Dr. Seuss Weighs In On Fathering

600-00948575 © Masterfile Model Release: Yes Property Release: Yes Model & Property Release Family Playing in Park

As we all know, in just about any profession there are brilliant and skilled doctors who have expertise and know-how in very specific areas.

Not unlike docs in the medical, dental, or psychological professions who bring their best to their patients, there is another doctor with whom most of us grew up—someone our parents turned to time and again. No, I’m not talking about Dr. Spock (who literally was the “go-to” guy for my mom as she raised me in the 60’s). I’m talking about Dr. Seuss! 

I love the fact that in some of his well-known children’s books he actually portrays the relationship between parents and kids. Most of us probably never really thought of it like this until now; but I think Dr. Seuss could probably enlighten us on a thing or two when it comes to father-child dynamics.

Of course the beauty of a childhood story is that we don’t always have to give much thought to every minute detail. But being that I’m a shrink, I do have a curious desire to ponder what subtle undertones might be conveyed in the classic, Hop on Pop. Let’s review what the good doctor was saying, shall we?

Here is an excerpt from about halfway through the book, and feel free to read out loud as you reconnect with your inner child:

Sad. Dad. Bad. Had.

Dad is sad.

Very, very sad

He had a bad day.

What a day Dad had!

Hop. Pop.

We like to hop.

We like to hop on top of Pop.

STOP.

Pop now finally sits up with a stern look on his face while two bewildered children sit stunned. Pop says:

You must not hop on Pop.

After this section, for some reason we don’t hear about dear Dad again until the end. Then finally, right before the last page, we’re introduced to one more important thing about Dad: We discover that he can read big words like “Constantinople” and “Timbuktu.” It’s nice to know that the father in the story is intelligent and capable, educated and sharp.

So then, what can Dr. Seuss teach us about fathering? Could there be any dad lessons tucked into these few short pages?

Let me take the liberty to highlight a few things I’ve gleaned from this incredible read, the famous go-to handbook for fathering, Hop on Pop. With each one, I’m including important things for dads to remember in relation to their sons and daughters, stated as though your children were speaking to you:

  1. Dad has emotion. – We kids are very dialed in to your emotions and moods, Dad.
  2. Dad doesn’t hide his sad emotions from his kids (especially his very, very sad ones). – Dad, it’s okay to be real and let us see your sad emotions as well as your happy ones.
  3. Kids like to play with their dad. – We like it when you are approachable even on your very bad days, because we care about you.
  4. Dad lets his kids get close to him even when he’s had a bad day. – We need you to let us physically connect with you on good and bad days; truth be told, sometimes we need safe touch from you on our hard days too. (By the way, hugs and kisses release chemicals in the brain that counteract stress. So give more hugs and kisses on your very bad days, and you’ll feel better!)
  5. Dad allows his kids to use him as a jungle gym. (Maybe it doubles as a new kind of “play therapy” to cheer Dad up after a hard day while also meeting his kids’ needs.) – Dad, we know you have a limit on how much you can handle and it’s understandable when you’ve hit that point.
  6. Dad has a limit on how much interaction with his kids he can handle when he’s stressed. – We’d prefer that you not scream and shout at us when you’ve hit your max capacity, but we do like knowing you’re human.
  7. Dad abruptly stops the connection of interactive play when he’s had enough. (Dad sets a boundary.) – It’s okay to set a boundary when you need to, but please remember that you are teaching us how to handle intensity by your example.
  8. Dad is smart and understands complex words and concepts. – We really do like the fact that you are smart and can decode big words and concepts. We love it when you educate us on things you understand and know. And even if you can’t solve all the world’s problems, for some reason we like to believe you can.

So there you have it: a few thoughts about father-child relationships that are worth underscoring. I hope you will choose a few of these lessons and make them happen today with your son or daughter:

  • Show vulnerable expression of your “softer” emotions, like sadness.
  • Hug your kids even if you’ve had a bad day.
  • Communicate lovingly (not abruptly) when you’ve had enough or are maxed.
  • Set healthy boundaries with your kids by modeling what that looks like.
  • Teach them something new so you can grow smarter together.

Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for teaching us a thing or two about little kids and big kids alike from your vast base of knowledge. We’re deeply indebted to you and are ready now to “hop” into action!

 

 

Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon and has served in that role for the past 18 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. She invites you to visit www.drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.

Love Thinks

adorable-smiley-couple

Many relationship books address the topic of marriage from a reactive standpoint- behaviors rather than root causes. Sure we need to know how to control, correct and adjust negative behavior but when dealing with relationships we also need a little practical wisdom on the importance of thinking, mindset and beliefs.

The reality is most destructive behavior in marriage stem from destructive thinking and attitudes about oneself, their partner and marriage in general. We live in a world of emotion, sensation and fantasy. The subjective has become the new rationale. Many couples are emoting themselves straight into misery and often the divorce court. After the emotion, anger and bad feelings die down, some find themselves alone with their thoughts, “what did I do?” “What was I thinking?”

For many years, I allowed my emotions to free-fall in my marriage. Whatever I felt is what I acted on. I really never thought about thinking when it came to marriage! I just felt it and acted on it. As a result, my marriage stayed in a state of turmoil and devastation. Emotions are good. They come from God. God is an emotional being. Emotions motivate us, protect us, bond us and inspire us to take action. But emotions can mislead us. Some couples have allowed what they feel, to become the gospel truth: “I feel, therefore I am.” But what we feel may be far from the truth. For example, you may feel that a coworker has malicious intentions in what they do, but you may discover that their actions are based more on personality versus a bad heart. Emotions can be misleading. Love is an emotion. But it is much more than an emotion. It is a decision. It is a promise. It is a action. “Love is emotion in motion”. It’s a belief, mindset, a commitment of will and conduct. Happiness (an emotion) has become the new American Idol. It often becomes the determining factor as to whether a marriage is good, worthwhile and worth the ongoing investment.

The truth is, happiness is the result of doing the right things. It will come when the truth, principles about love, marriage and relationships is held and pursued. Love entails more than happiness. Love can endure when happiness is low or almost extinct. Love is more enduring than happiness. Love is bigger than what we may or may not feel. Let me offer you the same advice given to me at my wedding ceremony by my wise father: “Mitch, Don’t forget to think. Watch your emotions. Choose your words. Choose your actions. Think before you act. Take some time before you respond. Guard your thinking, attitudes and expectations. Use your head, not just your heart.” And, let me add to that: assess what you believe and expect about your spouse. Run your beliefs, expectations and attitudes through this filter: Is it right, fair, good, kind and helpful? If not, replace the bad with what is truthful and good and start anew.

 

Mitch Temple is the Executive Director of the Fatherhood CoMission. For more on Mitch and his ministry, please visit www.mitchtempleonline.com.

Response to a Wife’s Concerns

Men's ministry

Recently I was asked by the wife of a conference attendee the following questions. Why a ministry for men and men alone?  And why do we encourage men to do stuff on their own as groups of guys?  Are we sexist?  Are we encouraging gender division?  Isn’t church “Life Groups” enough. Especially when a husband and wife can attend together?

First let’s think statistics; over the last 20 years 38% of believing men left the church.  In fact for men aged fewer than 30, nearly 50% left in the same period of time.  Now that reflects the belief that men are deciding they don’t want to go to church anymore!  So we are facing a crisis before we even think about reaching men who aren’t yet believers. The decline is pretty terminal.

Of course, women are leaving church too.  But no-where near as fast as men. I recently had a pastor say he was vexed by the lack of young men in church.  He went on to say that his church had these great young girls who really wanted to find Godly husbands and yet there were no men.  On average across the US the ratio of women to men in the church is 70% women to 30% men. Not good.  So what do we do? Men aren’t good at small talk.  They don’t form trusting relationships as fast and as easily as women.  In fact, you might say that when a woman walks into a room she looks for people to talk with and relate to.  When a man walks into a room he is plotting his escape strategy and looking for the exit door! So men need a forum and a place to forge good strong friendships which over time will become open enough for conversation about stuff other than what they do for work or the football etc.  If this isn’t encouraged most men will go into a default “loner” mode.

Church culture can also be quite feminine and therefore difficult for many men to get to grips with.  Think of church décor.  Lots of children’s pictures, flowers and banners.  Then there is the worship.  Songs are often about feelings and subjective.  Teaching is often generic and talks about concepts rather than every day practicalities.  Volunteer jobs in the church can also tend towards the more feminine aspects of character; loving, sharing, nurture, compassion.  Men seek adventure and challenge and while love and compassion are important traits for men, the wild and adventurous aspects of their personalities can be completely starved in church.  So we need to create an environment that makes the Christian faith accessible to the average US man and church a place worth hauling themselves out of bed for.

I shared with this young woman that that our ministry, and ministries like ours who do “Ministry to Men” are working hard to equip the church with tools and resources that will make church a great place for their husbands, future husbands, sons and friends.  Simple as that.  We don’t want a church dominated by men or male characteristics nor do we want to make church a “men’s club”.  Just a place where men can be gripped and excited by Jesus.  I also shared these thoughts with her:

  • If you have a husband who isn’t yet a believer, let him go at his own pace.  He may well be thinking about faith quietly to himself.  You may be surprised to know how much thinking he has done.  Just don’t (as several people I know have done) blast out Christian music all the time, or stick verses up everywhere in the house.  It will just turn him off rather than on.
  • Remember that men need to be in a “band of brothers.”  Let him go away once a year for a weekend or once a month to a gathering.  It’s what he emotionally needs.  Many believing women pray for their men to get active with the church but then start to resent it when he does!
  • Remember that men need encouragement to form friendships and won’t feel safe talking about the things on their hearts in a mixed environment.  Hence the importance of men’s groups.
  • Don’t feel guilty and carry a sense of blame if the man in your life isn’t demonstrating any interest in faith.   On average it takes over 5 years from point of first hearing the gospel for a man to come to faith.
  • Try not to judge the men’s spirituality by a female standard.  Men may not be outwardly demonstrative or emotional.  But it doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged at quite a deep level.
  • Don’t mistake a lack of outward enthusiasm for the things of God for a lack of interest.  Men just communicate enthusiasm very differently.  He may be much further along the thought process than you think. I have known men to have quite a developed prayer life that have never once talked openly about their faith or regularly attended church.

I went on to share with her that I hoped my answer at least offers some thoughts on why we are doing what we are doing and to please pray for us as we seek to play our small part in introducing men to Jesus.

By Dr. Ron Fraser President, PointMan Ministries

Ten Things Divorced Dads Wished Their Exes Knew

father-and-children sunset

In working with divorced families, I find that as soon as separation or divorce is in the equation, parents stop hearing each other very well. Parents don’t often try to understand the other side because other unresolved issues get in the way. The romantic relationship changes (too often) to a hostile, negative, competitive and destructive process or sometimes a complete shut down where no communication happens at all.

So I asked many single fathers what they wish their children’s mother knew about them and about their motive in fathering. Some of their answers surprised me. I hope this might bring a small bit of insight to moms for the sole purpose of loving and raising their children into strong, stable young adults. Here are 10 things divorced dads which their exes knew.

  • That we bring something to our child’s life that only a father can bring.
  • That when we are not with our child, we feel pain also, even if it looks like we don’t.
  • That we don’t want to be Disney Dad, but if we have our child for only four days a month, discipline is not on top of our list of things to do.
  • That I’m not the enemy, I wish we could co-parent in a civil way and I pray for her regularly.
  • That the more you include me in my child’s life when I’m not around, the less time I spend trying to force myself into my child’s life.
  • That I know your intentions are good to provide for our child, but what she really needs is for us to raise her in Christ and give more of our love rather than stuff.
  • That I thank her every day for staying engaged with me to co-parent.
  • That families change but the love can remain.
  • That I’m trying to be less controlling of what goes on when I am not with my child.
  • That I am trying to move on from the heartache of our separation in a healthy way.

 

I understand that real pain occurs when relationships end. I understand that real pain occurs inside of marriages and dream-filled families that turn into nightmares and war zones. I know the pain is real and I know the anger and hostility are often justified. These pain points must be acknowledged and processed in order to get to a healthier communication pattern that helps the children instead of hurting the children. I always recommend that parents seek other adults to have these hard conversations with, someone with a level head who can help navigate the pain so it does not spill out on the children.

If you missed these 10 Things Kids of Divorce Wish They Could Say To Their Parents, please take a look.

What can you do to give your children freedom to love their father, not because you like him but because you love your kids?

 

Originally posted at imom.com

Tammy G. Daughtry, MMFT is an author, speaker, therapist and Founder/CEO of Co-Parenting International and The Tenacious Faith Women’s Conference. She is a national advocate for kids of divorce, healthy co-parenting, single parents and step parents. Tammy’s book, “Co-parenting Works! Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce” released in 2011 with HarperCollins/Zondervan. Tammy served as the executive producer for the DVD curriculum, “One Heart, Two Homes: Co-parenting Kids of Divorce to a Positive Future” featuring 33 unique voices advocating for kids and families impacted by divorce and remarriage. “One Heart, Two Homes” has been featured in over 30 states across the country in churches, YMCAs, counseling centers and public schools. Tammy has been a co-parent for 15 years and now is also a stepmom to four amazing kids! She and her husband Jay founded the Center for Modern Family Dynamics in Nashville, TN and enjoy counseling individuals, kids and parents who are walking complicated paths. They travel and speak around the country on step couple and co-parent issues and sincerely desire to bring HOPE to hurting parents and children.

www.ModernFamilyDynamics.com

www.CoparentingInternational.com

www.TFaithWomen.com