Questions For Dads (From MOPS Panel)
Questions for Dads
November 7th, 2012
1. What do you enjoy the most about being a father?
How has your life changed the most since becoming a father?
There are many blessings from being a dad—here are some that come to mind:
A. Being a dad helps me understand how much God loves me (i.e. if I a sinner can love my children so deeply, how much more does my perfect Father in heaven love me?! 🙂
B. Being a dad helps me realize that no matter what I do or do not accomplish during my life on earth, nothing can compare to leaving a legacy that is lived out in the lives of my children. For better or for worse (Lord willing, for better!), my children will be indelibly influenced by my character, words, plans, responses, and actions. May I impact them well…
C. Being a dad teaches me how to put the needs of others before my own wants/desires.
D. Though my physical body is growing older/creakier/stiffer each day, being a dad helps to keep my mind, heart, and soul young/flexible/fresh.
E. Being a dad helps me not to wallow for too long in yesterday’s sins/mistakes; each day has a new set of “uncompletable” tasks/chores/goals!
2. After being away on business or just working long hours, what is your favorite or best way to reconnect with your family?
I have learned over the years to treasure the 30-ish minutes right before bedtime when our oldest three children are often piled onto me and my wife’s bed being silly, telling us stories about their day, listening as we read a book, praying, snuggling with us, etc. There’s great physical contact/proximity without the disturbance of chores, television, homework, or friends; just us, together…in pajamas!
3. Have you always been the spiritual leader in your home?
What does spiritual leadership look like in your home?
Spiritual Leadership (my personal definition): Over time, the slow but steady, daily remodeling/rehab process of placing God at the center of what the family does and who the family is.
Over the last eleven years that I have been a dad, God has used my wife to help me assume the role of spiritual leadership in the home. God used my wife early on through her practiced example, not through her verbal nagging. That is, when our children were old enough, my wife suggested with her words that I start reading devotional type Bible snippets with the kids on a consistent basis and also praying with them. When I didn’t get the verbal hint at first, she simply started doing it herself. Pretty soon thereafter I realized that it was my responsibility to do what she was doing, and her doing it in my place was like me getting drafted by the military but letting someone else go into battle for me. God used my shame to spark my action to step into the role that He had designed for me.
This is not to say that wives shouldn’t lead devotions or that husbands alone should do it. Not at all. In our house my spiritual leadership is not tied to personally doing all the “religious” activities myself; rather, my spiritual leadership unfolds as I take the spiritual temperature of the family on a daily/weekly/monthly basis and determine whether or not we are collectively growing closer to God, are stagnant in our growth, or are beginning to drift away from Him due to busyness, sin, or lethargy. I then devise and institute some simple modifications to our weekly schedule that help us to move God back toward the center of everything we do and who we are.
Here are some examples of modifications (note: I have put these into practice one at a time over time based on our season of life/family dynamics—some practices continue on consistently and others fall off after serving their purpose (like leaves in autumn time). The point with these modifications is not legalistic ritualism but rather learning to consistently do some type of spiritual exercise to help our faith in Jesus continue getting stronger in our practical/daily lives):
A. Short devotion/prayer right before school;
B. Short reading from a cool comic book Bible before bed;
C. Talking about the lesson/sermon from church that week at dinner;
D. Tying in “real life” situations (e.g. fights with siblings, over-reactions from us parents, incidents at school with friends) to the Bible—how does Jesus want us to respond right now?;
E. Pausing a movie/t.v. show and briefly talking about why a particular character’s action was Biblical or not Biblical;
F. Stopping to briefly pray together when there is a lot of stress/frustration/anxiety in the home.
4. So many women struggle with “mommy guilt.” Do you ever feel “daddy guilt?”
Personally, I definitely struggle with whether or not I am
A. doing enough to point my children toward Jesus,
B. accurately modeling for my children the character of Jesus
C. emotionally/mentally present with my children on a consistent basis
D. effectively laying a foundation of faith in Christ that will last throughout their earthly lives
And yet while the LORD wants us to be fully invested in helping our children to connect with Him, He definitely does not want us to soak in a tub of guilt, anxiety, fear, etc. Thus, God has lately been helping me to relinquish to Him my worries in the following ways:
A. talking/praying about my fears with close friends;
B. reminding myself that God loves my children even more than I do and that He will do everything in His power to nurture/enhance the good seeds I have sown in my children’s lives and to uproot and discard the bad seeds I have sown in their lives;
C. reminding myself that there is no “formula” to producing godly children—even God Himself has wayward children!
5. How do you handle conflict resolution in your home? Do you have any ground rules?
My wife and I strive to help each other objectively look at fights/conflicts/disagreements that we have with our children, humbly pointing out after the fact what we as parents might need to apologize to the kids about. If one of us parents was in the wrong in some way, we strive to apologize to the children and pray together, asking God’s forgiveness and help moving forward.
Regarding the kids and each other, we strive to do the same thing: give each child the opportunity to share their version/perspective on what happened and then make our best judgment as to what the real issue is and what needs to happen next.
Between my wife and I, we try to not go to bed ticked off at each other, we try to pray together (sometimes through clenched teeth!) during an argument, we ask the Holy Spirit to not allow any bitterness to grow between us, and we try, whether we want to or not, to continue serving each other even if we are still angry/upset.
6. What practical things did you do or have seen done to lay the foundation for your children’s faith? What works and what doesn’t?
A. See list for question 3 above;
B. Take 15 minutes and write down a list of activities/exercises that would be helpful for ALL OF YOU (not just your kids) to grow closer to God. Then try and do one of them each day (not all at once!), and try swapping that exercise for another one when it starts to become old/stale/boring/unhelpful, etc.
C. Talk to youth/children’s pastors at your local church about some helpful suggestions on ways to grow your family’s faith in Jesus;
Start to incorporate God into all areas of your life (chores, career, friendships, music, t.v. programs, errands, etc.); that is, start talking about God wherever you are (not just when you are at church).
D. If you the parents are continuing to grow in your personal faith in Christ, your children are likely to follow. If you are stuck in your growth (because of personal unchecked sin, laziness, etc.) but are trying to help your kids to grow, you are like a bankrupt person offering free financial advice.
E. As your kids get older, give them some ownership/input on what your family does to grow closer to God.
F. Serve together, whether it’s baking cookies for a neighbor, writing a card to a sick family member, or putting together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
7. What is your best piece of advice in marriage?
Focus on the following two major aspects of marriage:
Vertical Aspect: consistently ask God to help you unconditionally love/treat your spouse the way He loves/treats you (Ephesians 4:32 NIV);
Horizontal Aspect: make the decision each day to serve your spouse in sacrificial ways (e.g. ways that stretch you/move you out of your comfort zone), whether they deserve it or not, whether you feel like it or not (Romans 12:10 NIV).
8. What speaks respect to you, thinking in terms of actions and not words?
What makes you feel disrespected?
I feel respected when my wife shows solidarity with me, agreeing with a decision I have made even if it’s not the best/wisest decision. If she disagrees with a particular decision, I also feel respected when she humbly talks about it with me later privately, offering me her perspective on other possible options.
I feel respected/honored when my wife suggests that I do something just for me (e.g. “why don’t you go to Barnes and Noble and read for a couple of hours”).
I feel respected/honored when my wife compliments me publicly in front of friends.
I feel disrespected if my wife is rude to me and doesn’t eventually apologize; if my wife thinks I’m being weak when I’m actually being vulnerable; if my wife is overly critical of my performance in a particular task without realizing that I really am trying my best to help/be supportive.
9. What is the best way for a wife to show how her relationship with her husband
is more important than her relationship with the children?
A. Every once in a while, write down some of the characteristics of your husband that you admire/respect;
B. Help the children get to bed at a time that leaves some opportunity for Mom and Dad to connect/talk/snuggle/watch t.v. before bed;
C. Ask your husband a couple of times per year if there is anything you can do to help him feel like he is important/honored/respected;
D. Pray for your husband on a regular basis.
10. What is the best way for a wife to bring up a potential conflict without making her husband defensive?
Ha! I will give a few suggestions below, but much of the responsibility lies with the husband; he needs to ask God to help him to not be defensive, to be open to the ways that the LORD will use his wife to iron out some of the wrinkles in his character.
Here’s what a wife can do:
A. Ask her husband when the best time of the day/week is for her to talk with him about a potential conflict with her;
B. When bringing up the conflict, think of two compliments for every one criticism (sandwich criticism with praise);
C. If a wife is usually not defensive when the husband brings up a conflict, this will help him to follow suit when the tables are turned;
D. Pray together before and after a discussion on conflict;
E. Admit how you (the wife) are feeling and also ask the husband if he would help you understand his perspective on the situation (try not to interpret his heart/intentions/motives for him—allow him the safety/opportunity to open up to you and reveal what was (or wasn’t!) going through his mind when the conflict originally happened).
11. How are boys different to raise than girls? What is the mother’s role in raising a son?
God has blessed my wife and I with four girls and one boy; nevertheless, they are fairly young still so I can only offer a limited amount of insight—we haven’t hit the ominous teenage years yet!
In many cases, daughters and sons can be raised the same way—both genders need to be taught:
A. Basic skills (e.g. tying shoes, making a bed, brushing teeth, etc.);
B. Basic manners (please, thank you, excuse me, etc.);
C. How to work hard/give their best effort for chores, schoolwork, musical instrument, sports, etc.;
D. How to look out/stick up for others—younger siblings, smaller kids at school, etc.;
E. Who God is, why He is amazing, what He offers us, how to love Him, etc.;
F. How to resist negative peer pressure.
Nevertheless, here are some distinct differences/emphases in raising boys vs. girls. Boys should be taught:
The Sacred-ness of Females
A. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER hit/push/shake/threaten/demean/insult a female (even if they’re doing those things to you);
B. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER allow another person to do the above things to a female;
C. Treat younger girls like they are your sisters and older girls like they are your moms;
D. Constantly look for what you can give females, not what you can get from them;
E. Share your attention/encouragement/friendship with females based on their inner character (not just their outer appearance).
Real/Biblical Manhood vs. Fake/Cultural Manhood (the examples below should also be taught for females)
A. Cultivate inner character over outer appearance;
B. Finish what you start;
C. Honor your commitments/promises;
D. Set a positive example for others (e.g. do the right thing regardless of what others think);
E. Faith in Jesus before everything else;
F. Follow God’s call on your life (don’t just chase your personal dreams/ambitions).
A mother’s role in raising a son is to figure out what a real/Biblical man looks like and then do everything in her power to help her son become one (and to stop doing anything that will prevent her son from becoming one). I know that’s vague but it’s the equivalent of a teacher telling a student to “look it up” when they ask the teacher for the definition of a word. 🙂
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some of what God has taught me over the past eleven+ years of being a husband and dad.