Rick was feeling impatient with the way his wife was dealing with their children’s misbehavior.
He shared his thoughts with me during a recent conversation: “I’ve always been the kind of dad that likes to get things done efficiently. When I’d come home and see my wife in seemingly endless conversations with the kids about cleaning up messes or how to treat each other, I’d step in and take over because I figured sometimes these kids just need to know what’s what and who the parent is. The kids would comply and we’d get on with life. At the time I thought my wife was taking way too much time to do what should be quick and pretty easy.”
Since Rick was talking as if that was the way it once was, I asked him what had changed. Here’s what Rick said:
I love baseball. Before I ever even thought about marriage, I dreamt about the day I would teach my own children to play baseball.
The first time I went into the backyard with three-year-old Daniel to teach him the game, I was ecstatic.
I vividly remember that first wildly swinging “fat-bat” hit that connected with my well-timed pitch, sending the ball over the garage and into the alley beyond. His first home run gave way to a wild celebration as he ran randomly around the yard and then jumped on the Frisbee placed as home plate – just the way I’d taught him. My dream was coming true!
The only problem is that as the years went by, in spite of my encouragement, it became clear that Daniel didn’t have the patience for baseball. “This is dumb! I stood in the outfield for four innings and never touched the ball!”
We’ve written about some of these issues, but the important thing to remember is that whatever barriers to connection you’re wrestling with, the starting place is honesty with God and with a few trusted people who will encourage and pray for you.
Once I’ve been “brutally honest” about the situation, there are practical ways that I can build my Foundation for the joy of Connection with my children. Here are a few.
Over the years we’ve seen thousands of parents transformed… and some not so much.
As we began our ministry and talked with parents, we began to see two groups of parents emerge — one who was able to make changes and one who came back and said “it didn’t work.”
The difference between these two groups? One simple question. (Watch 4-minute video below to find out!)
If you find yourself in the “it didn’t work” group, don’t worry! We’ve found that with God’s help, any parent who seeks to build a stronger Foundation and become a more grace-filled parent can begin to make changes that lead to true transformation! Below are some resources to help you get started.
In our kitchen, there is a huge dent in the floor. I see it every day. It is a reminder to me of the day in which I learned something important about myself when it comes to discipline. It was a day when I saw myself in my son’s eyes and saw what I was communicating to him in a very tense moment. When I look at that big gouge, I can feel my emotions rising, and I feel… love? Yes, love. Here’s the story.
Parenting is a beautiful gift. It can also be some of the toughest work you’ll ever do.
As we work to “train up our children in the way they should go,” sometimes it’s hard to keep focused on the big picture. We get angry. We get tired. We get frustrated. We default to our old, controlling ways over and over. It may seem like we’ll never be able to change.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)
I remember the sign on the men’s dorm wall during my freshman year at a Christian college.
A spiritual disciplines checklist was posted for us to keep track of our “progress” (monitored by a well-meaning resident assistant). I am wired for variety, not daily routines, and I felt ashamed every time I missed checking off the boxes in the “Jim J.” section: daily devotional time, prayer, fellowship, witnessing, tithing. (At least I got tithing – 10% of 0 income.)
I felt ashamed that I wasn’t measuring up, even to the point of checking boxes just so no one would know that I wasn’t making very good Christian progress. Good thing there was no check-box about honesty.
The way to get the best out of people is to orient people toward others.
Think about it. When are you at your best? It’s almost always when you are contributing to the welfare of others. Certainly there are those rare situations on the athletic field or perhaps in a business arena where the individual outshines the group. But people are almost always at their best when whatever it is they are doing is for the benefit of someone else.
The same is true of your kids. The more you can help them to do what they do in ways that benefit others, the more they’ll feel a sense of purpose about their lives. The more they feel purposeful about one area of life, the better they’ll do in other parts of life.