From our friends at A Father’s Walk – A Ministry for Single Dads
“I’m watchin’ what I’m watchin’…” –Tripp Lee
From our friends at A Father’s Walk – A Ministry for Single Dads
“I’m watchin’ what I’m watchin’…” –Tripp Lee
From our friends at A Father’s Walk – A Ministry for Single Dads
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. –Col 3:20 (NIV)Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. –Eph 6:4 (NASB)
I am not going to make a judgment call for your household. We all understand the risks and dangers that lurk in cyber-world; but I believe an even greater danger is our sons and daughters not having a father who is active in bringing them up in Christ. Seek His guidance today through the Word and prayer and ask Him to lead you when it comes to leading them.
by Jill Savage
Any professional whose primary responsibilities include caring for the needs of others is usually accompanied by wonderful relational benefits. These same occupations can be very emotionally and physically draining and require a plan for refueling. As we all know, motherhood has twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week responsibilities.
While there are no designated days off, vacation time doesn’t seem to be addressed in the job contract either. If we don’t take some time for ourselves, if we don’t arrange for a day off here or there or if we don’t take an evening for ourselves, we will find ourselves in a hole that is difficult to climb out of. We may lose our perspective or even consider reentering the paid workforce just to keep our sanity. As a woman in the profession of motherhood, you must learn how to take care of yourself. No one has built that into your job description and no one is going to set boundaries for you. You have to do it yourself.
As moms, too often we work sacrificially and selflessly to the detriment of our family life. It is then that we become short-tempered, judgmental and even jealous of those who have more freedom in their lifestyles. We find ourselves discouraged with the daily duties of a job that never feels finished. We begin to question the value of what we’re doing and our self-worth. To combat such reactive emotions, we need to be proactive in caring for ourselves.
Have you ever been on an airplane and listened to the instructions about using the oxygen masks in an emergency? The flight attendants always give special instructions to those traveling with children: Put your own oxygen mask in place before you place the mask on your child. Those directions seem to go against our very nature. Our first inclination is to take care of that child even if it means sacrificing ourselves. But when we stop to consider the reasoning behind the instruction, it makes sense. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we might not be able to help either one of us and we might both perish in those few precious moments. If we put our mask in place first, we are then in a position to care for others.
The same principle applies at home. We must first take care of ourselves in order to properly take care of others. This will give us the stamina, patience and perspective needed to care for the needs of others over the long haul.
Do you have someone in your family who insists on driving the car on gas fumes when the gauge is registering empty? It seems every family has one member who pushes it to the limit. Well, each one of us has an emotional fuel tank. If we don’t take time to fill our tank, if we push ourselves to the limit, sooner or later we will find ourselves “out of gas.” Stranded. Stuck. Ineffective.
When we’re broken down along the road, someone else has to come take care of us. By that time, it takes more to fill us up. If we’re proactive, we do something to fill up while we can still pull up to the gas pump.
Moms are always taking care of others, but we have to make sure that in the whirlwind of life we’re taking care of ourselves as well. There are three personal areas we need to care for: body, mind and spirit. Do you know how each of these is drained and filled? To keep our lives balanced, we need to evaluate these areas regularly and place emphasis on keeping our tanks filled as we do the job God has called us to do.
Using the four styles of interacting (HOLD, GRAB, TOSS and FOLD), there are four possible “dances” that can occur when two people interact. Let’s look at these dances, using four versions of a teen-parent situation I’ve encountered in my counseling. Of course, I’ve made some changes in the actual dialogue and added some hypothetical elements. Consider the roles of control and influence in each dance.
In this example the teen is a HOLDer. Remember, that’s the type who takes responsibility for what he can control. He says, “What’s mine is mine.”
But the parent here is a GRABer. She tries to take responsibility for things she can’t control. She says, “What’s yours is mine.”
I’ll play the part of the 16-year-old son and use my name in the story.
TIM: “That’s so dumb! I can’t believe I flunked the written part of my driver’s test. Man, I can ace the driving part! I guess I didn’t study enough.”
(Notice how I’m taking ownership of my failed test.)
MOM: “Honey, I’m so sorry you didn’t pass the test. Come here. I’ll make you your favorite brownies. I’m sorry I didn’t help you enough; I’ve just been stressed out with your dad traveling so much lately. I guess I should have helped you study more. I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about giving you the sample test I saw on the Internet last week. Go get the book and I’ll study it with you.”
(Mom is GRABing, trying to control the outcome by taking ownership and blame. It’s not the same as validating my feelings and helping me take ownership. She’s not trying to influence me, she’s trying to fix something that isn’t hers to fix.)
TIM: “It’s okay, Mom. I can handle it. I’m just frustrated, that’s all.”
MOM: “No, I’m sorry I haven’t been more involved in your life lately. Let me help you.”
TIM: “Mom, I’ll be okay.”
MOM: “I said I would help you, and I will.”
TIM: “But, Mom — ”
MOM: “No ‘buts.’ Go get the manual. I’ll quiz you right now on the questions you missed.”
This dance happens a lot more than you might expect. We may not notice it because the teenager’s plan for “fixing” things may seem unwise or incomplete. Still, even if you’re trying to “help,” that’s no reason to reach for the responsibility yourself.
This dance produces tension and strain. Why? Because both participants are trying to control the same thing. And two people can’t own the same thing at the same time.
In this case, the teenager is using a healthy style of interacting. The parent isn’t. The teen is trying to HOLD on to control that belongs to him, and Mom is trying to take it away. Get ready for a fight, because teenagers don’t want to be controlled or manipulated — directly or covertly.
Mom needs to take her hands off and let “Tim” learn on his own. She can influence what he does next, but her stab at control won’t help either of them.
In this example the teen is a TOSSer. Remember, that’s the type who refuses responsibility for what he can control. He says, “What’s mine is yours.”
The parent here is a GRABer, as in Dance One.
TIM: “That’s so stupid! I can’t believe I flunked the written part of the driver’s test. Man, I can ace the driving part! Mom, why didn’t you make me study that stupid manual more?”
(Notice how I’m trying to push ownership of my failed test onto Mom, expecting her to take the blame and fix the problem.)
MOM: “Honey, I’m so sorry you didn’t pass the test. Come here. I’ll make you your favorite brownies. I’m sorry I didn’t help you enough; I’ve just been stressed out with your dad traveling so much lately. I guess I should have helped you study more. I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about giving you the sample test I saw on the Internet last week. Here, go get the book and I’ll study with you. I’ll also call the DMV to see if I can make arrangements to retake the test without having to pay for it. Okay?”
(Mom is GRABing again.)
TIM: “Where’d you put the book, anyway?”
MOM: “I don’t know. What did you do with it?”
TIM: “How should I know? You’re the one who’s always going around and cleaning up my stuff — putting it where I can never find it again.”
MOM: “I’ll look for it as soon as I finish paying these bills.”
Does this sound familiar? It’s far more common than Dance One, especially in homes with a teenager. The terrible thing about this dance is that it “works.” The teenager TOSSes; the parent GRABs. There’s no real tension. It’s like you’re playing a game of catch.
One problem with this dance is that the TOSSing goes in only one direction — away from the teen and toward the parent. It’s not a healthy way to interact. Another problem is that the parent isn’t influencing; she’s still trying to control the outcome by GRABing. The teen’s TOSSing seems to invite this, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for either party.
When a parent dances this way, it’s often because this recording is playing in his or her jukebox: If it’s my fault, then I can fix it. If I can fix it, it will turn out the way I want it to. The parent is trying to control a part of the world he or she can’t control.
The lack of tension in the “TOSS and GRAB” dance fools some parents and teens into thinking all is well on the Western Front. It fools some parents into thinking they’re acting responsibly. It also gives teens a false sense of power — and parents a false sense of being needed.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…” – Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB)
I recently found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, in way over my head. The reason for my anxiety? The Nintendo Wii. My son turned eleven and scored a Wii for his birthday and it was time for dad to take a turn. I was given the controller and in no time at all lost all my “lives” and allowed the virtual galaxy to run amuck. For some reason (age possibly?), I just couldn’t get it.
My son was quite gracious in the moment. Dad, it’s o.k. Just sit with me and watch and you’ll get it. I know you will. And so I did. I sat and watched and sat and watched and sat and watched. I still don’t entirely understand how to maneuver somebody called Mario, but I’m only forty-one; I’ve still got time.
Another moment like this occurred back in December. Not a lot of anxiety in this one, but I had to sit down. My daughter asked me to look through a catalog with her. Just sit with me, dad. This’ll only take a minute. She had circled a sweater that caught her eye and wanted to make sure it was on my holiday radar. And so I did. We sat and looked at every page until we came to the reason for our sit-down. The correct size and color were emphasized, followed by a hug around the neck, a kiss on the cheek, and something like you’re the greatest dad ever! These daughters. Smart, huh?
So, one afternoon after work, I journeyed like a magi to the appropriate store and rattled off the correct item number, size, and color to someone who looked every bit of twelve. The girl-clerk seemed impressed at my vast knowledge of this particular item of clothing. Wow! How do you know so much about this? I told her it came from sitting and listening and flipping pages and stuff. She said cool.
Moments like this seem to be popping up all over my fathering landscape. Moments where I’m reminded of something called the power of presence. Maybe you prefer “stopping to smell the roses” or “being there.” Potato, potatoe; same thing. Now, lest you think I’m the greatest dad ever, rest assured that for every moment when I’ve stopped to smell the roses with my children, there have been twice as many moments where the roses had to take a back seat to my own, “more important” little world.
But kids are gracious and I’m learning. I’m learning how utterly vital it is to them that I, the father, set aside my adult privileges and sit for awhile and humble myself and enter their world. I don’t have to get the high score or even like hoodies; I just have to be there, with them, my presence passing along something to them that may be real close to that word L-O-V-E.
Incarnational fathering. An intentional setting aside of the me in order to enter into the them. And in that moment or moments, it’s not necessarily what I say or do, but that I’m there. Now we all know there are moments of action and trailblazing and preparedness that children desperately need from their father. However, I believe there are just as many moments when they long for a power from us that comes primarily from our presence; humbling ourselves, like Christ our example, and entering their worlds. You could call it “fathering in the image of God” – the greatest Dad ever.
Sometimes, doing something for my kids and getting it over with (quickly) so I can get back to what I want to do is nothing more than a broad road to ruin. The narrow road, the one that leads to life, it’s not doing anything but being there, physically present, and resting in the promise that the Father up above is looking down in love and He’s got the whole world in his hands.
Fathers, don’t overlook the power of your presence. Power via humility. It doesn’t make a lick of worldly sense. But it may just make an eternal difference in the lives of our sons and daughters.
Just sit with me dad. It’ll only take a minute…
Regardless of your parenting situation, you can erase “control” from your job description and add “validate and nurture.” While you’re at it, don’t forget all that fine print about paying for things, coaching your daughter’s soccer team, correcting your son’s awful table manners, sitting through countless piano recitals, teaching spiritual values and how to balance a checkbook, driving all over town, disciplining, encouraging, saying no at times and yes at others, setting boundaries and repeating all this as needed.
In doing this year after year, you greatly increase the opportunity for your teenager to choose what’s wise and right. Even though you can’t control the final outcome, you’ve stacked the deck in your child’s favor. That’swhat your job as a parent is.
Get into the mind-set that everything you do as a parent ultimately is part of validating or nurturing your children, especially during their teen years — preferably in ways they don’t consider offensive or embarrassing.
And don’t forget that it’s not about being perfect or exactly “right.”
It’s about “enough.”
Relax. You can do these things. And while there may be hard times, you can do themsuccessfully, even if your teenager doesn’t turn out “right” — now or later.
Remember, the results aren’t in your hands.
The clearer you are about this job description, the more able you’ll be to maintain a balanced approach to this thing called control.
by Timothy L. Sanford
What parent doesn’t want her teenager to exhibit personal responsibility? But what parent hasn’t already realized that this character quality does not come naturally to teens? It has to be learned through experience, not by simply being told.
So how can we help our teens learn personal responsibility? As parents, we have two valuable tools at our disposal: money and consequences.
When each of our girls turned 13, my wife and I put them on a budget. We calculated how much they “cost us” every month. We included items such as clothing, gifts for friends, tickets to the movies, toiletries and school lunches — everything but room and board. We also calculated seasonal expenses like Christmas and birthday gifts and summer trips to the local water park. We divided the total amount by 26 and paid our girls in cash every two weeks.
Using the envelope system, we helped the girls mark category names and amounts on several envelopes. The categories included
“tithe,” “savings,” “clothing,” “toiletries,” “emergency,” “gifts” and “miscellaneous.” When the girls received their cash, they put the predetermined amount into each envelope. The tithe envelope went to church that Sunday, and the savings amount was deposited into their bank account. When we went shopping, the girls bought theirown makeup and shampoo, their own clothes and anything else they needed or wanted.
Our daughters no longer had to ask for money. They were free, and we were free! From then on, if they wanted to buy something, we
simply directed them to their own money. And there was no additional expense to us. We spent the same amount of money on our kids as before — but paid on schedule every two weeks rather than in piecemeal amounts day after day.
We still set the household rules for music and clothing. So if a purchase didn’t meet our standards, the item was discarded and the owner was out the money. Suddenly the spending habits of our teens became self-controlled and self-managed rather than parent-controlled and parent-managed.
We also found that incurring fees for irresponsibility can serve as personal reminders for teens. Imagine it’s your teen’s regular chore to take the trash out before school on Thursdays. One Thursday he forgets, and you put the trash out yourself. What your teen just did was pay you to do his job. Come Friday, you give your child his cash minus the money you charged him for taking out the trash, and tell him, “Thank you,” as you put the money in your own pocket. If your fee for covering his forgetfulness is high enough, he’ll probably remember the trash next Thursday.
As you let the cause-and-effect process of life run its course, your teen learns as much from her mistakes as she does from her successes. It may be your responsibility to protect her from disaster, but it’s not helpful to protect her from the inconveniences of foolish
Remember that if you’re still trying to control every aspect of your teen’s life, she cannot learn personal responsibility. Controlling yourself and your belongings is a good thing, but attempting to control your teen is not. You still have the privilege of influencing, guiding, supporting, correcting, redirecting, praying and modeling responsibility. Raising your teen is about her; it’s not about controlling her choices so you look good as a parent.
One last thought: Teens will naturally pull away from their parents in order to become healthy adults. Let it happen and even encourage it. As you do, your job will be easier, and in time, your teen really will exhibit personal responsibility.
Copyright ©2010, by Tim Sanford. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
I can’t do it all. You can’t do it all, either. We must learn to ask for help. Our families are not mind readers. They will not know what needs to be done around the house. But you know. So, we must ask for help and delegate some of the work.
In our home, our children have family responsibilities they take care of each day. Some people might call them chores, but I don’t believe that truly describes them. It takes a lot of work to keep a home running. We have a responsibility to teach our children life skills they can take with them when they leave home. So, each day they have responsibilities that help keep our home running smoothly. Those responsibilities include cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work and so on.
There is a lot to do, but when many hands work together, it makes my load lighter. A good manager delegates tasks, and as a professional a mother must do the same. I also have to train my “workers,” which takes time. But it is time well spent because our family benefits from the results for years to come. We need to become comfortable asking for help.
Several years ago, Mark and I decided we needed to get serious about having date nights for ourselves, but we didn’t have the money to pay a sitter on a weekly basis. We decided to ask some friends to commit to trading nights out. It worked out wonderfully and we enjoyed the exchange for several years.
It took me a few years to figure this out, but I’ll share it with you just in case you haven’t yet discovered it: Your husband can’t read your mind. I thought for sure my husband could for years. In fact, I’d often help him along with some body language and a few nonverbal hints, but he just wouldn’t get it. I learned I had to state clearly what I needed and ask for help when necessary.
Elisa Morgan, author of What Every Mom Needs, puts it this way: “We have to learn to help ourselves. We have to learn to ask directly, by using words. No one can read your mind. No one is going to waltz in, recognize your predicament and save you.”
“Call the plumber!” your husband yells from the basement. You begin to search through the junk drawer to find the plumber’s business card from last year, when he installed the washer. You sift through the drawer and discover a dog-chewed yo-yo, pencils without erasers or points, Strawberry Shortcake stickers and a business card-from the dog walker. You sigh and think, There’s got to be a better way.
One of the first things I do when I start a new position is to take inventory of all household-related and emergency contacts. There is nothing worse than being in a house that is not yours when the electricity goes out and you don’t know which electric company provides power to the home.
Whether yours is a personalized list or a printout from my favorite home organization Web site www.homeconvenience.com, having a master list of all household-related contacts is a necessity. Grab a pencil and start your list: electric company, phone company, water company, heating company, plumber, electrician, mechanic, cable company, car insurance company, home insurance company, health insurance company. Include your account number, the name of the provider and the phone number. Head to Staples (or your favorite office supply store), grab a binder and some plastic page protectors and voilà! Information will never be lost in Junk Drawer Purgatory again.
It is also a good idea to include in the binder profiles for member of the family. This profile should detail vital information such as date of birth, medical conditions and phone numbers of physicians. Each profile can be as elaborate as you want it to be, listing anything and everything — from underwear sizes to ring sizes — if you are a lover of details!
Having a master family schedule is also a great way to eliminate household confusion. While on your trip to the office supply store, grab one of those oversized calendars and some colored markers (I prefer the dry-erase type). Assign each family member a color, and fill in the calendar with everyone’s day-to-day schedule.
When assigning your colors, make sure you save one color to designate family time and then be sure to include time for family on your calendar (this is even more important as the kids get older and their activities leave everyone feeling disconnected). Once a week, try to plan something special to do as a family. Whether it is going for a weekend morning walk or taking a special outing to the park, having regularly scheduled family times will ensure that the ties that bind don’t unravel amid the business of life.
So how does a parent mind his or her own business and still parent?
To answer that question, we’ll look at the Control Grid.
There are four boxes, or quadrants, in our diagram. Each quadrant represents a specific style of relating to or interacting with another person. These are not personality types (which are mostly unchangeable), but ways you — and your teenager — may interact relationally in any given situation.
A person can use any of the four styles. In fact, you may find yourself or your teenager bouncing back and forth among different styles during a single conversation about one topic.
Let’s look at each style.
HOLD represents the interacting style that takes the “What I Can Control” category and says, “This is what I take responsibility for.”
When you’re a HOLDer, the following terms could be used to accurately describe you:
The HOLDer says, “What’s mine is mine.” When you use this style, you hold onto the things that are legitimately yours to control and are therefore responsible for. You keep what’s yours to keep. You’re responsible for it.
Anybody using this style of relating will have confidence. I’m not talking about self-esteem; I mean a confidence in one’s abilities and character. The more honest you are with yourself and with me, the more confident you’ll be.
This is one of two healthy styles of interacting, whether you’re the teenager or the parent.
TOSSers take the “What I Can Control” category and say, “I don’t take responsibility for it.”
If you — or your teenager — is a TOSSer, the following terms could be used to describe you (or him or her):
The TOSSer says, “What’s mine is yours.” When you use this style, you toss off your responsibilities. You try to unload your stuff onto somebody else, for him or her to handle, fix, be responsible for and bear the consequences of.
This is the interactive style we often see in our teenagers. Does the following sound familiar? “It’s not my fault, Mom. You didn’t wake me up in time to study for my test this morning! And besides, it was an awful test anyway. The teacher should never have given it, especially on Monday morning! That’s just stupid.”
But before you think only teenagers are capable of TOSSing, think again.
“Son, you ruined my entire day. Can’t you see you’re making your mother have migraines? She can’t help it she worries about you. If you’d stop being such a jerk, maybe we could have some sanity in this house again.”
It’s easy for parents to be TOSSers as well.
Since confidence grows in direct proportion to honesty, and people using the TOSS style are not being honest, this style will erode confidence. Even if I get away with blaming somebody else and he or she takes the fall for my actions, I won’t gain genuine assurance about my character and abilities.
This is not a healthy style to use. It won’t help anybody.