Posts Tagged ‘connecting’

Connecting With Your Kids Series: #4-Connecting the WWJD Way.

March 26, 2010

As a father of four, I’m feeling the shortness of days that are left while my children are at home. It won’t be long before Anna and I are on our own again. My oldest is already launched and her three younger brothers are not far behind. I’m feeling a healthy pressure to make the most of every opportunity (Eph 5:16) while we’re still doing life together at home. In fact, seizing those opportunities, becoming more “connection-aware,” is one of my “Year of Living Courageously” goals for 2010.

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Yet, one of the challenges to creating quality connection time with young adults and teens is that they are constantly on the move. They’re forming social connections of their own, exploring the world of friendships through Facebook, texting, video games and the more traditional means of sports activities and hanging out. So I began to ask myself, “How can I break through the day-to-day activity clutter and create a special time with them?” For years we’ve had “date nights” with each of them; one-on-one time with just Anna or me. While we haven’t executed date nights religiously or flawlessly, it’s something each of them have responded to very well. But this year I wanted to do something different—something even more intentional and memorable.

Joshua at the St. Louis Arch

So, earlier this year I suggested to each of our children that we put date-nights on steroids. We’d do a WWJD—“Weekend With Just Dad.” We’d plan together how we want to spend our weekend getaway, just the two of us. They were thrilled and so was I. Immediately, Joshua, our third-born suggest that our WWJD be a college road trip to St. Louis and Waco to check out a couple of colleges he had an interest in.

Last week, we completed our WWJD spending nearly 40 hours on the road. It was more like a week than a weekend, but it was also invaluable for connection. Sure, we could have flown, and we would have been less tired, but we would have also missed out on a lot of captive time in the car container. We would have missed out on a lot of laughs at funny road signs (“Bizarre Cattle Crossing”), Garrison Keillor’s Iowa jokes on CD, and the surprising results of the top ten silliest college mascots. Mostly, we would have missed out on the deepening connection that comes with just being with each other for an extended period of time. While we returned home exhausted, we both couldn’t wait for our next WWJD.

For discussion: What WWJD or extended one-on-one experiences have you had with your children and how did it affect your relationship?

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Dad as Connector – Part 1

November 5, 2009

1st of a 2-part series of how Dads can connect their sons  and daughters to themselves and other men and women.

Get ConnectedPreviously I wrote a series of “Dad as…” blog posts.  (see the DadPad archives to read them).  They were Dad as Coach, Counselor and Consultant.  Here’s another—Dad as Connector.

Outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and camping are not at the top of my “bucket list” activities.  That is, I didn’t do them much growing up, have dabbled a little in each of them over the years, didn’t spend a lot of time engaged in them with my son and don’t plan on making them lifelong chases.  It’s all rather unfortunate, really.  They are GREAT activities for connecting sons and fathers at a deep level.  I can almost definitively say without any hesitation that where a son and his father have connected in those kinds of pursuits, there is a deep bonding between them.

During the 16th year of my son, Bryan’s, life, we did something that was special and it included camping and some fishing.  A group of 5 dads and their sons concluded a year long small group study using PromiseKeeper’s Passages material with a celebratory trip to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.  It was a memorable trip for a number of reasons.

First, we were out in the outdoors together.  Laughing, hiking, fishing, canoeing, tenting and so on.  Then, I had written a 4 page letter to my son to share some real intimate, personal thoughts that I had of him to encourage him.  I told him how proud I was of the young man he was becoming and of my continual prayer for the man of God I envisioned and prayed for him to grow into.  I read–Bryan paddled (no motorized water equipment is allowed within the Boundary Waters Canoe area).  Anyone who understands physics and weight distribution challenges in a small canoe can imagine what happened next.  Trouble ensued as I read and my much lighter son paddled into a stiff wind and waves.  I had plenty of time to read my mini-novel to him because it was apparent we weren’t going to get to any destination quickly.

Many memories of the weekend linger but the one that remains etched vividly is what we did the last night together.  We lit a fire in the pit.  Then, one at a time each dad stood over his seated son, laid his hands on his son’s shoulder and prayed for him.  Additionally, the group of dads prayed collectively over the 5 young men.  The dads verbally committed to pray for their son as well as for the others in the group.

I think of those men and their sons often.  This summer one of the men of the group got married and Bryan was in the wedding party.  I love each of the fathers like they were brothers.  It was a special year…a special group.  Those men took the time to speak into my sons life and I know they are words that still resonate within him today.

Though that weekend did not turn me into an “outdoorsman”, I connected with my son.  We have other interests and things we do together and though I do wish that we had more of those kind of experiences we’ve connected in other ways.  We have shared interests in football and other sports, spiritual conversations about growing in our walk with the Lord and even some more personal intimate accountability discussions.  Laying the foundation of connecting has helped us to stay connected through the years and, I pray, even after he embarks on his life post college and singleness.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:  How do you connect with your son or daughter?  What ways have you found to use both your interests and purposely finding out what they are interested in to deepen your relationship?  Make a decision to start engaging them in activities that will bring them into your world and bring you into their world!  You’ll never regret it.