Monday, August 29, 2016

Helping Children Succeed in School and Life -- Jeffrey Sippy, a Dad in Training

If it is true that confession is good for the soul let me confess to you:  I am a meddling parent. I am a helicopter.  I involve myself where I don’t belong.  I hover around where I am not needed.  Forgive me. 

I mean well.  But my best intentions do not always turn out with in the best way.  Sometimes I embarrass my children in ways that they wish I wouldn’t.  They forgive me and accept that this is “just the way Dad is.”  On worse occasions, however, I have completely crossed the line.  I have hurt and angered my children.  This is not the way to be a Good Dad.    

For our children to succeed in school and life they need us close by.  They need us invested and involved.  But they do not need us meddling in their lives or hovering about.  For our children to succeed they need us to be there for them, but they do not need us to be in the way. 

There is a very important and fine line between “being there” for our children and “being in the way.”  We must be willing to admit when we are wrong; say “I’m sorry;” and ask for help and advice.    

Without going into gory detail, I am learning – slowly.  You can learn, too: 

  • Do not talk to your children’s coaches about their playing time or position on the team.
  • Do not pout or shout in the stands.  Suffer Silently. Be a team player.
  • Do not talk bad about your children’s teachers, school, church, or friends.  It will divide your children’s heart.
  • Don’t talk bad about your children to anyone.  Any circumstance.  Even in fun. It’s not funny.
  • Support your children’s dating and romance but no meddling or hovering.
Trust your children.  When we truly care for our children we will value what is important to them.  We are not looking for our children’s success to affirm us as parents.   We are looking to help our children succeed, to grow in confidence, independence, and feelings of self-worth.  They will survive disappointments. They will be o.k.

Our children do not need us fighting every battle for them or paving every path.  Our children need our love and support.  But they also need us to let them fail on their own and try new things.   With increasing age and maturity children can make increasing decisions for themselves.  They might make mistakes.   Who doesn’t? 

It isn’t easy being a parent.  It isn’t easy being a Good Dad.  We are going to make mistakes.  But we can do better when we do it together.  For our children to succeed in school and in life they need us to be there for them; they need us to be close by; but they do not need us to be in the way.

Good luck.  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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Engaged Fathers Good for Dads & Business -- Dr. Jennifer Baker, Executive Director

You probably know that father engagement is good for kids. You’re probably not surprised that it is also good for dads. But I wonder if you were aware that engaged fathers are good for companies and their bottom line?

According to a 2015 study in the Academy of Management Perspectives, “the more time fathers spend with their children on a typical day, the more satisfied they are with their jobs and the less likely they want to leave their organizations. Further, they experience less work-family conflict and greater work-family enrichment.” (Study surveyed nearly 1000 fathers working an average of 46 hours/ week).

In another study, Forthofer, Markman, Cox, Stanley and Kessler found that nearly $6 billion a year is lost in decreased productivity stemming from marriage and relationship difficulties. Included in those relational difficulties are the children impacted by less contact with their fathers.

Beginning Tuesday, September 13, Good Dads will offer a six-week series of Tuesday noon lunches focused on helping dads be more engaged with their children. This fall’s theme, “Helping Your Child Succeed,” includes lively, interactive topics by Dr. Jennifer Baker with “take home tools” to help fathers be relationally better with their kids. Each week will also include an inspirational talk by a local community leader about the difference a dad makes.  (Watch for more details.)

This fall’s line-up includes the following:

Sept. 13 . . . Brandon Beck, KY3                                                
Sept. 20 . . . Dr. John Jungmann, Supt., SPS
Sept. 27 . . . Paul Lusk, Men’s BB Coach, MSU    
Oct. 4 . . . .  Paul Williams, Springfield Police Chief
Oct. 11 . . . . Doug Pitt, Care to Learn Founder
Oct. 18 . . . . Dr. Carol Taylor, President, Evangel

 How can you be involved in this program that will benefit Dads?

  • Make them aware of the Good Dads Lunch Series. (We can provide flyers and weekly-emails.)
  • Take time to attend the one-hour lunch on Tuesdays from September 13 through Oct. 18.
  • Sponsor a lunch. (Lunches are provided at no cost, but we do benefit from business sponsors.)

If Tuesday lunches don’t fit your schedule, Good Dads is happy to work with you to develop a program to benefit the dads you work with or employ, as well as the dads you serve. It’s a win-win for your dads and the places they work. Want to know more? Please contact us at or call (417) 501-8867.

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the wife of one dad, the mother two adult children, and the grandmother of eight. She had a great dad herself and is committed to helping more dads be engaged with their children. She can be reached at

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Making the Back-to-School Transition: Springfield Dad Kevin Weaver

I recently saw a cartoon that compared and contrasted a young man’s first day of kindergarten to his first day of college. In the first frame, the child was hugging a tree and yelling, “I don’t want to go!” while the mom tugged at her son, trying to ensure he made the bus. The second frame showed the same yard, same tree, same mom, but with a grown child walking to a car at the curb, packed to the gills for a trek to college. The mom was running after her son and yelling, “I don’t want you to go!” Talk about a contrast.

As a parent of grown children, I get this. School changes a lot of things for not only kids, but also entire families. Whether it’s preschool or a year to study abroad, when our children leave our homes and begin to spend the bulk of their days with others, from classmates to instructors, we face times of transition.

When thinking of what our kids faced in heading back to school, my wife and I always relied on the theory that we all, in a sense, were going back to school. Other than our first son’s first day of kindergarten, when my wife hauled our younger two sons with her to stake out a spot across the street from the playground in order to spy on the oldest boy to make sure all was well, we typically haven’t gone to school with our kids. But, in addition to the physical backpacks and supplies our kids carry, they take with them a figurative backpack, one we have helped them pack for their entire lives. More important than the right pencils, paper, flash drives, and markers are the right behaviors, attitudes and overall life management skills. As we help our children choose and pack the right supplies, we also have to keep in mind that they are constantly watching us pack and unpack our own “backpacks.”  The modeling, the investment of time, the love, all of these things contribute to that “little voice” of ours that gets to go back to school with our kids.

In the hustle and bustle of the back to school rush, remember that the effects of transition trickle both down and up in a family. While parents and grandparents readily admit feeling these effects, we often overlook the fact that siblings are also affected. When our eldest went off to kindergarten, our younger two had a hard time understanding why their big brother wasn’t around to play with throughout the day. Likewise, when our eldest went of to university, the younger two had a hard time settling into a routine in a home that seemed “weird” without their big brother around.

Back to school or off to school, whatever you call it, is a transitional time in life we all face as parents and families, sometimes on an annual basis. Some of us will experience the phenomenon for years to come. Take heart and remember, while you are out rummaging through the college-ruled paper bin looking for wide ruled paper, you can also work at filling that figurative backpack. Whether kindergarten or college, our kids need us to “go with them.” 

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rhythms of Life by Sid Whting, Springfield Father of Three

Adulthood gives parents the benefit of being able to look back over decades of life and see patterns.  It may seem like a repetitious cycle: wake up, eat, go to work, eat, come home, eat, tuck the kids into bed, go to sleep.  Rinse and repeat tomorrow.  Just so with the rhythms of life that are the school year.  Whenever change comes, we plunk it into a place in the overall pattern as best we can and move along.

A Kid’s Perspective: 
My kids are all in elementary School.  To young kids who have only a few years of experience, transitions can be a challenge.  They haven’t had many chances to settle into a pattern.  All they know is one morning they are at home in their jammies playing Nintendo, and the next morning Mom and Dad are harping on them, “Get up.  Now!  Yes, NOW!  Eat your cereal, brush your teeth; how many times do I have to tell you to get your lunch out of the fridge?” 

How do I, as an aspiring Good Dad, help my kids handle the change from starting the day whenever it feels good to getting back into a precision routine without acting like a Marine Drill Sergeant?

Taking it Slowly
My wife and I use gradual transitions whenever possible with our kids.  They tend to be less messy and noisy, and there are fewer chances for short-tempers to blow up.  We’ve already started moving out kids’ bedtime to earlier, from the lazy mid-summer time of 9:30-ish back to 9:15, then 9:00, and now 8:45-9:00.  Next week school begins on August 15th, and by that time we ought to be back to our traditional 8:30 bedtime.  It sounds cliché, but tired kids aren’t as prepared to manage change as well-rested ones.

Focus on Friendship
One thing we have on our side is the kids looking forward to seeing school friends again.  When I was younger, I tried to stay in touch with some of my friends over the summer, but since I was at the mercy of wherever the bus routes would take me I was confined to only seeing two or three of them on a regular basis.  We’re trying to get our kids thinking about their school friends whom they haven’t seen in almost three months.  After all, in elementary school your friends are one of the most important reasons you go to school.  Subjects like math and language are just there to provide an excuse for getting together.  I’m joking a little, but not much.  As much fun as I had learning, the real reason I enjoyed school was getting to be with friends.  We start offering tastes of those good times again by meeting up with friends at a park or a pool in early August so the kids can start looking forward to seeing their school friend again.

Being Part of the Process
Oddly enough, my kids enjoy shopping for school supplies.  I don’t understand this at all because when I was growing up it was pure torture.  I think it’s because my Mom made me try on two dozen pairs of jeans, and I never was into fashion.  But my kids like to be involved in the process.  Whether it’s the latest style in Magic Markers or a new pair of shoes, they get a thrill out of picking out the materials needed for a successful school year.  We embrace this and give the kids a chance to participate.  Letting them chose a stylish yet inexpensive pack of pens earns a lot of goodwill.

Hunt the Good Stuff
Our lives revolve around routines.  Even as adults, transitions can be hard, which is why my wife and I believe it is critical to teach our children at an early age how to approach changes with a positive attitude.  A phrase I borrowed from military resiliency training is learning to “hunt for the good stuff” whenever something disrupts our routine.  A new grade, a new classroom, new friends, and new subjects: we win when we find the good things that fit into the rhythm of our lives.

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 (

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Change Happens and You Can Handle It

When my boys were small they took up the sport of hockey.  This was hard for me.  I knew nothing about hockey.  To me, hockey was for thugs who had got kicked out of figure skating class.    

I was not alone in my perception.  Many people close to me were curious about my enrolling my children in a sport known for aggression and fighting.  Why not soccer, or basketball, or football? 

We are all responsible for the image we portray.  If the game of hockey is known for aggression and fighting, then hockey is responsible for its image.  I am learning, however, that hockey is not the only place where aggression and fighting break out.  Look around you.  The changes in our lives breed anxiety; anxiety breeds anger; and anger vents itself in aggression and fighting.  This takes place in all kinds of places from hockey rinks to church meetings, the dinner table, and wherever people do not get their way.  

If we want our children to be able to navigate change and transitions with grace and dignity, it is imperative that we learn to handle change and transitions with grace and dignity, too.  We all can learn to relax, lighten up, and settle down.  We must teach our children that they will not always be on the starting team or in first chair in the orchestra.  Classes will drop at the worst times.  Professors do make mistakes and some coaches are jerks.  We must teach our children that change happens – and they can handle it!      

In 2007, the National Hockey League initiated the “It’s Just a Game” Campaign.  The campaign was designed to teach the hockey world that hockey is “just a game.”  The National Hockey League was committed to changing its image.  Hockey is not about aggression and fighting.  Hockey is about teamwork, skill, and sportsmanship.    

In 30-second television ads children and others were portrayed in everyday situations, but acting like a “perceived” hockey player.”  Fights would break out in absurd situations.  The ad then concluded, “It’s just a game.”  In other words, “Relax.  Lighten up. Settle down.”   

In one campaign, a policeman pulls a man over for a traffic violation.  The man’s 12-year-old son starts yelling, “This call stinks, you moron! Are you kidding me? Where are your glasses!!”  The boy then starts yelling at the Dad, “Are you going to take this Dad?  Stand up for yourself.”  The campaign ends, “It’s just a game.” Clearly, bad behavior is ridiculous at hockey games and everywhere else.  [cf.]. 

My boys loved hockey.  They were never in a fight.  They learned life lessons of teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect for authority. 

Our children will face many changes in life – especially as they head back to school.  As dads, we can help our children face these changes with grace and dignity.  We want our children to know that change does happen and they can handle it!

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