Parenting

My View on Fatherhood Part 2: Father of Boys

by admin

My view on fatherhood is complex.  All these different labels and situations come together like those lenses in an optometrist’s office, creating a unique focal point and outlook on the issues going on that face Dads.  In part 1 I talked about the reality of me being a stay-at-home Dad, and why I am completely cool with it despite the many voices out there calling me lazy, calling me a shirker of my responsibilities, calling me a failure for not “bringing home the bacon”.  Now, let me explain some things I hinted at, and why they figure into the picture.

2.  Parenting Boys

Stormtrooper Dad Lego SonI am the father of many boys.  I am also the father of ZERO girls.  This creates a number of unique dynamics and challenges.

On the one hand, I don’t have to worry about dramatics to the same level as many of my friends who have daughters.  This might sound sexist, but it’s the honest truth.  A few of my boys get dramatic, but the tears rarely flow for more than a second or two.

On the plus side, action movies, pirates, Star Wars, and all my favourite things I get to continue to love because I get to introduce the boys to them one by one.  And that is awesome.

On the downside, I really wanted a princess.  Mainly because after a certain point, boys stop cuddling their old man.  That point is different for every family, but I do know that little girls NEVER stop cuddling their Dad.  So I’ll miss that.

The challenge to parenting all boys though is the sheer amount of physical activity that is needed to be engaged to keep them all healthy (and keep me sane).  The noise levels for general play are quite high and my tolerance for that has gone up over time.  However, there are always those days when you have an illness or headache or something and you just… can’t … take… it… and for those days there are video games.

Being the father of boys means that I can focus on certain issues.  I can focus on teaching them what it means to be a man, to grow into manhood, and to engage properly in those things that men engage in.  Thankfully, there are lots of great ideas around the internets.  One that I have been very impressed with is the website/media empire, The Art of Manliness.  He makes Youtubevideos and blogs regularly on aspects of manliness that man, I wish I had been taught!  Just a wealth of information and I appreciate it.

But that means you won’t see a lot of advice on raising girls on here.  Sorry.  You came to the wrong Daddy Blog.

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

 


My View on Fatherhood Pt. 1: Stay-At-Home Father

by admin

I’ve recently been connecting with a couple of Facebook groups – one for Dad Bloggers which is cool, and one for Stay-At-Home-Dads which in some ways is even cooler.

Every Dad, every family has their own approach to parenting, and managing the issues that face every family.  What is an issue for one family is a nonissue for another.  In that way, talking with other dads is an eye-opening experience.

There are several things that make my take unique on fatherhood.  Here are the lenses I see things through:

1.  Stay-At-Home Dad

Stormtrooper Father

I haven’t always been a stay-at-home Dad, but I am one now.  And I take it very seriously.  A lot of people rag on SAHD families.  Some call fathers lazy.  Some call mothers workaholics.  Some point out that men simply aren’t as nurturing as women, so they don’t make good SAH parents.  That may well be true, but in my particular situation, I think we are past the stage where my kids’ primary need is someone to kiss their boo-boos and snuggle them to bed each night.  I am looking at this as my job, and I am not wrong.  Parenting is a job.  You do it in the time you aren’t working.  It was a hard decision, but I’ll fill you in on how we got here. Read the rest of this entry »


Parenthood: the Best Road to Maturity

by admin

They say that you don’t really grow up until you have kids.  That may not be true in every case, but so far in this life, the most immature people I have met have been without children, and the most mature people I have met have been parents.

Why is this?  I don’t think it’s a mystery: selfish people are inherently unattractive.  People, in general, don’t like self-absorbed, me-first people.  The definition of maturity is the ability to both think and act in the interests of others, and to look beyond immediate benefits to yourself to the benefits of others as motivation for action.  (It’s not a perfect definition, feel free to correct me, but I think it hits most of what maturity is.)

Little handHow do you get it?  Well, something, sometime, somewhere, needs to intrude on your own me-first orientation to the point where you want something for someone besides yourself.

In short, you need to love someone.

Human beings are capable of having sex, but for obvious reasons, sex can be had for intensely selfish reasons, without any pretense of love.  But something mysterious happens when a child is born from you.  Many men manage to avoid this something mysterious, by denying paternity, or by simply absenting themselves from proximity to the woman who will bear the child.  Few women, however, manage to avoid this strange, unexplainable connection to the live they bring into the world.  It is pure.  It is innocent.  It is undeserved.  This thing has done nothing to deserve love.  In fact, for the next oh, about 12 months after it is born, this creature will be the most selfish, self-absorbed, unfeeling parasite on their parents’ lives ever to exist.  But that inexplicable feeling occurs nonetheless.

And it persists.  Parents will love their children forever, despite this.  At some point, that love gets modelled to their children, and those children in turn will pass it on to their children, and so on.  But for some reason, this love never truly blooms fully until a person becomes a parent.

You can love someone and not be a parent.  But nobody you love outside of parenthood will abuse you, use you, and take over your life to the level that children do.  Nobody will have permission to spend your money, time, youth, and energy for their own sole benefit like your children.  Parenthood taxes you.  It beats you down.  It drains you.  It stretches you to your emotional and physical limits.  But NOTHING else teaches you maturity like it.  Nothing.

A parent must.  They simply MUST love their child.  Or that child will literally die.

They must take joy in their child. Or the parent will abandon the enterprise of parenting.

I was working on my laptop...

I was working on my laptop…

They must find peace in parenthood.  If you can find peace amidst the chaos of screaming, pooping, throwing, barfing, smashing, running, jumping, singing, babbling, whirlwinds of growth, then you can find peace anywhere, anytime.

They must be patient with their child, like they have never been patient before.  Think about it: the longest you do ANYTHING in your life up to about the age of 30 is the 12 years of school you complete to graduate.  But the first few years are really so new and interesting that it takes at least until Grade 4 to really begin to hate it.  By then you only have 8 years left, and that’s not so long to wait.  On the other hand, you have a child, and you WILL be parenting, 24/7 for the next minimum 16 years.  If that doesn’t teach patience, I don’t know what does.

They must be kind.  I fail at this all the time, but my children really do respond to kindness unlike any other form of interaction.  It must be practiced, and practiced.  I actually feel bad for my older kids, because I didn’t have much kindness with them, while I find I am a lot kinder to their younger siblings.

They must be good.  Why does anyone have to be good to anyone?  You can be a noisome prick to the world, but you can’t to your kids.  It is in this area that goodness must be practiced, or you will one day lose your children.  They will either have had enough of you, or they will be taken from you.

They must be faithful.  Science has already demonstrated that one of the biggest contributors to children’s success as adults is stability.  Your choices as a parent to be faithful to them, to always be there, to be faithful to your spouse, demonstrating what it means to stand by promises, to be faithful to your job, your community, these things all contribute.  Not only that but YOU will be much better off for demonstrating faithfulness to all these things.

They must be gentle.  Oh, this one is so hard for fathers, and even harder for fathers to do with boys, because we are by nature rough and tumble.  But young boys need a gentle hand and will flourish when shown that there are other ways than simply brute-forcing your way through life.

They must be self-controlled.  Parents must learn to set aside their needs at times for the good of their children.  Many people I have met put off parenthood for this reason, but I would argue the reverse is true: if you put off parenthood because you don’t want to be self-controlled, then you are building habits that will not break when you do finally “get around” to parenting.  Having children younger means you have had less time to get into ruts, and are more flexible to adjust your life to them and their needs.  And the earlier human beings learn self-control the better – for everyone!  Nobody ever suffered in life for being self-controlled, yet in our society today nothing is more anathema.  It is one of the strangest dichotomies of the 21st Century.

A little slice of heaven...In case you haven’t noticed, I did in fact use Galatians 5 as a template for maturity.  I don’t particularly care if you are a Christian or not: I defy you to point out for me how these 8 descriptors fall short of describing the mature human being.  I dream of living in a world populated by the mature.  That would truly be…

A little slice of heaven…

Heaven.

photo credit: Chemophilic via photopin cc


Guest Post on DaddyBlogger.ca

by admin

Daddy BloggerHey people. You can check out my guest post on Daddyblogger.ca – he is based out of Vancouver, so I thought I would produce something local for him since we used to live there for 13 years. If you’re looking for some good parks to take your kids, or even what to look for in a park, look no further!


My Son: Award Winning Artist

by admin

An odd thing happened last winter.

Award winning artwork

Award winning artwork

My 4 year old son, attempting a precocious Kindergarten year, drew a picture.  The teacher asked him to draw a cowboy.  So he did.  It wasn’t spectacular.  Even he didn’t think so.  But he got a lot of detail into it.  In fact, there is quite a lot there on close observation.

For example, the odd tiny head and thin arms accompanied by large hands and legs and feet are a matter of perspective.  If a 5 year old met a cowboy, this is what he would see: large hands, legs and feet because they are close to him, largely hidden arms, and a tiny head way up in the clouds.

He took pains to add in the classic cowboy features of hat and boots, but what you may not notice is the green cord wrapped in loops at his side – that is his lasso.

It’s a neat bit of drawing, and may even be good for his age.  It might have been good enough to be one of the pieces we actually save of his artwork (any other parents out there get absolutely sick to death of schools sending home every single thing our kids glue, cut, rip, paint, or write on?  I mean, how many forests have to die?)

But much to our surprise, it was submitted to the city art gallery for an annual exhibition of art produced by students.

Much to our greater surprise, it was chosen as the gallery centerpiece, and the winner of best student artwork in the city.

Don’t get me wrong: I am proud of the work he did.  But never in a million years would I have thought to submit this work to an art competition.  Never in a million years would I expect him to win.

Maybe I just don’t grasp the fine sensitivities of the art community, who it seems since abstract art came into vogue, seem to revel in objects that at best resemble their subjects superficially, and search for hidden meaning in the artist’s “choice of medium” and “bold decisions” in how to “capture the essence” of the subject.  Maybe this work is brilliant.

We asked him about the piece.  Here’s the “artist’s interview.


Anti-Heroes Don’t Just Have a History…

by admin

I got up at 6am this morning to go for a run with a friend of mine.

Actually I got up at 5am for no apparent reason, tried snuggling up to my sleepy wife (didn’t get anywhere… darn), then got up to get ready for the run.

My friend pulls up in a VW Golf with a sticker on the back – the Autobot symbol.

Not the one I saw.  Pretty stylin' though.

Not the one I saw. Pretty stylin’ though.

First reaction: cool.  Transformers are the awesome.  Then I remembered the last Transformers’ sticker I saw on a car was the Decepticon sticker.  And when I really think about it, I have never seen an Autobot sticker on a car before.  Only Decepticons.

James Dean

The iconic bad boy. Kinda looks like my Dad ca. 1972.

It’s cool to be bad.  I guess it always has been.  Guys in leather jackets, smoking cigarettes behind the school was cool back in the 60’s.  And the 70’s.  And the 80’s.  You get the picture.

But it seems like these days it’s really being taken to another level.  People self-identify as the bad guys.  Or their favourite characters in stories are the bad guys. Read the rest of this entry »


Girls and Gardasil – Not a Good Combo

by admin

It was a few years ago that the vaccine Gardasil came to market and began to receive gardasil-logowidespread publicity as health lobbyists pushed for government agencies to offer it to female schoolchildren.  For those who might not recall, Gardasil is a vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV – a sexually transmitted disease that in untreated cases, has led to cervical cancer in some cases.

At the time, I didn’t know what to think – the central argument against the vaccinations I was hearing centered around (besides the reported side effects seeming to include girls dying occasionally) vaccinating girls as young as 9 against a disease that they can’t catch unless they are sexually active – and how many 9 year olds are sexually active?  It’s an important thought, but it’s weak.  If it protects down the road, and you don’t know when your daughter is going to become sexually active, it still seems kind of prudent.

You may notice, I don’t have daughters, only sons.  So I don’t have any personal interests at play.  But if you have a daughter or daughters, then you should be aware of these facts about Gardasil and its related vaccines.

1.  They only protect against 4 of 40 different strains of HPV.  That’s 10%.  90% of HPV will still get her.

2.  HPV clears up on its own within 1-2 years. It’s not that serious a problem.

3.  Listen to these quotes from Diane Harper, lead researcher in the development of these vaccines (link goes to a Huffington Post interview with her, not some whacko anti-vaccine website):

Gardasil is associated with serious adverse events, including death. If Gardasil is given to 11 year olds, and the vaccine does not last at least fifteen years, then there is no benefit – and only risk – for the young girl. Vaccinating will not reduce the population incidence of cervical cancer if the woman continues to get Pap screening throughout her life. Read the rest of this entry »


Family Discipleship Plan

by admin

BibleI have not been satisfied with any devotional ever, and my kids hate sitting still for Bible stories. But I am convicted that I need to take my job as the leader of this household seriously and set the example and pattern for growing in the Lord.

To that end, I am starting today. I am starting a morning Bible time with my older boys, and plan to get the younger ones involved as they learn to read.

I have given each of them a small notebook. In this notebook, I am asking them to, before they eat, before they shower, before they play a game in the morning, take their Bible, pick a chapter, read it and then answer these three questions:

1. What does it say?
2. What does it mean?
3. What is God trying to teach me through this passage?

Then, after breakfast, I am going to get them to share their #3 with me and their brothers, so we can learn from each other.

That’s the plan. My hope and prayer is that we can develop a family pattern in the month of August before school starts, so that it is fixed and routine by then.


Defining Manliness: Living Under Authority

by admin

When he (Jesus) had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

(Matthew 8:5-13 ESV)

I just got home from one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Our family vacation this year was one of great reflection and also seeing life from a profoundly different perspective.  I am still digesting everything we did and learned.  I know the kids had a good time but I don’t think they realize what a watershed this trip was.

While I was travelling I was thinking a lot about the hand that God has dealt us.  In some ways it is nontraditional.  In some ways it is very traditional.  At least, it could be.  And that is what I am unpacking.

Being the father of 6 boys, I have been wrestling for year with how to teach them what it means to be a man – but not just a man, a mature man, a man who is everything that God wants Him to be.  In many ways I have let them down in modelling this for them, but I am trying very hard to change.

The picture of manliness offered by the world is a picture of independence.  It is a picture of freedom, to do what you want, when you want.  It is a picture that really, at its core holds up selfishness and self-centeredness as its idol, supreme goal, and ultimate end.  I have found that a lot of people speaking truth about manliness and masculinity still fall into this trap, though there are a few that realize there is something more.  This something more I think is obvious when you are a follower of God but I think it is still clear from basic human nature that manliness – true masculinity involves voluntary submission, and living under another authority.

The story I relate above is a story of faith.  It recounts the centurion, a commander in an centurionarmy, caring for one of those under his authority.  The picture of the Roman Centurion, a legionnaire, has been a picture of masculinity for millenia now.  It is recognized and not debated.  Yet, this Centurion in the story is not just a tough man.  Not just a man capable of sending men to their deaths for a cause, for controlling and orchestrating death, for guarding and protecting.  He is also a man who cares, who sees value in the people in his care.  He has a sick servant, and he is willing to take time out of his day to personally seek out the only one who could possibly help – a strange holy man who seems to have a reputation for bringing about healing where no healing should come.  A man who claims to be sent from God.  The Son of God Himself.

The encounter the Centurion has with Jesus has most often been used with its most obvious intent – to encourage us to have faith like the Centurion – a faith Jesus had not witnessed even amongst the supposed people of God.  But the message for me, and for men seeking to understand manhood I think is clear.  This manly man, this Centurion, was a man under authority.  He didn’t resent it.  He didn’t rebell against it.  He didn’t seek a workaround.  It was a fact of his masculine being that he was a man living under authority.  Read the rest of this entry »


The iPhone Mom and Over-Reaction – Godly Grief vs. Worldly Grief

by admin

A few days ago a Facebook note was being shared around the people I am friends with.  It was entitled, “Dear Mom on the iPhone” and it originated, as far as I can tell, with this blog post by a Mom blogging at 4 Little Fergusons.  I was impressed with the thoughtful and timely comment, as there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see people around town with their kids, but their heads are down, not watching anything but the latest text or Facebook post, or pinterest picture scroll across their smartphone’s screen.  I considered it a very timely message as I myself am often that Dad, even though the letter was written to Moms.On the iPhone

Turns out many people actually found the letter offensive.  Many moms read it and took away from it guilt.  One friend I know read it and then swore not to use her iPhone all day Saturday.  I considered that to be a good thing, and I will explain in a moment what I am talking about it.  But many other moms found their guilt twist into anger.  How dare that woman write such a judgemental article!  How dare she judge me!  She doesn’t know what I go through every day!  Maybe I was using my phone to pay bills, or write a grocery list, or check on a doctor’s appointment location!  How can she sit at her desk and write such hateful things!  I am a good mom!

One of those moms decided to write a defense of iPhone moms.  I read that piece over and was struck by this perspective that judgement was being brought on all iPhone moms everywhere.  One response to her on Facebook went even so far as to suggest that the original piece was meant to encourage people to judge moms on iPhones.  I re-read the original and I don’t see that at all.  I see a woman, a mom, providing a timely reminder to other moms and dads of the perils of allowing ourselves to be distracted by the culture of instant gratification and constant entertainment to the point where we miss our childhood. I didn’t and still don’t see any calls or demands for parents to be 100% focused (dare I say obsessed) with their children constantly.  Only a call for balance.

Because of who I am, I read this whole debate in light of God’s wisdom.  The verse that came flying out at me in reading this argument was this: Read the rest of this entry »


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