Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What is Love . . . Really? -- Springfield Dad, Kevin Weaver


Nothing like the Valentine season to get people, even kids, talking about love. We all know that love means a myriad of things to a myriad of people. There are cultural definitions, with some languages having multiple words to express the levels of the emotion, unlike our English language which offers only one. And with just one little word to convey and explain meaning for such a big expression, no wonder it can be challenging to teach and show our kids what real love is. I mean, I love my wife and I love peanut butter. But, I can tell you that the love for my wife better bring a whole lot more with it than my love for the creamy, jarred substance. So, when our kids hear us using the same verb for so many, different things, how can we break it down for them? How do we show young children, and even grown ones, what love really is?

Obviously, the younger the child, the less complicated love can seem and the easier love can be to display. But, no matter the age, it seems that just taking time with our kids shows love in ways that mean more to them than we could ever imagine. And I know how a lot of dads are, the idea of spending time with their kids is great, as they truly love their kids…but the idea of initiating deep, loving, meaningful conversations is daunting. Sometimes, downright scary. How grateful most of us find ourselves when we realize that words are not always required to show our kids the great love we have for them.

I had, and have, a great dad. But, he was definitely from the generation of non-verbal expression within the family unit. That is, unless one of his young was in trouble. However, my own wife and kids have a hard time envisioning this, as my 76-year-old father is now one of the first to bear hug a family member and emphatically declare an emotional, “I love you!”

That stated, I don’t dwell on the number of “I love yous” I received growing up. Instead, I dwell time spent with my dad. He worked hard, and moments with him were great commodities. Some of my favorite moments, and moments in which I saw and felt love most expressed, were when we worked on my old car. More tools were passed than words, but standing side-by-side with both of our heads under the hood of that classic 1965 Ford Mustang, I felt it. I felt my father’s love.


Fast forward to my own days of dad-hood. No more perfect than any father before me, I had shining moments and colossal failures. But, one of the things that my now-grown sons remember to this very day, is either me coming home from work and simply throwing myself on the floor for them to climb around on, or me putting them to bed at night—on the nights I was home in time to do so.

I would like to think it was my stories they remember best, or my deep nuggets of shared wisdom, but no. They remember the climbing back and forth over me, the wrestling around, the being thrown onto lots and lots of cushions onto the couch, the tickling, and the laughing. (I promise no children were injured in the filming of our life story!) If one really investigated it, there were weeks when these loving memories were made in a matter of 15 minutes a day. I wish it could have been more, but I was young, they were young, and we all needed to eat. How grateful I am that love doesn’t always have to be expressed with flowery words, extravagant gifts, or costly trips. How grateful I am that love can sometimes be best expressed in just being there truly engaged.


I am now a grandfather, and am trying to show love in the same ways to my grandson and granddaughter as I did to my own sons. It takes me a little longer to get down and get back up, again, but the responses are the same. The minute I finally get my old football injury knees to bend, my grandkids are right there, ready to receive and exchange some love. Nothing could be sweeter.

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at kweaver@network211.com


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What I Wish Dads Would Say to Their Teens about Love -- Dr. Jennifer Baker


Many dads fear “the talk” relative to conversations with their kids about love and sex. I can understand this discomfort, but I wish dads would focus more on the characteristics of a healthy relationship than the biology of sex. Even if they leave the topic of sex to teachers and moms, there’s still a lot to be said about love and relationships.

“What’s that Boiling on the Stove?”
Falling in love is a lot like the boiling pot I remember in the biology lab where my boyfriend (now husband) worked when we were in college. I often visited him there and regularly noticed something bubbling in a large pan on the stove, but it was usually boiling so hard the contents were indistinguishable. When I asked about their make-up, I got an unexpected answer.

“Road kill,” my boyfriend responded, rather matter-of-factly. “Some of the biology students cruise the country roads early in the morning to find freshly dead animals. They bring them back here, boil the meat off the bones, and then reconstruct the skeletons to study.”  Not the answer I had expected, but falling in love can be a lot like that.

Chemical Cocktail
When we become attracted to someone, a.k.a. “fall in love,” a chemical cocktail invades our brain and temporarily transforms us. The neurotransmitters of attraction and infatuation (e.g., like dopamine, phenylethylalamine and norepinephrine) flood our neural pathways and lead us to be overly optimistic, discount potentially negative information, and cling to a euphoric state with unquestioned certainty that we’ve found our soul mate and the world will be blissful forever. Eventually the impact of these hormones subsides, and other hormones of connection and bonding (e.g., oxytocin) take their place. When that occurs we find ourselves in a more rational, calmer state of being. Until it does, however, we can make some very unwise decisions regarding our love life.

Problem Behaviors
What kinds of behaviors do we overlook or rationalize during our euphoric state? Lying, cheating, controlling, and blaming others for his or her problems are good examples. An inability to keep a job, having a perpetually negative attitude, big mood swings and substance abuse are also red flags. Failure to take responsibility for one’s children and believing others are out to get you are also danger signs often condoned in the “falling in love” stage. Looking back, most people admit there were signs of bad behavior early in the relationship, but they were overlooked under the influence of the “love cocktail.”

Slowing to a Simmer
Although it has been said that a “watched pot never boils,” as we can already see, it might be better to watch what goes into the pot before it comes to a boil . . . or wait until it slows to a simmer before deciding what to do with the contents.


“The Seven Principles of Smart Love”
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, authors of Relationships and Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, identify seven key factors to consider before making a serious commitment to someone. They include “ 1) Seek a good match; 2) Pay attention to values; 3) Choose a real partner, not a “makeover” project; 4) Don’t try to change yourself to be somebody else; 5) Expect good communication and don’t run from conflict; 6) Don’t play games, pressure or manipulate someone; and 7) Have a bottom line.”  Let’s consider each briefly.

Seek a good match. | Pay attention to values.
Beth and Josh could have saved themselves much heartache and frustration had they taken seriously the need for common interests after the heat of early passion slows to a simmer. Given that having fun together is one of the things happy couples identify as key to their marital satisfaction, it’s helpful if they enjoy doing some of the same things. It is equally important they have some friends in common, friends who like both of them and will support their relationship. Finally, having similar values in terms of shared beliefs mutual respect, and commitment is essential.

Choose a real partner, not a “makeover” project. | Don’t try to change yourself…
It goes without saying that trying to change your partner, or changing yourself just to please him or her is not a good idea. First, you are unlikely to be successful in the long run, which will be frustrating for both of you. Secondly, most people have a deep need to be accepted as they are. If you are trying to change your partner, then your love is conditional. Moreover, trying to change a core part of yourself for your partner is likely to leave you feeling hollow, empty and very lonely over time. It is definitely not a good way to feel loved and stay connected.

Expect good communication. | Don’t run from conflict. | Don’t play games …
Some differences are inevitable and when they occur what matters most is the ability to communicate well and solve problems as a team. Most people would agree that screaming, yelling and hitting are unacceptable, but fewer are aware of the damage conflict avoidance can do to a marriage as the years unfold. One person said it well when she exclaimed, “We’ve been pushing things under the carpet for years and now we have a very lumpy carpet.” A “very lumpy carpet” results in bitterness and resentment that becomes harder and harder to resolve as trust and respect deteriorate.

Have a bottom line.
Before you allow yourself to become seriously involved with someone, establish your “bottom line,” that is, the standard for how you wish to be treated in a relationship. What are the things you need and want? What are the deal breakers? Setting limits is healthy for you and for the one you love. It is also fair and honest.

Take Your Time
Determining whether or not a potential mate is a “smart love” takes time. It’s wise to see the person in a variety of situations over a period of several months, before allowing yourself to become too attached. It’s prudent to allow the hormones of love to stop boiling so that you have a better chance of knowing what you’ve got, than you do when the relationship is still steamy. It’s even better to learn more about a person before you allow yourself to get emotionally engaged. There’s a lot of time for regret later on.

Falling in love is often the easy part. Staying in love is harder, but a lot less work and more fun if you choose the right person from the start.


Dr. Jennifer Baker is the founder and director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She can be reached for question or comment at Jennifer@gooddads.com.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Teaching Love -- Jeffrey Sippy, Springfield Dad-in-Training

Love is not easy and teaching Love is harder yet.  We all have something to say about Love.  We all have an idea of what Love is.  Love is the most dominant theme of music, poetry, fiction and cinema.  But Love is not easy.

I recently watched a love story called The Notebook.  The Notebook is a 2004 American Romance based on the book of the same title and starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.  The movie captured me.  I smiled.  I cried.  I wanted the love the movie portrayed for myself.  When the movie was over I Googled it.  I wanted to know more about the characters, the actors, and what the critics had to say.  The movie was a box office hit with teenagers and young adults but the critics dismantled it as unrealistic and sentimental.  What did this mean?  Do young people have an idealized--even romanticized--notion of what Love might be, but the older and wiser among us dismantle any attempts and modeling or proclaiming it?


I want my boys to be great lovers in every way.  When they marry I want their wives to fight with each other about who got the best of the Sippy boys.  I want little old ladies to marvel at my boys for being polite and thoughtful gentleman.  I want their employers to think of them as conscientious men who put the needs of others before their own. 


Love shows interest.  Love invests time.  Love never asks, “Do you love the ballet or basketball, sailing, fishing, art galleries, or golf?”  Love asks, “Do you love being with the person you love?”  When you love someone you want to know this person inside and out.  You want to know what makes them tick. You want to know their joys and hurts.  You want to listen.

Love takes time for others without looking for something in return.  Love stays up all night long with a baby who is crying.  Love sits beside of a person with Alzheimer’s. Love visits someone who is sick.  Love surrenders its own comforts and interests.  Love says, “I am here for you.” 

Love does little things in a big way.  Love calls someone on the phone when they have lost a loved one.  Love sends cards in the mail.  Love says, “I am thinking of you.”     

Admittedly, Love is not easy. It is risky.  You can be hurt in love.  You can show interest in another and the other not show interest in return.  But when you love the other is forgiven in advance. Is this easy? Not at all. 
        
I love you and I want you to know that Love is not easy.  It is not easy being a Good Dad, either.  But being a Good Dad and teaching our children to love makes for a lovelier world.  We will fail at love. I do.  And then, because we love, we will Love again. 
  

Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at jsippy@rlcmail.org

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Four Ways to Help Your Child Try New Things -- Springfield Dad, Steve Moser

“What’s that?!” 
“It’s good.  You’ll like it.”
“Yuck. No I won’t.” 
“How do you know you won’t like it if you haven’t tried it?” 
“It looks gross.” 
“Well, it’s not, and your mother worked really hard at making a nice dinner for us, so eat it!” 
“I can’t.  I’ll throw up!”
“No you won’t – and you’re not getting up from this table until you’ve eaten it, young lady, so you’d better get started now!”

And so the lines are drawn, and the battle begins . . .

Sound familiar?  I don’t know any father who hasn’t played out the above scenario in some form or another with his kids, and it can be a very frustrating experience on both sides.

Granted, if our children’s biggest struggle is with trying new food at dinner, they’re probably not going to be emotionally crippled for life.  On the other hand, if they are paralyzed with fear about trying anything new, they could miss out on a great deal of the joy and adventure of living.

So what can we do as fathers to help our children overcome their fears and welcome new experiences in life?  We can proactively address four underlying beliefs that hold our kids back, and we can build a set of beliefs into the foundation of their character that will help them embrace the new rather than fear it.

Four Beliefs That Hold Kids Back

 
Belief #1: Inability (“I can’t do it”)
Kids sometimes think that because they haven’t done something before, that means they can’t do it.  As fathers, we can help foster a sense of independence in our children by giving them small things to do from a very young age.   We can encourage their natural inclination to want to “do it myself”, then congratulate them on their successes, and not criticize when the finished product is less than perfect.

My 8-year-old daughter Charissa and I were building Lego houses together a few months ago.   After a while, I saw how I could “improve” part of her design.  I started rebuilding a stairway so it would be more sturdy and, in my opinion, more aesthetically pleasing.  My daughter saw what I was doing and said seven words that had me scrambling to put things back the way I found them.  She looked at me with her big eyes and just said, “I worked really hard on that, Daddy.”  I’m grateful she spoke up and helped me realize that despite my good intentions, I was sending her a message that she wasn’t good enough.  I pray I never make that mistake again.

 

Belief #2: Incompetence(“I won’t be good at it”)
Even when a child realizes they have the ability to do something new, they may not have the assurance they can do it well.  For some kids, that’s a show-stopper.  As fathers, we can help foster a sense of confidence in our children by giving sincere praise for their accomplishments.  By celebrating their achievements with them, our children grow more self-assured and more eager to try something new.

Charissa is learning how to play basketball, and before her first game, she was terrified she would make a mistake and be embarrassed in front of everyone.  Fortunately, she has a great coach.  He made a concerted effort to give positive feedback for every good move on the court, and by the time the game was over, Charissa’s main comment was, “That was fun!”  I want to be an encouraging coach for her as well, so every new experience she has will end with the same feeling.

 

Belief #3: Insecurity (“I’m not safe”)
 If children don’t feel safe, they have a difficult time taking risks with new situations.  Kids need to know they are loved and protected unconditionally.  As fathers, we can help foster a sense of security in our children by showing them how important they are to us and by providing them with a stable environment.  We do this by spending time with them, enjoying them, and listening carefully to how they feel.

When Charissa was six years old, I took her to the Daddy-Daughter Dance sponsored by the Lutheran Student Center at MSU.  I left the house early and purchased a white rose, then drove back home and rang the front doorbell.  When my wife opened the door, I saw Charissa all dressed up with her face just beaming at me, and it brought tears to my eyes.  I knew I’d done something right.  I’d added to Charissa’s foundational beliefs about her value, her security and her confidence.  I’d let her know she was loved.



Belief #4: Inadequacy (“If I fail, I’m a failure”)
 If children get their sense of worth out of succeeding in what they do, then when they don’t succeed, their sense of worth plummets.  Rather than take that risk, some kids just avoid trying anything new.  As fathers, we can help foster a sense of strength in our children that helps them cope with the inevitable mistakes and missteps of life.  We do this verbally by letting them know it’s ok to make mistakes, and by not criticizing, teasing, or disapproving when they mess up.  We also strengthen our kids by modeling the process for them.  We can do new things together with them, and when it doesn’t go as planned, let them know it’s ok, help them think through a solution, and show them we’re still having fun.
 

I decided that for my daughter’s birthday this year, I was going to build a cake for her in the shape of a castle.  I’d never done anything like this before, but how hard could it be?  At one point in the process, Charissa saw the cake, and although she was polite, I could tell she had some doubts about how it was going to turn out.  So did I.  When her mother called to reassure Charissa that it couldn’t be that bad, her response was, “Oh but Mom, you can’t see it.”  Well, I modeled some perseverance and determination that day.  After adding about 30 reinforcing skewers, a Rice Krispy retaining wall around the whole cake, and even a few nails pounded into the foundation, it turned out all right.  Charissa loved it, and I think she learned a valuable lesson about how to accept mistakes and push on through.
 
Every child is different, and some will be more intimidated by new things than others, and that’s ok.  But all will benefit from having a solid foundation based on these four core beliefs:

·                     Independence (“I can do it!”)
·                     Confidence (“I’m good at it!”)
·                     Security (“No matter what, I am safe!”)
·                     Strength (“Mistakes are ok.”)

As dads, our influence over our children in these four areas is greater than that of anyone else.  As we teach, encourage, support, and model these foundational beliefs for our kids, we will reap the reward of watching them grow and enjoy all the new experiences life has to offer.

Steve Moser is the father of four and the husband of Mindy. He lives with his wife and his youngest child, Charissa, in Springfield, MO where he serves as the Parish Life Director at Redeemer Lutheran Church. He can be reached for question or comment at smoser@rlcmail.org.














Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Helping Your Children with "Firsts"


At the first of the year, my mind is often brought back to the many “firsts” I have been blessed to witness my children experience. There are those “firsts” with which most dads are familiar – the first steps, first words, first days of school, first bike ride without training wheels, first driving lesson, and first date. Most of the aforementioned are joyous firsts, but of course we experience some hard firsts with our kids as well. First illness, first bumped head, first scraped knee, first fender bender, and first heartbreak. Other “firsts,” such as the first fall the eldest child is off at college, are a little bit of both – bittersweet in many ways. And as much as I like to think “firsts” are just for kids, I know they indeed are not. Life is full of what we adults call “changes,” but in truth, they are simply an endless stream of “firsts.”

Because of the nature of my job, a very real “first” my wife and I had to help our sons navigate came by way of moving. We had to work at giving our boys the opportunity to both experience all of the wonderful benefits of living in various cities, small towns, and even one other country, while maintaining a consistent sense of “home.” Many adults struggle with the change that moving brings, but to a child, it can be downright scary. While the majority of you reading this may not see yourself ever having to move your family from where you currently reside, some of the principles applied to making a move to a new place as smooth as possible can apply to so many other “firsts.” Especially “firsts” such as going from middle school to high school, leaving for college, or first days on a job. So, with that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned along the “firsts” trail of life…
·        

     Remind yourself and your children – often – that getting used to something new takes time.
Before any move, we would tell our kids, “A year from now, you are going to love this place! You’ll see!” Okay, I know a year sounds like forever to our kids, but too many parents say unrealistic things such as, “You are going to have great friends on the very first day!” Um, more than likely, you won’t. But, when a kid is thinking 12 months, and 12 days later they make one, really good friend? Golden. Again, this also can apply to something such as a student simply moving from one grade level to the next.  If we focus on this reality, we can find joy in the journey – guaranteed!

·      Build knowledge and excitement for the adventure ahead!
Study, explore and discuss various aspects of the upcoming “first.” Nervous about the first day of school? Call the school and see if you can take your child on a private tour of the building to get acclimated without feeling overwhelmed. Rent a fun James Patterson movie based on one of his middle school novels. Share your own experiences – both good and embarrassing, as your child will love hearing them. If you’re moving, get online, search the local parks, history, festivals, and events. If you’re moving before the school year begins, see if there are some summer programs you can get your kids in that will help them get to know other kids so that “first day” later on is easier to look forward to than dread.


·      
        Stay Gold . . . and Silver
My wife drove us nuts singing it, but there’s some solid truth to the old Girl Scout song, “Make new friends, but keep the old . . . one is silver and the other’s gold.” She was forever telling our boys that with each new experience was the opportunity to gather more friends. At the same time, we worked hard to make it as easy as possible for the boys to maintain the cherished friendships they already had . . . and don’t underestimate the Gold and Silver of your own family.  With each new adventure, we were poised with the opportunity draw closer to each other like never before.  As a dad, that’s what I treasured most!

Whatever “firsts” you are facing as a family, more than any other tried and true advice I can offer is simply the reminder that when facing the “firsts” together, remember that they can be the firsts of many great things to come.

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at kweaver@network211.com

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Dad's New Year Resolution


A man goes through quite a few stages as a father. Each stage has unique challenges that require any you can be an even better dad by just giving a little thought to your child’s needs and your responsibilities.

The beginning of a new year is often accompanied by resolutions, by many, to make needed changes. The change necessary could relate to eating habits, exercise, or to being a kinder, gentler person. A resolution I think could be the greatest asset to your family would be to be the best father you can be!


Below are some thoughts on minimal steps to be a ‘good dad’, if not a great dad! These thoughts are from my experience as a father, grandfather, and author, and my wife's experience as a ‘Parent Educator’. I don’t recommend depending on this advice alone! There are many awesome parenting books out there (including mine) and I recommend that you read them! But for you dads that don’t or won’t read parenting books, here is a shortcut. Of course, it’s not as simple as reading a checklist. A lot of work and interpretation is involved! It is also very important to communicate clearly with your child’s mother regarding all aspects of parenting.

Before Kids
 1. Find a wonderful mate
 2. Fall in love (not infatuation.)
 3. Marry this loved one (highly preferred.)
 4. Really WANT to have a child!
 5. Have intimate relations with your mate (you are on your own here.)
 6. Be mentally ready (If you are fortunate, you will have a healthy child which will change your life)

Baby Baby
 7. Keep them safe! (This includes a proper car seat.)
 8. Hold the baby, feed the baby, and talk to the baby!
 9. Change the baby’s diapers! (If you don’t, you’re a wimp!)
10. Read to the baby! (The baby will associate snuggling, comfort, and love with books)
11. Continue to help the mother in all aspects of parenting!



Toddler Time
12. Watch closely as your toddler will be adventurous! (Stairs, small objects, sharp objects are all dangerous)
13. Read to your toddler! (Always very important!)
14. Love and comfort your toddler (but don’t pick them up at every whimper)
15. Assist them in standing and walking (make them work at it a bit)​
16. As they get a little older, talk to them about potty training (maybe show-time for boys will help)
17. Don’t push them too hard in getting out of diapers (but don’t be lazy about it)

Pre-school to Tween
18. Some things get easier and other things get tougher as a parent (e.g. no diapers, but more attitude)
19. Buckle their seat belt
20. When you get home, ask them how they’re doing (and listen!)
21. Check school work (help them learn but don’t solve problems for them)
22. Take them with you on errands (it may take twice as long but it will make memories and connections)
23. Experience stuff together (fishing, ballgames, camping, swimming, whatever creates memories together)
24. Praise their efforts, especially their persistence
25. Challenge them with tasks just beyond their perceived capability (give them enough help that they don’t give up)

Teen Time

26. Buckle your seat belt! (You know what I mean.)
27. Be a good example (you can no longer fool them.)
28. Continue to do stuff together as much as possible! (It may be tough but not so much if you have developed traditions.)
29. Give them some space and show them trust (but verify, verify, verify)
30. At some reasonable point in time, talk about bird and bees and real life. (You might learn something!)
31. Be willing to be “hated” for doing the right thing for your teens.
32. Be conscious of likely peer pressure. (As a teen, impressing their friends will likely take precedence over being straight with you.)
33. Help them when it makes them stronger. Don’t help them if it makes them weaker.
34. Expect solid contributions from them to maintain the household.
35. Teach goals, integrity, and education



Adulthood
Your child will have become the person they will most likely be the rest of their life. Not everything they do right is to your credit, nor is everything they do wrong your fault. Some life experiences will change them, but your influence on their childhood will be a significant influence on who they are. Remain involved and give advice when asked.



Summary
Becoming a father is a blessing for a man. Being a Dad is a blessing for his child. Be involved, be knowledgeable, be loving, be consistent, be fun, and have principles!  But most importantly, ‘be there’ for your children when they need your reassurance, help, love, and understanding. Read about parenting. There is always something to learn. You will always be very influential in your children’s lives but you won’t always know when it has or will happen. Be sure your influence is something of which you can be very proud! Never be satisfied, always challenge you children and yourself!


Michael Smith, the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Need, is the father of three adult children and grandfather of four. He is a retired US Air Force officer and resides with his wife in St. Louis, MO. Michael can be reached for question or comment at mike@michaelbyronsmith.com



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Teaching "New" -- by Jeffrey Sippy, a Dad-in-Training


The New Year is a time “New.”  But New is not always so nice.  New means change and change means challenge.  New might not be fun for you.

New represents the unknown—from a child’s first day of school to a Dad bringing home his baby for the first time.  The unknown stirs questions of who we are and how we feel: Will I be liked?  Will I know what I am doing?  Will I be any good?  

These questions are just a few when it comes to the New.  There are girls who do not want to go bowling on a date because they don’t want to be laughed at.  There are boys who do not want to go skiing for fear of falling down.  The New does not always seem so good for you.     


There is a temptation to fight the fear of the New with a Herculean bravado.  There is a saying that   “When the going gets tough the tough get going.”  This is not always true.  Throwing children off the high dive is not the best way to overcome a fear of heights. 

New can be good for you.  But new isn’t easy—not for me, not for you, and not for our children.  So here are some encouragements for Good Dads helping their children find the good in the New: 
  • Set aside some time to talk about the New.  The answer may be the same in the end, but don’t be too quick to get there.  Go out for lunch.  Snuggle up on the bed.
  • Listen.  Really listen.  Don’t say, “You don’t need to be afraid.”  Acknowledge feelings.  “Wow.  I can see this is bothering you.  This would be hard for me, too.” 
  • Empathize.  Remember a time you were afraid of the New, too.  You might ask for permission, “May I share a story with you?”  But do not presume the feelings or the outcome is the same.  Your only goal is to say, “I have been afraid, too.”
  • Choose your battles.  Your child does have to go to school.  But your child does not have to play soccer, stay in the band, go out for cheerleading, or go on a date.  Good Dads are gracious Dads, patient Dads, and accepting Dads.
  • Be proud.  When your child does something New tell him, “I am really proud of you for trying something New.  Tell me, now do you feel?”    

The New is not always easy—not for me or for you.  I don’t always feel I am a Good Dad or good at other things.  It doesn’t help me when people say, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”  It does help when people say, “What can I do to help?” and “I am proud of you.” 

You are a Good Dad and what you do isn’t easy. Every day is new for you.  I am proud of you.  


 Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at jsippy@rlcmail.org