16 Things I Am Learning About Being A Dad

I think everyone knows that if we had fathers who were better fathers then the world would be a better place. I was blessed with a dad who has always been a ray of sunshine to those around him.  He taught me so many things.  Perhaps one of the reasons I have always wanted to have a big family is because my dad has always been my hero and it’s a way that I too could be a hero. I don’t know if I am a hero to many but I know there are 5 little souls that call me daddy.  The title of Dad is one that is honored and comes with a lot of responsibility.  Here are some things I have learned about being a dad.  Maybe they can help you.

1. Put the kids to bed.

I have found that kids open up and talk when it’s bedtime.  Maybe they are just stalling so they wont have to go to sleep but bedtime is a sacred moment to connect with your children.  It’s a time to pray over them and bless them.  It’s a comfort to children that the last voice they hear is their father who loves them praying over them.  They go to sleep feeling secure.

2.  Don’t waste drive time.

I have found the best time to disciple my kid’s is in the car.  We have very meaningful spiritual conversations on the way to school. There are very few distractions and they can’t go anywhere.  If you are intentional you can use this time to teach them life’s most important truths. You can read more about what I do with my kid’s here https://pastorrickhermann.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/dont-waste-drive-time-with-your-children/

3.  Push them on the swing. Soon they won’t ask.

The years that they are small enough to swing on the swing or play with you at the pool are so very short. I know you are tired and have other things to do…but go push them on the swing.

4.  Take them with you.

The best way to disciple you children and teach them about life is just to take them with you.  I learned so many lessons about how to be a man by just hanging out with my dad.  We would go visit the nursing home to see my grandmother, burn piles of leaves in the yard, and mow yards together.   Everything he did taught me about life.   It’s now my habit to always have some child with me…many times I will have all 5.  Life is the greatest teacher.  Take them with you and take the time to explain what is going on and how you are responding.

5.  Learn to explain what you are doing.

Kids ask so many questions. I must hear the word “Daddy” a thousand times a day.   Honestly, it can be super frustrating and annoying.  But God made children to learn.  They question everything.  If we have the patience (which often I do not) to answer them then we are building the fabric of their lives.  We are shaping how they see the world.  That is a big responsibility.

6.  Let them try and fail. They will not do it right till they do it often.

My 9-year-old girls are good little cooks.  They can make pancakes, broccoli and a number of others dishes all by themselves.  They couldn’t always do it.   They messed up a lot of pancakes learning how to flip them.  We have to let our children try and try again so they can learn.   Allow them to fail.  This is a hard part of the parenting journey.  Help them fail forward and learn each time they try.

7.  Give them individual time.

The more children you have the more of a challenge this will be.  I try to take my daughters on daddy/daughter dates at least a couple of times per year. My son and I hang out together often.  This one on one time means so much to your children and builds a foundation of love for a lifetime.

8.  Don’t allow the world to revolve around your children.

It seems so many families today plan their life around their children.  If you do this then your child is likely to grow up believing what you have taught them, that the world revolves around them.  It’s going to be really hard for them in the real world when they find out that it’s not true.

9.  Hug them a lot.

If your children aren’t frustrated or embarrassed by how much you hug them and show them affection, in a healthy way, then you probably aren’t hugging them enough.

10.  Encourage them often.

Home must be a safe place where your kids know they have a place that they fit in.  Shower them with words of encouragement as often as possible. Call them to who you believe they can be.

11.  Discipline them as if their future depends on it, because it does.

12.  Be there for them.

Go to their games, recitals, awards, and everything else that you possibly can.

13.  Show them faith.

Remember they do not do what you tell them as much as they become who you are.

14.  Teach them to be kind to others.

The world is full of mean people.  Teach your children to be kind.  Teach them to invite children to their birthday party that may not get invited by others.  Teach them to love all people, especially those that may be a little different.

15.  Show them how to serve the family.

16.  Be Their Friend.

I understand that I am always called to be my child’s parent first. I must teach them and correct them and guide them.  But I also understand that there will soon come a time when they will leave my home. I want to be their friend.  It is the friendship that parents have with children that last longer than the “parenting “ years.  Two of my greatest friendships are with my mom and dad. They will always be my parents but they are also the ones I call on when I need a listening ear and a word of advice. They are the ones who pray for me. We have a deep friendship.  I want to foster this kind of relationship with my children.

What have you learned about being a dad that I left off?

Is The Gillette Ad The Best A Man Can Get?

A recent commercial put out by Gillette has received a lot of both positive and negative feedback.  I am kind of shocked by how many people see the commercial in a negative light.

I actually like the commercial…most of it.  Here’s why.

The commercial starts out with a question: “Is this a best a man can get?”

Good question…thought provoking.   From that point the commercial shows examples of how classic cultural manhood can be bad.

Bullying

Objectifying women

Patronizing women in the workplace

I would totally agree that these are all examples of what I would define as “toxic masculinity.”

The next portion of the commercial is what I dislike.

The commercial shows two little boys wrestling in the yard and then has all the men saying, “Boys will be boys” from a undesirable perspective, as if wrestling or fighting for young men is a bad or toxic thing.   Young men need to learn how to fight in a positive way.  Fighting is one area that really defines manhood and separates it from womanhood.  Men fight. We must teach them what to fight for. Fighting and standing up for the right thing is what makes men valuable to society.  Many times young boys wrestling and fighting is a character building activity.  I loved fighting and wresting with my friends growing up.  Young boys learn through competition to be strong.  It fosters their willingness to be courageous as men and to fight for the right things.  So to some extent boys will be boys and this is not a bad thing.

Back to what I like…

The ad then states, “We believe in the best in men.”

The commercial then defines what Gillette would see as the best in men:

Men holding other men accountable…yes.

Men standing up to other guys who are objectifying women…awesome, yes!

Men standing up when others are bullied…yes.

Older men helping younger men resolve conflict in a positive way…yes.

Dads calling out their young girls to be strong…yes!

What I like the Most:

At the end of the commercial there is this line, “The Boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.” 

This is a powerful line and oh so true.  As a dad and a pastor this is a great reminder to me that there are young men looking at my example of what it means to be a man.   I need to be a good example.

Why do many conservative voices seem to have a problem with this ad?

I believe many conservative men take issue with this ad because of how it starts.  It starts with the cultural movement against manhood. Two catchphrases are used that are turn offs for many men, “Me Too” and “Toxic Masculinity.”  Any average man (not even a good man but an average man) would agree that men should not abuse or take advantage of women.  The ‘Me Too’ movement has been important in exposing predatory men but its primary torchbearers seem to be liberal women who espouse hatred to men in general or anything that is classically defined as manly.  The movement seemed to start out as a positive one but then morphed into making good men feel guilty by association.

While the commercial does a pretty good job of showing forms of toxic masculinity, the phrase itself has felt like any semblance of what has been considered masculinity in the past is a bad thing.  The phrase ‘Toxic Masculinity’ has been appropriated to feel like if anything is masculine it’s somehow evil, again, guilt by association.

The bottom line is that good and Godly men are needed now more than ever.

Good men stand up against evil.

Good men take responsibility for their family.

Good men make other men better.

Good men serve others.

Good men bear the burdens of those who are week.

A truly good man will lay down his life for his friend.

Jesus was the only truly good man.  He is the example.