults.  And I want to pay less too.  I’d like the sacrifices I’ve made as a dad to be paid back or, at least, to cost me less.  The “expect more, pay less” combination applied to relationships, however is lethal. Expectation of others without personal cost is demandingness.  Ironically, it’s a childish attitude.

Show you my tongueWhen my teenagers take off with their friends, leaving chores undone, do I really expect that they would put their parent’s desires above their own?  I say to myself, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  When they come home later than we wanted to stay up waiting for them, can I admit I did the same at their age? Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. When their forgetfulness means more work for me, can I realistically expect a heartfelt appreciation for the schedule overhaul I just engineered? Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

And when my Father looks down on my ungrateful, demanding spirit, wanting my way, my agenda, my comfort, in my time, can I hear Him say, “I forgive you, for you know not what you do?”

SOUND OFF:  What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned as a dad?

Thoughts from a Daddy’s Girl

May 31, 2009

Guest post from my daughter, Jaclyn (17)

ME: So, we’re heading up to Minnesota for a couple of reasons; to attend a good friend of mine’s wedding and to spend time with family and friends. As we’re heading up I-35 my 17 yr old daughter, Jaclyn, wants to use my computer to watch a movie.  “OK”, I replied.  Soon, she pulled the laptop out of my briefcase and began loading the DVD.  After a few minutes I assumed she was well into the movie when her fingers starting scurrying faster than my dog chasing after a treat.  Interesting concept, I thought to myself…movie 2.0 (meaning interactive for you non-techy types).  She wasn’t watching the movie.  All she said was, “I’m writing something and I’ll let you read it after I’m done.”

I have to admit I was curious.  After an hour or so, she handed me the laptop and I read her musings.  She had taken it upon herself to write an article from the “kids perspective” for our DadPad blog.  Very interesting.  What 17 yr old wants to help a bunch of middle aged men Jacs pic in snowget readership to their blog site (convinced that she will draw more interest than we have … LOL)?  Without any further ado, here’s the blog post that she rendered about why a father needs to make sure that he’s disciplining his child, in love, for her benefit.  Thanks, Jacs!

Thoughts from a Daddy’s girl

Jaclyn Abramovitz 5/27/09

Whenever Mom’s gone, we party. Not saying my mom’s not fun, but when we’re with my dad, we get pizza, movies, ice cream and other good stuff. 🙂  I think most dads are just wired to be the kids who’ve never grown up and therefore like to party it up with their own kids. This is a great thing, don’t get me wrong but I think sometimes Dad’s forget their other big responsibility…disciplining. Bet you never expected to hear a child say they need their dad to discipline, but regardless, it’s true.

Think about it, if you were never punished, you’d grow up thinking that whatever, whenever was acceptable. Think about what a shock it’d be going to your first job and for once being disciplined! What a wake-up call, do you mean to tell me that the world has consequences for poor choices and sometimes a negative answer to your whims? Even though you never want to hurt your kids, and, as my own dad has said, it’s hard to say no to someone who you love and have to deny them something they want, it’s harder to see them walking into something that’ll hurt them. That’s why discipline is so important, it’s because you want what’s best for your child and don’t want them to make some of the same mistakes you made. And while we don’t appreciate it and certainly don’t like it while we’re being disciplined, it doesn’t mean we won’t look back and thank you for doing it. As my dad has said many times before, “you’ll thank me for this later!”

The second part of this is how we see God as our ‘discipliner’. This is probably the hardest thing for me to grasp. I hate being corrected and told ‘no’ to. It’s definitely not my favorite thing. So when I ask God for something, most of the time I wrongly expect a gumball machine response. I put in my prayer and out pops what I want. But sometimes God has a different plan. It’s the hard times that shape us the most. I can’t emphasize it enough that if you never go through hard times, your relationship with God would still be the relationship between a big God and a little child. You mature through hard times, through God’s discipline and it makes you a better, stronger, more mature person. In Hebrews 12:6 it says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…” He does it because he loves us. So just because I don’t have a car and I’ve been asking him for one for forever, I know there’s a reason. Maybe I’d wreck it if I got it now, maybe I’ll get a much better one since I’m waiting instead of forcing the issue, I don’t know.

Maybe you’ve made some bad choices and are feeling the repercussions of those choices. It’s all because God loves you and wants to let you know that he’s your loving father and is teaching you what not to do. Even though the road may not be fun, the end result, a diligent, faithful, stronger person was surely worth the discipline and hard times it took to get there.

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Discipline Your Child

May 7, 2009

Disciplining children is a very touchy (pun not intended) subject. However, it’s hard to imagine a Dad blog that doesn’t deal with some of the challenges this issue raises. And, there’s a very good chance that we, the authors of DadPad, don’t agree on all aspects of the “how to’s” of disciplining our children. So, for some of my additional thoughts about this topic, read the post-blog thoughts after the SOUND OFF question below.

My wife and I recently attended a FamilyLife Weekend To Remember. We serve as missionaries on staff with FamilyLife so this marriage conference has helped and continues to help us in our marriage. If you’ve never gone, you really need to consider going…and at least every other year.  OK, enough of the plug.  Anyway, at the conference, the men and women separate on Sunday mornings to hear role specific teaching.  Greg Speck, one of the weekend’s speakers, spoke to the men about being a father.  In the area of disciplining children he shared this thought provoking statement; (more…)

Perception Is Everything

March 15, 2009

I’ve never been a big fan of March. It’s a “no-mans-land” month for me. Football ended a couple months ago and doesn’t kick-off again for over five months. I like March Madness, but not enough though to move March up in the rankings.

March is also a “weather-tease.” Some days are warm, but it could still snow before the month is out. Yesterday was one of those warm days, but not warm enough for the air-conditioner, so I had the sliding glass door in the living room open. The flies aren’t out yet, so all that came in was a cool breeze. Until one of those large, slow-moving mosquitoes wandered in. (more…)

Of Mustaches and Orange Hair

March 5, 2009

My 16-year-old daughter recently asked if she could dye her hair orange.

“Sure,” I said.

“I’m not going to do it. I just wanted to know what you would say,” she said.

About a week later, my 13-year-old son asked if he could grow a mustache.

“Sure,” I replied.

The fact that he physically can’t grow one right now is besides the point.

I’ll admit that on the lenient-strict continuum, Robyn and I tend toward the lenient side. We don’t have lots of rules, set schedules or even a consistent list of chores. (more…)