Friday, October 30, 2015

Thankful Dads Beget Thankful Children

I am a Dad-In-Training.  I do not have a degree in parenting.  No one pays me, so I’m not a professional.  I am an amateur, a Dad-In-Training. 
As a Dad-In-Training I learn as I go. I learn from other dads.  I learn from my children.  Some things work really well.  Other things work not so well.   

One of my sons was angry one day.  He slammed the bedroom door.  I wanted to teach my son to control his anger and not to slam the door.  So I opened the door really hard and slammed it even harder.  This did not work so well.

I wanted my son to learn, “Dad, that really looks mean, nasty, and aggressive.”  But the door broke through the dry wall.  My son learned that I am a weirdo with a lot to learn. 

I have taught my boys to run long distances, play hockey, and sail.  I am learning that the more time I spend with my boys the more they learn from me.    

What my boys have most learned from me is what I call “Language Lessons.”  My boys have been learning English from me since the day they were born.  Not one of them speaks German, Japanese, or French.   They speak English. 
There were no lessons or books, per se.  There was just lots of practice.   The more I talked the more they learned.  Some people say I talk a lot.  I don’t know about that.  But I can tell you that they speak English pretty well.         

But what do I want my children saying?

This is the question we Dads can ask and answer together.  We need to think about what we want our children learning from us.    

Our children learn to say what we say.  When I slammed the door my children learned to be angry and destructive.  They also learned to repair dry wall.   

But when I am grateful, my boys learn to be grateful.  When I am thankful, my boys learn to be thankful.  I am learning that thankful Dads beget thankful children. 

I am thankful for my boys.  I am thankful for my boys’ mother.  I am thankful for my boys’ coaches and teachers and those who spend time with them.  I am thankful for my boys’ church and the dear people who invest in them.  I am thankful to each of you Dads who model, and encourage, and mentor me.        
I am learning that my boys learn to do what I do and say.  You and I have a huge influence and opportunity to mold, shape, and encourage great things in my boys.  We can teach our children how to run and play.  We can also teach them to be thankful. 

Thank you for being a Dad.  We are in this together.  Let’s learn from each other.

Jeff Sippy resides in Springfield, MO and is the father of three sons, all now young men. When he's not out sailing, he can be reached for question or comment at

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

7th Grade Advice to Dad

Knowing the deadline is up for this month's Real Good Dads blog post, I decided to let my 7th grade class have a shot at letting fathers know what’s important to them.  For their question of the day I asked them, "What advice would you give dads from the perspective of a 7th grader?"  With only slight editorial adjustment, here it is:

·         Spend time with your kids instead of always doing work.
·         Work on trying to understand what’s happening in your child’s life.
·         When you baby your teenagers, understand that it makes them feel like you are disrespecting them.
·         You want to be fun.
·         Use constructive criticism with your kids.
·         Respect your daughter’s privacy.
·         Give your kids more responsibility
·         Give your kids more freedom.
·         Don’t assume that you know what your kids feel like.

·         Don’t use old people sayings.
·         Your kids don’t like it when you embarrass them.
·         Don’t take your anger out on your kids.
·         Don’t yell at your kids because it just makes them want to rebel against you more.
·         Unless you are a good singer or dancer don’t sing or dance in front of your kids’ friends.
·         Recognize it when your kids actually do well.
·         Understand that sometimes your kids do things that they don’t realize is bad.  Take their intentions into account.
·         Give your kids a chance to explain when they are in trouble.
·         Let your kids have fun. Sometimes logical consequences are better than restrictions.
·         Try not to swear around your kids because that’s a bad influence.
·         Teenagers want to be independent, so take some time to teach them how to do some things      on their own.
·         Treat your kids with the same respect that you would treat your friends.
·         Give your kids some alone time when it seems like they need it.
·         Don’t buy clothes for your kids without them approving.
·         Respect your children’s property, let them have some personal space.  (They need a bubble).
·         Trust your children.
·         Check their text messages.
·         Make sure you have a Carbon Monoxide tester in your house.
·         Have your kids’ eyes checked regularly.
·         Tell your kids stories about when you were a child.
·         Listen to your kids and not always just to your wife.

Darren Sombke is the father of four living in northern Illinois. He and his wife have one seventh grader remaining at home. He can be reached for comment or question at

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Cousins are Here!

"The cousins are here! The cousins are here!" This is was what the Boy was shouting at dinner last night as my sister's family arrived. The Boy has the best time when his cousins come all the way from Missouri to Texas to visit. Since my sister also has a set of twins plus one, we have an unusual bond as parents besides being siblings. The difference is that at her house it’s all girls and at ours, it’s all boys all the time—with the exception of my lovely wife. Of course, with six children age 3 and under, bedtime was a bit more tricky then usual, but once we got everybody down the adults were able to kick back and enjoy some wine and tea to close out the evening.

Everybody, and I mean everybody, was up by 7 a.m. this morning, but in a house the size of ours that really isn't a surprise. I am just glad we made it that long.

Of course the Boy knows we have to go out and ride the bike at least once a day during the “30 Days of Biking,” even when the cousins are here. He figured the best way to accomplish this was to load up the bike trailer with all three toddlers and ride off to get some donuts. It sounded like a good idea to me, and so off we went. I am pretty sure that loading three small children into the trailer exceeded safety regulations, but they didn't seem to mind, even if the Boy was forced to sit on the floor. (It’s amazing why you’ll do when your cousins come to town.) We all had a great little ride and there was no complaining. WELL ACTUALLY, there was just a little complaining. All three passengers felt I should have been going faster when we came to an uphill section. I tried to explain to them it wasn't easy pulling 110 pounds of kids around, but this argument didn't quell their demand for greater speed.

As with all good things, the weekend finally came to an end and everybody was exhausted but very happy.  After a weekend full of fun and family, I am reminded of this Manifesto from Holstee.  "This is your LIFE.  Do what you want and do it often!"  I love spending time with family and will continue to do it as often as possible. I hope my boys will do the same.

Minor Baker and his sister are now the parents of four children each, so there’s even more fun when all the cousins get together. He can be reached for questions and comment at