The Father’s Mandate: Accept Invitations into Your Child’s Private World

18 Jun

father plays with childrenWe’re on to part 3 of The Father’s Mandate series; encouraging dads to live above society’s fatherhood-norms and be the best fathers possible. If there’s one main theme that is coming through this series, it’s the amount of time fathers spend (or don’t spend) with their family. Keep reading to see what hurried dads are missing out on.

Role #3: Accept Invitations into Your Child’s Private World

Have you ever had that moment where your child comes running to show you something super exciting and your first reaction is to yell at them about bringing mud into the house? Or when they are stammering on about something and you impatiently tell them to be quiet because you’re trying to listen to the radio or TV? You may have just missed a personal invitation into your child’s private world.

Children open windows to their heart at the most unexpected times. These are moments when your child invites you in to share advice, answer questions and clear up false impressions. It is in these moments that you will do more than teach your child to conform to expected behaviour; you will be able to train your child’s heart to love you, love others and love God. You cannot force these windows open. And when you react with impatience and intolerance, you may be shutting that window forever. If you don’t listen when your child opens up, they may not trust you enough to invite you in again. Imagine how much harder it will then be to understand your child when they are a teenager. Hurried fathers miss these opportunities, but fathers that make time for their children will be there to see these windows open.

Dads who are preoccupied with work, themselves and their problems end up distancing themselves from their children. Children cannot bond with a moving target. Successful fathers are not the ones with flexible time – they are the ones who use whatever recreational time they have to spend doing what their children or wife would like to do. Too many dads think that time with their children will be unpleasant or draining. They would prefer to spend time doing their own thing. What they don’t realise is that a child’s attention span is pretty short; sometimes you’re lucky if there is actually decent time for play. Jump at the invitation to be with your child, because in a few minutes they will want to do something else. Your child needs you to be present and involved. Try it and you will see those little windows open to their soul!

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thoughtful Thursday: Dad or Dud?

14 Jun

dad or dudI wanted this week’s Thoughtful Thursday to be really special for our dads. But my hunt for a great “dad” quote did anything but inspire. I ended up finding a bunch of quotes about “duds” –  the failure, disappointment and non-existence of dads.  There is clearly a crisis when it comes to the relationship between children and their fathers.

There are so many good dads out there; I know lots of them! But their good examples seem to be washed out by all the duds. Abusive and absent fathers are too easily regarded as the norm. Fathers are almost expected to fail. How, then, are they supposed to be good fathers when society doesn’t have high expectations for them to live up to? Fathers need to know how important they are so that they can take their role as leader of their home more seriously; and we need to give them the respect they need to do that. Dads need encouragement. They need to know that they are wanted and that their children depend on them. Dads need to know that their actions may decide the fate of their family.

There is hope. Fathers around the world are stepping up and taking their role more seriously. They’re not bullying their family or letting their family walk all over them. Instead, they are offering their family love, guidance and encouragement. They are taking authority and responsibility for their family. And in turn, they are respected, loved and trusted. They deserve to be called “Dad”.

I hope your child will say this:

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

 – Jim Valvano (American college basketball coach)

The Father’s Mandate: Love Your Wife

13 Jun

Welcome to the second part of The Father’s Mandate series. This fantastic series not only honours fathers, but challenges them to a higher standard of excellence as head of their home. Last time we talked about a father’s responsibility in creating a family identity. Today we focus on another crucial role that a father plays in his family:

Role #2: Love Your Wife!

the father's mandate - husband love your wifeWhen we think about a man’s responsibility as a father, we tend to forget how his relationship with his wife affects his relationship with his children. No matter how involved a father is with his children, it will count for almost nothing if he doesn’t show love and affection to their mother. If a father isn’t spending quality time with his wife, speaks harshly to her or isn’t patient with her, his children will find it difficult to trust him and they will begin to develop habits of an unhealthy family model. I realise this example may be limited for more complex family units, but the point remains the same: Fathers need to love their children’s mother!

“Fathers are crucial in making men of their sons and women of their daughters. Contrary to the popular image, it is not the aggressive, macho man but the competent, caring, loving father who does this best.” – Faulkner

A father needs to represent the kind of man that he wants his son to be. Boys need their fathers to teach them how to conduct themselves as men; how to be responsible; and how to treat women. When a boy grows out of childhood, he inevitably lets go of his attachment to his mother and looks to his father for instruction and affirmation. If his father isn’t there, he will look for answers elsewhere and risk becoming a distorted version of what masculinity should be.

A father needs to represent the kind of man that he wants his daughters to marry. By being a good role model, his daughter can see how a man should look, act and talk. A father who is loving, caring and affectionate towards his wife shows his daughter how she should one day be treated by her husband; she should not want to settle for anything less. On the other hand, if a daughter has limited interaction with her father, or her father is unkind to her mother, she will struggle to relate to men and may end up in a cycle of abusive relationships.

So dads, if you want your children to grow up in healthy relationships and receive the love that they deserve, you need to model that picture for them. Surprise your wife with a bunch of flowers, tell her “I love you” every day, hug her, kiss her and dance with her. Make sure your children see your affection for her and make sure that, one day, they settle for nothing less!

What do you think dads? Challenge accepted?

 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Father’s Mandate: Family Identity

11 Jun

happy family on carpetThere is no doubt about the importance of fathers. When a father is actively involved with his children, he positively influences every area of their lives. Children need their dads! In this series, we’ll be sharing a little of The Father’s Mandate from the Growing Kids God’s Way course (a Growing Families International curriculum) and highlighting some of the essential roles that dads play in the family unit.

Role #1: Family Identity

Family ties should not be optional. In an ideal world, every child would know that they were put into their family for a purpose; that they have a role to play; that they are loved and cherished; and that their family is committed to them. Ever family would have a standard of values and morals to live up to; and every member of that family would hold each other mutually accountable. A family would be a team. Every team needs a leader; and that leader would be Dad.

Did you know that “husband” literally means “house-holder”? It’s not surprising then that a father holds so much responsibility when it comes to being the family leader. This can’t be taken lightly. If a father is absent or too busy to focus attention on his family, outside influences will shape the children’s idea of what a family looks like. As entertaining and light-hearted as they may be, popular TV shows like The Simpsons or Modern Family often shows dads to be silly, irresponsible and unable to cope with the children on their own. They may be likeable, but they don’t command respect and their children don’t trust them.

To quote Gary Ezzo, “the quantity and quality of trust children have in us, as fathers, is a legitimate benchmark of our relationship with them. Do your children trust you to provide them simply with sustenance, facts, and judgments, or do they trust you as a person?” (pg. 71, Growing Kids God’s Way).

 Studies have found that children who feel connected to their parents and siblings have fewer problems with temptation and peer pressure. When dads are actively involved, their children are more confident. They have a higher self-esteem, are more sociable, compassionate and empathetic. They reach independence easier and deal with frustration better. Boys are less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sexual activity.

So how does a dad actually build a family identity? Fathers need to verbalise their excitement and pleasure with their family.  Saying things like, “This is a great family” or “I am so thankful that God put us all together” and “You kids have such a great mom” have a remarkable impact on a child’s perception. Dads need to give their children a clear picture of the purpose of their family. Make sure your children understand the values and morals that they are expected to live up to. Let them know exactly what roles they play in the family. When Dad is excited and encouraged about his family, the children tend to feel the same way. But when Dad is absent or silent, they will inevitably ask the question, “Does he really care about us?”

Who is shaping your family’s identity?

 

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thoughtful Thursday: Always be Batman

7 Jun

be yourself or be batmanToday’s thought is inspired by the men in our lives. Who didn’t grow up wanting to be Batman…or Batgirl!? Who still doesn’t? And why shouldn’t we strive to be someone who stands up for good and defends the weak? Why shouldn’t we take a risk and make a difference in the world?

One of the coolest things about Batman is that no one (well, almost no one) knows his real identity. Bruce doesn’t get the recognition he deserves and he’s ok with that. He knows he’s just as flawed as the rest of us and would be called a hypocrite if he pretended to be any better. But when he dons those tights and cape, he is invincible! There’s nothing that can stop him from striving for greatness.

So when you think that being “you” isn’t good enough, think about being Batman for a day. Guys, pretend you drive the Batmobile. Ladies, put on those tights and switch the cape for red lipstick. Then get out and plot your next world changing mission!

Being you is brilliant; being Batman is way cooler!

Parenting Courses: The Gift of Confidence

6 Jun

I was a single mom with my first child. I didn’t know parenting courses even existed; and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have gone to one. I wanted to be an amazing mom and have that “Gilmore Girls” relationship with my daughter. I wanted to do it all by myself.

As much as I believe in natural instinct, I soon realised that I was out of my depth. No, I don’t know why my baby is crying. I can’t always tell the difference between my baby’s cries! And no, my baby DOESN’T want the boob even though you insist she does Aunty Martha! [cue scream]

Although I eventually did learn the difference between my baby’s cries, I had major insecurities about what to do at times. Asking for advice was like admitting I was a useless mother with no motherly instinct. I didn’t want other people to think of me as incompetent. I was a great mom; I knew that. I just wasn’t as confident on the inside as I may have appeared on the outside. Every decision was double-checked and second-guessed until my brains turned to coleslaw. And at times I felt attacked and exposed when friends and family kindly offered suggestions. As much as I LOVED being a mom, I hated the indecisiveness and insecurity I was feeling.

I wish I had known what I know now!

When my daughter was 18 months I married Kegan – an amazing man who gave me a gorgeous step-son! Friends of ours raved about Growing Kids God’s Way, a parenting course geared for parents with kids between the ages of 2 & 8. We tried it. And I recommend it – whether you are Christian or not! It gave us fantastic tools to add to our parenting bag of tricks! So when I fell pregnant with my second child, we eagerly took their advice to try the Preparation for Parenting course – even though Kegan and I had both had babies before.

Desiree Haakonsen with her 2 children, Callum and Jaime

Me and my two beautiful children, Callum (left) and Jaime.

I don’t want to give away any details of the course…not now anyway! But I will tell you that it was life-changing in the way that my husband and I became a solid team. We had a game plan and we were in it together! As a couple (or a single parent), you gain a confidence that literally makes people stop in their pram-tracks and ask “how did you do that?”

I still believe that every mother has an amazing natural instinct, and I don’t for a second think I “got it all wrong” with my first child. I think I did pretty well in fact. The parenting courses just gifted me with a confidence in myself that I had clearly lacked before. It is a gift that should be shared with everyone. I would like to pass it on to you! I’m positive that when you have tried one, you will try them all. And when your friends ask you, “How did you do that?” you can pass the gift on to them too!

To find out more about available parenting courses from the Growing Families International curriculum, please contact Andrea at Baby Guardian Vaccination Clinic.

Please note that Andrea and Alastair de Wet facilitate courses in the Centurion/Midrand area in Gauteng, South Africa only but may refer you to other facilitators in the greater Johannesburg area.

10 Things to do for Dad this Father’s Day

4 Jun

We’re giving dads a high-five as we build up to Father’s Day…because with the cost of living these days, a high-five is all we can afford!  Andrea and I have spent hours pondering suitable gifts for the men in our lives. Everything they really want comes with an exorbitant price tag! (Have you seen the price of golf balls?) Then we shared a face palm moment. Father’s Day isn’t about gifts. Father’s Day is about honouring your dad and letting him know how much you love and respect him. And the easiest way to show your dad how much you love and respect him is through your actions. So instead of things to buy, we’ve put together a list of things to do for dad this Father’s Day.

 
1.       Let him sleep. If this just isn’t possible on Father’s Day then let him sleep in on Saturday as a pre-Father’s Day treat.
2.      Scrumptious breakfast. Whether in bed or at a beautifully laid table; there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of coffee brewing and bacon sizzling on the grill!

full english breakfast
3.       Hand-made cards. This is special, no matter how big or small your kids are.
4.       Write him a poem or a song.

father's day song

5.       Homemade vouchers. Get creative and make a gift that lasts (don’t forget the T&Cs)! Foot rubs, movie nights, hiking days, Saturday sleep-ins, and doing dad’s chores are great ideas.
6.       Pamper time. Sit dad in his favourite chair and treat it like a throne. Fetch him a newspaper or book, make him something to drink, put on some peaceful music and offer him a shoulder or foot massage (or both!). Experiment with a foot bath, salt scrub and creams.
7.       Outdoor hobbies. What does dad like to do on his day off? Kick a ball around? Take a walk? Cycle? Make an effort to join in. If you’re thinking, “but no one else in the family cycles,” then compromise and go to a track where there is a restaurant and jungle-gym for mom and the kids.

kick a ball with dad

8.       Indoor family fun. Make family time to play board games, charades, build a puzzle or a watch family movie.
9.       Give him a break. Sadly the working world may not stop to give us a full day of family time. If dad has to work and can’t do it after the kids are in bed, or if he just needs a good forty-winks, then give him his space and don’t make him feel guilty about it
10.   Dad-inspired dinner. What are his favourite foods? Make a 3-course menu and get the kids to draw it up. Turn off the TV and put on some good music. Decorate the table, use your special crockery and open that bottle of wine.

And just to give you that added BONUS, we decided to throw in #11!

11.   The unexpected surprise. This could be anything from organising a visit from dad’s best friend to secretly running a candle-lit bath. Make a treasure hunt to find his present, or hide an extra gift under his pillow. You can play the we-forgot-to-buy-bread-and-milk-so-let’s-go-out-for-breakfast trick where you “accidentally” find your extended family or friends sitting at a Reserved table. Go crazy with this one!

father's day surprise message

In the end, it really doesn’t matter what you do on Father’s Day as long as you remember why you are doing it. Take the time and effort to show how much you love and respect him; as imperfectly human as he is! That is the greatest gift you could give him and he will treasure you all the more for it.

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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