Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sky High Money Management

Money matters.  Money may not be able to buy you happiness but it will pay the rent, buy your groceries, and pay for whatever else is important to you.  Money matters. 

Good Dads teach their children about money because money matters.  Good Dads teach their children about all kinds of things that matter.  Good Dads teach their children how to read and how to ride a bike.  Good Dads teach their children about good manners, dating, and sex.  And Good Dads teach their children about money.  Because money matters.       

By teaching your children about money you teach your children about values.  The way we spend and use money reveals a lot about our values and what is important to us.   The point here is not to judge another person’s values and what is important to someone else.  Rather, the point here is to our children that money matters and that money represents our values. 

Last year my boys wanted to go sky diving.  They saved their money and spent $200 each to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  I thought they were nuts.  They could have given the money to the pilot and told him to throw it out the window.  But it was important to them. 

As a Dad, I want my boys to make choices based upon their values.  For strong, healthy boys with few responsibilities going sky diving was a good choice even if a bit extreme.  For me, a 56-year-old man with an artificial hip, I choose to keep my feet on the ground and to live through by boys’ adventures.   

I like to teach my boys you can have almost anything in life; you just cannot have everything.  It is a matter of choices based upon your values.  From the time the boys were 8-years-old they have had jobs of some kind.  They have contributed to their portion of family vacations, their college tuition, and their first car.    

As a Dad, it is important to me that my boys are generous.  I would rather have generous children than children who have whatever they want.  I teach my boys to set aside 1/10 of their income to give away.  If it costs $200 to sky dive then my boys’ need to know that there is a cost to being generous.  I believe if my boys are generous first then there will always be enough left over for the needs and desires.  They will have to make choices.   They might have to make sacrifices. They might have to wait.  But there will always be more than enough.       

I hope this is helpful.  It is not easy to be a Dad.  It might sometimes seem crazier than jumping out of an airplane.  But you are not alone.  By talking together and encouraging each other we can all learn to be better Dads.  We can also teach our children about important things in life and that money matters. 

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    

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What a Girl Gets from Her Dad

Statistically, it’s more likely for a dad with daughters to divorce than a dad with sons. I’m not certain why, but it probably has something to do with a father being able to identify more with his son (having been a boy himself) than with a daughter. Then again, sometimes mothers form such a tight bond with their girls they give the impression that dad is immaterial. He’s not, of course, but he may believe himself to be. He may tell himself, “She doesn’t need me. She’ll be just fine without me. Her mother knows what she needs and does a better job than I could.

Perhaps that’s why it’s so important for dads to have a better understanding of what they contribute to their daughter’s health and well-being. Girls with strong relationships with their fathers –
  • ·         Do better in mathematics.
  • ·         Have stronger verbal skills.
  • ·         Demonstrate increased curiosity in problem solving.
  • ·         Have greater self-confidence.
  • ·         Have fewer behavioral problems and demonstrate greater self-control.
  • ·         Are less likely to become pregnant as a teen.

I have known many excellent single-parent mothers who do an exceptional job under difficult circumstances. To be raised by a single-parent mother is not to say a child will head down the wrong path or somehow be deficient in life. It is to say that statistically, it’s harder for this child to succeed. He or she will have more barriers to overcome. Father absence is damaging to both girls and boys. Father engagement is invaluable to successful outcomes for both as well.

I suppose some people think I’m passionate about father engagement because I grew up without a father, but they would be wrong. I had a great dad, an engaged dad, a dad who taught me many things and made it possible for me to do more than I imagined. My dad introduced me to a fishing pole, brought home my first library books, and taught me how to drive a stick shift. He required me to work boring, sweaty tasks on the farm and strongly discouraged fretting and complaining. He modeled service at home and in our community, even when it wasn’t convenient. He wasn’t perfect. No dad is! But he loved my mother (who had many strengths of her own) and together they were a formidable force in my life.

My passion for Good Dads is fueled by this stable foundation and by what I’ve observed after years of working with families where a father it not present. I’ve known children who yearned for nothing more than a father to talk to and spend time with. I’ve also listened to the stories of many dads who wanted to be with their child, but were limited in their access by a bitter ex-spouse, distance and/or work-related constraints. It seems to me that both dads and children hurt when they cannot be together.

I’m glad my dad knew how important he was to me, my sister and my brother. I’m thankful for all that he did to establish a solid foundation from which we could launch into the world. Out of this abundance, I’m hopeful Good Dads can inspire, encourage and support all dads to be the best they can be through greater engagement with their children. When we do this, we create a better world for us all.

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Executive Director of Good Dads. She is the daughter of one good dad and married to another. She is blessed to have two good dads as the fathers of her eight grandchildren. She can be reached at

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sportsmanship: Valuing the Achievements of Others

Gracious Losing

I see my children growing up in a hyper-competitive society: little leagues starting kids out at 2-years-old, and gymnastics for toddlers still in diapers.  But of course!  How else will get to Olympic Gold level performance or get a full ride athletic scholarship to a Big 10 school?   At times it feels like I’m a failure as a Dad because none of my kids are playing even one sport presently, much less whatever sport happens to be in season.

Full disclosure: I am not good at sports, which may be one reason why my kids aren’t interesting in playing any sports.  That’s not to say I don’t try to play on occasion.  But as you may have guessed, I’ve had plenty of practice at being a gracious loser.

One thing I do enjoy about sports is good sportsmanship.  It’s a worthwhile discipline for children and adults to practice frequently.  With three kids at home (age 9 twin boys and a 5-year-old girl), there are plenty of chances to teach them how to let go of the need to “win” all the time.  On the many occasions I don’t win, I have two choices: I can sulk and pout, or I smile with admiration for the person or team who beats me in spite of my best efforts and congratulate them on a job well done.  Call it an exercise in humility, I try to use my losses as a teaching tool so my kids see how to value other peoples’ achievements as well as their own.

Being able to let someone else stand in the victor’s circle and still being happy for that person keeps our focus on what’s most important: the joy in the activity in which we’ve chosen to participate.

Gracious Winning
I am good at some things apart from sports, so occasionally I experience what winning feels like.  Sometimes it feels so good that it’s tempting to brag or trash talk my opponents.  This is poor sportsmanship just as much as being a sore loser!

One of my sons and my daughter are studying martial arts, and they enjoy it thoroughly.  Part of their study involving mock combat called sparring matches.  For those of you who remember the original 1980’s movie The Karate Kid there was a sparring competition in which only one person could be victorious.  For the “bad guy” nothing shy of absolute victory was good enough.  Second place was beneath him.  He had to win at all cost, even going so far as cheating to assure victory.

My kids’ martial arts studio doesn’t work that way.  While these kinds of single elimination competitions still exist, I’m glad to see my kids discovering that martial arts are worth studying for what they learn about themselves and other people, apart from receiving a trophy.  I’ve seen them act calmly and with a contented spirit when they win a sparring match.  The instructors always insist that the winners high-five and congratulate the students who get defeated.

Coaching the Team
Dads wear many hats.  One of those hats says, “Coach,” and our job is to mentor, guide, correct, and direct our kids whether they win or lose.  Even if you’re like me and lucky to sink one free throw out of four, no matter what happens, we must coach our kids to be gracious people. 

I will certainly be proud to see my kids earn their black belts in Tae Kwon Do.  More important, though, is I want to see that they enjoyed their time spent achieving that level of performance, regardless of whether they defeat everyone else on the first round or if it takes them an extra year’s worth of lessons and training. 

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 or on Facebook (

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teaching Good Sportsmanship

I played sports all my life.  For me, sports were a place to learn lessons in life.  I learned about teamwork, working together, and respect for coaches and others.  Many of the lessons I learned in sports I can now apply in life.              

I have three sons.  They have played sports since they were young.  They played soccer, hockey, and football; they also ran cross country and track.  As dad of my boys, it was as important to me to teach them about good sportsmanship as it was to teach them how to play the sport itself.   

I have seen Mike Tyson bite off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a boxing match.  I have seen John McEnroe’s temper tantrums on the tennis court.  I once saw a college soccer player grab hold of an opponent’s pony tail and jerk her to the ground.  These are not the best examples of good sportsmanship. 

When it comes to good sportsmanship, I believe that it is my place, and every dad’s place, to teach their children.  Good Sportsmanship does not just happen by accident.  A good jump shot in basketball, a good slap shot in hockey, and good sportsmanship must be taught and practiced.   To me, it would be unacceptable to raise my boys to be good at sports but not to be good sports. 

I was at hockey camp one year where a father of one of the boys was yelling and screaming at his son throughout a game.  Finally, one of the other dads walked up, put his arm around his shoulder, and gently said, “Hey, that’s your son out there.”  True words. Every person on the field or rink or court is someone’s child. 

I want you to envision six- year-old children at a birthday party playing “Candyland.”  On your daughter’s turn she draws the card that sends her back to the Gum Drop Forest. Can you imagine yourself screaming, “No!  Not the Gum Drop Forest?”  Can you imagine someone else saying, “It’s only a game?” 

At the heart of good sportsmanship are three key traits and behaviors that are imperative for all relationships and endeavors with others:  1) You must have a humble heart that is gracious in victory and dignified in defeat; 2) you must control your emotions and your actions; and 3) you must respect yourself, your coach, the referee, and your opponent. 

We will fail from time to time and we will not act our best.  This should be the exception and not the norm.  Every good athlete drops the ball; we will, too.  We should make no excuse or blame.  We should take responsibility for your bad sportsmanship and then begin again. 

I am not the best dad in the world and I am not always the best sport, either.  But I am getting better at each by being part of the team with 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