Finally A Dad Ad Worth Watching

I recently came across a really neat commercial that featured (for a change) a really powerful “dad moment” in of all things a commercial…for coffee.

I like it for several reasons.  First, it stands in contrast to most commercials that feature men or dads that are catatonic dolts.  You know the guy I’m talking about…the dad that can’t figure out the simplest things, that acts like a big kid all the time (while the all-wise, all-knowing woman tolerates his stupidity, and the all-wise, all-knowing kids do, too).  I’m very tired of that stereotyping of men and dads in particular, because it reinforces the lie that dads do not matter.

Another reason I really enjoy this commercial is that it’s based on a real story.  We need to share our real stories as men, to encourage each other.  To sometimes warn each other.

I’m also fond of this “dad ad” because it reminds us of the powerful and enduring impact of a dad…for good or bad.  In the commercial, the grandfather is bringing coffee to his grandson’s hockey game, while his son is already there looking on the game. Flashbacks tell us that this game…hockey…has been a passion for the son (father of the grandson) since he was a little boy. We also sense that the grandfather didn’t approve of his son’s love of hockey.  He didn’t refuse his son’s desire to play ALL the time, but he did put studying above hockey MOST of the time. And yet…the son realizes by the end of the commercial that his dad was not as disconnected from his hockey playing as he thought.

His dad would sneak into his games…his dad would watch from a distance and cheer him on…his dad even kept a picture of his son in his hockey uniform in his wallet for YEARS AND YEARS.  The faded picture is shown to the adult son as proof he watched the games and knew about the effort of his son in the sport.  The picture is precious to him.

This sets up a moment of peace, implied forgiveness, gratitude…and pride.  The grandfather is proud of his son.  The grandfather is proud of his grandson.  And the implication is clear. That pride and admiration and respect of your dad means a lot.  And even that statement is an understatement.

Research shows that an engaged dad in a child’s life has a huge impact in the social, emotional, academic, and spiritual well-being and development of our kids. So how are we doing, dads? Do we take or create opportunities to let our children know we are proud of them? Do we have our own “This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I’m well pleased” moments?

I’m humbled by this commercial.  I’m warned, in a way, as a dad. The warning to us is this:  Don’t wait for decades to pass before we tell our kids that we love them, that we are proud of them, that we appreciate what they can do and are capable of doing. We can talk all day long about government programs, church programs, non-profit ministry programs and the like that we need to encourage dads.

But some times as a dad…we just gotta go do it.

So let’s tell our kids and our grandkids today how much they mean to us.  Let’s not let the day go by without making an opportunity to do that.

What ways have you been blessed by a dad or grandpa that told you that they were proud of you?  What creative ways have you seen this type of blessing shown in public?  Share your comments below.

 

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 book The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Leon lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.

Dad, Are You Tempted Today to Think You Don’t Matter?

Guest post by Leon Wirth, Sitting member of the Fatherhood CoMission Board and Executive Director with Focus on the Family

It’s natural for us to struggle with this question.

Sometimes we really do wonder…we wonder as dads if what we do really makes a difference in our family’s life.  Do dads matter?  What if I wasn’t there?  Would they miss me?  Do they really need me?  Don’t they get most of what they need from their mom, the church, their teachers and coaches and friends?

The temptation comes because we feel discouraged, questioning whether or not we matter at work, at home and elsewhere.  It comes when we wonder what it would like to be “free” from our family, without the daily grind that comes with family responsibilities.  It comes when we’re tempted by the enemy to fantasize about starting a new life, a “mulligan” of sorts.

However and whenever you are tempted to think you don’t matter, whatever the reason, I challenge you to “perish the thought.”  Think about the importance of your dad, present or not, in making you who you are.  Look at the many examples in Scripture of reasons that dads are important and dads matter (and the Heavenly Father most of all).

Dads matter…an example

But if you need a practical example to encourage and inspire you, if it helps (and it sure does me), I urge you watch the following video, or find your favorite similar such video, and bookmark it to watch it from time to time.

Because few videos capture the importance of a dad in a family’s life, without any words needed, then a video that shows the homecoming of a military dad.

Wow.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not ashamed to admit these scenes bring tears to my eyes every time.

Look at the joy.  The relief.  The desire to be in each other’s arms.  Notice how the kids drop whatever they’re doing?  Do you think there is anything more important than being in their dad’s arms at that moment?  Do you think they’re thinking about sports, relationship problems, money, video games, homework, or what anyone else around them is thinking?

Dads can stir courage into their kids

The courage of the kids, in a way, is remarkable.  They seemingly could care less about anyone else.  Everything else seems to melt away as they rush to their fathers.  Do you think they care what their peers think about them?  Not a chance.

Dads can stir the courage and hearts of their kids in powerful ways.

In fact, study after study actually shows that the impact of a dad is powerful.  Dad’s positively impact a child’s social, academic, relational, emotional and spiritual health.  Some studies even show the impact of a dad is greater than the impact of a mom in certain aspects of a child’s life.  That’s not to say dads are better, but it is to say that dads certainly matter.
Yes.  It’s true.  Dads really do matter.

Maybe that’s what these kids in the videos know better than we do as dads sometimes.

Those families are not perfect any more than yours or mine are perfect.  They have problems.  The dads eventually will get crossed up with the kids over something, just like you and I do with our kids.  But at the moment of that reunion the message is simple:  Dad, I’m so glad you’re here, you’re home.

The first question this raises for me is about my relationship with God.  Do I enjoy my time with God like these kids do who are reunited with their dads?  Do I run into His arms to tell Him I love Him?  Do I accept His love in return as these kids so eagerly do?

The second question is for me as a dad in my family:  Do I do everything I can in my time with my family that they’ll look forward like that to my coming home?

Sometimes I travel for work.  And I love coming home and hearing “Daddy’s home!”  But how I leave, and how I come home…where my head and heart and attitude are…can either help or hurt that “re-entry.”

But even on regular days, wouldn’t it be great if my kids and wife were like those families in the video, wanting my presence and longing for my hugs and words of love? Again, how I leave home and how I come home either helps or hurts my return.

The bottom line is this:  I want to live in such a way that I’m missed, that my return home is exciting, that my presence is meaningful.

Yeah, when I watch those videos, I want to be THAT DAD, like one of our great military servicemen, who gets that kind of reception.

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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 book The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions. Leon lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.

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.