New Year, New Decade, New Resolve

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily chaos of raising children. And honestly, that can be a good thing sometimes. When we had our first baby, the pediatrician told us, “Don’t worry about setting habits right now. You are in survival mode—just do what it takes to get through the day.”
It might sound like weird advice, but it was some of the best parenting advice I ever received. It freed us to focus on just helping our child the best way we knew how, minute by minute and hour by hour. If you have a newborn in your house or are dealing with another major change or challenge, I encourage you to lean on God’s strength to love your child as best you can today. He will carry you.

Five Ways to Shape How Your Elementary-Aged Kids See God

The elementary years provide an unlimited array of possibilities for strategic dads. Your children are changing at a startling pace, which also means that it can be challenging to discern the best ways to love and care for them along the way. 

Amid that uncertainty, don’t lose sight of the most important value you add at this stage. You are providing the mental definition your child will forever use to understand key concepts like “home” or “father.”

How to Encourage Your Children’s Imagination

When I was my kids’ age, about ten years old, I spent my days playing outside in the neighborhood. My friends and I explored the creek nearby and ran along a golf course. Sometimes we got into trouble, but most of the time we got lost in our imaginations. During that time, I watched far too many war and sci-fi movies and we ourselves would act like we were Colonial Marines from the movie Aliens hunting xenomorphs or U.S. Army Rangers storming the beaches of Normandy. With little risk of actually getting hurt, it was a way to enjoy what was playing in our heads. I loved getting lost in these stories we would reenact ... 

Christmas Is Almost Here! Here’s a Reading Plan to Help Your Family Celebrate

Whoa—Christmas is almost here! Now, how do we lead our families through it? 

Thanksgiving was just a few days ago, but we're already starting Advent. As dads, we want to take every opportunity to help shape our families’ hearts toward Jesus. Do you have a plan to share the real reason we celebrate Christmas?

Raising Servant-Minded Kids in a Me-First World

Mine. As a parent, you’ve heard this more than once. My toy. My fruit snacks. My blanket. From the very start of life, selfishness is inherent.

I hope you feel some level of comfort knowing that “me first” thinking is normal. My children are just as rotten as yours sometimes. However, the real concern for us parents sets in when we realize that some children never grow out of it. Selfish children can become selfish adolescents and eventually selfish adults. We don’t just outgrow selfishness as we get older, we must be led into something better.

Today, we are going to discuss a few ways you can lead your children out of selfishness and into service of others. 

When Dad Screws Up — How to Apologize to Your Kids

Dads, we’ve all been there. You make a mistake or express a frustration in a way that leaves you feeling ashamed and guilty. Maybe to avoid dealing with it, you ignore the elephant in the room because you don’t know how to apologize to your child. You hope the entire situation would just be forgotten.

The awkward silence—or maybe the tears—cause you to deal with your child’s emotions. In fact, it causes you to deal with how you feel inside, too. 

It is in that moment that you need to realize it is never too late to say sorry. Your humility is the much-needed solution to mend the situation and the relationship. Here are four steps you can take to own your screw-up and restore the relationship with your child.

Teach Your Kids “Me Last” in the Age of “Me First”

Have you ever played rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to go last—or to see who gets to sit in the backseat? 

My college roommate would yell, “Backseat!” every time the two of us rode with another diver. He also had the unique custom of tipping the ice cream server for his milkshake at Baskin Robbins. He explained, “Think about tip the bartender, and all they do is knock the top off of a bottle. The person making your milkshake spends so much more time with your order.” He was a strong, yet empathetic leader in college and continues to be one now. I think that growing up in a household of four kids taught him that life was about much more than him—and these lessons have had a great deal to do with his success.

4 Tips for Helping Your Kids Adjust to Change

Change is difficult. Especially if you’re a kid. Whether it’s relocating to a different school, moving across state lines, or just the natural changes that come with growing up—transitions can be hard. 

By the 8th grade, I had already attended 11 different schools, lived in four states, and I can’t tell you how many houses I called home. Change was the norm for me growing up, but now that I’m a parent, I’ve been processing through what it takes to help my children transition well. Change isn’t all bad. It can even be great for your family and for the health of your children if done with intentionality. 

You Can’t Do It All. Stop Trying!

Birthday parties. Sports games and practices. Music recitals and lessons. Tutoring. Help in homeroom. Help with homework. Robotics. Scouts. Lunch with your child. After-school adventures. Youth group. School carpools.

And that is just part of a list for one child at one school. You might also have just as much to do for other children, as well as plans as a family, taking care of other relatives, neighborhood gatherings, and church and social commitments. Not to mention the fact that you likely work and need some personal downtime every now and then. 

If you are like most dads, you may feel overwhelmed by all there is to do. What do you do when you realize you can’t do it all?

3 Questions to Shape Better Dinner Conversations

I have four sons who range from ages fifteen down to three years old, so dinner table conversations can go in many different directions in our house (not to mention that boys—and men—are not always eager to communicate their deepest dreams and ambitions!). 

But I’m working on finding better questions that will help shape these conversations, both at dinnertime and other times throughout the week. I want to suggest three questions that might help you engage with your kids over the table and “while you walk in the way" (see Deuteronomy 6:7).