Friday, June 14, 2013
Dad, Dad, He's our Dad!
As Father's Day approaches, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have my Dad. As my generation grew up, divorce became a lot more common...many of my peers grew up without a dad in their life every day. Maybe they got to see him on weekends. Or in the summer. Or holidays. And I've worked with so many children who had absolutely no father figure in their life. Some children rise up. But so many crumble and carry lifelong scars. So, like my Mom post, here's ten parenting tips I learned from my Dad:
1. Model confidence in excellence. There's no two ways about it. My father is a very smart man. Valedictorian of a large high school class. Finished his undergrad in three years. Is a doctor. Teaches ethics and bio-ethics. He's not arrogant about it. But he doesn't apologize either. He has a kind of quiet confidence that I've always tried to emulate. The world doesn't always value the smart kid in the class. So I try to let my kids know it's ok to be smart and confident in that. (Just don't let it get boastful.) Because with confidence in your God given abilities and lots of hard work, doors can open like scholarships and jobs and leadership opportunities.
2. Teach your kids to seek the truth. Teach them to seek answers to the tough questions. I don't think many kids grew up talking about apologetics at the Sunday dinner table, but I did. I learned a lot about Christianity and why my parents believed what they believed just by listening and asking questions at the dinner table. If my dad wanted to know something, he found out about it and learned about it. And this was before Google. Studying Bible passages...studying church history...taking things back to the Greek or Hebrew...these were not new concepts to me as an adult.
3. Treat your kids like valid human beings. I always felt like Dad listened to us and our points of view like we were an equal and not a goofy kid who didn't know anything. Even though a lot of times, I'm sure we were goofy ignorant kids and it took a LOT of patience! I will say that this is a struggle for me now. I am so glad my kids love to learn new things, but sometimes it's hard to be in the mood to listen about the burrowing habits of the Peruvian horned mouse.
4. Take an interest in their interests. Some of my favorite memories of my Dad are when he would take time out of his day to watch my cross country meets. That meant the world to me. I know that many times it wasn't convenient, but when he came, I was so proud! We would ride home in the car together just him and me and have good talks. And many summers he would take just me to the big sports store and we would take our time picking out the perfect running shoes for the season. I loved that!
5. Demonstrate to them the value of hard work. Family practice doctors work very, very hard. Lots of long hours and paperwork and cranky sick people and nights on call where the phone rings at 3 am. It may mean going in to deliver a baby...or telling Mabel Sue that her itchy toe can wait until tomorrow. I saw it all, and for some reason decided not to go into medicine... However, I did learn that any job that supports a family is going to require work, and a lot of it. Some of it is very rewarding. And some of it...just plain work.
6. Be a leader in your church in front of them. Dad served in lots of capacities at church while I was growing up. He was on the board. He taught a Sunday School class. He helped rewrite the church by-laws. He searched for pastors. But the thing I admire most is that he did it all with integrity and a peacemaking spirit. I think being a peacemaker is a rare and precious gift.
7. Speak wisdom into your children's lives. There are a handful of times when I remember clear and specific pieces of advice my dad has given me. One was that he told me to be sure enjoy my college years and take some classes just for fun. I did, resulting in things like ballet and choir and going to Spain for a semester. But on the more serious side, I remember him coming home from a Promise Keepers conference once (Remember those?) and he said he heard a lot about how racial divisions in the church need to be healed. He knew that he did not always have the opportunity for that kind of ministry, but I happened to be volunteering that week at a camp for inner-city kiddos, and he prayed that I might be the one with that opportunity. I feel like that was almost a prophetic moment. I see many times over my teen and adult life that I have had the privilege to reach across racial lines that seem to keep the American Church so very compartmentalized. I pray those opportunities continue.
8. Take your kids on adventures. Maybe we didn't travel the world in a sail boat (Doesn't everyone know a family like that? I do.), but we learned how to build a fire, pitch a tent, and canoe thanks to Dad. We hiked quite a few miles of state park trails in Indiana and beyond. We saw museums and caves and made lots of cool memories on summer vacations. Even if Dad's long legs had us kids scrambling to keep up most of the time.
9. Never underestimate the fun in a game of keep away. Some of my very earliest memories of my Dad were when he would take a toy, ball, etc. and hold it juuuust out of reach. We would lunge for it...and he would quickly switch hands. Foiled again! Hilarious! Again, Daddy! How loved and secure I felt when Dad was on my level. I love that my husband does the same for our kids, and seemed to have a knack for it the second they were born. Joy...overflowing.
10. Think through something before making a decision. It's no wonder I'm a ponderer by nature. Both my parents are big thinkers, but I think Dad is the greater methodical thinker. No rush. Weigh the facts. Consider the options. It can drive others crazy (Ahem, sorry, Honey). Yes, we heard what you said. We're just thinking about it. And it may take us awhile to choose our words as a response. Deal with it. But it is a trait, especially in parenting, that will save you from some rather bad and hastily made decisions.
So I close with verses that remind me of my Dad. And videos of two of my favorite sitcom dads just for fun. Love you, Daddy! Happiest Father's Day!
Proverbs 14:26 - "Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge."
Proverbs 17:27 - "The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered."
Joshua 24:15 - "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
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