Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Promoting Generosity in Children -- Jeffrey Sippy, a Good Dad in Training

My wife recently bought me a book of quotations from Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  If you can find such a book I encourage you to get one.  Teach your children to be generous the same way you teach them anything.    

Children are amazing. They can be taught amazing things.  Children can be taught to kick a soccer ball, set a volleyball, and hit a golf ball.  Children can be taught to play the violin, skate forward and backwards, and operate a handheld electronic device.  Children can also be taught to be generous and to put the needs of others before their own.  Children can be taught to appreciate what they have.  Children can be taught to share.       
If our children are going to be generous then generosity needs to be the lifestyle and cultural value of our home.  Generosity does not just happen by wishing or wanting it.  Generosity needs to be as high a passion and priority as the other high passions and priorities of your life.  Generosity takes work and effort.               

Mother Teresa was a generous woman.  We need to highlight and profile generous people in our children’s life.  Children look up to pro athletes, actors and actresses, and musicians.  Children should also be encouraged to look up to generous people.   

There used to be a commercial with Michael Jordan.  The jingle went like this: “I want to be, I want to be, I want to be like Mike.”  Can you imagine children wanting to be like Mother Teresa or someone like her?        

Ask yourself right now, “What kind of person do you want your child to grow up to be?”  Would you like your children to be good at sports or music, math or science?  What if you were to say, “I want my child to be a generous person.”  

For you and me to raise generous children requires more than a casual conversation or a handful of change in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas.  We need to help our children set tangible and sacrificial goals with clear objectives that benefit others in need.  Our children will benefit from knowing that they are blessed beyond measure and that their generosity makes a difference in the lives of others.      

Here are three ways I have taught my children to be generous.  I want to stress, however, that generosity is not just doing projects and generous things. Generosity is being a generous person from the inside out. 
1.  At birthdays, do not have children bring gifts for your child. Rather, pick a charity or a disaster relief and have children bring monetary gifts or food items to be given away.

2.  Have your children mow lawns or shovel the snow off walks for free.

3.  Teach your children to budget their money with a set percentage always to be given away. Start small, like 1 or 2 % with the objective of reaching a goal of 5% or 10% or more

      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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Did You Say, "Thank You?" -- Springfield Dad, Kevin Weaver

As good dads, we strive to give our kids the best we can offer. But somehow, especially in the past, few decades, giving our kids “the best” has triggered some unintentional consequences. And one of those consequences is the production of a generation of young people who vehemently struggle with gratefulness. Now, before you think I am about to launch into a tirade regarding the millennial demonstrations we have seen occurring post-presidential election, hold up. When I think of a lack of gratefulness in the generation behind me, all I have to do is blame my own. Case in point, I have a very nice vehicle. When I first purchased said vehicle, I was thrilled. But, as time and my car have rolled on, I catch myself looking around at other very nice vehicles. You get where I’m going. So, how do we dads, who are possibly a little spoiled ourselves, create environments in our homes in which we can raise children possessing a grateful attitude? As always: we model it.

Modeling an attitude, a lifestyle even, of gratefulness can happen on both minute and massive scales. When children are very young, simply hearing the adults in their lives consistently and sincerely saying, “thank you,” is huge. This may not be earth-shattering advice, but all one has to do is go out in public for the day and consciously count the “thank-yous” to be surprised.

My wife, a middle school teacher, loves to treat her class. However, she says that anytime she gives out treats, she mentally tracks the expressions of gratitude. The last time she tracked, out of 115 students, seven said, “Thank you.” Seven. She says she doesn’t give anything to get a “thanks,” but that it is sad and disconcerting that students – and humans in general – have lost the fine art of thanking. The much needed art of being grateful and living lives of gratitude.

As children grow, there are numerous community opportunities, through our schools, non-profits, and religious organizations in which we can continue this modeling of gratefulness. When our sons were in elementary school, we often spent Thanksgiving Day serving homeless members of our town a special, holiday meal at a local hotel ballroom. One of our fondest memories as parents is that of our youngest, then around age six or seven, cheerfully carrying cups of pudding to downtrodden, displaced people, then pulling a chair up right beside them to chat their ears off regarding his busy and fascinating first grade life. It not only made him grateful for the home he had, but it fostered in him the ability to see all humans as fellow humans.

Into their teens and college years, we supported and encouraged our boys’ travel and service with campus groups, ministry organizations, and ROTC military outreaches.  We’ve lost count of the combined excursions, but never the count of life-changing, gratitude-inducing, human-kindness-in-action moments they have produced within our now-grown children. Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s great, Kev. But, my kids are really young.” Or, quite possibly, “I’d love to see my kids have experiences like that, but money and opportunity are scarce.” You need not look further than your elderly neighbor’s un-mowed lawn, or the person who opens the door for you and your little one to walk through. Grab your mower, have your kid pull weeds, and simply say “thanks,” in front of them once in a while. Or better yet, all the time. Remember, your kids are watching. 

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, November 9, 2016

Generous Giving from the Mouths of Babes -- Springfield Dad Sid Whiting

Dad: “What does generosity mean to you?”

Aaron: “Giving stuff to people and being happy with what they are doing.”

Jonathan: “Being kind with what you have.”

Faith: “We do three things with money: Spend, Save, and Share.  Sharing is being generous.”

Sometimes my kids make me feel like I may qualify as a Good Dad some day.

Make no mistake, my kids started out as all kids do: whining, demanding, wanting to be fed, cleaned, cuddled, soothed, entertained . . . and all that RIGHT NOW!  It didn’t matter if my dear wife or I were tired, sick, hungry, hurt, frustrated, or not feeling up to par.  They had needs and those needs had to be fulfilled immediately!

Gradually, our kids grew older and we grew more resilient.  Being a parent to a needy child may be some people’s first attempt at being truly selfless.  That is to say, the moment when we first make someone else’s needs more important than our own, we have an opportunity to be truly generous.

My parents didn’t indoctrinate me nearly as much as I do my kids.  That’s not to say their method of child rearing is any better or worse than what I’m doing.  My folks were pretty easy going, and their approach was based on the philosophy that, “More is caught than taught.”  In other words, instead of making me write an essay about being generous, or reading a church tract or having a Bible study about being generous, my parents just were generous people.  As far as I can tell, their plan was that my brother and I would figure out that this was the right way to live as we observed them giving to church and charity.

I’m more methodical than my parents were when it comes to teaching my kids.  Maybe because I am a teacher by training, though not presently practicing my craft in a high school environment, I want to be sure there are lesson plans and an overall curriculum. I want to be certain all the general concepts are received and practiced, and all the detailed points are covered.  For example, our kids receive a commission for doing chores above and beyond regular works expected as being part of our family.  Out of that money earned, we teach them to do three things: Spend, Save and Give.  For my youngest, my dear Miss Faith, it’s Spend, Save, and Share.  She has a piggy bank with those labels on it.  Close enough for this professor.

By definition, we can’t be generous in isolation.  Generosity invites community.  First within our four walls, we practice being generous.  As the old saying goes, “Generosity begins at home.”  It doesn’t make sense to give all our money to someone in a foreign country if my kids are wearing shoes with holes, held together by duct tape, and two sizes too small.  But once everyone has several pairs of decent shoes for school, play, work, and church, then it’s time to see if we can wrap up a few pairs of Nike’s for the local homeless shelter at Christmas.  Our kids know how to be generous, because we dads are generous with them.  When their immediate needs are met, it helps open their eyes to the unmet needs of others.  It’s their invitation to practice generosity of their own.

Volunteering together is another great way to spend time together while teaching generosity.  On a recent weekend, my son Aaron and I helped pack almost 15,000 meals at Convoy of Hope.  Whether it was from two hours on our feet on a macaroni dinner assembly line or seeing the sheer size of the food and supplies warehoused, my son remarked that he never realized how many people had needs they couldn’t fill for themselves. 

Whatever way you choose to teach your kids, be sure they both hear and see you being generous.  Money is important, but not the only thing with which we can be generous.  We can be generous with our time, our smiles, our handshakes, our sincere compliments, our praise, our patience, and our spirit of perseverance.  As dads, we have many resources at our disposal given to us for a reason. Per my daughter, one of the best uses is to share them with others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Raising Appreciative, Generous Children -- Springfield Dad Jeff Sippy

It was the worst whipping I ever received but it left an impression on my soul as well as my seat.  I will never forget the whipping.  I hope I never forget the lesson either.    

My twin brother and I have the same birthday.  My sister’s birthday is five days before my brother’s and mine, though she is six years older.  One year my uncle sent three birthday cards – one to me, one to my brother, and one to my sister.  My card had three crisp five dollar bills inside.  My brother’s and sister’s card had none. 

My parents tried to explain that the $15 dollars was to be shared equally.  But the lesson was lost on this ten-year-old boy.  I threw a fit.   My parents threw the book at me.  They took the money away and gave me the whipping of my life.  I was a selfish, thoughtless child.      

I don’t agree with whippings.  But I do agree that there are ways to impress the values of appreciation and generosity upon our children.  We want our children to be grateful for what they have.  We want our children to be generous with others.     

Teaching our children to be appreciative for what they have and generous with others begins with you and me.  As Good Dads it is our job to establish a tone in our home that is joyful, hopeful, and grateful.  Our children are watching us.  They are listening to us.  Our children need to see an “Attitude of Gratitude” in us and a heart for others.     

I asked my boys – Jason, 21; Aaron, 23; and Clayton, 25 – how they would raise children to be appreciative and generous.  This is what they had to say. 
  1. Involve children in the family budget, family vacations, and major purchases.  If your children want to go skiing or buy a car, have them start saving their money.
  2. Lead by example.  Your children learn from you.  If you want your children to be appreciative and generous then be appreciative and generous parents.
  3. Talk to your children about being appreciative and being generous.  Talk to them about selfish, too.  If you let your children’s selfish behavior go unchecked then they will conclude this acceptable behavior.
  4. Give your children a place to apply what they are learning – sports, summer camps, and other activities.  Lessons become complete and meaningful when children experience them for themselves.
  5. Teach your children to say “please” and “thank you,” and help other children who are not as strong or able.  If someone needs help with something, give a hand!

My boys are raising me to be a Good Dad!  Let’s learn from them and from your children, too.  Let’s start small, let’s start at home, and let’s start today.  Let’s raise children who are grateful for what they have and who are generous with those around them. 

I am grateful for you!  You are a Good Dad.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What I Hope You Already Know

Daddy’s worried about you. 

Actually . . . Daddy worries about you everyday.

We get up at 5:30 every morning. We rush to get your clothes on, check for homework in your backpacks, quick kisses on foreheads, and pats on the butt for good measure. We loudly exchange “Love Yous” as you “walk quickly, don’t run” to the bus stop, narrowly averting it’s departure. If we’re lucky, no one has a meltdown (including Daddy). I kiss Mommy on the forehead as she and your baby sister catch up on sleep that was eluded through their previous nightly routine. I use the drive to work to catch my breath. It’s only 15 minutes, but I make it to work. I drop your little brother off at daycare, and start my day.

Throughout my busy day, I catch myself thinking about your day.

“Did everyone eat breakfast at school?”

“I hope Bubby remembers his spelling words.”

“Were kids mean on the bus?”

“I hope Mommy and sister are having a good day.”

“Did I forget to sign progress reports again? . . . I hope teachers don’t blame you for that.”

Mostly though . . . I’m worried I’ve not done enough for you. You are all great kids. Your teachers and other adults in your life tell me that. So I’m not worried about how you’re acting; Not really.
I’m concerned that when I told you I’m sorry for getting upset at you for not moving quick enough this morning, that you didn’t know I meant it; I’m afraid when I told you ‘I love you’ after getting on to you for bickering back and forth, that I didn’t say it loud enough to cover my frustrated reaction to the situation; I’m worried that, when you get older, the kisses and hugs will not have outweigh my need to let you just be kids, and mess up, and learn from your mistakes with love and grace.

And I’m worried that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and you’re graduating High School, or College, or getting married . . . and I’ve missed enjoying you grow up.

More than anything, I’m worried that in teaching you love and forgiveness are what life's about, I’ve missed tangible opportunities to show both of those to you.

I’m taking time to write this to you so you know how I feel about you: Your Daddy is crazy about you; he’s so proud of each and every one of you; and you can never do anything to make him stop loving you! I know you didn’t mean to spill that, and I know you didn’t mean to break that. I’m not mad at you, even if I get upset. You bring light and joy to my day. You add a beat to my heart.

If there’s anything I want you to learn from me, it’s this -- and I hope you hear the tears in my voice when you read this: You can never love too much. Forgiveness makes your heart lighter. Let grace be what you’re known for. Never be afraid to say you’re sorry.

And always know that I’m here cheering for you. Even when it feels like no one is in your corner, I am. I always will be.

Love Your Biggest Fan, 


Chris Moss, with his wife Tiffany, keep company with five lively children. He currently resides on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. Chris is the Missional Co-Founder of the grass-roots community organization The Serve Movement. He's a writer, a dreamer, and a voice for the underdog. He can be reached for comment or question at thechristophermoss@gmail.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thechrismoss).

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fun Fall Traditions -- Springfield Dad -- Kevin Weaver

Fall evokes a myriad of emotions and memories for most people. By the looks of the grocery store aisles, it certainly must evoke all things pumpkin spice. But for many dads, it often brings thoughts of campfires, S’mores, and football . . . fantasy or otherwise. There is something about Fall that makes many of us feel like a kid, again. Maybe it’s the cooler temps, or the back-to-school rush, or hearing our own kids talk about what they’re going to “be” for Halloween. Whatever it is, it’s a great time to take advantage of those sentiments and celebrate, or perhaps even initiate fun, family, fall traditions.

The first thing most dads groan when they hear a statement above is, “Great. I’m already burning it at both ends, and now I have to be the Fall Fun Festivities Director?”

But, there are some simple activities dads can do with kids that don’t take a Herculean effort.
First, take advantage of events and happenings in your schools, churches, or communities that have already been planned out for you. Seriously, we don’t need to reinvent the Fall Harvest Wheel; we just need to hop on the wagon it’s supporting. Look at local calendars. What’s going on? Does your kids’ school already boast a Fall Carnival of some sort? Local churches host a variety of parties and events for the whole family. Have you checked out any of those? In addition, many city parks and recreation commissions offer family fall classes in everything from pumpkin painting to pre-holiday craft making.

We haven’t even touched Friday Night Lights. Maybe you have a Little Leaguer or two who would be incredibly inspired to bring their best at a Saturday morning game, after rooting for a local high school team the night before. Take blankets, hot chocolate, and get your painted faces to the stadium for a night of rowdy excitement. When you think about it, you’ve got a pretty economical evening to boot.

In addition to seizing opportunities already available to you and yours, there are some tailored traditions you can start, on your own. When my boys were younger, I was your typical, 60+ hours a week, over-worked dad. I loved my boys, but I didn’t have it in me to come up with one-of-a-kind Disney-worthy events. I brainstormed with my wife, and we decided on committing to two traditions each fall. Not that we didn’t do memorable things on a daily basis, or experience other amazing autumn happenings, but these were the two we wanted the boys to associate with fall in our home. One of those things was loading up the old Suburban on a Saturday morning, or as they got older – on Saturday night – and heading to a local pumpkin patch or corn maze. The patch/maze activities certainly changed over the years. Our toddlers petted animals, carefully picked pumpkins, and gleefully went on wagon rides. Our teenagers ran through complicated and dimly-lit corn mazes, then did some pumpkin’ chuckin’. 

The second thing we did, was simply make sure that one evening, in early fall, we took a couple of hours to sit around our newspaper-protected dining table and carve pumpkins. Nothing extremely artistic, but something extremely satisfying . . . so satisfying that we often let the Jack-O-Lanterns inhabit our porch until they became very geriatric in appearance.

Whatever traditions you establish in the fall with your family, embrace it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or one-of-a-kind. It just has to be together and heartfelt. Your family is one-of-a-kind enough.

 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, October 12, 2016

Learning When Our Best Efforts "Fall" by Springfield Father of Three -- Sid Whiting

It would be wonderful if every time I plan an event for my family that it goes perfectly and everyone has a great time.  However, if I can be honest, there are a lot of times when something my wife and I think will be a great experience for our kids and us as a family is met with “ho hum.”

Maybe it’s the nature of kids “these days.”  If it’s not online or electronic, it’s not of interest for more than a few minutes.

Maybe it’s that we as parents look back to our childhood with nostalgia and choose activities that are more interesting to us than they are to our kids.

Maybe it’s that the kids do actually have an okay time, but in the footsteps of Clark Grizwold (Chevy Chase) we set up expectations that no family outing can live up to.

Whatever the reason, sometimes camping trips, days at the theme park, athletic competitions, or trips to the symphony do not generate the same level of excitement and enthusiasm for all.  We may even have to fall back on that time-tested parental standby phrase, “This is a character building experience.”  My parents used that one on me several times, especially when attending classical music concerts.

And yet, time spent together never seems a waste, at least not to me.

My wife and I took our kids on a 3-hour trip up to Kansas City this past weekend for the annual Fall Renaissance Festival.  I enjoyed this event very much as a freshman in high school, in particular because I was interested in medieval history, swords, armor, dragons, and cute girls who roam around plentifully at such events.  I figured my boys and little girl would also find amusement in the music, food, costumes, human-powered rides like the dragon boat and a merry-go-round.  For a time, they did.  But I could tell as the day went on and the crowds got thicker and the sun grew hotter, the kids’ interest was wearing thin.  By the time the 3 o’clock afternoon joust rolled around, they were ready to leave.  We managed some cheering for our heroic knight as he galloped across the field to bust a lance on his opponent’s shield, but I think most of the cheering was because kids simply enjoy yelling at the top of their lungs without being shushed by their parents.

So it wasn’t a bad trip, but it wasn’t a great trip either.  It was decidedly “average.”  We spent six hours in the car and some pretty decent money and left with the feeling they’d just as soon have stayed home and played Nintendo.

I may be looking through this with a bad perspective.  In years to come, perhaps I’ll hear them talk about, “that time we saw all the people dressed up funny,” “shooting archery targets,” and “gnawing on a smoked turkey leg like barbarians.”  But for now, I have to trust that my wife and I gave it our best effort, and it didn’t result in the dazzling cheers and excitement a 10-minute drive to the Incredible Pizza restaurant and game center would have.  Sometime family events end up that way: and that’s okay.  We’re learning what our kids like, what they dislike, and through it all we spend time with each other.

I think my parents were wise and ultimately right to drag me along to the symphony.  Learning how to participate in an event, as a family, builds character after all, in both parents and kids.

Sid Whiting is the father of three and the husband of one. He lives with his wife Gail and their children in Springfield, Missouri. He also enjoys real estate investing, serving in the 135th Army Band as a percussionist and bass guitarist, and plays in the Praise Band "Soul Purpose" and the "Hallelujah Bells" hand bell choir.  He can be reached for comment or question at sid.whiting75@gmail.com or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WiseSteward).