Passage Weekend by Carey Casey

Just a few years back, my son Chance turned thirteen years old, and yes, I’m seeking your prayers. He’s a good kid, but the teenage years are always interesting.

When my older three kids turned thirteen, I took each of them for a one-on-one trip with Dad—a weekend away where we could talk about “rites of passage” kinds of issues.

Chance is much younger than his siblings; he’s almost like an only child, and we have talks all the time. Plus, being our youngest, I’m probably more relaxed with him. So, leading up to his birthday, my bride reminded me that it’s still important to get away for some one-on-one time. She said, “You’re his dad, and those are the times that will help him grow up. You can’t miss this opportunity.” She was right, of course.

So, Chance and I went to a hotel about an hour away, and we just hung out as guys for the weekend. We played in the pool. I picked him up and threw him up in the air so he could make a big splash—things he would be embarrassed to do if his buddies had been there. It was just a fun time, and he knew he could open up and trust his dad.

Maybe more than anything, it was good to get away—just the two of us, like a private vacation. I could focus my attention all on him. And even though it cost a few pennies, by getting away some good things happened that otherwise would not have happened. Driving back home, Chance told me, “Dad, I didn’t know I was going to have this much fun.”

We had fun together, but I also wanted to speak truth to him about some big issues. That’s part of our coaching role as dads. There are good resources out there about some of the different approaches to rites of passage, and I hope you’ll use them. My approach was to simply speak from my heart on five key issues, and I want to give those to you today.

Now, let me say that you should revisit these over and over; don’t drop them on your kids in one shot from the fire hose. They learn best through consistent reinforcement as teachable moments come along. Briefly, here are five things I shared with my son—each worthy of a good conversation:

First, give information about physical and emotional changes—the “facts of life” a child of his age needs to know. I was glad, and a little surprised, to see how much my son knows. The dude is down the road a bit on this stuff.

Two, make sure to bring God into the picture. Open the Word and show him that these changes are part of God’s design. He made all of us with great care, and He has a purpose for our lives—even when it comes to sex. Talk about the blessings of marriage, and the positive impact of following God’s way. Tell him you’re praying for the girl he will marry some day.

Next, how to handle temptations. Shoot straight about the things he could see on TV, in movies and on line. Some of that might look good, but “it isn’t God’s best for you, Son.” Give him specific strategies how to handle it.

Number four: relating to the opposite sex. With my son, we talked about how are women to be thought of and treated, and how that should show up in our actions. And dad, make sure you are modeling that yourself.

And finally, the issue of trust. As I gave my son a vision for what Mom and Dad expect of him as a young man, I also told him, “Son, no matter what, you can trust your mom and pop. You can trust your dad. Come to us. Ask us about any situation.”

Those are the things I shared. Adapt them to your own approach. And make the most of that time when your son is starting the transition to manhood. Be there to coach him.

I hope you’ll make time to do this occasionally with each of your kids. Every father-child relationship needs those fun, focused times to bond you closer together.

When New Daddies Get Stressed by Brian Dembowczyk

Dad's Turn
source: abennett96

Here are three common causes of stress for new fathers and tips for handling each one.

Sleep deprivation

No one gets much sleep with a newborn in the house. Without the rest you need, you will find yourself running on fumes and easily prone to being stressed and irritable. Be creative to find time for you and your wife to rest. Consider taking turns during nighttime feedings (if your wife is nursing, she can pump milk into a bottle for one of the late night feedings), allowing one of you to get at least a few hours of sleep. Take naps, or at least rest, when your baby is sleeping during the day.

A crying baby

This is perhaps the greatest cause of stress for fathers. Not only can a newborn’s cry be draining, men tend to be problem-solvers and fixers and sometimes it is quite difficult to soothe a crying baby. Here are six tips for soothing your crying baby.

  1. Swaddle her. Newborns feel secure when they are bundled up securely.
  2. Calmly and gently shhhh her. Babies like repetitive sounds, plus it makes you feel better to say it.
  3. Gently rock her. Try swaying back and forth to create motion.
  4. Change the way you are holding her.
  5. Give her a pacifier.
  6. If all else fails and you feel your blood pressure rising, walk away and pray. Crying never hurt a baby.

A crowded schedule

Life instantly gets hectic with a baby in the home which often leads to stress. Learn the art of prioritizing and clear as much off your calendar as possible. Allow the house to be a little messier than usual. Don’t worry about mowing the lawn as frequently. Prepare simpler meals. Forgo your hobby for a little while. Don’t make any commitments or appointments unless absolutely necessary.

What suggestions do you have for dads with newborns?

Dad’s Life with Carey Casey: The Importance of Modeling

Claire made me breakfast in bed!
source: escapist

Need a weekly nudge in your efforts to be the kind of dad your kids need? Here’s what worked for one dad.

Rick has two young children. He told me about some lessons he has learned, with help from the Fathers.com weekly e-mail. I think we can all probably learn something here.

Leading up to Mother’s Day one year, Rick’s wife was going out of town to visit her parents with their 2-year-old daughter and newborn son. So with her gone, Rick thought he was “off the hook.” He’d get her a card and give it to her when she came home.

Then he received our weekly e-mail. It suggested that he do something big to honor his bride and get the kids involved, because it’s important to set an example for them and show honor for the role of mothers.

When his family came home, he involved his 2-year-old daughter in choosing a special gift for Mom. Then, on the next Sunday, Rick and his daughter got up early and made a special breakfast together for their mom—including Eggs Benedict. It wasn’t the best-tasting meal, but his wife said it was the best Mother’s Day ever.

Another story from Rick reinforces the lesson: At Valentine’s Day last year, it was a busy time and he was planning to get a few simple gifts to bring home for his wife and his daughter. Once again, our weekly e-mail reminded him that he’s setting an important example—both in how he shows love to his wife and showing his daughter how she should expect to be treated by boys.

So Rick raised the bar. He made arrangements to take his daughter to a daddy-daughter dance. He dressed up and left the house so he could arrive at the appointed time to pick up his daughter for their date. He took her out to dinner and then they had a great time at the dance.

Dad, recognize that you’re always modeling behavior and character for your kids—whether you’re serving your wife, going to work, fixing something, or just hanging out. They’re always watching and learning from you, and like Rick shows us, it’s never too early to start.

 

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Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

Jeremy Thiessen: Normal Rockstar by Whit Stiles

downhere_farewell_tour.jpgWhen it comes to musicians, “normal” might look a little different than it does for most people, but in Nashville, Tennesse, Jeremy Thiessen is something of an anomaly. As drummer for Christian rock band Downhere, Thiessen is one of the most down-to-earth performers you could meet. The band’s latest record, On the Altar of Love, garnered the Canadian natives their fourth Juno award, but to Jeremy and his bandmates, success has never been the point. Maybe that’s why Thiessen has adopted the nickname, “Normal Rockstar.”

Beyond the music, Thiessen is a devoted husband and father of two children, Liam (3) and Karis (2). The birth of their son changed everything for the couple as they discovered Liam had Down’s syndrome. For a time, Jeremy seriously considered quitting the band. Ultimately, the family decided to move forward, but with an understanding the entire band shares: if the day comes where a family member says, “I can’t do this anymore,” the band is done. For Thiessen and his bandmates, family truly comes first.
Which brings us to the nickname, “Normal Rockstar.” Thiessen doesn’t want to adopt a false humility, but instead be a good steward of the platform God has given him. He makes efforts to be accessible, noting with a laugh, “You don’t have to look very long to see pictures of my kids online.” Thiessen sees an opportunity to make connections and minister to other parents with special needs children, both at home and on the road. It’s something he and his wife are beginning to explore and something they’re excited to see develop. “The nickname is an oxymoron,” he notes, “but hopefully it isn’t just the same.”
Life as a musician is uncertain, and Thiessen holds loosely to the future. “We’re not in a safe place, and we’re okay with that.” As far as rockstars go, there’s nothing normal about Jeremy Thiessen, but that’s what makes him truly normal. And that’s just the way he wants it.
Read more about Jeremy Thiessen and his family in the October issue of ParentLife. Whit Stiles, a writer and musician in Nashville, also wrote the article in the magazine. 

Teaching Kids Love

You can ask the adult Sunday School class that I co-teach. Lots of times we dive into the topic for the day, hit lots of key questions, then I pop the question at the end of the lesson: “How do we make this real for our kids?” That’s the kicker! Sometimes we learn things on one level as a student but having to teach a concept to someone else is a different story. One of those questions is, “How can I teach my kids about love?”

I think the answer starts with showing our kids a glimpse of what unconditional love is like. I say a glimpse purposefully because I get a bit squeamish when I think of all my imperfections. I may intend to show my kids love but by the end of the day I hear them saying, “Dad, why are you so grumpy?” It is difficult not to feel like a failure in that regard.

No matter the mistakes we make, thankfully, we all have a Heavenly Father who loves us in such a remarkable way. He sent His own Son to die for us! That is true love. Communicating God’s love to your child is the best possible thing you can do as a parent! Take time this month of love to communicate how much you and God love your child!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Carey Casey

"Dad’s Life" columnist Carey Casey speaks here on how we use our words in frustrating situations with our family members.

Dad's Life

 

This month in my “Dad’s Life” column in ParentLife, I wrote about sarcasm and how it can be hurtful even when we think it’s harmless. But sarcasm is just one of the dangerous ways we use words. To set a more positive tone, consider this from Proverbs 25: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold.”

So how do you choose words that are “fit to speak”?
 
It begins, I believe, with respect. First Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect to everyone.” And I’m told that the Greek word there for respect means prize, appreciate, and honor. We respect others by appreciating and honoring who they are.
 
That does not mean mocking our kids or using sarcasm, such as, “Aw, is the itty bitty teenager mad at the mean ol’ daddy?” Yelling is also an ineffective way to get your point across. And how often do we automatically use defensive words and phrases like “You never … ” or, “You always …” ?
 
For a better approach, one great place to start is to use your child’s first name when talking to him — or at least an endearing nickname. “Brian, would you please take out the trash?” “Sweetheart, I need your help for a minute.” That can help you start off with a calm voice and avoid yelling.
 
Respect means you deal with issues directly and responsibly, not with passive-aggressive behavior or innuendo. One approach goes like this: “When you do [this], I feel like [this].” So, you might say, “Brian, when you don’t do what I ask, it really gets frustrating to me. How can we work this out?” It might be hard to imagine, but we can all learn.
 
Another way to show respect in your speech is to be careful regarding what you say to others about your family members. A father’s words should defend the family, not tear it down.
 
One hard thing about respect is that we often don’t realize when we aren’t doing it well. So I challenge you to approach your children, and your bride, and ask, “Do you feel respected when I talk to you?” You’ll probably discover some insights that will help you be a better dad.
 

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Carey Casey is Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering and author of the book Championship Fathering: How to Win at Being a Dad.

Through his work across the country, Casey has earned a reputation as a dynamic communicator, especially on the topic of men being good fathers. He’s known as a compassionate ambassador, particularly within the American sports community.

 

Ahh, Summertime!

Summer fun

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I have loved summer since I was a kid. Back then, summer was for playing outside, attending special church camps and events, vacationing, working in our garden, staying up late, laboring on our farm, and playing baseball.

My kids don’t have quite the same agenda, but there is still lots of playing, staying up late, church events, vacation, and baseball.

Pick up our July issue of ParentLife this Sunday and see all the great content about summer for families.

  • Moving or preparing a child to enter school for the first time? Check out Kristen White’s “Smooth Moves” (pp. 36-37).
  • Planning to spend lots of time outdoors? Then don’t forget these summer safety tips in “Super Summer Outdoor Safety” (pp. 24-25).
  • Looking for great summer activities? Dig in to “Create and Play” (pp. 30-31) and “Fast, Fun, and Free!” (pp. 32-33) for some great summer fun ideas.
  • Wanting a new twist on celebrating Independence Day? See “A Celebration of Heritage” (pp. 42-43) and find ways to celebrate Independence Day and explore history with your kids.
  • Make studying the Bible fun this summer. Check out “The Rizers” (pp. 20-23) to find out how they make Scripture memorization rock for kids (and adults — their catchy tunes will have you jamming to Scripture when you least expect it).

We offer lots of activities to help fill your schedule but let me recommend something often overlooked to supplement your summer fun: nothing. A day full of planned activities doesn’t give kids the opportunity to be bored and use their imaginations. Take some time to do nothing together. In fact, mark it on your schedule so you’re sure to keep your appointment with your kids for a day filled with kid-directed play.
Let us know what fun you are planning this summer!

Photo Source: vastateparksstaff

 

Ten Tips for New Dads by Dr. Mary Seger

Dr. Mary B. Seger is a nurse practitioner, mom, grandmother, and teacher in Michigan. She has recently released the book The Parent Guidebook, an "owner’s manual" on raising children from infancy to adulthood based on her experience as a mother and a nurse practitioner.

Here’s a sample of what can be found in the guidebook: Dr. Seger’s tips for new dads.

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Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children. - Bill Cosby

Papa Luca

Trying to understand your wife, who has now become a mother, can be extremely frustrating at times. Being moved down on your wife’s list of importance can be devastating. Let me give you some tips on how to move into this new life of parenthood.

 

  1. Tell her she is a good mom and doing a great job. Most women are terrified of doing the wrong thing as a parent. We all want to be good moms and secretly fear being bad moms. When you point out what a good job she did in a particular instance, it will touch her heart in ways you cannot imagine. It will help increase her confidence in doing what she is doing and help her believe someone has her back in the crazy world of parenthood.
  2. Find food. You need to eat, preferably healthy food. She is exhausted from lack of sleep, hormonal swings, and at times, fears doing the wrong thing with this precious baby. Bringing home food, cooking it, serving it, and cleaning up afterwards will cause her heart to fill with love for you. Don’t ask her where she wants it from or what she wants. Figure it out and go get food.
  3. Change diapers, empty the dishwasher, and clean the toilet without being asked.
  4. Text her. I love you. Everything is going to be fine, we can do this. You’re a great mom! How can I help? “How can I help” is a great text because you are giving her time to think about it.
  5. Watch the baby while mom goes to the grocery store. Tell her to take her time, that you’ll be fine. She may even stop at the bookstore or TJ Maxx on the way home. This is when you get to bond with your baby. Many times when the mom is present, complete bonding with dad does not take place. You need the one-on-one to get the greatest effect.
  6. Encourage your wife to seek the company of other moms, with or without the baby. She may need time to go out with her girlfriends to just be. A mom’s group can be helpful, as well as both of you spending time with other couples. This helps by getting her to spend time around more moms. You can make this happen by offering to take the baby or setting up couples’ night out.
  7. Offer love, protection and support with no agenda. There is a statue I see periodically, that warms my heart: It is Joseph, holding Mary, who is holding baby Jesus. It provides a beautiful picture of love, protection and support. It is what women crave; a time to let her guard down, breathe, and know someone she trusts has her back. At the end of the day, many women are on empty, with nothing left to give. When you approach her to give her a hug with an agenda for evening activity, she may close down and push you away. Try giving her a hug, let her melt into you and rest. That is all. In time, as you do this, good things will come.
  8. Date night. This is imperative for maintaining your marriage. Remember when you were dating and courting her? You need to do this again. It is not unusual for a couple with children to put their marriage on the back burner. Years later, as the kids grow up, you begin to wonder who is this person sleeping in my bed?
  9. Parenting as a team is essential. As you spend time together, you and your wife will develop a team approach, which is imperative to raising children. Two components of teamwork include defining the goal – what values do you want to impart to your children? – and getting things done in less time. Life is much better in a loving, supportive, respectful relationship. As the years pass by, in time, you will be sitting on the porch, watching your grandchildren. As your children become frustrated with something their child does, you will laugh and say, you used to do that. Life is good.
  10. Stop and give thanks, every day, for the miracle that has come into your life.

 

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Trends & Truth Online: Exclusive Interview with Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics

 Trends & Truth Online is a monthly column by Mike Nappa.

 

Marvel_New_Editor.jpgAxel Alonso began his career as a journalist and magazine writer before joining the comics industry in 1994. Since 2000, he’s shaped the stories of classic heroes like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and many more. Today, Axel is Editor in Chief at Marvel Comics.

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T&TO: In your own words, what is Marvel Comics

AA: Marvel tells stories about human perseverance―about super-powered individuals who rise to impossible challenges. Our readers aren’t rooting for the powers or the costume – they’re rooting for the person inside the tights. With Spider-Man, they’re rooting for the kid from Queens who, when he’s not saving the world, has to scrape to make rent; with Captain America, they’re rooting for the 98-pound weakling who, through the miracle of science, was granted muscles that finally match the size of his heart.

T&TO: Marvel superheroes and stories wield a significant influence on American culture. How does Marvel Comics handle that?

AA: With over 70 years of stories in the bank and counting, Marvel Comics is modern mythology―and we’re well aware of the responsibility that comes with it. We take such great pains to portray our characters as the heroes they should be. Our protagonists are models for life: people who rise above their personal baggage and insecurities to face great challenges and do great things.

T&TO: Marvel Comics are loved by all ages, but we still associate superhero stories with children. Why do kids need superheroes?

AA: Kids need heroes. While parents should be role models for life, superheroes remind a child of the moral compass necessary to navigate a universe fraught with thrills and danger.

T&TO: Why is Marvel interested in reaching kids today, when more adult-oriented products seem to make more money?

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AA: I discovered comic books as a young boy. They taught me to read and helped shape my moral code―they are a part of my DNA. As Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, I understand the importance of cultivating young readers that will have a similar experience; as the father of an 8-year-old boy who’s a big fan of Spider-Man and Deadpool, I’m thrilled to see my son have a similar experience.

T&TO: Some parents worry that Marvel Comics are too violent, political, sexualized, and so on. What would you like to say to those parents?

AA: Not all comics are intended for kids, which is why we label our comics for their intended audience. That said, most of our content is PG-rated material aimed at a multiplex audience.

T&TO: What would you say is most important in life, and how is that reflected in your work?

AA: Love―finding it, earning it, giving it, sacrificing for it. It’s why superheroes throw themselves headlong at impossible threats. Because their hearts overflow with it.

 

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

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Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com

 

Peace in the Midst of Parenting by William Summey

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Do you ever just need a break? Boy, I sure do, and I can tell I have passed it down to my kids. Christopher, always inquisitive, commonly asks, “How long until Spring Break? How long until Easter? How long until the end of the school year?” He wants to get those breaks all straight in his head! I must admit, he learned all of that from me!

Breaks are so nice. They reorient our thinking, helping us get a fresh start and perspective. Christians can find real rest in God, no matter where we are, even with the world around us descending into chaos. If you work in the business world, you know there is turnover and change. If you think of time with your kids, you know that chaos can break out any minute (usually right after you clean up or get to sleep)!

As parents, we all need time to rest in God. He helps us gain perspective on what is truly important in life. Being centered in Him helps us be better parents.

So next time Jonathan tells me, “Dad, I have a test today and forgot to study” or Christopher says, “Dad, I forgot that this is wear-my-favorite-shirt day, and my favorite shirt is dirty,” I will try to remember to rest in God.

The challenge is to find that peace in the midst of chaos. That’s why God’s supernatural strength and peace is a must for Christians to depend upon. I think of the passage: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. … you will find rest for yourselves” (Matthew 11:28-29). What helps you put life in perspective? Let us hear from you!

Parenting by grace,

William Summey