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Archive for Do the Dad Thing

Nov
04

Life Long Learnin’

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerSo, I’m old now.

And I’ve been trying to do the fitness thing and stave off ‘feeeeeling’ old.  I get up in the morning and do yoga (what could also be considered ‘stretching’) and I try to go to the gym several times a week.

 In the past I’ve also tried jogging periodically.  However jogging poses two major problems:

#1:  I hate running.  Ok, yes, so I was a track athlete in High School.  But that was sprinting.  Sprinting is fun and has the real-life application of keeping you safe from alien abduction.  Long distance running or fitness jogging is an extreme method of torture.

#2:  I’ll be jogging along and hating jogging along.  I’m nearing the point where I’m thinking, “I’m just going to walk for a bit” and then suddenly, my high school track coach, Mr. Lightfoot, is standing up ahead along the road with a clipboard in hand.  He emphatically throws it on the ground and shouts, “Dag-gonnit Washburn, FINISH THE RACE!”

 And of course I dig deep and finish jogging at a dead sprint.

(then I’m in a great deal of pain for several days and vow to never run again . . . until the next time).

 So jogging for health isn’t my thing — Sorry Mr. Lightfoot.

 But,

 Mr. Lightfoot also was the High School weightlifting coach.  (and the Senior Social Studies Teacher  . . . which actually is another unrelated story of how he convinced the whole class the Christopher Columbus’ middle name was “Rosco” . . but I digress)

Largely because of his inspiration, I’d get up at 5:30 am to go to lift weights.  In Sr. year, I actually took ‘Bodybuilding’ as an elective.

 And That.  That stuck with me much better than trying to run along backroads.  Actually if you look at it either way, whether he is yelling at me in my pain induced visions while jogging or in the inspiration to hit the gym several times a week, the impact that Mr. Lightfoot made on me for lifelong fitness, has been . . . lifelong.

 I currently have two teenage boys that used to come with me to the gym on a regular basis.  They surpassed my abilities a long time ago (remember I said that I am old), so they’d rather go separately from me.  But they still go.  I’m hoping they continue going lifelong.

There are many disciplines that dads could pass on to hopefully achieve ‘lifelong’ status for our kids.  I hear many parents putting their kids into sports, or piano lessons, or dance — and none of those are inherently bad.

 But there are some disciplines and skills that need to be introduced toward them becoming activities your kids choose for doing their whole life.

 Like

 Bible reading:  Seriously, this is an activity that is more important even than fitness or knowing chess.  Many people come to me each month and make the comment, “I wish God would talk to me.”

Umm.  He did.

Teach your kids to read the Bible on a REGULAR basis.  For lifelong habit of reading the Bible, you can’t just know it’s important — adults that read the Bible do it every day or the same day every week.  Make Bible Reading Lifelong (MBRL is my election slogan).

 Praying: is a little easier to create a lifelong habit.  Pray with your kids before bed, before meals, and before anything important.

The other day my youngest son lost his wallet at the movie theatre.  We looked, visited, and called periodically for a week.  I thought it was long gone.

We were in the area and he asked if we could swing by the theatre again and see if they found it.  We did again.  The manager went away to a back room to check ‘lost-and-found;’ again.

As we were waiting, my son spontaneously started praying.  “Jesus, please let him find my wallet.”

The manager came back.  Not only did he have the wallet, but he said, “I checked the lost and found again and it wasn’t there.  But then, I just decided to check and see if someone put it on one of the storeroom shelves and it was there.” Read More→

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Sep
16

Dad the Fashion Guru

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerI’m taking a total departure from some of my usual topics to focus on something that is a big ingredient in being an interactive Dad AND something that has surprisingly become ‘close to my heart.’

Being a fashion Guru.

First of all, to clarify:  I’m colorblind.  So if I can enter the fashion realm as a Dad, then you DEFINITELY can.  I’m not so good at matching clothes.  In fact, when I was in college dating this hot girl that ended up becoming my wife; I’d put on some clothes and ask my roommates if I was matching.

“Yup.”

“Yeah, you look great.”

“Lookin’ good.”

 . . . so you can probably imagine my lack of surprise when I’d meetup with my girlfriend and she’d say, “Good God, what are you wearing?!  That doesn’t match at all.”

My roommates didn’t often have ‘my back’ in the fashion department.

But after I had kids, and after those kids started caring about what they wore . . . I needed to connect with them with my limited fashion abilities.

When the boys were younger, they’d throw on anything that was available and comfortable, which I’d still advocate as some of the main goals of fashion.  They’d make any strange combination of outfits ‘cool’ because they had the confidence of not caring.  But, as they grew older, they started caring.  So they wanted to ‘match’ and ‘wear shoes’ (we lived in Florida), and buy brand names.

I didn’t want to be one of those ‘fuddy-duddy’ Dads, that didn’t understand style or the fashion dynamics of kids, because how you look is a BIG DEAL to preteens/teens.   To connect with them, I had to learn fashion.

Below is a list of things that helped me and things I tried.  There were failures of course; these are the wins that I can share on this topic.  What about you?  You can probably see color and have some good ideas to share as well.  Drop me an e-mail or comment.

Oh, and before I do the list.  You’re probably wondering what the Biblical or Spiritual tie-in is for anything regarding fashion.  Usually I have a quick Bible answer for questions, even if it’s a corny Bible joke, but in this case I had to do some research.

[Brad surfs the net with his theology hat on]

 . . .  well, actually the Bible doesn’t have a lot of positive to say about adornment or clothes or looks being important.  In fact, there is a lot of the opposite.  BUT, in doing the research I discovered that the negative part about fashion, adornment, and looks, is that they shouldn’t become a focus to detract you from what’s really important.

So, don’t let that happen.  Keep your focus on what’s important in life.

I did find a plethora (a.k.a. ‘a bunch’) of information about how much God cares about creating beauty and aesthetics on the Earth.  It seems like God is the ultimate fashion designer.  God even made the first clothes (read Genesis) out of leaves – I’ve never seen that done, even on Project Runway.  Here is an example of how much attention God gives to creating beauty upon the Earth . . . almost like tailoring the best outfits for us.

Psalm 104

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
    and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
. . .

He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.

I also found some pretty good articles related to the God/Fashion topic:

https://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/jesus-christ-fashion-icon.aspx

https://lifeloveandgod.com/god/is-it-okay-to-love-fashion/

Ok, now back to the list of practical Dad fashion tips.  Don’t forget to e-mail me or comment with your own:

Retro is always good:  You grew up in an era that will cycle into being ‘cool’ at some point.  I grew up in the 80’s and Stranger ThingsDark, and popular sitcoms highlight some of the fashion that is now becoming popular again.  Thank God that some things never came back in style as far as hairstyles like the mullet or the 5ft-tall Aquanet tower of hair that some of my female friends had.  But clothes; clothes come back to popularity.  Fashion from 10 years in the past can always be used as a retro fashion statement.

Use the terms:  Find out what joggers are.  And jeggers.  And jorgers.—ok, I made that last one up.  But find out what your kids are calling rolling their jeans legs, or what a ‘snapback’ is, or how Gucci plays a role in fashion.  Also, learn how to pronounce ‘Gucci’ correctly.

Shape is important.  Boys are shooting for the overall shape of a ‘T’ and girls are trying to look like the general shape of a number ‘8.’  So, give any feedback or insight on the clothes that do well with bringing out your kids’ qualities. Read More→

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Sep
02

The Question with a Question

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questionBrad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerAfter many long days the kid has climbed to the top of the mountain to reach the mystic guru of all knowledge:  The Dad.

The kid has journeyed past the Forest of Despair, through the Pits of Insecurity, and has taken the arduous climb over the Boulders of Persistence.  All to reach the top, and ask the question; the question that burns most deeply in the souls of all children:

“How do I make blueberry muffins?”

The great sage of all time, The Dad, breaks his gaze away from contemplating the cosmos, and sagely answers,

“How would you find that information?”

His deep curiosity being satisfied, the kid begins the long journey back down to civilization with new insight . . . .

______

There are many reasons that kids ask questions.  When they are young, they are curious about EVERYTHING and there is an endless stream of fact gathering questions.  How does a toaster work?  Why do people get haircuts?  Etc. etc.

As kids get older, most of their questions are about the rules of society and your authority:  Why do police give people tickets?  Why do I have to go to bed?  Etc. etc.

But there comes a time (usually around middle school age) where the questions are both practical fact gathering questions AND questions about society and values.  They are questions that beg for answers that are both useful and important.  . . . and that’s exactly why we shouldn’t answer them.

Sure, we definitely want to pass on knowledge and teach values, and most Dads are an endless storehouse of useful facts – these are the things that Dads do best.  But, one of our important jobs as kids get older is to:

Help kids think for themselves.

Which, to put in the vernacular:  really sucks.  Our offspring finally get old enough to be curious about the things that we actually know, and it’s largely our job the help them find the answers themselves.  Urgh.

If you think about it.  We don’t want to train our kids to come running to us throughout their adult life to answer questions.

Did Napoleon ever visit the United States?

Where can I buy a snow blower?

How do you make blueberry muffins?

What CAN you do when you get asked a question?

Turn it back to them.  Answer their question . . . get this:  with. a. question.  It’s genius in simplicity.  Usually a “How would you find that out?” is enough to both frustrate them and put them on the path to research so that they can find out all the knowledge in the universe.  They will someday be the gurus sitting on the mountain full of knowledge – knowledge that they have gained themselves.

Here’s how it works.  When you son/daughter is getting older and has access to their own reason, and access to the library, and access to Google, and access to the Bible; you ask a question that puts them on the path to pursue their own answers. Read More→

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Aug
05

Messed Up is Part of the Plan

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerOne of the hats I wear — other than Dad, or Writer Extraordinaire; is Pastor. I am the Life Care (aka ‘Counseling’) Pastor at a mega church in West Virginia.

I usually keep a low Pastor profile; I don’t travel in a bubble-mobile, wear robes, or douse anyone with holy water (exception: vampires), but periodically I get tagged to do something pastorly — like preach. One of those times is coming up, so of course I chose a topic that fits well with Doing the Dad Thing.

I’ll probably start out by telling the congregation a little bit about myself, especially since I’m an introvert and there are about 5000 people that attend the church. Most people don’t know who I am, instead they wonder, ‘who’s that bald guy with a name tag?’

But you, faithful readers, know me pretty well already. You know that I’m a geek and like humor. You know that I have been a work-at-home-dad because my wife has an auto-immune disease. You already know that my goal is that Dads should stick together and collaborate to be great parents and husbands.

I usually am sitting in the audience during the sermon, so I understand the attractiveness to keep it simple (aka ‘short’) so that:

  • We don’t get bored
  • We make it home in time for lunch

So I am going to take that perspective to heart, even with this blog. I have a sermon with only 1 point:

Messed Up is Part of the Plan

I’ll even probably outline the whole sermon so that everyone knows what to expect:

Visit the Lost Son

Memes

Get Metaphysical 

Shameless Plug will also be thrown in

Maybe a fist bump to end

Though every part of the Bible is important, I end up using the Parable (story) of the Lost Son quite a bit, especially regarding parenting.

I’ve tried to be transparent in some of my articles, that I’m not always the best Dad. I make mistakes. Even when my two boys were littler and I felt like I had a pretty good dad system; I was still making mistakes. When we moved from Florida to West Virginia the circumstances with being a Dad became even more difficult. My boys are both now teenagers. Not just teenagers, but they are thoseteenagers that parents talk about dreading — teenagers that have their own opinion, and that try and argue, and that know everything, and that don’t know what they want for their imminent future, and that need a job, but don’t want to work anywhere . . . those teenagers.

Plus when we moved to West Virginia it became apparent that the State Motto is: Drugs.

Seriously though, although any place in the world can have a drug problem, West Virginia is definitely fighting for top spot. We quickly discovered that at public school in WV, you can obtain practically any drug you can imagine.

So being a great dad got considerably difficult. My failure rate of parenting began to climb drastically in the last year or so.

Which brings me to the Parable of the Lost (or Prodigal) son. Jesus told this short story to the people:

Luke 15:11-14

11 “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.

 

Probably worth interrupting this narrative to point out a very important part of this story.  Not only is this a good short story that really could have happened in ‘real life,’ but it is also a ‘metaphor.’  The father in this story represents THE father.  God.  If the Father of all creation could have a son that made mistakes, a son that ‘messed up,’ then really, as a Dad myself, is it any surprise that my teenagers struggle?  If the greatest Dad in the universe, God, has a kid that becomes impatient, makes horrible decisions, wastes, sins, leaves, — all those things, then it shouldn’t be a mystery that our kids are going to do things like this.

God eagerly watches for us and loves us, and is ready for us to turn around and come back.  We need to be like that kind of parent.  “Messed up” is going to happen (it’s part of the plan), but there is total forgiveness and restoration when you turn to trust Him.

Back to the story . . .

 

Luke 15:15 – 24

15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

I’m probably going to utilize some memes at this point in my sermon. Everyone loves memes. Lately I’ve been seeing some great parenting ones.

[meme slides play – much to everyone’s enjoyment]

But as great as memes are, we need to examine this story a little deeper, because not only is it a metaphor; it’s a metaphor with another metaphor — how metaphysical!

The Father is God, and he represents how God loves His child and accepts him with open-arms redemption.

But the son in this story also represents people that mess up by being impetuous, and leaving, and sin, and disrespect, and bad decisions . . . yes, that’s right: Us.

It’s a metaphor for me and for you as we relate to God as our heavenly father. We mess up and do all these things; sometimes even daily.

So, wait a minute Brad — I get it. We are all messed up. Our kids are messed up and make poor decisions and we should be Godly parents. AND we adults are messed up and make poor decisions too. Greatest sermon ever so far.

What are we supposed to do with this? Read More→

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Jun
17

Unconditional Positive Regard

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerSometimes people will ask me how I am effective as a counselor.  I wish they would ask with wide-eyed wonder, or awe, or with groveling and pawning like Wayne & Garth in Wayne’s World.

(Yes, I know some of you reading this have not seen the comedy classic of Wayne’s World.  If you watch it in response to this reference, e-mail me your personal review of the movie)

It would be nice if people came up and gushed:  “I heard that you were a ROCK STAR Counselor!  How do you do it?!”

But honestly, usually people don’t grovel or shout or throw roses . . .  they just want to know how to effectively help people when they share their problems.

There are several tricks that almost everyone could do that would ‘dupe’ even the most savvy person into thinking that you are a great counselor.  Here are two:

  1.  Listen (actively)
  2. Periodically prompt people to “Tell me more about that.”

Do those things well and you could pass yourself off as a counselor in the top 20% of counselors.  I’ll explain.   When you listen to people you are giving them a great gift.  You are helping them express themselves and work through issues in their own way.  You are ratifying their experience and showing them that they are important.  In counseling, we add the term “active” to show that listening isn’t just silently hearing a person; an “active listener” will stay engaged, periodically repeat what the other person said, share affirmations, and ask questions that are open.

Distressed person:  So, I was at Starbucks getting a drink.  I overheard a movie spoiler, and I was so startled, that I accidentally spilled my latte.

Active Listener:  Oh, my!  [nods head to indicate encouragement to continue]

Distressed Person:   I had just put in creamer, and hadn’t put the lid on yet.  Some of it splatted on my jeans!  It was a disaster!

Active Listener:  So, you put in creamer and it spilled on your jeans while the lid was off?  Wow, that was a disaster.

Distressed Person:  [Begins crying in anguish]

Active Listener:  Please tell me more about how you felt when this happened.

. . .  and . . . scene

That’s a ridiculous example of using the first two counseling skills in a way that would have someone think you are an actual ROCK STAR Counselor.  People love to feel like they are heard, and important.  I’ve seen people blossom and brighten, become a warm and engaging person, just by someone actively listening to them. Read More→

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May
28

MOPS is Going to the Dogs

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerI got fired by MOPS.

The local Mothers OPreschoolers group that meets at our church asked me to speak this week about technology regarding kids.  Then, I was told that a local female psychologist asked to speak on the topic this week . . . so I got bumped.

I was replaced by a female.  Gender discrimination is REAL people.

This is just online kidding.  They were really nice about it and I understand that I am, in fact, a dude.  I have a great respect for the MOPS organization. After our first son was born, we moved to a new area.  My wife was in a new community with no real family connection. She was depressed. The local MOPS group gave her hope.  They gave her connection. They gave her a reason to take a shower and put on pants each week.

Anyway, I had prepared a whole talk on technology for kids, so I really don’t want it to go to waste; so you guys get to be the MOPS group today — and the information is definitely good for Dads too (technology doesn’t just apply to Moms).

I was going to start out the talk highlighting the overall negative reputation of kids having technology — but my goal isn’t to land there.  We can gripe and complain, and lock our kids away in Amish communes, but technology is a reality that we have to face. But here are some of the negative statistics related to kids and ‘screen time.’

·         Tweens spend less time outside than prisoners

–Kids spend twice as long playing on screens as they do playing outside.

–3-in-4 kids spend less than 60 minutes playing outside each day.

–1-in-5 kids don’t play outside at all on a typical day.

–3-in-4 parents said their kids often refuse to play games without some form of technology.

  • Teens are expressing higher rates of depression and loneliness the more time they spend on their phones, despite claims by 81 percent of teens that phones make them “feel” more connected.
  • There is mounting evidence linking screen time to with obesity.

So . . .  Technology = Bad. –But I’m not going to beat that drum.   Instead I’m going to prompt you to ask yourselves, ‘Have you ever met at kid that didn’t interact with technology?’  That’s right; think about it for a moment. A kid that didn’t know about technology would be a social outcast and pariah among their peers.

Social interaction and peer pressure aren’t a great reason to embrace technology.  However, I could give statistics on how there is a benefit to different forms of tech and educational value on a worldwide scale is available to all genders and socioeconomic groups . . . but my main argument is that technology is a reality that is not going away.

I think the way you treat technology related to your kids is important.  This might call for an analogy . . .

Let’s imagine that your family adopted a wild timber wolf from the forests of Yellowstone.  Food has been scarce in the area, so the wolf comes to you already malnourished and hungry. It needs to be kept in your house until the environment improves.

Yikes! What would you do?  Well, you’d need a plan.

And that’s pretty much the summary of all my technology advice for your family; make a plan and make a goal.

Just like having a wolf in your home, safety would be the number one priority.  For media and technology use, this is no different. Internet safety is a popular topic and there are lots of good ideas to google.

Instead of safety, I’m going to focus on training your wolf (i.e. technology) so that it’s well-behaved and works for you.

Read More→

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May
01

The Inner Parent Voice

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerPrepare to be metaphysical!

Sometimes adults will come in for marriage counseling or to work on an individual issue.  I’ll quickly figure out that their ‘backstory’ includes some really horrible or absent parents; and as a result, they have some . . . ‘issues.’  I’ve had guys come in with low self-esteem, and women come in with fears and anxiety, and husbands that don’t know how to treat ladies and ladies that have no confidence – or any variation of such.

Many times part of the solution is to develop that inner parenting voice.   That voice to parent themselves in the attributes they missed growing up.

Now here’s where I throw in the metaphysical:

In session I’ll ask people to imagine:

Imagine that we are going to adopt a kid and raise it to have great self-esteem.  What will you do so that this imaginary kid will have great self-esteem?  How can you get your spouse (if applicable) to help you?

So, then the person starts brainstorming on how to help this little fictional kid develop self-esteem.    Then, of course I turn around all those great ideas as something the person can do to themselves to develop great self-esteem.

The idea is that all of us have a little child version of ourselves inside us.  Many times it’s what gives us our passion and motivation.  This little person, this younger version of you, sometimes needs some inner parenting talk.

If I had a kid that needed some encouragement, I’d start out telling them how important they are to God – that if you were the ONLY person left on Earth, Jesus would still die for you.  That God considered each of us, and planned our whole lives before we were even born.  That we are “Fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Then I’d tell them how much they mean to me, and how their identity isn’t based on success, but that they have learned a lot in life and the only failure is when you quit trying.

I’d point out their successes and how they’ve learned from their failures, and that the failures are never that bad.

. . .  and that’s all great stuff that our inner selves need to hear too.

Not just that, but I’d do some things for any fictional child that needed encouragement.  I’d send them to bed a little early one night so that they catch up on sleep when they were sleep deprived.  I’d limit their use of electronics to give their mind and their eyes a break.  I’d take that kid out for a walk outside in nature so that they could clear their head.   I’d play their favorite music, I’d lay out their special underwear, and I’d buy them a drink at the local gas station.

. . . and that’s all great stuff that our inner selves need to experience also.

If I were skeptical . . . and I actually am quite skeptical; I’d wonder how an adult is supposed to come up with a great inner parent voice when they’ve had horrible parents growing up.  That is a good question. Read More→

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Mar
08

Teenagers – the brain thang

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerWhen my kids were little, we used to make fun of the disrespectful, lazy, reprobate teenagers that frequented the neighborhood. We’d see them riding their bike the wrong way in traffic, saying bad words, or damaging property. I’d look at my boys, shake my head disapprovingly, and say, “Teenagers.”

Soon they started doing it too. When a group of drunk teens tried to pull an alligator out of the sewer in front of our house (hey, it was Florida), one of my kids looked and me and said, “teenagers, right dad?”

Right.

Except now I have two teenagers.

We live in West Virginia now, so there are less alligators, but there is still property to damage, bad decisions to make, and lots and lots of drugs (drugs are West Virginia’s state bird).

My wife and I commiserate a lot about our two teens. “How did this happen?” we frequently ask each other. We are good parents. I even write a parenting blog.

There are many factors involved in teenagers turning into teenagers. We might explore some of them in a future article. But today I’m going to share one fact that helps my wife and I deal with the times when we see our kids making immature or poorly conceived decisions:

Their brains are not done developing.

I’ve heard about it on TV before, how teens make impulsive decisions because of their prefrontal cortex still developing. On a CSI drama, one character remarked that they don’t finish brain development until age 25ish.

25? Is that really true!?!

Yes, in this case television didn’t let us down. The front of teenagers’ brains, the part where they make logical, informed decisions, is still developing. So instead of using it, they default to the part of the brain called the amygdala (try spelling that for a spelling bee). The amygdala is the part of the brain that reacts with instinct, aggression, and emotion. So teenagers are primarily using a brain that has them make poorly conceived, emotional decisions; usually impulsively.

So, my wife and I have to enjoy this state of unformed brain development for a few more years. Sometimes we talk about the Bible and how teenagers were already living on their own, frequently married, and working in full-time occupations. We lament that times have changed. Just trying to imagine our boys out living in their own house, being responsible for a wife or finances, and holding down a job, is a thought that is both scary and pleasant.

We’d love it if they faced some of the challenges that they think they can manage. But at the same time we don’t want them to make life-altering disaster decisions. But also at the same time we are tired of their attitude.

We can see why teenage kids of Bible times were out on their own; because they knew everything!

Sometimes when i feel like a bad parent, I read the parable of the Prodigal Son from the Bible. Here is a clip from it in case you are unfamiliar.

(Luke 15:11 – 24 NIV Bible) “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Reading this story gives me hope. My teens will probably make bad decisions, but I will watch out for them and provide a forgiving and accepting home base and family for them when they start to think reasonably again.

Or, in other words, they are going to make dumb decisions while they are teens and their brains are still developing. We dads will be there for them when they start using their developed brains.

This also gives me two pieces of advice that I think apply to all parents, especially Dads:

Don’t judge harshly: the Prodigal Son parable above is a metaphor for us (the kid in the story) and God (the father in the story) — if God is the BEST parent and unruly teenage kids (us) still make bad decisions . .

Which means don’t be too hard on yourself
Which also means don’t be too hard on other parents either — I’ve seen way too many parents with kids that used to ‘walk on water’ when they were younger and now have turned into little demon harlots. It’s sad when parents feel that they are all alone because they don’t want to admit that their kid isn’t perfect.
Give them grace through relationship: I did and said some horrible things when I was a teen. Some of it, as an adult, I am ashamed of. I suggest that you decide right now that you will love your kids — even teens — and accept them as people no matter what they say or do. Because it gets hard.

I heard a kid recently. . a kid that may or may not be the fruit of my loins . . say that he wanted to graduate high school, try lots of drugs, live with his female manager at the fast-food job, and make enough money to drink and have fun on weekends.

NONE OF THAT IS OK! However, there is still brain development occurring (thank God!) and I’m pretty sure most of that was said out of shock-value anyway. I hope.

Teenagers.

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Feb
04

Absolutes, Absolutely

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerIf I haven’t mentioned before that I’m a geek, this article will surely prove it.

I’d like to start out by mentioning one of my great Star Wars quotes from the Bible.

“From the Bible,” you ask?  Yes.  And it has a great implication for Dads – especially as your kids enter middle and high school.

Some of you still aren’t convinced that Star Wars quotes the Bible.  If you’d like to stop reading right now and leave a comment as your guess what it is; then do it.  It’s the only way people will believe you if you’re geeky enough to get it right.

That was your chance.

Here’s what Jesus said (in Matthew 12:30):

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, andwhoever does not gather with me scatters.

It’s a pretty plain, direct statement.  Some might even consider it a statement of absolute.  There is no grey area.  You’re either for Jesus, or you are against him . . .  and if you’re against him then you’re going to lose.

Here’s the quote from Star Wars Revenge of the Sith:

Anakin Skywalker: If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.

Anakin Skywalker: You will try.

So, obviously the director was trying to make some sort of statement . . . probably against God.  But that’s Hollywood.

My concern as a Dad is that there are many venues for our kids where absolutes are shunned.  If I went to the local high school and said, “There are only two genders.” There would be drama.  Same thing if I made the statement, “3rd trimester abortion is murder.”  Or “You have to believe in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for your sins in order to go to heaven.”  Or “Homosexuality is a sin.”

Any one of those statements at a public school would get my kids disciplined or ostracized.  Same thing if they were said in a social setting – there would be an immediate issue with some people.  Unfortunately, even at many churches there would be the same level of drama if any of the above statements were said; especially from the pulpit.

The good thing is, very few people need to go around publically stating absolutes.  But, as Dads, we really need to make sure that our kids know the truth and know that there isn’t a grey area with most things God says in the Bible.

Much of our society has become a dichotomy (two parts) of people groups; the loud, and the quietly virtuous.  It pretty clear that there is a lot of stigma against absolute virtue from the media these days.  So I wouldn’t ever post on Facebook:  “Sex outside of marriage is wrong.” because my feed would immediately erupt in drama.  So, like most people, I share truth with people that aren’t going to turn into a Darth Vader when they hear an absolute.

Your kids are those people.  We’re not raising Dark Lords of the Sith (for you non-geeks, that means ‘villains’).  We want to make sure that our kids know right from wrong; they need to know the absolutes.  And of course we’ll temper the knowledge with how to live according to the truth . . . and how to avoid drama along the way. Read More→

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Jan
14

How to be the Favorite

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I was the favorite once.  Then I wasn’t. Then I was!  But then . . .

There is some, of what I will affectionately call ‘loose,’ science on birth order and affinity toward a certain parent.  In general, firstborn kids are more ‘like’ (have personality affinity toward) the Mom.  Second-born share a preponderance of personality traits with Dad.  Generally they even resemble (have more physical characteristics in common) these respective parents; first-born will get a lot of, “you look just like your mother,” etc.

Subsequent kids are a crap-shoot on looks and personality.

But this is all lumped into “loose” science.  Which means that it happens a lot, but, there is not a lot of empirical data to birth order ‘psychology.’

Here’s a fact though that you can count on: kids go through stages of closeness and affinity with either parent as they grow up.

I was the ‘cat’s meow’ for a while

My wife stepped in as ‘the bomb’ at some point.

Then I was the ‘wizard’

My wife took over as the ‘awesome-blossom’ . . . 

Many times I had flexibility to be home with the kids when they were little.  We did some fun things, and I was also ‘the disciplinarian.’  So you’d think that I’d be at the top of their favorites.  But, the truth is – don’t get offended until you read further – kids were created to have both parents.  So my boys missed their ‘mom time’ and were super-excited to have interaction with her when she was home.

If you’re a single parent though, this concept on how to be their favorite is especially important.   It’s not loose science that kids need parents.  In fact, kids will subconsciously seek out what they ‘need’ from parenting.  I’ll explain:

Society is built around children growing up to be successful members of the populace, so there are objectives that kids need to learn.  If they aren’t getting a skill, then they have to find it someplace.  So kids will gravitate subconsciously toward ‘parents’ modeling or offering the skills they need.

Example:  You might be a total introvert with no viable social skills (commenting on the Do the Dad Thing Blog might be the pinnacle of your social interaction).  But kids need to learn how to interact socially, so they might parrot the used car salesman they see on TV, or mimic the next door neighbor talking with their hand motions to the mailperson, etc.

So don’t worry if your kids have a favorite outside of you, or model someone else they see, or idolize an attribute in someone that is not exactly idol-worthy.  They are following the natural desire to grab the skills they need from the surrounding world.  This becomes more and more pronounced as your kids grow up and our accumulated set of skills gets more and more limited for their growth.  I.e.  I used to be the favorite to help my boys with math, but as they entered high school, suddenly my skills were sorely lacking. . .

–Warning– most sexual abuse is committed by family members or extended family; especially, for some reason, by uncles and aunts. So make sure there is adequate supervision and safety protocols for kids spending time with other adults.

The good news is, no matter the outside influence and modeled skills, your children always have the desire and need to find their ‘home’ favorite in a parent (yes, even if you are secondary care giver adoptive parent or foster parent).  The concept of ‘home’ and ‘family’ is core to people, and  children will always treasure the link they have with you as their safe place for understanding and acceptance. Read More→

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