May 15 2015


Summer at its Best: Vacationing

Halloween-Disney one 160

(Above: My family at Disney World several years ago – enjoying Animal Kingdom together with a basic outline of plans to structure our day.

Below: My family on the same vacation at Disney World – clearly more focused on getting the good “photo op” than on the fact that part of our team has run out of gas and has gotten seriously cranky.)

Family vacay no-no

In the spirit of offering you practical guidance for your upcoming vacation planning and checklist, I am offering this post in the form of a Do’s and Don’ts list.  My sincere hope is this post helps to bless your family with a most peaceful, enjoyable, and refreshing time as you make memories together in your upcoming vacation experience.

Do consider each member of the family as you plan your vacation and face each day during your vacation.  Make sure your overall plans offer the genuine opportunity to bless your whole family.

Don’t plan more activity than you can actually enjoy in the time you have allowed for vacation.  No matter how much you think you are blessing your family by giving them more to experience, you need to get this straight: you are stressing, rather than blessing, when you overbook your vacation time.  Be sure you leave room for enjoying unexpected moments, taking restful pauses, adjusting plans, and even a bit of plain ole lollygagging.

Do have several family conversations before making final vacation plans. Be sure to discuss everyone’s hopes, expectations, and possible worries about your upcoming trip or time together.  This helps each family member to feel valued, and decreases the chances of parents or kids getting blindsided by the experience.

Don’t get so focused on capturing the moment with pictures or video that you forget to be present and responsive in the moment.  HD images are great and can bring enjoyment for years to come.  But everyone’s memories of your family vacation will be better if you remain fully present and a positive and active part of what is happening.

Do have a brief family talk at the end of each vacation day about what everyone enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, and about what you are expecting in the following day.

Don’t spend more money than you can reasonably afford to spend in an effort to maximize short term pleasure.  The long term stress of financial worries will far overshadow the brief window of fun you had blowing thousands of dollars on a few days.

Do have a big picture goal in mind for your family vacation, and try to keep it simple.  It may be: relaxing (together or separately), building better relationships, having fun new experiences, learning together, facing a big adventure, or any number of other options.  The key is to have a primary goal to help guide your decisions throughout your time together, and to make that goal simple enough to keep clear in your mind.

Don’t put so much time and weight on some family members’ ideas of fun that you leave no room to accommodate the family member(s) who have different ideas of fun.  Depending on ages and circumstances, this may mean planning for alternate options for some family members, or it may mean committing to balancing time spent in different activities and such.

Do remember to lighten up!  It’s vacation time.  Enjoy.  Captain Crankypants may be able to move people along and accomplish lots of stuff – but who wants to spend vacation with him?

Don’t let smartphones, tablets, gaming devices, or other electronic gizmos interfere with time together.  By all means – bring them along and enjoy them at times.  But set some boundaries around other times as digital free zones where everyone can be genuinely present with one another.  If you want to really break some ground as a family, consider planning a screen-free vacation.  Crazy – right?!!

Do consider including some “old fashioned” family fun as a counterbalance to our increasingly electronic and individualized daily culture.  Working jigsaw puzzles, hiking, playing card games or board games, kite flying, cooking together, rock collecting, sand castle building, and so many other battery-free options can be wonderfully restorative and offer very special moments and memories together.

Do use vacations as an opportunity for spiritual and relational reflection as a family.  This doesn’t have to be your primary focus, but take some time for a special family devotional or two and reflect on what positive changes your family could make when you head back to your life routine at home.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list.  What else have you learned to do or not do to make family vacation time the very best it can be?

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May 13 2015


Summer at its Best

cat-eating-snow-cone

Kids are finishing up another year of school.  Baseball season is well underway.  Yards can’t be mowed and trimmed fast enough.  And most days the relative humidity in Baton Rouge is now hovering around 137% or so.  Summer time must be upon us!

In the next few weeks, I will be sharing a blog series with you highlighting various elements and opportunities of summer time for family life.  We will begin tomorrow with summer vacation dynamics, and follow that with summer sports programs, movies, yard work, games, reading time, and maybe another element or two that pop up along the way.  As always, please feel free to let me know if you have questions, suggestions, or feedback – you might even see them reflected in forthcoming posts or post series!

Before we launch into the finer points of this new series, I’ll leave you with this little blessing: Take a minute to reflect back on any favorite smells or tastes of summer from your childhood.  Why are those special memories for you?  (Smell and taste have been shown to connect us with powerful emotional memories more than our other senses.)  Some of my personal favorites would be: the smell of fresh picked honeysuckle mingled with the scent of horses, the sweet taste and distinct texture of homemade frozen jello pops, the sharp scent of fireworks smoke, the bookish odor of the public library, and the indulgent taste of Southern Blackberry Cobbler and Southern Peach Cobbler ice cream from Blue Bell.  Are you doing anything to share any special sensory experiences with your kids today?  What do you think your kids would share in response to this?  Don’t hold out on them.  Take them places, make things for them, and share experiences with them that will form lasting memories of joy in their minds and spirits.  Enjoy!

I’ll be back tomorrow with some reflections and suggestions on how to make summer vacation time the most positive experience for families.

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May 07 2015


The Process of Parenting: Encouraging

parent encouraging child

Well, here we are.  The final installment of my Process of Parenting series.  And we get to end on such a wonderful note – encouraging our kids!  Before we move into my thoughts on how best to encourage our kids throughout their life journey, and why this is so important, I want to invite you to take a few moments to reflect on your own journey.

Who have been the encouragers in your life along the way?  How have they been there for you and expressed their encouragement to you?  What difference has it made for you?  How has it impacted the way you see yourself and how you face life?

Now, wouldn’t you like to make that kind of impact on your own children’s lives?  Every one of us, from the youngest to the oldest, desperately long in our hearts to know that someone really believes in us – and is willing to make the effort to share that belief with us for the world to hear.  And no matter what kind of great relationship your child of any age may have with a coach, teacher, pastor, friend, or other relative, YOU have the power to be the most important and powerful source of encouragement in your child’s life!  If encouraging hasn’t been your parental strong suit, that’s okay.  Start working on it today.  Pay attention to other adults who seem to have the gift of encouraging kids well.  Learn from their examples.  Ask them to mentor you.  But no matter how new or awkward this might feel for you, and no matter which stage you may see your child in from the parenting process we have been examining, TODAY is the best day to start practicing the life changing art of encouraging your child.  There are three basic forms of encouragement…

Let’s start with probably the simplest form of encouragement – recognizing your child for her/his successes and positive character attributes.  Or, as I often like to put it, “catching your child in the act of doing the right thing.”  We don’t have to wait for our children or teens to win an award or bring home a trophy or championship ring to let them know we are proud of them for the positive efforts and character they are showing in their lives.  Now, I’m not talking about throwing a party for a fifth grader every time he brushes his teeth adequately.  But you remember the shout of every child about to do something “daring” on a playground, don’t you?  “Hey Dad/Mom, LOOK AT ME!”  Each child yearns to be recognized and cheered for when they are facing a challenge.  And do you really think that desire ever truly goes away?  Of course not.  So, let’s be vigilant and make the most of every opportunity we have to catch our kids in the act of doing the right thing, and make sure they know we are watching and pleased with their efforts – particularly when their efforts reflect strong character.

Another great form of encouragement we can share with our kids is to let them know we believe in them and their ability to handle the hard things they face.  When the going gets tough, they need to know we are not only cheering for them, but we truly believe they have what it takes.  And if we have been walking along side them, instructing and training and equipping them for the challenges, they will know in their hearts that we really mean it when we tell them, “You can do it!”  Sometimes that well worded cheer of belief and support is the key difference in a child calling it quits in the face of an obstacle or tough leg of the journey and that child breathing deep, lifting his chin, and soldiering on through the finish line with grit and courage and confidence.  Let’s be that difference for our kids!

The final type of encouragement is when we express to our kids that we are there with them on the journey, and they do not have to face life alone.  My favorite illustration of this life-line of the committed presence of another person comes from The Lord of the Rings.  Frodo and Sam are nearing the end of a mission that has felt like ten lifetimes in the making.  The soul-draining weight of the evil One Ring has become more than Frodo can bear, and even though they are actually climbing their way up the side of the very mountain where their quest is to come to an end, he simply cannot take another step.  In the face of countless challenges and threats, he has been encouraged by various friends and allies, particularly his faithful friend, Samwise Gamgee.  But he’s done.  The tank is beyond empty, and just can’t go on.  And then Sam speaks up: “I can’t carry it for you.  But I can carry you!”  He then proceeds to stoop down, scoop up his friend, and carry him up the boulder-strewn face of Mt. Doom to face their destiny and accomplish the unthinkable.  Frodo may have been the one chosen to be the Ring-Bearer, but he never would have made it without the encouragement and presence of his friend.  Our kids are not likely to face a mission of such epic proportion as saving Middle Earth from destruction.  But there will be times in their lives when their missions and challenges will threaten to bring them down.  Will we be there to offer them the encouragement of our presence and commitment?  Their tasks may be theirs to perform, but this doesn’t mean they must do them alone.  Being interested, available, and present to our kids may be the very source of life they need to keep going through their hardest times.  Let’s encourage them along the journey with our words, our cheers, and our committed presence.

Sam_Mt_Doom

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Apr 28 2015


The Process of Parenting: Releasing

letting go of the bike

Take a deep breath, parents.  Here’s where the journey can get really scary for you and your kids.  And it is absolutely essential to their growth and development toward adulthood – and essential to your healthy relationship development, as well.  So, why is this so scary for us?  Why do we fear releasing them to face life for themselves?  Because we don’t want to see them get hurt!  Whether it is physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, or any combination of these, no loving parent wants to see their child experience frustration, pain, or failure.  We want to see them thrive, succeed, and achieve their best in life.  And for us to most effectively help them down that road, we must learn to see beyond the heartache of the moment.  They need us to see beyond the pain and the fear.  They need us to understand that in order for them to develop the skills most critical for successful living, we must grant them opportunities to either fly or fall.  For all our best efforts at teaching and training and all the good stuff we have examined in the last few posts, we must remember that their most effectively teacher is always going to be life experience.  And they won’t get the effective doses of life experience they deeply need if they have us holding their hand for them every step of the way.  For their growth, and ours, we must let go and watch them maneuver forward out of our reach.

A couple of points are critical in this challenge of releasing our kids.  Let us remember to teach our children to be people of their word by showing them that we are people of our word.  If we tell them we are releasing them in a given area, we need to honestly release them.  If we are not yet ready to release them, either because of their lack of readiness or our own fears, let’s not mislead them into thinking we are actually granting them that freedom.  Don’t play games with your kids.  Well, Monopoly and Settlers of Catan and some backyard basketball are great, but let’s not play mind games with them.  They are smart, and you don’t want the fallout it can cause in their lives and in your relationship with them.  Another temptation we must resist is being overly critical of them when we release them and they fall.  Yes, they need us to guide and correct them on the right path at times.  But we don’t want to parent them in such a way that it leaves them feeling we are just watching and waiting for them to fail.  And this will lead us directly into our final step in next week’s post…encouraging.  My favorite!!!

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Apr 16 2015


The Process of Parenting: Don’t Forget to Pause

Twain - pause

I’m wiped out tonight as I write this post.  Ever have one of those weeks (or months or years) where you are just spent, but you know you have so much more to do in the coming days?  Yeah – that’s where I am.  It’s a good weary, though.  I was blessed to attend the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast early this morning, and I have been busy with positive things, with more on the way.  So I’m not complaining.  Just sharing.  Because it hit me…

Throughout this ongoing journey of the process of parenting (while all the other aspects of our lives continue to roll on at the same time), we all hit points of tiredness, weariness, frustration, discouragement, or even plain old exhaustion.  And no matter how important our activities of work or marriage or parenting or church or whatever else…sometimes we just need to pause.  We need to give ourselves a chance to rest, slow our breathing, pray, meditate, or just be still.  And while this may sound obvious, sometimes we forget.  Don’t we?  Sometimes when we finally “hit a stopping point,” we opt for doing other activities or pastimes that seem restful or refreshing, but are actually about as mentally healthy as making a meal out of a bag of M&Ms.  An enjoyable treat – but not what we really need.  Do I really need to pull out my iPhone every time I have a few free moments?  We both know the answer to that question.  Sometimes the most significant thing we can do to offer our very best parenting power to our kids (or really any other endeavor) is to pause for restoration and a holy power charge from the One who has all power.

And that’s enough for now.  I’m going to pause briefly tonight before plunging back in tomorrow and resuming this blog series next week with the next “phase” of the process of parenting: Releasing.

Shalom

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Apr 09 2015


The Process of Parenting: Trusting

entrusting the keys

The process of parenting involves a number of critical elements and stages.  One of the most important, and most challenging, is extending trust to our kids.  We may do the best job in the world of preparing, equipping, and guiding them – but if we fail to trust them to practice new skills and face new responsibilities for themselves, we have failed to empower them to live well as independent adults.  Sure, our kids at various ages may not yet be ready to face adult challenges and responsibilities.  But if they have never been entrusted by us with the freedom to fail or succeed on their own, they will be intimidated and ill-equipped when the day comes that they must face the world of adult choices and pressures.

Obviously, the degree of trust (freedom) we grant our kids is going to be largely tied to their level of maturity and responsibility.  My eleven year old son has not yet been given the privilege of having his own phone.  While my wife and I are pleased with how is growing up, we just don’t believe it wise to entrust him yet with this level of freedom and responsibility.  I know I would not have handled a smart phone wisely at his age (had they existed then), and I know him well enough to know that he isn’t ready yet, either.  However, we do trust him enough to use our phones quite a bit to play games, and even make some calls and texts – while still under our general supervision.  He is very aware that he is still learning, proving himself to us, and earning our trust in this area.

I vividly recall a couple of critical turning points in our relationship where his mother and I extended him a higher level of trust and freedom, and we delighted in watching him walk taller in the confidence that his parents trust him.  When he was probably three years old, we were gathered at a hospital waiting area, eager to celebrate the birth of a friend’s baby.  All the sitting and waiting became too much for my lad, and he clearly needed to find the space to move around more.  As I began walking with him down the winding hallways of Woman’s Hospital, an impromptu game emerged between us.  He would run just far enough ahead of me to get around a corner and out of my sight.  He could still hear my voice, and he obediently stayed within a reasonable and safe distance from me.  You should have seen the thrill he experienced as he realized I trusted him to get out of my sight!  You may have similar memories with your own children.  It was important for me to grow through the challenge of trusting him enough to release him from my grasp.  And it was vital for him to spread his wings and soar a bit on the wind of my trust.

Roll the clock forward several years, and you can imagine a similar turning point that occurred when my wife and I allowed him to walk by himself to a friend’s house down the street – without us watching him.  And, of course there was the time my Dad let me, at probably age 14, drive a tractor from a a friend’s house over the country roads for two or three miles to our house.  I felt as though I grew up about ten years and a foot and half that day.

In order for us to trust our children with greater freedom and privilege, we must remember that their best defense against the dangers of this world is not for us to protect them from everything and keep them always within view.  Their best defense, along with a healthy faith walk with God, is for us to prepare, equip, guide, trust, release, and encourage them to face life beyond our sight and grasp.  Our kids need us to work hard through season after season of this process of parenting so that they are ready to face life without us.  And each time we show a bit more (or a lot more) trust in them, we help them take another important step toward healthy, independent adulthood.

Take some time to consider where each of your kids would like to know a greater measure of your trust.  Is it truly because they are not ready?  Or because you aren’t?  Have you taken reasonable steps to prepare, equip, and guide them in this area?  If not, it’s time to do your part.  And if you have, it is probably time to take a deep breath, say a prayer, talk with a good friend or counselor, and put some real trust in your child or teen.  Blessings of courage to you on the journey!

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Apr 04 2015


The Process of Parenting: Guiding

hiking

I began this series on the process of parenting by outline a series of six intertwined steps that are repeated over and over throughout the seasons of raising our children and teens into adulthood:

  1. Prepare
  2. Equip
  3. Guide
  4. Trust
  5. Release
  6. Encourage

So far, we have discussed the importance of preparing and equipping our children in the process of parenting.  As we look together at the essential step of guiding our kids, we will really begin to see how much these layers overlap, interconnect, and reinforce each other.

If we have successfully prepared and equipped them, it means we have proactively introduced them to and given them an effective lesson or series of lessons on a particular skill or challenge.  Moving into the process of guiding means really being sure we are giving our kids opportunities for hands-on experience with life.  We are no longer giving instruction from behind the podium, so to speak.  We are side by side with them, allowing them to practice the skills we have been explaining and demonstrating to them.  It’s all well and good for me to explain and demonstrate to my son the finer points of using a pair of vise-grips, for example.  And even if I give him his own set, he will still not likely become proficient at knowing when and how to best use his new tool unless I talk him through the process again while he is actually using them.  I must lead him from listening and watching to learning through trying and practicing.

When we are in the mode of guiding our kids, we may shift back and forth between guiding from the lead and guiding from the rear.  In other words, there is a time for stepping forward to demonstrate again a particular element of the new skill, and a time for stepping back and guiding their actions by our words.  And we simply will not be able to effectively guide our kids through new skills and experiences without showing a measure of trust in them.  If we always do for them, they will never believe they can do for themselves.  In fact, this element of trusting them is so vitally important that I will be writing the next post simply on this essential dynamic.  I look forward to sharing it with you next week.  And may you and your family have a very happy Easter together as you enjoy the fun of the spring season and celebrate the amazing gift of new life we have been given by our Risen King Jesus!

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Mar 25 2015


The Process of Parenting: Equipping

kids tools

I will never forget the thrill of riding a bike without training wheels for the first time, the wonder of driving a tractor for the first time as a young teenager, or the adventure of shooting my shotgun for the first time.  Don’t you have a special vault of memories from when you first used or mastered some new and challenging piece of equipment? It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment and confidence.  “Bring on the world – I can handle it!”

Our kids are longing for these experiences of handling new tools to meet new challenges.  And while I hope your children are blessed with other adults who are investing in their lives and helping to equip them for life, it primarily falls on you, their parents, to equip them well.  You have probably heard it said that if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Having the right tool for the right job makes life so much better and far less frustrating.

Sometimes this means being sure our kids have the physical equipment they need to face the upcoming challenges of life.  Teaching my son which tools to use and how to use them while working on my sinks and countertops was another important step in a long ongoing series of lessons regarding manual tools.  And he has already learned Dad’s favorite tool – the vise grip (small, medium, large, or needle-nose, thanks very much!).  When he is out of our house, and on his own, I want him to be able to handle working on projects and fixing things while saving money wherever possible. He’ll be glad I equipped him for that.

There are many other times, however, when the new equipment our children and teens need from us is not an item we can buy at the store.  Rather, it is a practical, social, mental, emotional, or spiritual tool that we must introduce and demonstrate to them at a time when they will soon be needing it.  And just as we know that simply explaining to a child how a power tool is used is not sufficient to equip them, so we must remember to go beyond telling them about important life skills.  They need to see us using them.

I have learned that prayer is one of my most valuable tools when tackling a challenging home project of some kind.  Praying before I start, and anytime I hit a frustration point, helps me to handle the whole thing with far greater patience and precision – and with less words popping out of my mouth that I don’t want to hear coming from my son later.  I need to teach him this lesson.  Learning that prayer is actually a very useful and practical tool God has given us, and not simply a Sunday morning activity, will equip him for so many elements of life here on earth.  But if he is truly going to learn this lesson from me, he’s got to see me doing it.  Not just hear me telling him to do so.  Fully equipping our kids for life situations means sharing the right tools with them, showing them how we use them, and explaining why we use them this way.

My son loves to ride his bike, but really outgrew his “dirt bike” a while back.  He had been uncomfortably making the most of it for months, when we finally decided the time has come for some new equipment.  And my mother in law graciously blessed him with a sweet new mountain bike.  Thank you, Nana!  While the large size of his new ride could be a challenge at first, dealing with the hand brakes and all these new gears is the part I thought would most likely intimidate him.  So I gave him some basic instructional lessons in the driveway…then went for a ride around the neighborhood with him.  I told him anytime I shifted gears, and explained why I did so.  If he was intimidated at all, I sure couldn’t tell.  Then again, I was pretty busy working to keep up with him as he used his new found powers to challenge the Old Man.  Life is good.

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Mar 11 2015


The Process of Parenting: Preparing

Preparation

As I shared in my previous post, there are six key steps in the process of solid parenting that must be repeated over and over through different seasons and in the face of different life issues:

  1. Prepare
  2. Equip
  3. Guide
  4. Trust
  5. Release
  6. Encourage

While I have placed them in this order to see the logical sequence of this process, it is important to note that they are certainly not always separate and distinct stages, and there is often a great deal of overlap as we go about the critical business of leading our kids.  Today, let us examine the essential step of preparing our children and teens for the challenges they will face in life.

As with every other step in the process of parenting, preparing our kids for the various elements of life is best accomplished through a loving, hopeful relationship.  Our kids need us to be proactive and vigilant enough to know where our kids are in life, and what is and should be coming next for them.  Put simply, we need to know what to be preparing them for next.  This means we need to be connected enough with our kids and their experiences to know their current abilities, strengths, and limitations.  Knowing our kids well allows us to see where they are in need of further lessons and experiences to prepare them for whatever is next.  But simply knowing where our kids are and knowing them well is not enough to prepare them for life.  We must be sure to keep looking ahead on the journey before them, drawing on our experience and wisdom, as well as our awareness of the changing world of our children and teens.

When we fail to proactively prepare our young people for what life will soon be bringing to them, we will almost certainly end up parenting from a reactive position.  Of course, let’s be realistic.  We cannot possibly prepare them perfectly for everything they will face in life.  Surprises come and they will make unexpected mistakes, just as their parents will.  But let’s be careful not to settle for damage control parenting.  I know we can all do better than that, and don’t we want much better than that for the kids we love so much?  When we take the time to offer lessons and experiences based on where our kids are and what we see is coming soon in their lives, we send them forward with confidence.  We are building for them a foundation of readiness.  We are setting them up for success, and not failure.

One of the often tricky elements of preparing our kids is being able to acknowledge and address their current weaknesses or limitations in a proactive and healthy way.  It is so important that we communicate our belief that they can face the coming challenges and opportunities well.  Our kids desperately need to know we believe in them!  Constantly dwelling on their mistakes or problem areas can steal their joy and their hope, leaving them discouraged, frustrated, and headed for serious trouble.  Catch them in the act of doing the right thing, and let them know how much they mean to us throughout our efforts at preparing them for more.  As I once heard it stated, “Let’s be bucket fillers – not bucket spillers.”  I like that!  But even as we strive to encourage them, we must also remember we aren’t doing our kids any favors by pretending they have it all together and don’t have any shortcomings or blind spots.  Be real about it.  They will be far better prepared in any situation if they know where to be careful of making old mistakes.

My son and I recently went to the neighborhood park for some father/son baseball practice to prepare him for the upcoming season.  We worked a bit on his pitching, as he has expressed both an interest and some natural talent in this area.  But mostly we worked on his batting.  I offered him a healthy dose of encouragement, in response to his solid hits, his moments of improvement that may not have resulted in solid hits, and simply his attitude and his efforts.  I also noticed a problem area that will hold him back, if he does not improve it.  He didn’t really want to hear it.  But he needed to hear it.  So I showed him the difference between doing it with and without this little hitch, and I periodically asked him to say whether or not he had done it in his most recent swing.  Because I maintained a positive spirit of encouragement and believing in him, he stayed with me, and we had a good long practice.  And because I was willing to be real with him about not only his strengths, but also his particular problem area, he is more prepared for a successful season.  Yes, there are bigger issues in life than baseball.  Like…middle school!!!  Which is why my wife and I have been working hard to prepare him for that big upcoming season change for some time now.  And if I am willing to approach his baseball season the right way, it can be an important part of preparing him for the bigger life issues, like good ole middle school.

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Mar 05 2015


Hammer Time! The Process of Parenting

Hammer Time

After wanting to do this for a long time, my wife and I were finally able to get new counter tops in our bathrooms this week.  To save some money, I decided to tackle the chore of disconnecting the plumbing and tearing out the old counter tops and sinks myself.  And thankfully, I remembered I have a son with a helpful spirit who is growing toward manhood and is very eager to learn “man stuff” from his dad.  Especially when the “man stuff” involves smashing stuff with a hammer.  He helped me out by handing me the tools I needed as I did the initial plumbing work – learning a few more lessons about tool names and functions in the process.  And then the real fun began…

HAMMER TIME!  As you can see from the heinous 80s wallpaper in the picture, I had already taken down the mirror, so I knew there was no major damage my son could do if he wasn’t the most controlled in his counter top demo efforts.  I took a deep breath, handed him the hammer, and invited him to have at it.  Even though the counter had to be broken up to be removed to make way for the new one, it was still a bit nerve wracking to entrust this demolition job to my pre-teen son.  But I knew he would thoroughly enjoy it, and it would be a good experience for him.  And for me.  To let go, trust him, and watch him enjoy a new and powerful experience.  Long story, short – he did a fine job and enjoyed immensely.  It was a shining moment for him.  And for our family.

So much of parenting – when we do it well – follows this pattern.

Prepare – Equip – Guide – Trust – Release – Encourage

For the next six+ blog entries, I will be expanding on the steps of this crucial parenting process.  We will be discussing what is important about each step, how to most effectively walk through each step as a parent at different seasons in our kids’ lives, and what are some of the most common pitfalls along the way.  As always, I welcome your questions and feedback.  Feel free to comment on the post, or email me directly.  I am no longer on Facebook or Twitter, so if you want to share and discuss there, just know that it will be without any further commentary from me.  I look forward to sharing this series with you, and may you and your family enjoy your own “hammer times” along your journey together.

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