Holiday Traditions as a Single Parent


I once posted on Facebook, Traditions: they mean something in a child’s life. Whether it’s an annual thing, a special day of the week, or something that is just between you and your child, traditions have the ability to bring our sons and daughters back to a time in their life they can hold on to forever. Best of all, many of these special memory makers don’t have to cost a fortune, but they WILL reap eternal riches!

I was never married to my daughter’s mom. As the years passed, I found myself feeling like I had to compete against her in regards for my daughter’s affection through my actions. Financially, her side of the family had me beat. They could afford to take fancy vacations and buy my daughter nicer gifts. I eventually got to the point where I began to loathe the statement, “I don’t have money to do that” every time my daughter asked me to buy her something she wanted or go somewhere I could not afford. I was basing my identity as a parent on external love rather than selfless sacrifice.

As time progressed, God began to do some heart surgery on me. I became more aware of His truths in my life─ and my eyes were opened to multiple traditions my daughter and I were already doing together. He had been right there all along─ working in areas I thought I was failing in and helping me be the father I already was! My heart would swell as I was now able to slow down enough to actually ENJOY the precious time I was spending with her instead of fast forwarding ahead to what we could do next. To this date, my daughter and I still have plenty of traditions that are ours.

Single parenting is tough, no doubt about it. Sometimes we may feel as if we carry an unfair disadvantage compared to married couples. Still, traditions with your children do not have to stop…or they can begin anew. They say that time heals all wounds, but Jesus gives us much more than that. He is able to heal the broken parts of our lives AND restore us to greater heights than we knew without Him. Don’t make the same mistakes I did: competing with the other parent on worldly terms or allowing temporary barriers such as finances to hinder your role as a godly parent. We only get one shot at this life, and our kids will grow up despite our best efforts to keep them young. Instead, let’s put our trust in the Lord today and allow Him to turn temporary moments into eternal memories for us and our children.

As a single parent, how will you continue to create traditions with your children to leave them with memories they can hold on to forever?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. –Ecc 3:1 (NIV)

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. For more information, please visit

Originally posted at

The 2016 Fatherhood CoMission Leaders Summit


Next week, on November 30 through December 2, the Fatherhood CoMission will be hosting their fifth annual Fatherhood Leader’s Summit at the Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, GA. The Summit provides Fatherhood leaders and their spouses with free training, spiritual enrichment, and Christian fellowship; all while offering the potential of national networking with organizations across the United States and the ability to “dream as a team”. According to Mitch Temple, Executive Director of the FCM, this year’s Summit will host over 100 leaders and their spouses; representing over dozens of different states and countries. “We are pumped about the Summit”, Mitch said, “God is showing favor on the event. We give Him glory.”

The Summit offers every leader an opportunity to give a brief (1-2 minute) synopsis of their organization’s mission, as well as any other details, in front of the entire group. There is also plenty of extra time such as meals and less-formal fellowship/discussion time over the three days to help make such a big group “smaller”; thus creating stronger bonds and friendships between those in attendance. Previous featured speakers at the Summit have included NY Yankee legend Bobby Richardson, Iron Sharpens Iron Founder and President Brian Doyle, Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs, TGIF devotional author Os Hillman, and Family Life’s founder Dennis Rainey.

As a whole, the Fatherhood CoMission strives to champion Fatherhood by inspiring leaders and influencers to champion Fatherhood both inside and outside the Church through clear, compelling evidence of God’s design for dads as noble difference makers in their families and the world. The annual Leader’s Summit is the pinnacle of this mission. As Mike Young, Executive Director of Noble Warriors puts it, “The gathering of passionate champions for Fatherhood was encouraging and compelling for my wife and me. I’m moved by the Kingdom focus and the timing of the event. God is obviously working in and through many ministries individually and collectively to prioritize the issue of Biblical fathering. I’m optimistic and prayerful about the future of this movement. Lives will be transformed and families restored earthly fathers learn to love their children under the guidance and example of our Heavenly Father.”

To view a clip of the Summit, please watch (and share!) this video. Please pray for the Leader’s Summit as incredible collaboration comes from it each year. Also, please know that this Summit is offered by invitation only to leaders and their spouses each year at no cost to them. We want to bless leaders and their spouses who may not have the funding to attend leaders events like this. Would you consider making a donation to help us continue to bless our nations’ fatherhood and family leaders?

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Dad, You Can Nail This!


Every dad should have a tool bag or box; literally and figuratively.  We all have different skills and abilities so our literal tools may help us work on computers, airplane engines or the stock market.  Dads may also have tools and tool bags related to their hobbies.  A golf bag full of clubs or a bat bag filled with bats, balls and gloves, or even a tackle box filled with lures, hooks and bobbers.  Any of these could create great opportunities for dads to share what they know and love with their kids.  However, the most important tools are our spiritual tools.  These are the tools that we use to teach God’s Truth to our children.  God clearly tells us that this is one of our responsibilities as dads.  We know that many men feel much more confident with their iPhone® and golf clubs than they do their Bibles.  So, the whole purpose of Dad’s Tools for Spiritual Leadership™ is to put some practical spiritual tools in your tool box.

This Christmas season we look forward to adding Let’s Build a Manger™ to your spiritual tool box, which provides a hands-on activity that will enhance the celebration of Christmas while helping men lead their families spiritually.  This kit helps men ENGAGE their children (or someone else’s) to build a real wood manger.  In addition, an activity booklet will EQUIP dad to use the manger as a tool to lead his family in activities that will help keep Christ in front of Christmas.  The greatest outcome, however, is this experience ENCOURAGES men to step-up as the spiritual leaders in the home.  The Let’s Build a Manger™ kit includes the wood, sandpaper, nails and easy-to-follow instructions to construct a small manger.  In addition, the booklet offers six creative activities that will help you lead your family to use the manger to focus on Christ this Christmas.  What kid wouldn’t love playing the role of “Seeking Shepherd” around the house?  Think of the fun they will have taking turns hiding their baby doll or stuffed animal in the manger they helped build, and searching for Jesus just as the shepherds did after hearing the angel announce His birth.  What a great way for them to learn, and even memorize, Luke 2:10b & 11:

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”  (ESV)

Good news, indeed!  We really must work to keep Jesus at the center of our lives and family year round, and your manger could be used in some way as a 365 day reminder of God’s wonderful gift of Salvation through His Son.  So, you could simply store your manger away with the rest of your decorations until next year (but that’s pretty boring, right?), or you could get creative and use it as a planter for flowers, a baby bed for your little girl’s dolls, or a basket for bread or cookies.  The possibilities are endless.  And so are the tools that God can provide to help you lead your family closer to Him.  Be on the lookout for more Dad’s Tools for Spiritual Leadership™ resources to place in your tool box.  Dad, You Can Nail This!™

Dad’s Tools for Spiritual Leadership™ is presented by Noble Warriors.  We want to help you be a Noble Warrior for your family.

  • A man who honors God with his life and leads his family to do the same.
  • A man who invests time and energy in his ‘arrows’ to make sure they are straight, sharp and true.

Let’s Build a Manger™ will be available for purchase at the end of August.  Please visit for more information.  You can also sign-up for Noble Notes at to keep in touch with us and our efforts to help churches reach and build men.

Ten Things Dialed-in Dads Don’t Do to Their Daughters


Being a dad who stays the course with your daughter is easier said than done.  Let’s be honest, when she was younger and used less words she was easier to track with. But as she has matured and grown, so have her needs and wants…and words!  That’s often where you dads get overwhelmed and lost.

As a way to support your deep desire to truly dial in to your daughter’s heart, here are a few things that I’ve learned along the way, ten land mines to avoid if you want to raise a healthy, vibrant, loving, and spirited daughter.

Here’s what not to do and say if you really want to be a fantastic dad:

  1. Tell her she’s too emotional

The reality is that as women we have 11% more neurons in our brain centers involved in hearing and language as compared to men, leading us oftentimes to be better skilled at expressing emotions. It’s vital that you honor the wiring of your daughter, particularly when it comes to emotional responses.

  1. Require her to talk calmly and rationally in order to communicate with you

I do understand that most men “flood” when there is too much emotion coming at you because it feels like you need to fix and have the answers. However, the more you can be a sounding board as your daughter vents and expresses, the more of a gift you are to her. Listening to her is the best gift you can give.

  1. Criticize her

There’s a difference between choosing certain times to correct or discipline and putting her down or highlighting the things she’s doing wrong. If you have something that needs to be addressed, be sure and pack a lot of positive, life-breathing, encouraging statements around your corrections and it will have a much higher success rate of responsiveness.

  1. Tease her about her weight or any part of her body

I understand that guys tend towards teasing each other about body parts and it’s no big deal. Not with us girls. We remember things that are said, even in jest, forever. Everything. Make sure to never, ever, under any circumstances tease her about her weight, her size (breast size, pant size, etc), or any imperfections on her body. Those words will stay with her long after they’re said. And even if she seems to laugh it off, those reminders of her flaws are hurtful and will most likely lead to less self-confidence, a negative body image, and possibly lead to an eating disorder.

  1. Put her mother down

Whether you’re still married or divorced, when you demean, criticize, or speak negatively about your daughter’s mom, you are essentially criticizing her. She will hear it as you saying that you think she will turn out the same way. Because every daughter sees herself as some sort of reflection of the woman who brought her into the world, she uses mom as a reference point for understanding herself. Look for the positives in mom and point them out to your daughter.


  1. Think your actions behind closed doors don’t matter or are inconsequential

We’ve all heard the adage, “do as I say, not as I do.” But really, who is kidding who here? As a dad, just remember that the choices you make when no one is looking are the things that define you and measure your integrity. Let your actions on and off the court be filled with self-respect if you want your daughter to live out her morals, beliefs, and values as well. Let me say it another way: Be the man you want her to marry. It starts with you, dad.

  1. Forget her birthday

Each of us has an innate desire to be known and even celebrated. But simultaneously we as girls don’t always feel we’re worth the party.  This is where you as her dad come in.  Your investment of time, energy, and money tells her that she’s worthy, valued, and loved.  Make sure to join in the celebration on her birthday because it shouts, “I’m glad you were born!”

  1. Compare her to her siblings

Although it might slip out of your mouth, try avoid ever saying, “Why can’t you be more like…” We girls compare ourselves to everyone else without prompting. So if you add to that reality, it only adds more fuel to an already existing fire. Make sure to let her know that she’s one of a kind even though much of the time she may feel like she’s one in a million.

  1. Speak in anger

If I had a nickel for all the times I’ve heard daughters, most often with tears running down their cheeks, tell me about the wounding that has been experienced as a result of dads anger, I’d be rich. Words spoken in anger do the most damage to a daughter’s heart over anything else I hear from girls about their relationship with their dads. If you want to have your daughter’s heart stay open to you, make a contract with yourself to never speak in anger to her again because it destroys her spirit and her soul. Take a time out to cool off and come back when you’re calm. You’ll never regret waiting to speak.

  1. Give monetary gifts rather than yourself

In a world where life seems to be increasingly speeding up faster, it can be easy to give things more than yourself to your daughter. Remember that she wants and needs you, your heart, your attention, and your time more than any monetary thing. You, dad, are the gift.

Remember, dad, keep the word DON’T in front of all these suggestions. And trust me, these will help you become a more focused, dialed-in, intentional and consistent dad for your daughter.


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 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 and Twitter @mwatsonphd.

7 Tips for Raising Children and Growing Your Marriage


For many obvious reasons, the first years of marriage can be quite challenging. In the best of circumstances, each spouse must make adjustments. No amount of premarital counseling can fully prepare a couple for all the changes each spouse will have to make. This is especially true when children come along. The best-made plans are often replaced by frequent surprises. Children and marriage certainly go together, but having children requires a great deal of hard work and maturity from both parents in order to meet the needs of each child while ensuring a healthy marriage.

Here are 7 tips to help couples learn how to balance children and marriage and maintain the foundation of a strong partnership:

  1. Vocalize and listen to each other’s concerns. First-time parenting is a frightening prospect, but remember that you have each other to depend upon.
  2. Lean on the expertise of family and friends to coach you on the “secrets” from their own parenting experiences. All married couples face similar stresses and issues when having children and many have learned from their mistakes. You will do well to seek their counsel. Just choose the sources of your counsel wisely.
  3. Be open and honest with each other if you should harbor doubts. Get your feelings out into the open or you’ll find the stresses of parenting and those locked-up emotions playing seesaw with your relationship.
  4. Discuss and compare views on structure and discipline with the goal of finding a compromise position on how to raise your child.
  5. Don’t let parenting consume your relationship to the point that you have no intimate time for each other.
  6. Never forget that you were a couple before you were parents … a lesson worth carrying throughout the ups and downs of raising children.
  7. Consider parenting and career objectives. While both parents working might provide more financial stability, consider how it could affect your child’s development? Be certain to count all the costs, both tangible and intangible, before making the decision for both of you to work.

It is important to understand that relationship challenges are a normal part of balancing children and marriage. Though you and your spouse may carefully and prayerfully plan for children and talk at length about how to handle situations that may arise, be prepared for surprises. And no matter what, never forget that the love and support needed to nurture your marriage is just as important as winning the parent-of-the-year award. Strongly consider sitting down with a counselor and discussing being parents, or consider taking a class to continue growing in your marriage with the idea that you may gain insightful and objective advice on how to successfully tackle marriage and parenting.

– Family Dynamics Institute


Family Dynamics Institute collaborates with Churches, Companies, and Community Organizations to help them provide a Comprehensive Marriage Ministry to help married and engaged couples grow stronger at all ages and stages of marriage.

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