Fatherhood CoMission participating in major Fathering Study: We need your input!

Fatherhood CoMission participating in major Fathering Study: We need your advice!

The popular writer C.S. Lewis noted that his colleague and friend, George McDonald enjoyed an exceptional relationship with his own father, which served to be the “earthly root” of all McDonald’s wisdom.  Lewis went on to write that it was from this relationship (father and son) that McDonald concluded: “fatherhood must be at the core of the universe”.

Correspondingly, though from a different perspective, national polling over the past 20 years has asked this question in randomized surveys, “What is the biggest problem facing the American family?”  Consistently the majority of Americans report, “The physical absence of the father from the home”.

The observation of Lewis and the conclusion of national polling study are in essence the same:  Father’s matter and they are essential to a healthy future for families and culture.

In order to assess the current status, behaviors and hopes of fathers the Fatherhood CoMission is participating in a study and we need your help.  Building on a variety of data bases we have constructed a new survey which is accessible through this link.  Just click on it or paste it into your browser.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M33DKP3

 

 

By clicking on the link you will have an opportunity to give us your input, which will report back to you in future fathers.com weeklies.   We guarantee just taking this survey is an excellent exercise in reflecting on your fathering and will prove to be a “tune up” for you.

The Fathering CoMission wants to create a culture of responsible fathering.  You can also help by forwarding this link to other fathers and increasing our reach.  Again thank you for participating.

What Would You Do If You Only Had 3 Years To Live, Dad?

the following post was written by Bill Eyster, Chief Operating Officer of FamilyLife (a member of the Fatherhood CoMission)

I recently met a new friend.  As we were getting to know each other, I learned he was going through a very serious health crisis.  In fact, so serious that, according to doctors, he was living on borrowed time.  More than 3 years ago, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer and given, “at most, 3 years to live!” As I sat listening to my new friend, I began to imagine how different life would be if given such a prognosis.  What started out as a light-hearted, get-to-know-you type conversation turned acutely somber.  I leaned forward in my chair, blocked out all the distractions, and listened intently as he explained his journey over the last 4+ years.  It was an incredible story of a courageous man depending on the Lord through unbelievable difficulties as a man, a husband, and a father!

One of the things he shared really struck home!  He said that shortly after his diagnosis, he scheduled a day with each of his 3 children (ranging from college to young adult) and soberly asked them, “What do you need from me over the next 3 years?”  Can you imagine?  I remember thinking how incredibly courageous that was of him.  What a holy moment that must have been.  It brought tears to my eyes, as I imagined myself in that situation and all that would be wrapped up in it!

What a great example as a father, an example that each of us can learn from without having to endure a life-threatening disease.

So, here is a question we need to ask ourselves as fathers:

What do my children need from me over the next 3 years?

To answer this question, we need to spend some time praying about each of our children and thinking specifically about:

  • Where are they emotionally, spiritually, and relationally?
  • What are they involved in; what they are passionate about?
  • How has God wired them and what is their gifting?
  • What transitions are they going to experience over the next few years?
  • What do they need to learn from me as their father?
  • How do I need to protect and care for them in the coming years?
  • How can I intentionally build a stronger relationship with them in the coming years?

This list could go on, but you get the idea.

For me, this is a very instructive and important process that helps me be intentional in my important role as a father.  This process has also helped strip away things in life that are less important and keeps me focused on things that really matter (Matt 6: 19-21).

By the way, dads, this process also works for your relationship with your wife (1 Peter 3:7)!

How To Make Conversations With Your Kids More Meaningful

It’s back to school time, so, naturally, dinnertime and evenings in the next few weeks will be filled with curious dads wanting to know “how was your day at school?”

HAVING MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR KIDS

For a lot of us dads, the answers might be frustrating.  A grunt.  A word or two like “fine,” or “okay.”  It’s not always easy to have meaningful conversations with your kids and draw out their heart, especially when they’re going through all the emotions and challenges of a big transition like a new school year.

But it is so worth it for us as dads to be graciously persistent towards the hearts of our kids.  They need to know that we sincerely care about what’s going on in their lives.

This can be challenging for me, too. I have eight daughters, but not all of them are always eager to have a conversation about what’s going on in their daily lives, in their hearts or in their friendships.  When we run into the grunts and halting answers, we need to remember that our child’s reluctance to communicate can be caused by reasons as varied as their personalities, the strength of their relationship with us, the way they process their problems, how rested they are, or how stressed they feel…just to name a few. We should be really careful that we don’t assume too much about why it’s hard to talk with them.

Some Conversation Tips for Dads

Here are 4 things I’ve found that help me to get the most out of my conversations with my kids:

  • Start with an attitude of calm confidence, giving them a safe environment to share.  I have found that the more anxious I am, or the more emotionally responsive I am to their reactions to my questions, the less they’ll feel free to share with me what’s going on in their lives.
  • Be genuinely curious about our kids’ lives. As we get older and carry more responsibilities in our life, we forget what it was like to be a kid.  Demonstrating that you have an interest in your kids will get you started well.
  • Ask open-ended questions.  One of the biggest mistakes is to ask “yes or no” questions.  Think about questions that will require more information than a nod or grunt.  Sometimes the right kind of question can open up the lines of communication.
  • I’ve also found that it’s good to encourage them to ask me questions.  What are they curious about?  What questions are tumbling around that they aren’t asking you?  Your willingness to respect and answer their questions honestly and lovingly might open them up, and surprise you.  If you’re not sure how to answer a question, don’t fake an answer or react negatively.  It’s okay to say “I don’t know…but let’s find out.”  That’s a healthy response that shows your kids that you don’t have all the answers, but you care about what they care about.

Know How Powerful You Are…And Use it for Good!

God’s word is so clear about so many things…and one of them is the power of our tongues. One of the things I’ve learned about being a dad (the hard way) is that a dad’s tongue is particularly powerful, perhaps more so than any other person on the planet when it comes to my daughters.

A harsh word can crush their hearts.  A complimentary word can make their spirits soar.

No wonder the Bible records God the Father speaking from heaven, on more than one occasion, about how pleased He is with His son, Jesus Christ.  His words must have been not only been powerful for those around to hear (it sounded like thunder!), but they must have meant a lot to our Savior as well.

Just consider some of these verses on the power of the tongue:

Proverbs 18:21 – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 12:18 – Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

James 3:3-5 – When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

We show we care about our kids by striking up conversations with them.  It’s good to check on their day.  But don’t be discouraged if it’s not always easy.  Be careful with the power of your tongue.  Don’t give up…just try making some adjustments that might help you help them.

 

Leon C. Wirth is a Christian speaker, husband and father. He serves as Executive Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family and host of the Dad Matters podcast with Dr. Greg Smalley. He is the co-author of the forthcoming book The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Leon lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.

Just Enough Light

Sometimes I just don’t know what to do as a dad

I don’t know about you but there’s no way I could ever attempt to tally the number of times I have desperately asked “God, why don’t you just tell me what to do as a father?” “I have your word but please just show me the big picture so I can make the right choice here” “Why do you keep me in the dark?”  “Lord, what’s a little more light on the subject?”  Like Job I cry out in my humanity to a God who often makes decisions I have no comprehension of and who rarely asks for my input.

When my responsibility as a Father stumps me, more often than not silence speaks, but not much else. Sometimes I get angry, sometimes I shrug my shoulders because it’s the same response as I got before. Sometimes I just want to curl up in a fetal position and listen to the Bee-Gee’s warble out “How can you mend a broken heart?”

Since we are human fathers / people we ask people questions. It seems to be in our fallen DNA doesn’t it? Yet when silence is all we hear we often are led to be satisfied with ringing silence and darkness blurring our eyes.

Where is God during these times?

Despite those seasons, I have learned through the years God speaks to me through silence. Through the thickest darkness God has promised to provide enough light to keep on the right path and keeping us from stepping into dangerous holes.

When I was struggling with whether to leave a steady “pay check” job two years ago or come home to care for my elderly parents and which projects to take and which ones to not take, an older friend of mine named Anne put her arm around me and gave me advice I will always treasure:  “Mitch, you know through the years I have learned to remember something I read in a book – God has promised to light our next step, nothing more. That means just enough light to take one more carefully placed step. He has never promised to light up the entire highway. Don’t keep looking for something He has not promised. Trust that He knows what’s best for you and wait on that.” That statement continues to stick with me and has carried me through rough times and even during the tough spot I am currently going through as a father and provider for my family. Anne’s wisdom re-frames my thinking from hopelessness to hopefulness, from despair to “maybe, just maybe…”

The Bible puts it this way:  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”(Psalms 119:105)

When I was a kid we used to hunt at night from time to time for whatever was legal (and sometimes not) but usually Raccoons and Possums. Though my older brother and his hunter friends had sophisticated headlamps that looked like football stadiums strapped to their heads, I always lagged behind the Possum dream team mainly because I seemed to get the beat up oil lamp or dented metal flashlight with leaky batteries. It was the price I had to pay to get to play with the big boys. My brother often hung a whistle around my neck so I could blow SOS when I got so far behind he couldn’t hear me yelling at the top of my lungs. I was a pitiful excuse for a hunter. The oil lamp and the flash light (which I beat on every tree I passed by to keep it shinning) was usually only enough light to take one carefully placed step at a time, putting me further and further behind the other guys. But if I got a little too scared in the dark swamp and walked faster I took some dangerous risks. Thorny bamboo’s, briars as thick as your thumb, fallen logs would bruise and slice up my legs and arms to the point of having blood-wet socks.  On a few occasions I would step on a Cotton Mouth Snake which could have put me in the hospital with one bite.  So many times I remember feeling so afraid or impatient that I started taking faster more dangerous steps. Here’s what I learned:  I almost always got into trouble when I stepped outside the light that was given me. 

I don’t think like God…THANK GOD.

The quote from Psalms comforts and reminds me that God doesn’t think the same way I do and that I should be OK with that. He knows just a little more than I do (or any human for that matter) about life, fathering, who I am and what dangers lie ahead. So though I still want the big boy light, I accept the dim warm glow he puts in my hand at any given time. Though much slower than my humanity screams for and demands, taking one small lighted step with the most Powerful force and Creator of the World and Universe is not a bad trail to follow, even in complete darkness and ringing silence.

 

About Mitch Temple:

Mitch Temple brings over 25 years experience full-time in the Church and Non Profit Christian world. He also brings many years of experience in the Family and professional therapy community. He is the author/ coauthor of 5 books. He speaks nationally and internationally. He serves as a consultant to the Christian film industry as well as churches, non profits and secular organizations. Holds two graduate degrees in ministry and family therapy. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Former Director of Marriage and Family at Focus on the Family. Mitch is well connected in the Christian community and specializes in Partnerships and Strategic Alliances. Mitch was one of the co-founders of The Fatherhood CoMission and is extremely passionate about helping churches and communities build up fathers.