Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Encouraging the Joy of Giving -- Springfield Dad, Kevin Weaver

Mark Twain once said, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” I’m guessing Mark Twain never had three sons under the age of five.
Ah, Christmas and the American child. This season is such a mixed bag of emotions and life lessons to be learned. For twelve months of the year, we strive to teach our children that it truly is better to give than to receive, but then we come to “the most wonderful time of the year,” and the wheels on the bus of service and self-sacrifice come to a screeching stop.

It’s easy to blame the savvy marketing of large toy companies, and the endless barrage of commercials touting the wonders of the latest, hot-selling toy. But, charity really does begin at home. And beyond that, teaching our children the joy of giving begins there, as well. If the idea of our modeling the behaviors we want from our children sounds like an overused premise, so be it. What our sons and daughters see us do impact them more than we could ever know. What do they see in us when it comes to giving? Is there joy? Or, do we begrudgingly give?

Whether you are a church-goer, who believes in tithings and offerings, or a community-minded person, giving annually to your charity of choice, how happy are you about it? Do your children see you smiling as you drop the check in the plate or the coins in the Salvation Army pot? Or, do they hear you grumbling about parting with your money, or the fact that you only give for a tax write-off?

Of course, when speaking of giving, we tend to think primarily of money. But, there are so many ways for us to give and just as many ways to show our kids that it can all be joyfully done. There also are so many ways for us to give with our kids. Go, as a family, to a nursing home. Prior to going, sit around the kitchen table and make cards for the residents. Play Christmas music while you do it, eat some sugar cookies, and talk about what it must be like for those who can’t be in their own homes for the holidays. Discuss ways of making the season truly brighter for those around you.

The thing about giving, that seems to always surprise us, is that joy we personally receive from it. All of the hustling and bustling of the season becomes more than worth it when we see the delight in the face of another, and in turn, receive delight in our own hearts and lives.

May the words of Booker T. Washington live in the souls of all of us, including our children, during this season and every other day of the year: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

Creating Connections as a Long-Haul Dad -- Prime Driver, John Hilliard

When we caught up with John Hilliard, he was about to deliver a refrigerated load to a customer in Orlando, Florida. John is in his eleventh year as a Prime driver. He primarily hauls food products. John’s interest in travel began when he traversed the country as a musician playing the piano. He has worked with a recording studio and some famous performers. He has also written songs for movies and television shows. When life on the road as a musician didn’t work out, John figured he might as well get his CDL and his life as a truck driver began.

John says it is his love of travel, especially over the road, that attracts him to truck driving. During his time as a driver, John has traveled through 48 states and several Canadian provinces. He loves the independence associated with being on the over-the-road driver.

When not on the road, John calls Texas his home. His two oldest children—a daughter and son—live in Houston, where others members of his extended family also reside. His two younger children live in El Paso, Texas.

You might think that being gone from home so often would diminish John’s role as a father, but he will assure you this is not true. Staying up with the activities and concerns of four kids, ages 22 to 12 is challenging, but John is quick to say that social media, phone calls, and FaceTime are a big help. Although some long-haul dads are able to arrange a regularly scheduled time to talk with their children, John says his approach is, by necessity, more random due to the variability of his children’s schedules, most of whom are working or in college. Even so, John reports talking with his 22-year-old daughter every day.

John says he makes a big deal about being available to his kids. He has even visited with his children’s teachers and told them, “Call me anytime with problems—homework, school work or otherwise.” He proudly says, “My son’s teachers have my number on speed dial.”
John says he’s out on the road a little longer now that the kids are older. Even so, he does manage to see them in person every 4-6 weeks. When he is home, he says he stays anywhere from 2-7 days. John emphasizes how important he thinks it is to talk with your kids ahead of time about being together. For John and his kids, making plans together are part of the fun.

Some of John’s fondest memories include over-the-road trips he took with his kids. During the 2005 evacuation associated with Hurricane Rita, he had all four kids with him in the truck when he drove from Texas to Seattle to get away from the storm.
John is proud of his driving ability and also trains other drivers. When he takes his kids with him, he gets to show them what their dad does. This includes showing them Cabbage Mountain in Oregon, one of the most dangerous mountains to drive in the U.S.

Other adventures with his kids include taking his oldest two to Manhattan. Once they parked the truck in a place John “knows about,” father and kids were able to tour the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, ride the subway and take the Staten Island Ferry.
But it’s not all fun and adventure. One summer, when John was concerned about his sons’ academic performance, he took them both on the truck with him where he supervised “lessons” every day. I don’t know many dads who take that much interest in their child’s school performance, but with John, it is serious business.

When asked what advice he would give to other dads, John identified four things all connect with love:

1    1.  Say, “I love you.”
      2.  Do loving things.
      3.  Be helpful to your kids and family.
      4.  Give meaningful gifts.

Most of all, John says, it’s important for your kids to know you will always listen. Even though he’s often far from home, it’s easy to see that he has a strong connection with his kids.

Like many drivers, John is divorced from the mother of his kids. Even so, John says they have a decent relationship that allows them to communicate with the kids and hang out together when he is home. He says they both work to create a positive environment for the kids.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Leading the Way by Giving Back -- Nixa Dad, Herb Cody

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. As a kid, my Mom worked very hard, and though we didn't have a lot, she always made sure we had a wonderful Christmas morning. As much as I loved opening Christmas presents, I equally enjoyed watching others unwrap the gifts I had gotten for them. My grandma would always give me a few dollars, and I'd go shop for a gift for my mother. No matter how terrible the gift, she would always act as if it was the greatest thing she had ever gotten. 

Now that I am a father of three, I try to show the same enthusiasm for each gift I receive from them. I have also tried to show them that Christmas should be more about giving than receiving. With kids, words don't always sink in, so you have to lead by example. Each fall, we have our closet clean out. I tell the kids to find all the clothes and toys they don't wear or play with so that we can donate to kids who do not have as much. They have actually begun to look forward to it.

Each year, my wife and I adopt a family through "Least of These,” here in Nixa, for the holidays. Last year my daughter had an assignment in one of her junior high classes. The idea was to do something to make the world better. She came to me and asked if she could adopt a family. She wanted to wrap gifts to earn money and ask for donations from others to help a family in need. I was so proud of her. She accepted a single mother with three children as her family to help out. My daughter was able to get everything from the want list. We personally delivered the gifts to the family, and my daughter loved it so much, she said, "Dad, I'm gonna do this every year." 

My daughter’s 14th birthday was this past July. For her birthday party, she asked that everyone donate gift cards, toys, kids clothing or cash, so she could adopt a family again this year. 

We have begun to keep care bags in our vehicle during the winter. My boys love to look for people they think may be homeless and in need of food or water. If we see someone, they enjoy handing out the bags. 

You don't have to make monetary donations or buy things to help people. I donate a lot of time to various organizations, not only to help others, but to lead by example, and encourage the joy of giving to my children. 

Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part-time Uber driver and full-time caregiver for his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at

You can check out Herb's own blog at,

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Promoting Generosity in Children* -- Springfield Father--Jeffrey Sippy

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 backward, 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. 

Children watch what we do more than listen to what we say. Teach with both actions and words to effectively promote generosity in your children.

*    This post first appeared on the Good Dads blog December 5, 2016. We liked it so much, we thought it worth repeating. 

      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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Why is a Woman the Founder of Good Dads? -- Dr. Jennifer Baker, Founder and Director of Good Dads

It happened again this week. Someone called and requested the opportunity to come by and talk about why I was involved with starting Good Dads. Why would a woman who is a mother and grandmother attempt to launch such a challenging program focused on men?

Some days I ask myself the same question. Way more than once or twice, when I was going through a particularly discouraging period, I thought about letting it go . . . giving it up . . . moving on to something easier and less frustrating. From time to time friends and family have made similar suggestions. This is not to say they are barriers in terms of caring about strong families (they do care, I know), but rather that it’s not always easy to comprehend why healthy relationships are so important to our well-being.

Detroit, Michigan“How often do you have to have sex to get pregnant?” 
When I landed my first teaching job at a high school in Detroit, Michigan, I had the opportunity to teach the first ever “Family Life and Child Development” class to be offered in that school. Although it was an elective, enrollment for the class maxed out with a good proportion of both male and female students. When the class period ended, students followed me down the hall asking questions about relationships and family life. I wondered why this critical area of life—one more central to most students’ lives than geometry or English literature—received so little attention. I stay at it because I believe students today, just like those 30+ years ago, still want to know how to have a happy, secure future with someone they love.

Southern Illinois:  “I wish my daddy wouldn’t drink so much.”  
As a second grade teacher in a small town in southern Illinois, I saw my students’ progress impacted by how their parents’ relationship. If the parents were able to provide a safe and stable home, the children did well. If they were unable to do this, the children struggled. It occurred to me then that if I really wanted to do something of lasting consequence for children, I would need to work with their parents. Unfortunately, most of our work with school-age parents focuses on “parenting skills,” with little attention paid to strengthening the adult relationship. I stay at it because I believe children do better in school when both fathers and mothers can provide a stable home in which they can grow and develop.

Northern Illinois:  “I hate it when my mommy and daddy fight.”
Working as a family therapist, I witnessed how much and how often both children and adults suffered as the result of poor communication, inadequate conflict resolution skills, and unhealthy relationship choices. I observed just how regularly children were privy either to their parents’ screaming matches or their long, cold, stony silences. I sat with clients when marriages ended through the sadness of betrayal and the defeat of divorce. In some cases it was necessary; in many, it was not. I keep at it because I continue to see the need for resources and skills that serve as a proactive measure against family dissolution.

Springfield, Missouri:
Why Good Dads? After years of teaching, advanced degrees, clinical work, and supervision experience, I came to the conclusion that reaching men, especially fathers, was a critical factor to almost any sustained success we might have in improving outcomes for children.  We can accomplish things without dads, but it’s harder. If we can help dads feel more successful in their role, more engaged with their children, I believe it will make a world of difference.

Dr. Jennifer L. Baker is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Good Dads, Inc. She can be reached for question or comment at

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Making Time for Extended Family -- Springfield Dad -- Kevin Weaver

As dads, we daily think about and focus on our immediate family. But, when the holidays hit, thoughts also wander to the whereabouts and well being of extended family and friends. It isn’t that we don’t care about those we love, not living in our houses, taking extra long showers, and eating all of our food, but something about the holidays makes us think of all those we cherish.

For our brood, “extended” has extra meaning. By “extra,” we mean, “extended family and extra family we’ve adopted along the way.” Our boys are grown and yet blessed to have all of their grandparents still living. In addition, they have a plethora of aunts, uncles, cousins, and now, in-laws, nieces, and nephews to love. That stated, while growing up, they spent many years and countless holidays far from extended family. And that is where the “extras” came in.

“Extras” were not second-class stand-ins, nor did they take the precious places of “blood” family back home. Our boys just learned early on that the heart could always miraculously make more room for love. So, with all of this family and “extra” family, how does one build bonds that stand the test of time, distance, and stages of life? As with anything related to family, and especially to raising kids, it takes intentionality and work.

Making time for extended family “back home,” as we labeled it, was harder 20 years ago than it is today. At first, our boys quickly yelled, “Hi, Grandma!” or “Hi, Uncle Tony!” into the phone on a Sunday afternoon call. When the cell phone made its way into our lives, things got markedly easier. My wife would pick the kids up from school, and if one had done particularly well on a spelling test, both grandmas – the one in Texas and the one in Kansas - would hear the good news before the car pulled into our home’s driveway. Those little efforts kept far-off family a constant in our children’s lives. During the summer, especially as our boys hit upper elementary, we made sure they went back to “the lake” and “the farm” in the Midwest, to visit respective grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Though they saw many of their cousins only once, or maybe twice a year, those summer weeks with the “gang” fostered a bond that is clearly seen in the relationship of cousins now in their 20’s and 30’s, with families of their own.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, that’s all very lovely. But, you lived far from extended family, I live within a 30-mile radius of all of mine and the holidays can quickly become a hassle. Christmas brunch one place, then we rush for lunch at another. By that evening, we are all frazzled and our kids just wish for a Christmas at home. Just once.” Adding to this scenario, many of us may have divorced parents and grandparents, contributing to the number of extended family members to see. While you can’t have too many people to love, or to love your children, making time for so many can cause a lot of unwelcomed stress in an already hectic season.

Though my wife and I have never personally experienced the tugging around the holidays, we are now in-laws and are navigating the waters of “sharing” our kids and grandkids.

I am happy to say that so far, making time for family and extended family has still not been a huge issue. But, we all have had to come to terms with the thought of making our time together special, no matter where, when, or how long it is. To make time for all those you love, you have to truly love at the deepest level, which to most of us means some sort of sacrifice. Making time for one another means something or someone typically will have to give. And truly, isn’t that what family is all about? Happy Thanksgiving, with the emphasis on “giving.” Give your time, love, and flexibility this holiday season. In my humble opinion, expressing that kind of love will make you a great dad no matter what stage of life you find yourself in.

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, November 15, 2017

Making Time for Extended Family -- Springfield Father and Grandfather, Mark Mildren

 I am a big believer in the importance of extended family: grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and in-laws. When I graduated from seminary at Southern Methodist University I could have gone many places to pursue my ministry. The Pacific Northwest had a shortage of Methodist pastors and was advertising. Texas would have been a really good place to put down roots as Texas Methodism is like nowhere else. But I returned to Missouri for one basic reason: to be close to Lynda’s and my parents. We wanted our children to grow up having as good of a relationship with their grandparents as we did with ours. And we wanted to be with our parents as long as possible.
Both Lynda and I had close relationships with our grandparents. Mine lived in Neosho, and hers lived in Southwest City. We both consider time spent with grandparents was critical in having a happy childhood. Lynda’s father died two years after our second child was born, so, unfortunately, our kids didn’t get to know their maternal grandfather. But otherwise, both of our kids got to spend a great deal of time with their grandparents.  My parents and Lynda’s mother were excellent grandparents who loved their grandchildren. And our kids loved visiting them. They both look back fondly at their grandparents who have all passed away. How does having grandparents actively present in your children’s lives matter? It gives them a sense of their family history, family values, why their parents turned out the way they did, and grandparents can reinforce their parents in passing on of family values. My father’s amazing story of being shot down over France, hidden by the French Underground, the capture by the Gestapo in his escape attempt, the interrogation and torture in the notorious Fresne Prison in Paris, being a prisoner of war for two years in Stalag Luft 1 and then being liberated by the Russians and then by Jimmy Doolittle is one they are both immensely proud of. My children have a unique connection to the second World War that they, in turn, will pass on to their children. Extended family can give us a sense of history and our place within it.

Over the past five years, I have been reconnecting with my favorite cousin who lives in California. For forty years we had only seen each other once in 1987. I think we both realized that we needed to stay in touch even though our parents had died. She and her husband have visited Missouri twice, and we have been to see her and her husband twice. We plan on keeping our visits up as long as we can. Her parents were my favorite aunt and uncle. Growing up we were together often. Now that we are both in our late 60’s, this sense of family has become more important.
Not too long ago one’s extended family lived nearby and were active in helping to raise children. Then Americans moved away from their families to find good jobs, and that sense of connection to extended family was frayed. Both Lynda and I believe that extended family is extremely important. Now that we are the oldest members we want to spend time with our kids and their children. It takes some effort to do that as our children live in Kansas and Michigan now but we treasure our time with them. We hope that our grandkids will love us as we loved our grandparents. The only way that will happen is if we make time for it.

Mark Mildren, retired Methodist minister, is the father of two and grandfather of three. He serves as the faith-community liaison for Good Dads and can be reached for question or comment at

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Making Time for Extended Family -- Nixa Father of Three -- Herb Cody

People often say that nothing is more important than family. If you believe that, then ask yourself if your actions demonstrate that belief.  If not, you always have time to make changes, especially when it comes to spending time with extended family.

Often, we allow life to get in the way of prioritizing time with our loved ones, whom we are unable to see each day. Work schedules, school events, practices and sporting events seem to consume the lives of those with children. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. My parents and brother live 45 minutes from me, while my sister is 20 minutes away, yet I see them maybe once a month. 

My family and extended family are very good about getting together for the birthdays of our children. My mom and sister are great about getting the cousins together to do different things during the summer, such as bowling, movies, theme parks etc. My kids have a great relationship with extended family because of this.

Another fun thing my children used to do when they were younger, was to create and mail "Happy Birthday" cards for members of our extended family. My kids loved making them, and I know those who received them, enjoyed it just as much. 

During the holiday season, we have a set routine which has become a tradition. I think that having the same set plan for the holidays is beneficial for all. This alleviates some level of stress for parents. Each year, we spend Thanksgiving at my Grandpa's home, then the ladies go shopping. Christmas Eve is spent at my sister's home, then everyone comes to our place Christmas afternoon. It works out great for our family, which are for the most part, in close proximity. Obviously, spending time with extended family who are hours or states away becomes much more difficult. 

We all decide the things that we enjoy and are important to us—going to the gym, running, playing a round of golf, hunting or going to the spa, We are always able to find time to do the things we love, so making time for those who we love shouldn't be difficult. 

Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part-time Uber driver and full-time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at

You can check out Herb's own blog at

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Good Granddads and Grandmas -- Springfield Father & Grandfather -- Rev. Kenneth L. Chumbley

I didn’t know my grandfathers, but I certainly knew my grandmothers.

I grew up being close to them, not always geographically but always emotionally and relationally.

Today, many decades after their deaths, I still remember them vividly, mostly because of their cooking. 

When I was a university student, I used to eat lunch occasionally with my Grandmother Chumbley—“Grams,” as I called her.

I’d often go by her house between my classes. We’d sit in her tiny kitchen, eat ham sandwiches on Roman Meal Bread and sip sugary iced tea. I’d tell her about what I was learning. I’d listen to her stories of growing up on a farm in Tennessee. And at the end of the meal, I’d dig into her lemon meringue pie, my favorite dessert. It was a taste of heaven, as was her company. She’d let me eat as much of the pie as I wanted, even the whole thing. 

I looked forward to lunches with Grams. She loved me, as did my Grandmother Bodner, who also made delicious food, including homemade cabbage biscuits and noodles. Her Germanic background was most visible, or edible, in the kitchen and at the dinner table. At supper, she often enjoyed a small glass of beer, a taste I never acquired. (There are limits to grandparental influence.)  And she told stories of trudging through the Great Depression and the 1937 Flood, which devastated parts of my hometown of Louisville, Ky.

My grandmothers made a deep, enduring impression on me. I am who I am in part because of them.

And now I am a grandfather. 

My granddaughters, June and Christa, are growing up with my wife Penny and me as a big part of their lives, and we’re aware that we’re shaping them—their personalities, their values, their lives.

In some way, we’ll live on in them after these earthly bodies of ours are dust, just as Grandmothers Chumbley and Bodner live on in me and just as my grandfathers live on in me through the stories I heard about them from my grandmothers, my parents and my aunts and uncles. 

What might June and Christa remember about me in 20 or 30 years?

First, what they won’t remember is Poppy, their name for me, an Episcopal priest and rector, praying prayers of thanksgiving at their births as I held them or of me baptizing them as infants. 

What they might remember, instead, is that Christmas dinner when I discovered a wriggling green worm in the broccoli, dangled it above my open mouth and then, after a few seconds of suspense, dropped it in, just for the pure silliness of the act.  I remember: “Poppy!” they yelled in unison.

I hope they remember our doing Taekwondo together on Saturdays; our games of tag in the park on Sunday afternoons; doing homework at the kitchen table; playing Chinese checkers; reading stories before naps and at bedtime; vacation visits to our Kentucky family; Grammy’s and my sitting in the audience at their school band and choir performances.

They’ll remember, I pray: singing in our church’s junior choir, with me, “Father Poppy,” as they sometimes call me, looking on and listening to their young voices raised in the praise of God;  helping me at the altar and sometimes, long after the church had emptied of worshipers, standing there and saying (or sometimes singing) the Communion prayers from memory, just as I had said them earlier from the altar book.

As God is molding us humans more fully into his image and likeness, so Father Poppy and Grammy, an extension of God’s hands, are molding June and Christa into the image and likeness of God. With God’s help, we’re forming our girls for an earthly life of happiness, meaning and purpose and preparing them for heaven, where one day we shall be together again. Eternally.

And what fun we shall have. With or without wriggling green worms.

The Rev. Kenneth L. Chumbley is Rector of Christ Episcopal Church. You can write him at Read him at www.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Dispatcher Dads

When you talk to Dennis Davis about safety and over-the-road trucks, you may not think about the fact that he is also a dad to a 22-year-old step-daughter and a 6-year-old son. As a husband and father, Dennis cares a great deal about Prime drivers, their safety, the well-being of their families and anyone sharing the road with a long-haul trucker. “We want to help our drivers be the safest they can be,” he says. “It’s important for them and their families, as well as for the company.”

Dennis functioned in the role of dispatcher at Prime for a number of years before he assumed his current role as “Safety Supervisor.” In that role he spoke every day with Prime drivers who are also dads. He understands the challenges they face in wanting to provide a good living for their families at a job that requires them to be gone from home much of the time. “Safety and service are our priorities—bottom line. We want drivers to take time off. It’s necessary.”

Dennis is very proud of his own family, especially his son, Dennis James Davis III, or “DJ,” as Dennis and his wife, Carrie, call him. “He’s smarter than me,” claims Dennis. “I have to grow up with him.”

Dennis admits that being with his son is especially important to him because he grew up without a dad. Because both he and his wife enjoy sports, Dennis spends a lot of time in athletic activities with DJ. Even though he and Carrie both love basketball, they’ve tried to keep an open mind to other options. So far they’ve tried basketball and soccer, with Dennis coaching the latter even though he says he knows very little about the game. “We’re also trying some individual sports, like golf,” he said, since he and Carrie discovered DJ is not that excited about team activities.

“The most important thing,” notes Dennis, “is giving him the opportunity to try lots of things without the pressure to succeed at something he doesn’t like.”
In terms of helping drivers stay in touch with their kids, Dennis observed, “It’s easier now than it once was with FaceTime and Skype, but it can still be hard to miss the daily moments at home. It’s important that drivers have time to take a break to be with their families.” He said he was glad Prime’s policies were more flexible in the summer, allowing older children to spend more time with their dad, riding in the cab with him over the road.

Chris Martin laughingly refers to himself as “Business Partner, Travel Agent and Financial Agent” in his role as “Fleet Manager” for 130 Prime drivers. He believes his identity as father of 8-year-old Ben and 1-year-old Max influence his interactions with his drivers, especially in understanding their need to make a living and get home to see their families.
“I want to make sure my drivers know I manage them as a dad, as someone who is also concerned about a family.”

Chris and his wife, Amber, are especially pleased with the child care available on site at Prime. Their son, Ben, benefited from this arrangement for several years before he began school. Now Max enjoys going to work with Chris and interacting with him occasionally during the day. When asked if he sees his son during the day, Chris remarked, “Sometimes, if you hear about something bad happening in the world or you’re having a tough day, it’s nice to just be able to go down to the day care, check on him, hold him for a bit, and return to work.”  There’s no doubt this dad loves his kids.

When it comes to parenting, Chris says he focuses on learning and understanding what his kids are “in to,” especially Ben. “I’m interested in what he likes, which includes sports. We’re trying baseball right now, but he also likes video games.”

“What’s it like to be the parent of two boys,” we wondered.

Given the age gap of 6 ½ years between the boys, Chris reported little competition or conflict between the boys. Even so, he said, both he and Amber tried to spend individual time with each of the boys.

Being a dad can be demanding, especially with children of different ages, needs and interests. Interacting with 130 drivers a week also has its challenges. We suspect the aptitude and ability to do well at one role, is also helpful in the other.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Responsibility with Social Media -- Springfield Dad, Josh Wanner

Quiz time!

What happened on these dates in history?
                March 22, 2002
                August 1, 2003
                February 4, 2004
                March 21, 2006
                October, 2010

If you said, “The starting dates of Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram”, you are either really tech savvy or the COOLEST DAD on Earth!

Every year new and upcoming companies try to start the “Next Great Thing” of social media.  In addition, every time I turn around a new app or gizmo will keep me “Connected” with the world around me.  All you have to do is start an account!  How many accounts do you have?  How many do your kids have?

As a technology director for a church and school, I have seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of social media.  However, I believe it has a place in our society if used properly.  It can be informative, educational, and even fun.  So why does it sometimes get a bad reputation?  Because nobody taught us!

Let’s look at it a different way. 
How do we know that playing with knives could be dangerous?  Because we have seen what can happen when someone is careless with a knife.  Because we understand the dangers.  Because we have learned from others.  EXACTLY!  We LEARNED from others; we were taught how to handle and use a knife properly.  Moreover, if you are one who does not use a knife, then you choose to keep yourself away from potential harm.

When it comes to social media, we ALL are the teenagers.  Our maturity and experience is only, at the most, 15 years old.  We, ourselves, have not had a lot of time to learn from other’s experiences, to receive wisdom and knowledge from previous generations.
So how do we help our kids navigate the challenges of social media?

The education of “How to Use” social media is ongoing.  We should be aware and proactive when it comes to helping our kids.  Following are three items I like to share and discuss with my daughters and my students. 

“1.   If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” 
WOW, I heard that a few times growing up!   I like to ask my students, “Would you say that in front of your mother, or even your grandmother?”

Why do people think it is okay to write vulgar or mean things, but they would not say out loud in public?
22.   Talk the talk . . . Walk the walk
Do what you say and mean what you say.  Unfortunately, there are some on social media who are (for lack of better words) two-faced, talk out of both sides of their mouth, passive aggressive.  Be the good example for your kids!

If we do not agree with our child’s teacher, school, coach, or a parent of a friend, we should not spout their praises in public, then turn to social media to air our grievances.   Teach and SHOW your kids how responsible adults should act.

33.     Keep it positive!
Our world is full of sad, discouraging, and negative news.  Help your kids see the brighter side of life.  Be the standout who spreads a little joy and happiness.

Giving your kids a guide for social media will spread a little joy and happiness.  It just might make this world a little better for you, me, and the many generations to follow.  

Josh Wanner is the father of three girls.  He and His wife, Kari, live in Springfield, MO where he works as the Technology Director for Redeemer Lutheran Church and Springfield Lutheran School.  He can be reached for question or comment at