Can You Pray Your Kids Get Caught?

For years, Ben and Sarah routinely said a prayer they hoped would not come true for any of their four children.  They knew how kids could be.  They knew how the culture pulls good kids from good homes to make not-so-good decisions.  My friend Ben is especially aware because he was more than a bit rebellious in his younger days.  Looking at him, you wouldn’t know it today, but Ben was deep into narcotics in his early twenties.

So, Ben and Sarah prayed specifically that if and when their children did something illegal or immoral or simply made a really bad choice, that they would get caught.

That’s the exact words they used.  And not long ago their prayer was answered.  It was a holiday weekend with lots of activity in the house, and Sarah needed something that was last seen in their teenage daughter’s closet.  Looking there, she found a bottle of rum and some fruit-mixer concoction.

The Christmas celebration took a sharp, unpleasant, yet necessary turn.  With sincere apologies, some of the guests were asked to leave.  The festivities were postponed.  The family huddled and their daughter was confronted.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what was said.  But the core message was very personal and very compelling.  Up until that day, Ben’s four children only had an inkling of their father’s drug addiction from two decades earlier.  How far he’d fallen.  And how God had rescued him.  It wasn’t a pleasant story.  And it’s not a story you should tell to small children.  After all, when kids are young and impressionable, they need to see dad as a hero.  Invincible.  A solid rock they can count on.

Ben had been that dependable dad for their entire lives.  Which is a great thing.  And which made his testimony to his children even more powerful.   Over the years, Ben had shared his story with men’s groups and other individuals who were struggling with addiction.  He talked about Satan’s power, hitting bottom, and finding hope only after turning his life over to Christ.  But his kids only knew small bits and pieces of the story.

That evening they heard something they didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear.  However, they were old enough to listen, understand, and learn from their father’s mistakes.  The teenager who was hiding the liquor really didn’t receive a severe punishment.  Listening to her dad open up about his personal battle — the stumbling, helplessness, surrender, and recovery — had more than enough impact.  In a sense, the family was broken that night.  But they soon healed stronger than ever.

Thinking about Ben and Sarah, the word that comes to mind is courage.  Courage to overcome.  Courage to trust.  Courage to pray the way they did for  their kids.  And courage to see the big picture.  They weren’t just dealing with a bottle of rum found in a teenager’s closet.  They were standing up against Satan who had chosen that Christmas season to seize a new foothold in their family.  But the father of lies and deceit didn’t have a chance.  Instead of sweeping it under the rug or delaying any repercussions until after the family event, that mom and dad addressed the situation firmly, efficiently, and without hesitation.  How did they know what to do and what to say?  Only because that’s what they had been praying for.

Your past may be different than Ben’s.  But your children are facing the same cultural challenges.  Do you have the courage to pray for your children to get caught?  Will you have the courage to confront your children’s unhealthy choices at the top of the slippery slope?

 

PRAYER FOR WISE CHOICES

Heavenly Father.  We pray that our kids make choices that honor you.  But we also know that our kids have sinned and will sin.  In their humanness, they will fall short of your glory.  In humility and brokenness, Lord, we ask that you open our eyes to those times when we need to intervene.  We pray they get caught.  In those difficult moments, we pray that we have the courage and wisdom to respond with love and truth.  And, thank you Lord for preparing our heart and minds to be the parents our children need in every situation.  In times of joy.  And in times when the world seems to be crumbling around us.  Thank you for being our rock.  We love and trust you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

                                             2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV

 

 

Jay Payleitner is a national speaker on parenting and marriage and best-selling author of 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad and What If God Wrote Your Bucket List?  His latest book is 52 Ways to Connect as a Couple.  For more, go to www.jaypayleitner.com.

Standing in the Gap: The Value of Mentoring

 

In his book Good to Great in God’s Eyes, author and pastor Chip Ingram states, “A master’s ceiling can become his disciple’s floor if the disciple knows how to absorb the lessons of the master’s life.” In my own experience, I have witnessed countless times the significance and eternal impact that mentoring creates. There are literally MILLIONS of children (many right in our own neighborhoods) who do not receive any of the parental affirmation and protection they so desperately need to make it in today’s world.

As Christian parents, I believe it is our responsibility to seek out and build up today’s youth who may not have strong parental figures of their own (men mentoring boys, women with girls). Obviously mentoring begins at home with our own kids, but there is probably a child in need of a little (or a lot!) of guidance within your sphere of influence too. Please understand I am not challenging everyone reading this to jump into a full-time mentoring role, but even small amounts of encouragement and generosity can go a long way in a child’s life. If in fact you do find yourself being led to mentor a youth, here are a few quick points to help get you going:

Be Consistent

Almost without a doubt, a troubled youth has had more than one parent, family member, or friend bail on them in life. If you do decide to become a mentor, establishing a set day, time, and duration will bring a welcome change of consistency into his or her life.

Be Authentic

Don’t judge based on what their outside life may look like to us. There probably are many underlying issues such as being lied to, abused (in any form), or manipulated. We are all damaged individuals—the difference being as Christian adults we are now capable of trusting and turning it over to Christ. This may or may not be an option for your mentee, so keep that in mind.

Be Faithful

There is so much to be said for Christians who live their faith out on a daily basis. Stay true to that while mentoring too. Show the love of Jesus through your words and actions, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct the relationship. When we do, lives are impacted and generations are changed for God’s glory.

 

Moms and dads, who is the Lord leading you today to begin investing in as a mentor?

 

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’. –Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. More information at www.afatherswalk.org.

Facing the Blitz: Pass on a Blessing

Pass on a Blessing

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” –Jim Valvano

Game Plan: 

“To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God…as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline…He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus …our Savior…” –2 Tim 1:2-9 NIV

Time Out:

Think about the blessing you wished you’d gotten from your father or mother. Remember how God the Father said of Jesus, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Who is God asking you to bless? A child or grandchild? Spouse? Someone without a parent in his or her life?

Pray about the persons you want to affirm and bless by asking for God’s very best in their heart and life.

“Think about the blessing you wished you’d gotten from your father or mother. Pray about a person you want to affirm and bless by asking for God’s very best in their heart and life.” –Jeff Kemp

Go Deep:

Talk to God about this. Do the following for the person you want to bless:

  • Write down one sentence about how you love and are pleased with him or her.
  • One sentence about their identity.
  • One sentence about their mission.
  • One sentence about God’s control and benevolence in their life.
  • Pray that blessing for them privately for a period.

Let God tell you when you should create a special time to bless them by putting your hand on them and praying the blessing out loud. Or, write it in a letter and send it to them.

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Bold and Courageous: What the Resolution Means to Me

For the past couple years, I have dreamt of holding a Resolution Ceremony in my city, like the one in the movie Courageous. This year it became a reality. Traditionally, my Father’s Day events have been specific to single fathers and their children, but I decided to broaden our scope this time around. Even more so, to partner with other churches to maximize our outreach. The event was a success: 18 men (myself included) from several churches took the Resolution before God and our families. It could not have been a more special evening.

Even though this was only a few days ago, I feel different. Not like I’ve become some super man or anything—but grateful that this means something to me. Perhaps even instilling a fear of the Lord. I keep thinking of the line in the movie where the ceremony facilitator reminds the men that they are now “doubly accountable.” The Bible tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.” (Prov. 15:33) and that “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin.” (Heb. 10:26). God has pulled on my heart for a couple years to do the Resolution, I feel now He is giving me the strength to live it out.

Along with the personal convictions and expectations I have from this past weekend, here are some other areas that really stick out to me and what I hope all men who rise to this challenge realize too:

The Resolution is about living biblical principles out in our daily lives. This may sound cliché, but when push comes to shove in life, anyone that is less than sold-out for Christ tends to gravitate to the easier road. Taking these vows with an undivided heart really helps raise the bar.

It is a daily reminder of putting ourselves third. God is first, our families and others are second, we are third. The glow of the night may fade over time, but having the Resolution hanging in your living room is a constant reminder of why we do what we do.

Locking arms with other brothers to take the vows with. Some of those men I met for the first time that evening, others I have known for over a decade. Men are strong when in community, standing shoulder to shoulder with each other. An event like this has the potential to both create new friendships and strengthen old ones—building a foundation that is so desperately needed among guys.

Silos can be broken. It was amazing to partner with three churches on the planning committee—to have leaders from other church homes work together for a greater purpose. Oh, imagine the possibilities if this became the norm in our country!

This is only the beginning. Anyone who has been in men’s ministry for any length of time knows how challenging it can be to get men engaged—especially in the deep subjects. Our plan is to have an end-of-summer cookout at the lake, and begin the book study The Resolution for Men in the fall. Each church can work at their own pace and schedule. What if over the years the number of men and churches who participate in the Resolution ceremony continues to grow—followed by small groups and other forms of ministry? A revival of manhood could be born!

 

The Challenge

Are you willing to lead the charge in helping men rise to their God-given calling as husbands, fathers, and leaders? Can you partner with other churches and organizations to bring change to your community? Will you act on this prompt sooner than later?

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. –Josh. 1:9

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry, the coauthor of The Daddy Gap, and the cofounder of the Midwest Single Parenting Summit. He is an ordinary guy who chases after an extraordinary God. Matt lives with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids, MI. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.

A Father Is…

 

Dr. Joaquin G. Molina, the author of the book, “What is a Man?” and Senior Pastor of Spring of Life Fellowship in Miami, Florida. As a keynote speaker Pastor Molina is sought out through in many Men’s Ministry Conferences and Churches, serving with a special anointing for restoring godly character in men and perfecting leadership in the Body of Christ.

For More Information: E-mail- Jmolina@whatisaman.com or visit http://whatisaman.com/

Honoring All Dads: 365 Days a Year

A Simple “Thank You Dad for________….” Is a Powerful Way to Honor Your Father!

Honoring Dads, Spiritual Dads, Single Dads, Step Dads & Grandads, 365 Days a Year

My husband and I are part of the National Fatherhood CoMission on Fatherhood and every year the goal is to link arms and hearts with organizations around the country to “Honor Your Father!” What does that look like? How can you help be a voice for fatherhood in our community, our country and in your own family?

When a child, young or old, reaches out to their dad to simply say thank you (a form of honor), that alone can open doors for healing, new conversations, reconnections, or even reconciliation. That is our main hope and prayer through this campaign. Our goal is to reach over 50 million Dads, children and families so they will be strengthened through the simple act of honor – “Thanks Dad for __________…”

We want to say, “Thank you” to the traditional dads who have stayed the course day in and out, who have loved their wives and stayed faithful for decades! Thank you for showing your children what a lifetime commitment looks like and how important it is to keep your promises.

We want to say, “Thank you” to the spiritual dads who have prayed for others, listened to hurting hearts, spoken life and peace to troubled situations and been an example of Jesus in the midst of our brokenness. By taking time to “see” and “hear” the younger generation you are impacting their entire destiny! Your words of life and peace will break the patterns of pain and help give them stability and strength for every situation. Your words and moments matter. Your investment will yield generations of return!

We want to say, “Thank you” to the single dads who are relentless in love and commitment to their children, either as the solo parent or as a co-parent. Your children need you in their lives as much as humanly possible and what you do matters. Thank you for not giving up when things get hard. Thank you for respecting your children’s’ mother; thank you for showing your children what a Godly man looks like even if is outside the traditional family situation. Your children need to know you love them and there is never a day in their lives that they won’t need you. No matter what happened, your children love and respect you. Stay the course and no matter what obstacles you face along the way, keep pursuing your children and letting them know you see them and hear them and that they are beyond important to you.

We want to say, “Thank you” to the stepdads who sometimes are faced with a really hard job of balancing love, discipline and dealing with confusing emotional dynamics that often come up in stepfamilies. We appreciate how you stay engaged and love your step children as well as how you respect and communicate with the kids’ bio dad. You matter. Thank you for getting involved and speaking life and love to your step children. Sometimes it takes a while to know how the stepfamily fits together but keep showing up and loving the kids, even when they don’t seem to respond, love them anyway. They need you and it might be a decade later, but one day they will say thank you!

We want to say, “Thank you” to the granddads who have been responsible for starting family legacies, traditions and who continue to love and enjoy their kids and grandkids. Your wisdom is so important to all of the family. Keep sharing and telling your stories! From generation to generation the Truth will be shared as well as your personal legacy – your stories will live on for decades to come. You may not understand today’s crazy technology but keep telling your stories and keep taking us fishing. We need you and we need to have strong and meaningful memories of you. Forgive us if we seem “too busy” sometimes—keep taking us back in time and help us see who you are and what mattered most to you.

Let us all remember to HONOR our fathers and not just one day a year, but expressing our “Thank you Dad for ______” is important 365 days a year!

 

Tammy Daughtry, MMFT, is an author, speaker and holds a Masters in marriage and family therapy. She is based in Nashville. For free resources and to explore and on-going conversation see www.CoParentingInternational.com and www.ModernFamilyDynamics.com.

My Schedule is Insane!

 

 

When a dad pleads “my crazy schedule” for why he’s ghosting his kid’s event, or family time in general, if he’ll hear me, I have a pretty practical response.

Ninety-nine percent of the men we work with are textbook type A’s, shrink-wrapped into their calendars with no margin in the day. Zero. Most of them are cell-phone dependent, doing life by the quarter hour. When we tell them, almost first thing, to open their calendars and clear out hours—plural—it’s like waving scissors at a patient’s morphine drip.

Turns out, speed through the day is its own narcotic, and getting back to our souls, our families, our friendships, can be a cold downshift. A man serious about restoring his relationships, though, does well to start with the chart: a spreadsheet anyone can knock out in five minutes because it amounts to six columns with six headings: Activity, Heart, Impact, Growth, Obligation, and Total.

In the far-left column, under Activity, he lists everything he does, morning to night, week to week, month by month and through the year. It’s a list, not a judgment. Include shower, breakfast/donut shop, drive to work, meetings, sports section…everything. To the right of each activity, under each column heading—HeartImpactGrowth and Obligation—he ranks that activity 1 to 5, low priority to high.

Brutal honesty is optimum. Under Obligation, for example, Krispy Krème probably gets a 1. Wedding anniversary? Five. A professional course may get a 3 for Growth and a 1 for Obligation.

When list and rankings are complete, at the far right, tally the totals, survey the results, and ask two questions:

  1. What low-value activities can I eliminate?
  2. Of the remaining high-value activities, where can I double up?

 

The first time I worked the chart, my small Beech Bonanza V-Tail airplane scored low. My kids were growing inches by the day, and flying swallowed family time whole. My golf dates, by the time I dressed, played 18 holes, and debriefed at the clubhouse, likewise devoured prime hours. Since I was serious about opening my time, those two questions threw on a spotlight. My plane went on the market. Golf could wait until the kids were in college. On my daily train downtown, I began to work the Bible study I’d previously done at home.

Years in finance had taught me that a given activity should either generate revenue or build profit. In those decades, if I wasn’t recruiting for new brokers to raise income, I was looking for ways to cut expenses. Now, unless a phone call, even a cup of coffee, advances my priorities, it gets a polite no. It has to—because the difference between proactive and reactive is the difference between my agenda and someone else’s.

Each person determines what activities to cut or where to double up. I can only testify to that moment when you look up and yesterday’s toddler wanting to teeth on your keys is asking now to take the car. It’s that fast. This is the short version of a caffeinated exercise that woke me to my own priority slippage. It brought home that when I fail to master my schedule, my schedule masters me.

If your schedule is crazy, the person able to restore sanity is you. Start with the chart. On the other side of blurring speed is real life.

—————

 

Dean Niewolny is CEO of The Halftime Institute, an organization that teaches, coaches, and connects marketplace leaders to discover God’s calling on their lives and engage in the issues Jesus cares about. Dean is the author of the new book Trade Up. For more information, please visit https://halftimeinstitute.org.

Obedience, Not Achievement

My father taught me this simple lesson of the motivation of obedience through an unusual preaching experience.  After we moved to Misouri, he discovered there was a large mental hospital run by the state with no Sunday service for the patients.  Dad made himself available and structured a worship service early Sunday morning for these people with mental disorders.

The church service at the state mental institution was enjoyable for my brother Jay and me, but not so much for spiritual reasons.  We saw it more as an experience in entertainment, for these folks displayed true spontaneity.  At a normal church things may be predictable—but at the mental hospital you never knew what might happen.

Our song leader was always full of surprises.  He was a large man over six feet tall, and you would have expected him to have a booming voice. He would compose himself, instruct the piano player and congregation of the page number and begin singing.  But out came a high-pitched shriek like a pig getting poked with a prodder.  He led the singing in an unabashed falsetto voice and had a terrific time doing it.  His conducting was entertaining and effective, for we all sang loudly to lessen the pain of hearing his voice.

Another person who added a lively touch to the service would sit in the back of the room and chime in to affirm whatever Dad was saying.  But instead of saying, “Amen,” he would say, “wha-oh” as if something was going wrong. If ever a turn would take place in a story Dad was telling, or if something unplanned would happen, you would hear him come through with a “wha-oh!”  Or if Dad would ever mention a woman, he would come through without fail. “Wha-oh! Wha-oh!”  My brother and I always counted how many “wha-ohs” he contributed during the service, and would keep track seeing if he could break his record from the previous week.

Another lady always sat in the same seat on the front row and contributed to the service regularly.  Her form of participation was to use filthy language throughout the meeting.  She could cuss for thirty seconds straight and not use the same word twice.  We were amazed—nothing like this ever happened at regular church!  Just as Jay and I kept track of how many times the man would say “wha-oh,” we also kept track of her utterances. We figured we must have been the only kids who could go to church on Sunday and learn new words for the week.

One Sunday morning Dad was telling a story.  He described a man who was lovingly trying to help out a needy person.  A line from the story went like this: “And the man reached out his hand to touch her shoulder.”  I guess Dad thought the swearing sailor lady needed the personal touch, and as he spoke he reached out his own hand as if to touch her on the shoulder.  At that moment, she stood up and said with a profane expletive, “don’t ya touch me, preacher!”

For a moment there was silence, and then “wha-oh! wha-oh!”  Soon everyone roared with laughter!  Jay and I just about laughed ourselves out of our chairs, because we had never heard anyone say that to Dad—much less while he was preaching.  I remember Dad laughing right along with everyone else.  It didn’t seem to interrupt his line of thinking and his message, and he simply continued with what he was saying.

As we were driving away from the hospital, my dad asked me a question.  “David, don’t you have to give a short message in Sunday School next week?”  I replied, “Yes, sir.”  Dad continued: “Why don’t you be the preacher next week here at the hospital.  It will give you a chance to practice, and these folks would enjoy hearing you.”

“Sure, that will be fun!” I said.  But then my thoughts turned to the sailor woman.  Wha-oh.    I felt I should go ahead and do it, but was concerned about how I could handle her interjections during my talk.   So I decided to take the spiritual approach.  I told Dad I would do it, and would pray for her all week.  I did pray for her: that she would get real sick or die.  When Sunday came and we walked into the meeting room at the hospital, she was the first one I saw. She was sitting there waiting for me, guns loaded and ready to fire.

When the time came for me to speak, she had not uttered a sound.  I began talking, went through firstly, then secondly.  I thought my prayers had been answered. Maybe she had lost her voice? But when I began “thirdly,” she chimed in with a reference to Hades and said, “Somebody shut the little preacher up!” No one laughed at that point. I did hear a faint, “wha-oh.”  I turned red, forgot about thirdly, and called on Dad to end it with the benediction.

While riding home I asked Dad, “When she blasted you, everyone laughed and so did you.  It didn’t bother you one bit.  How come?”

“You don’t have to worry about how you’re being treated, or even whether or not they’re responding.  Just think about the Lord, how much they need Him, and that you are busy doing His work.  Then what they say or do won’t bother you that much.”

Dad had been led by God to minister to these people, and he was being obedient.  In his normal ministry, Dad received much affirmation from many responsive people, leading hundreds to Christ in seventy years as a pastor.  In addition to work in his own church, Dad spoke to many large gatherings as a revival preacher with thousands of conversions over the years.  But what about his ministry at the state hospital?  We could not see a lot of response from those folks.  For Dad, simply being obedient to God’s leading was reward enough.

 

–David Maddox

Stay Relative

The world is saying that truth is relative. Dad’s primary role is to keep Truth relative.

In his book, Case for Christ Lee Strobel’s investigation into the facts surrounding Christ provides answers to key questions around the validity of the Bible as he shares information gleaned from scholars. One thing that resonates with me in his research is the popular thought that Jesus was just another prophet that happened to fulfill some prophecies by accident. In an interview with Louis S. Lapides, the statistical probability of just eight Old Testament prophesies being fulfilled by one man is explained like this – If you filled up the state of Texas two feet deep in silver dollars and marked one with an X, then allowed a blind folded man to wander the state and bend down at any point to pick up a coin, the statistical probability of him picking up the marked coin is the same as the odds of eight OT prophecies being fulfilled by one man. Jesus fulfilled 48 OT prophecies!

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. … On hearing this, many of His disciples said, “This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?” … “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. – John 6:56, 60 & 67.

Hard teaching indeed! It seems the motivation of many following Jesus at this time was grounded in what He could do for them and for some, in how they could help Him. The message was to be with Him, to walk with Him. The “many” were used to doing the Law and the numerous sub-laws the religious practices of the day mandated. The concept of Oneness, having the Christ in them was too much to grasp. Many fell away as followers not necessarily into sin but back to their more comfortable religious practices.

Today, Christ’s body and blood in a Christian are celebrated in Holy Communion – eating of the bread and drinking of the wine. As we celebrate by ingesting the elements we are challenged to live by ingesting the Word of God – The Word became flesh and walked among us, John 1:14. This is hard teaching – living under the Word of God. Many are turning away. Men, women, families, whole churches, even denominations are turning away. Dave Peterson, retired senior pastor, eloquently said that the question comes down to whether we “view the world through the lens of Scripture or view Scripture through the lens of the world.”

The challenge is on! Relative truth has gained traction on our watch! It is up to dads to keep Truth relative first in our lives and families, to lead spiritually by example. We are to conform to the image of Christ, (Rom.8:29), not to the pattern of this world, (Rom.12:2).

Tips to Stay Relative:

  • Practice spiritual disciplines – time in prayer, scripture, worship, study, fast, journal
  • Initiate spiritual discussion in the home between Sundays
  • Pray daily individually and together as a family
  • Stay alert to the devil’s schemes and rebuke them immediately.

 

Prayer guide: Lord, I confess my conformance to the world. It has been easy physically and emotionally to go along with relative truths that have permeated the culture. It is intoxicating. Thank You for walking this earth and providing clarity in the Way. By Your grace I chose to ingest Your Word and keep Truth relative in marriage, family and in the circles of influence where You have me. Grant me the boldness to walk with You. Amen.

A faithful father keeps Truth relative in marriage, family and other circles of influence.

www.faithfulfathering.org

Ph:281.491.DADS/Fx:281.565.5365

‘Dad Talk’©FFIT-2015

Dad, Help Your Daughter Find Her Voice

I’ve heard it said that communication is 7%percent words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% body language.

If you do the math, you’ll see that this means that 93% of communication is nonverbal.

How’s that for significant? This little statistic serves as a reminder that as a reflective listener, we often say more by what never comes out of our mouth.

Think back to a time when your daughter tried to tell you something when you weren’t fully dialed in. Then (in your estimation) she reacted in a way that seemed entirely inappropriate to the situation. And there you were, completely dumbfounded because you had no idea how she leapt from a zero to ten in intensity over something seemingly insignificant. At least to you.

Two words: nonverbal communication.

In his book Dads and Daughters, Joe Kelly talks about the importance of a dad tuning in to his daughter’s voice:

Girls tend to be a riddle to fathers. Like any mystery, the relationship with our daughter can be frightening, exciting, entertaining, baffling, enlightening, or leave us completely in the dark; sometimes all at once. If we want to unravel this mystery, we have to pay attention and listen, even in the most ordinary moments.

Why? Because a girl’s voice may be the most valuable and most threatened resource she has.

Her voice is the conduit for her heart, brains, and spirit. When she speaks bold and clearly—literally and metaphorically—she is much safer and surer.

Dads, I can’t underscore enough how intensely vital it is that you help nurture these qualities in your daughter.

I share below some responses from girls between the ages of thirteen and thirty to the question, What is something your dad doesn’t understand or know about you? What would it be like if he knew? As you read, listen to these girls’ heart cries to be heard, known, and embraced by their dads.

 

  • “I don’t think he understands that I can handle things by myself sometimes and that I’m not a little girl anymore. I also don’t think he understands that I don’t like the way that he asks to know things, and doesn’t really even listen to me when I talk.”

  • “I care what he thinks and I am not as stoic as I seem. I don’t know what it would be like if he knew about it, but it scares me to think about him knowing that I am vulnerable.”

  • “I don’t think he understands how I could have sex at such a young age, but also I know that he doesn’t know that I have had an STD before. It would be weird if he knew about the STD because that isn’t something a father wants for his little girl.”

  • “My dad doesn’t know that for about six years I truly believed that he didn’t like me. I felt like everything I did annoyed him and irritated him. I thought I didn’t live up to his expectations. I would tell my mom this all the time and ask, ‘Does Dad hate me?’ I wasn’t doing it for attention. I internally, 100% believed that he didn’t like me and didn’t want a relationship with me. It hurt so much feeling like my own father didn’t like me.”

  • “Something he doesn’t know is the pain that I will always have about some things in our family. I’ve told my mom about it, but I’ve never told my dad. I know he’d just blow me off and say, ‘There’s nothing I can do about the past.’ He always says that.”

  • “There are a lot of things he doesn’t know about me—just because we don’t talk that much and aren’t that close. I don’t share many details of my life with him. But on a bigger scale, I am not sure if he realizes how much his parenting affected me and how much he hurt me.”

Dad, do you hear the heart longings in every one of these daughters to be special to her dad?

This is a need, not a want.

My friend Emily is a wife and mother of two boys. While choosing to parent differently than she was raised, she tells of the pain she felt growing up because her dad “was always too busy for her.” She talks about him being around physically but not emotionally or mentally. He was a pastor and was doing “God’s work,” and she knew she couldn’t compete with that.

Emily recalls sheepishly knocking on the door of his office at the age of seven and being afraid that she was a bother to him. His responses usually confirmed her worst fears. Not only has she carried around debilitating fears like an invisible knapsack ever since, but her childhood insecurities have continued to intersect with every relationship throughout her life. She and her dad have come far in repairing their relationship. Emily is working on healing and letting go. She’s finding her voice. It’s beautiful.

Be a dad today who helps your daughter to find and use her voice.

 

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.