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Archive for Do the Dad Thing

May
09

Covert Code for your Kids

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I wrote a previous article about teaching your kids a code of ethics/values.  It was awesome and you can read it here.   

This article is about the type of code that is a lot more clandestine . . . that is to say “secret,” and can help your kids manage social interactions without their peers becoming aware.  It’s especially valuable in helping your kids stay safe as they start visiting other friends and are out of your watchful eye.

Here is a situation:

Mel has been playing over at your house all afternoon.  You, being the great dad that you are, have been helping your wife make dinner (or, maybe she’s helping you) while you keep an ‘eye’ on the kids playing.

At some point, Mel, asks your kid if he can stay overnight for a sleepover.

Your son/daughter still sleeps with a stuffed Snoopy, and doesn’t want to have to explain that to Mel because he/she will be the laughingstock of the school the next week.

So, your offspring comes to you:  Dad, can Mel spend the night?  We can put up the old camping cot in my room . . .

You have arranged a secret ‘code word’ with your kid . . . and “camping cot” is the term that means:  “please say no to a sleepover.”

So, you reply, “Oh I’m sorry, but we have to [_insert excuse_] and you can’t do a sleepover tonight.

Your son/daughter turns to Mel, “Oh rats! Sorry, maybe next time.”

Crisis averted!

You can see by the above example that the idea is simple:  Set up a secret code with your kids to give them an appropriate social ‘out’ if a situation is tense, uncomfortable, or unsafe.

I suggest having a family meeting and arranging some codes.  The sleepover one is good.  You might also want to construct one for friends that ask to stay for dinner, etc.  You might need to have the codes work both for kids wanting to stay at your house, and transversely when kids invite your child to social engagements. 

Codes can be non-verbal also.  Rubbing your head (I’m bald and this one works for me) could mean ‘come rescue me from this conversation.’  Rubbing your elbows could mean ‘say no to anything I ask.’  Rubbing your forearms could mean ‘steal second base.’

Quick note:  Kids need to learn how to be assertive and tell people ‘no’ and speak honestly.  However, there are always those situations where visiting kids don’t pick up on social cues, or beg, or situations that might involve protection from social ridicule or embarrassment.  It’s probably a good idea to discuss the difference with your kids in a family meeting. 

There are many uses for a family code and one of the best is to keep your child safe.  When kids are teens, they are sometimes invited to social engagements that turn illegal or illicit.  What if your kid rode with several other kids to a party?  Then, the party gets ‘out of hand’ and drinking/drugs are involved?

Peers:  Come on!  Stay, it will be fun.

Your Child:  No, I think we should go.

Peers:  We’ll I drove, and I’m going to stay for a little while.  I’m not going to drive you home and come back.

This is a great opportunity for your kid to call to check in (because you have set up that they check-in on a regular basis throughout the night – good job Dad!), or to have your son/daughter drop you a quick call/text that includes the code.

For phone calls, the code can even contain a prompt for you to start asking questions.

[Ring]

Child:  Hey dad, I’m checking in. (dramatically rolls eyes to friends to show that he hates having to call to check in) I’m excellent.

Dad:  [Recognizes that your child used the code word “excellent” instead of fine] Do I need to come and get you?

Child:  Yeah, we are just messing around playing ping-pong and stuff.

Dad:  Ok, I’ll come.  Do I need to create some emergency text and excuse to get you?

Child:  Sure, I’ll check in again later.

Dad:  [Hangs up.  Waits about 15 minutes, then texts “Hey, something came up and I have to come get you.  I’ll explain in the car.  Tell your buddies sorry.”

Child:  [Shows friends the text and feigns disappointment while cursing all parents for being ‘losers’]

I recently read online about using a similar system where the code is just a texted ‘X’ to mean “make up an excuse to come get me because things are ‘not good.’  The article even added a little suggestion that is worth including.  If you have to rescue your teen/pre-teen from a “not good” situation via the secret code, then don’t ask any questions about the situation on the ride home – that way your son/daughter won’t have to elaborate how they got into a rescue situation.  They can bring it up on their own time.  (Kids will always bring things up later if they can trust you.)

Codes don’t just have to be for extraction.  In our house, we have the accepted code “for real” to mean “tell the truth.”  If my wife or I think that there is a lie involved in something we are hearing, we say, “for real.”  That gives our kids, or each other, the prompt to tell the full, gritty truth because it will be worse if they don’t. 

Wife:  Did you kill that enormous spider in the bathroom?

Me:  Yeah. Guts went everywhere.

Wife:  For real.

Me:  No, It was freaky-big.  I was trying to figure out how to kill it, then the little sucker ran at me and I panicked.  Turns out it was just a feint and it ran under the cabinet to escape.

Wife:  Great.  Now we have to burn down th bathroom.

Here is something you might find interesting:  They used secret codes in the Bible, and early Christians also used a code to stay safe.  When the idea of ‘church’ had just started after the first Easter . . .  the FIRST Easter, the one where Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven . . . people that followed Jesus and met together could be arrested or killed by the Roman government.  Christians would draw a fish on their door as a secret code.  The Greek word “ΙΧΘΥΣ” means “fish” and those letters are also the initial letters of the phrase, “Lesous (Jesus), Xristos (Christ), Theou (God), Yios (Son), Sotare (Savior).  If you saw the fish drawing, then you knew there was a secret meeting of Christ-followers that met at that location.

Well, either that or a bass angler lived there . . .  which probably led to some awkward situations. Read More→

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May
03

Play Date Haskell Style

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This turned into a really long series on Dads facilitating good manners and etiquette. Well, mostly it was a long series because I TOOK THREE MONTHS OFF.

But I’m back to finish off our series with one of the big issues our kids experience in testing their manners in social situations: The Play Date.

But first, a couple of short disclaimers. This first one you’ve seen before several articles ago but I thought I’d better add it again. I don’t want anyone to think I am the EXPERT on all things social, because I’m not. I’m an introvert that grew up lonely and isolated in the barren wastelands of Indiana. Ok, Indiana isn’t that bad . . . but I was pretty much a loner.

Disclaimer #1
I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid. I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least). So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent. The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues. Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.

Disclaimer #2
In my day we didn’t use the word “Play Date” it was more commonly referred to as “having someone over” or “Going over to ___’s house.” “Date” makes it sound like it was planned or involved ‘romance.’ I’m pretty sure ‘Play Date’ came as a result of parents that wanted to control their kid’s interaction into prearranged and encapsulated time periods. That’ would be nice. But we dads know that kids need some flexibility and will use this article, and my others, to make even the most unplanned get-togethers a successful experience. For the purpose of easily talking about the process of “going over” or “having over,” I’m going to use the term “play date” to indicate any such informal get-together.

Now, on to the article . . .

Those of you that grew up in any age that wasn’t considered “Millennial,” will probably remember Leave it to Beaver. This TV show originally ran in the 1950’s/60’s and was rebroadcast frequently when I was a kid in the 80’s. It’s had resurgences over the years and you can usually watch it on one of the stations that broadcasts ‘classic’ TV. If all else fails you can probably find it on YouTube.

The show was a depiction of the ideal upper-class family, with good morals and ideals living in a small suburban town somewhere in America. In this family named the Cleavers, there was a mom, dad, and two boys. The show centered around the adventures of the youngest son that had the nickname ‘Beaver.’ However, every story needs a villain, and one of the main foes to this idyllic family dynamic was the teenage neighborhood friend that would frequently visit: Eddie Haskell.

Eddie was deceitful, rude, and mean in his dealings with Beaver and the other kids on the show, but when he visited the Cleaver family, he transformed into an over-the-top, sugary sweet gentleman. All of this being a lead-in to today’s topic of teaching your kids how to show good manners while participating in a play date with their friends. Read More→

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Dec
29

The Manner of Social Media Manners

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If you are reading this blog, then you probably are pretty good at social media. You might have navigated here from Facebook, or heard a Tweet, or someone e-mailed you about the great articles on Christian Work at Home Ministries. Maybe you Googled to get here directly, but chances are you use social media on a regular basis, and I bet you use it like a boss.

As much as you dominate social media, as our kids rise in age, they will make us adults look like social media infants with how they use online interaction. BUT, as excellent dads, we always have some wisdom to share, and, in this case it is some criteria for using social media like a gentleman rather than a Walmart-speaking troglodyte.

I mentioned in my last article that my social media manners list will have quite a few “don’ts” to mark off the edges of the social media playground. Unfortunately as a counselor I see/hear many people using social media in negative ways. It leads many people to quit social media all together. However, knowing the boundaries for appropriate social media use helps everyone know where we can truly enjoy online interaction.

You can go online and see many of these faux pas (“mistakes”) just going through your favorite social media ‘feed,’ but I’ve compiled a list of some of the wise social media “don’ts” to teach your kids

· Don’t ‘break up’ via social media. Or text. It’s bad form. Teach your kids to deal with emotional interactions via voice or ‘face-to-face.’

· Don’t give away movie plots. As I’m writing this, I’m in hiding from several forms of social media because I haven’t seen the newest Star Wars movie yet and there is always someone that will give away major plot points.

· Don’t bully others. More and more this is becoming an offense that is punishable legally or through work/school. It’s bad practice anyway; don’t say mean things to people or post hurtful pictures about people. Oh wait, Jesus said this the best in the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31): “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

· Don’t troll . . . or at least don’t become a troll. An “internet troll” is someone that tries to start arguments in social media. Sure, we’ve all posted something that we knew would be controversial, but if you troll frequently, then you become a troll. And nobody likes a troll.
By the way, the best way to defeat internet trolls is to ignore them. Don’t get baited into an online argument. This of course, brings me to the next “don’t:”

· Don’t get in online arguments. No one wins online arguments. People don’t change their minds based on online arguments. If we went back in time throughout this last year there were many, many people that participated in fruitless online arguments about politics.

· Don’t disrespect the military or anyone that has died or is hurting. Not too much to add on that one. Some kids might think that pictures or memes from 9/11 or the Holocaust are funny. They’re not. Teach your kids about appropriate public humor.

· Don’t send any pictures of body parts through social media. Unless it’s your elbow – I found the main picture for this article on my phone when my kids were little. It’s an elbow. For real. But, I ’bout blew a gasket when I saw it. Now I just think it’s funny.

· Don’t bait people to respond to you with a vague status. It’s just appears like the person posting needs attention. Vague status’ examples, “I can’t take it anymore” or “I can’t believe it’s happening again”

· Don’t post incessant pictures of cute, inspirational, or wise sayings. It’s social media, not share-a-saying media. The same thing goes for memes. Use memes and inspiring pictures the same way you’d use pepper on a nice steak . . .

· Don’t post cheesy religious statements and challenge people to type “amen” or to share it to prove their faith is valid. Urg, it’s the social media manners equivalent of belching loudly at the dinner table.

Which brings me to the conclusion of this ‘don’t’ list. There are other good ‘don’ts’ and I’d love to hear your responses for good social media guidelines. Make sure that you or your kids know that social media is fun, but that it also is VISABLE and doesn’t go away (yes, even Snapchat). So don’t do/say anything embarrassing that will come back to haunt you when you are on the Ellen show or run for public office.

The proverbial Rule of Thumb for social media to teach your kids: Would I stand up in the church pulpit and say this post to the congregation? – If the answer is a nervous laugh or an emphatic “NO” . . . then don’t post it. Only say what you’d say from the stage at church if your principal, grandparents and parents were in the audience. This guideline still gives you leeway for cat pictures, appropriate jokes, people crashing their skateboards, etc. But it does eliminate swearing, being mean to others, and half-naked pictures, and stuff you’d be embarrassed for an adult you respect to see.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad Washburn is a father, husband, and Director of a Christian counseling center in Tampa, Florida. He has helped hundreds of people over the last 15 years. In particular, he desires to see fathers be “men after God’s own heart” — a description of King David in the Bible who was a lover, fighter, sheep herder, and harp player . . . .
Find out more at www.pathseekercenter.org

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Nov
29

Series Interruption for the Playground

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I

Photo Credit: Brad Washburn

Photo Credit: Brad Washburn

n the last article we took a short side-step from our Mr. Manners series to talk about one of the greatest potential God-centered holidays, Halloween.  So for this article we were planning to get back on track and talk about Social Media Manners for your kids.  It’s a great topic and we’ll definitely feature it.

Unfortunately though, while I have been compiling wisdom and manners on social media, I have been experiencing the election process here in the U.S.  I’ve had some first-hand witnessing to a lot of bad social media behavior, especially on Facebook.  So my list for social media manners has a lot of “don’t.”  Before I flooded you with “don’ts” I need to take an entire post and set the stage for the idea of a border marking off a really safe and fun area.  Sure, there are don’ts in life, but there is also a free and fun area that they boundary.  So, I think it’s time for me to give you my Playground Analogy.

I hope you are ready for this.   The Playground Analogy is one of the Top Ten great analogies of life.  It helps describe a healthy relationship with God, and positive attitude for your life.  Great Christian psychologists are humbled by this analogy; it puts books like Boundaries into the “Amateur Psychology” section of Barnes and Nobel.  And, most importantly for us dads, it is a great mindset to teach your kids.

I went a little far describing the importance of this analogy.  Or did I?  You may be the judge.

The Playground

Some of you may not have had an elementary school experience and it’s an essential part of this analogy.  I’m going to describe the typical elementary school playground environment to give you the basis for this fantastic metaphor.

At my elementary school in the late 70’s there was a brick building that was the school.  It was pretty typical of a school: teachers, principal, music, art, gym, cafeteria – the whole thing.  As students, we would sit in class for a portion of the day, then we would have recess.  We would all line up and file out to the doors opening up into the . . .  playground.

The playground was an area directly outside the school.  Part of it was asphalt, and there was a portion that was a grassy field.  In the playground there was a kickball field painted on the asphalt.  There were slides, there was a merry-go-round (now condemned by most schools as a ‘death trap’).  There were swings and monkey-bars, and basketball hoops and teeter-totters (seesaws) and one of those new play equipment things that one kid used to call the Big-a-bang.

. . . and there was a fence around the playground.

The fence was an important part of the playground.  On one side, it created a safety barrier to the road and the downtown neighborhood.  Another side bordered the high school, where sometimes teenagers could be seen walking the track, skipping school, and having class outside.  Another side bordered a woods and graveyard. Read More→

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Oct
31

When in Rome – Dads Celebrate Halloween

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Photo Credit: Brad Washburn

Photo Credit: Brad Washburn

Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerIn the world of expressions people use, “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.” is one that you might hear, even in our contemporary society distanced from ancient Rome.

The expression has roots in the Bible, to the Apostle Paul expressing how to reach your community:

1 Corinthians 9:20-22

20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

So, if the Romans . . . or your neighbors, celebrate Halloween, don’t let this Holiday pass without using it as an opportunity to be a witness.  This Halloween, the teaming unwashed ‘lost’ are coming to your door OR you might be taking your youngsters out to mingle with the costumed masses.  People are wandering around looking, even asking, for you to give them something.  How about a witness, a window into how God overcame the world?

How Dads can Do the Halloween thing:

First, don’t believe all the religious hype.  Legalistic religions will spout all kinds of nonsense about it being the Devil’s holiday.  I have all kinds of Scriptural arguments against this idea, but it boils down to one of my favorite verses in the Do the Dad Thing series:

Romans 12:21

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Once legalistic guilt is absolved, you can start being your authentic Christian self and celebrating Halloween with your neighbors . . . do it with the intent to be a living example for Christ.  Here are just a few thoughts on how to rock Halloween as a dad.

Watch your kids:  This goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway.  The later evening can be dark and in some neighborhoods there are a mass of people walking around, all in costumes that look similar.  Make the rule that younger kids have to stay with you.  Also, I’ve noticed over the years that there might be 50 fairies or Iron Men that all look like your kids in costume – make sure you don’t lose track of them in the hustle and bustle.

Have your kids be polite:  We all hate the people that grab handfuls of candy out of the “Take One” bucket.  Don’t let your kids be those kids.  Also, teach your kids to say “thank you,” and “please” when they trick or treat the houses.

Scooters:  Trust me, if your kids are little, have them go house to house on their Razor scooters.  You might be able to hike a few blocks with your long dad-like legs, but your kids will start whining “carry me” after a few blocks.

Take extra bags:  If your kids have trick or treat bags, they can bring them back to you to dump into a bigger bag.  That way, little kids won’t start complaining that their bag is too heavy AND it won’t look like your kids are hauling away tons of candy.

Elderly person giving out candy:  “Oh little princess, your bucket is almost empty.  Here, have 50 Butterfingers.”

Talk to people:  This goes along with being a witness to your neighbors.  Meet people.  If the opportunity comes up, tell them where you live.  Share an interest.  You never know where it might lead. Read More→

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Oct
18

Knock Knock Knockin’ on Friend’s Doors

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Img Src: Brad Washburn

Img Src: Brad Washburn

Quick Preamble:  The organic flow of kids

I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid.  I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least).  So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent.  The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues.   Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.

Ok, back to our previously scheduled blog article . . .

Knocking:  Essential to relationships.  And just like other activities that involve others, there are some manners and ethics to knocking.  I’ll cover just a few in this article:

  • Don’t be afraid to knock
  • Be safe to knock
  • Don’t knock at 7am
  • Jesus knocks

 

Don’t be afraid to knock.  Sometimes my kids would want to fill out a street-kickball game, but they needed a few more players.

Me:  Why don’t you ask Kyle?

Kids:  He’s usually playing x-box

Me:  Did you actually ask him?

Kids:  But there are no cars in his drive.

Me:  [leveled stare]

Kids:  Fine, we’ll ask him.

 

Minutes later Kyle has been shooed out by his parents to get some sunshine and he is standing on second base (which happens to be a pile of leaves they put in the road).

Sometimes people need to be asked.  Some people even need to be approached and asked to be involved.  Our world is full of loneliness and people that are disconnected.  Knocking on a door to ‘hang out’ and/or ‘play’ isn’t that tough – the worst someone could say is, “no.” Read More→

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Sep
20

Grocery Store etiquette

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shopping cartBrad, you gave us some great ideas for dads to teach kids good behavior in a waiting room situation.  But what about the grocery store?  My kids are unholy terrors when I take them shopping.

Ok, so in actuality no one really asked that question.  But they should have!  Because the grocery store is one of the greatest trials to kids and behavior.  The few times I was threatened with “Wait until your dad gets home . . .” were uttered by my mother at the grocery store.  I don’t remember much of how I misbehaved (especially after the beating I received from my dad for misbehaving– just kidding), but I’m sure I was fighting with my sister, asking for things, and touching everything.  My mom would probably remember more because memory is augmented by trauma.  I probably need to call my mom someday and apologize for every grocery and department store trip I ruined.  However, if Karma is a concept God allows, I am definitely getting my due share of payback.  I have a flexible schedule, so I have been harnessed with doing a lot of the shopping over the years.  It’s not so bad now, but when our kids were little my wife signed us up for some sort of shopping-rating survey system, so shopping was complicated and already felt like it took FOREVER, even without the kids.

Now my boys are almost to the age where I can tell them, “Hey, would you run up to the store and pick us up some bread for dinner?”  Almost.  So I still do the shopping and I frequently view other poor adults struggling to manage kids while they are shopping.

Since I’m a Christ follower, I need to first direct focus on the Bible and see how other people of faith managed the grocery store experience successfully:

They didn’t.

Grocery Stores and Department Stores didn’t exist in Biblical times, so it’s more difficult to get a grip on any of the great Dad-ing techniques of the Bible.  However, I think the entire book of proverbs could be retitled “How to instruct your kids to behave at Walmart.” . . .  Maybe I’ll suggest that to Zondervan.

In all seriousness though, in ‘Biblical times’ kids, even little kids, had some big responsibilities.

“You want to eat dinner tonight toddler?  Good, pull up this row of leeks.”

“You are a preteen Israelite boy, get out there and kill us a goat for dinner.”

“You’d like new socks?  Here, let me show you how to knit.”

Times have changed, but kids are still kids.  They can accept and rise to many challenges and responsibilities.  It does take more time on the front end to teach them.  The typical Israelite dad would have to show his kids the correct way to plant, harvest, thresh . . . but after a few times of instruction, the kids are helping with the ‘grocery shopping’ for the rest of their lives.  That’s worth it.

So, technique #1 to thrive at store shopping with your kids is to….

Give them Responsibilities and teach them how to succeed.  This might require some short, ‘practice,’ trips to the grocery or department store, but it will be worth it.

Speaking of training, I developed a technique to train your kids that could almost be considered sadistic torture.  Take your kids to Toys R Us (or any toy store) and park in the parking lot.  Tell your kids that you are going to go inside with them to look at cool stuff.  But also tell them that you are NOT going to buy anything today.

Then, stick to it. Read More→

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Sep
01

Last Comic Sitting . . . in the Waiting Room.

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kids healthMy wife has white coat syndrome.  She grew up in a military family where she was taught to respect people in authority, especially if they are wearing a uniform.  Doctors wear a uniform and are in authority at their office so they benefit from the double-whammy of respect from her.  So my wife gets pretty stressed when she goes to the Dr. and sometimes needs someone to advocate for her.

I suffer from the opposite malady of “white coat syndrome.”  I have the, as yet to be diagnosed, Rebel Syndrome.  I think people in authority are not to be trusted and uniforms only serve to identify the people to people to mistrust.

So I go with her to doctor appointments.  Sometimes I try to be comedy relief for these appointments, but most of the time my attempts fall short.  As it turns out, my wife doesn’t think joking with the doctor is a good thing.  I think she’s afraid they will take revenge on her somehow medically if I am not funny.  And, I should probably add, that my wife rarely thinks I am funny.

One time when we were dating, she was trying to run away from me (it’s a loooong story that does NOT involve creepy stalking . . . unless you count throwing pebbles at her dorm room window trying to get her to come down and neglect studying and hang out with me).  I had some flowers for her, but she did not want to hang out; she wanted to study. So I brought the flowers to the bottom of the stairs at her dorm and she came and got them, then started sprinting up the stairs before I could get kissy.

. . . So, we were at the emergency room with her having a broken leg.  I was there to be supportive, it was probably one of my first stints as “doctor companion,” plus, she was blaming me for her leg being broken.  We had another friend with us also; one of Giselle’s girlfriends named Jennifer.

So, I’m doing my ‘thing’ and trying to keep Giselle entertained and her mind off of her leg.  It was all falling flat.  In the hazy memory of my mind, I think I might have been making the doctors, staff, and the whole waiting room laugh, but not Giselle.

Our friend Jennifer picks up a pamphlet for STDs . . . and asks Giselle if she needs to read it.  And, that cracks her up.

I can’t win.

Anyway, I go to waiting rooms with Giselle a lot.  As you might guess, a lot of women also go to some of these appointments and many times I see them toting their kids along because they are too young to stay by themselves.  So, I’ve had a good vantage point to observe how kids take advantage of moms when they are involved in something that my wife would say is quite stressful. Read More→

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Aug
18

That’s racist!

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Author’s Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of CWAHM, the spectacular editor and counselor Jill Hart, or evangelical Christians.  As always, I encourage/invite you to appropriately comment or start a dialog if you are offended by this topic or by the opinions contained within . . .

globeRecently I’ve noticed that the teenage kids in our neighborhood have started joking about being racist.

At first I was shocked to hear, “that’s racist” used in conversation.  Then, to hear the context, made me laugh.  Everything involving color, or shade, is ‘racist.’  You have a black (that’s racist) dog?  I got some new black shoes – that’s racist.  My oatmeal turned a dark color – don’t be racist.  It is the natural result of their public school education and having the focus be on a hyper-awareness to being racially appropriate to people of Negroid decent.

It probably sounds awkward (even . . . “racist?”) for me to say ‘Negroid,’ but I actually have to differentiate between the group of United States citizens coming from African lineage with dark pigment when it comes to this trend in school.  There are all kinds of ‘color’ pigment and racial background at my kid’s school.   We live in Florida, so there are a LOT of ethnicities represented.

The idea of ‘multicultural’ (many cultures) is much different than my small town where I grew up in Indiana; there were maybe . . . 3 . . . ethnicities represented in the school I attended; and that’s counting Amish.  But Florida aside, we live in a much smaller world than I did growing up in the 80’s.  People would have to live under a rock, or, in certain areas of Tennessee or South Carolina to never see a person of non-white color.  And that was only said in humor, I’m sure people in Tennessee and South Carolina get internet and TV.  The point is, that the Unites States is OBVIOUSLY diverse and truly a ‘melting pot’ of different ethnicities.

Back to my kids.  They have black kids at their school, but a high percentage of students are Hispanic, or from the Caribbean, or Asian.  Florida is a melting pot of racial backgrounds.  There is a percentage of dark skinned kids that don’t consider themselves black.  Kids from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad or other nearby islands don’t want to be considered part of ‘black culture.’  One of the students that has ‘hung out’ at our house, is from England, and he doesn’t like to be called black; it makes him angry, even though his skin is darker than most of the kids I see with African descent.

But there is a hyper focus on race in the media, and kids pay attention to media.  Combine that, with the hyper sensitivity to racial issues taught in school, and you get everything being ‘racist.’

So, what is a dad to do about this issue?  We may not be able to solve racism for the world, but being grounded in multicultural diversity is definitely within our grasp.

Don’t condone racism:  Neo-Nazis, the KKK, Beyoncé’s pro Black Panther tributes, telling racist jokes, riots, racial slurs in song lyrics,  — all need to be called out to your kids, exposed, and condemned as a sinful act.  By the way, jokes that disparage another race = bad.  Jokes that point out the difference in racial culture = ok.  For instance, did you know that if you look in the bathroom mirror and say “Pumpkin Spice Latte” three times, a white girl in yoga pants will appear and offer you a Starbucks coffee?

It’s a fine line, but basically anything that puts down another person’s race . . is racist.

Celebrate Diversity! – God made all the people and races of the world.  Everyone is unique and special on purpose.  The fact that some of my friends look different than I do; is good.  Learn about other cultures and share those experiences with your kids.  Ask appropriate questions.   Experience different languages.  It’s a great way to promote racial understanding, and it really helps them as they grow to participate in global understanding since our world is becoming more and more digitally connected.

Don’t lock-step to “African American History Month.” It really seems unfair to focus on one racial background and neglect the rainbow of other ethnicities represented in the U.S.  The result seems to be that black ethnicity then becomes a joke.  Racism then becomes a disrespect for ethnicities; exactly the opposite of what the forefathers of racial equality envisioned.

As a dad, I suggest augmenting the school curriculum that only focuses on one ethnic group, with some information on other ethnic groups.  Or possibly highlighting the times African Americans were included and treated equally in history.  However, don’t forget to learn about Harriet Tubman; she was pretty amazing…

Know the Biblical background on racial diversity.  When I was a kid, no joke; I would hear people try to use Biblical justification for racism and bigotry.  I once heard an adult point to Scripture where Cain was “marked” for killing his brother (Genesis 4:15) and supposedly fathered all dark skinned people of the world. (And, of course, the mark had to be black, right?  Dark skinned people of Mesopotamia wouldn’t get a ‘white’ mark . . )  Or, possibly even worse was the time I heard an adult use Ham being a “slave” for looking at his naked father (Genesis 9) as a justification for slavery (and, to make that ridiculousness work, Ham also had to have dark skin . . . as opposed to his brothers).  I’ve also heard adults justify prejudice against mixed marriages or people using Old Testament references to associating with foreign nations (passages that were taken waaaaaay out of context).

Biblically, God spread out people by making them different so that they wouldn’t be so prideful to think they could compete with God.

Genesis 11: So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

And in the Gospels, God seriously smacks down prejudice by the well-known story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.  There are others, but those are the ones you should know to be able to share with your kids.

Don’t buy into the media.  I met with a guy not very long ago that was very incensed with how police were mistreating the residents of Ferguson, MO and the resulting riots there.  The media sure made it seem like racial minorities of that area were rising up en masse to protest the police.  However, a little research behind the news shows that rioters were bussed in from other areas and that the whole fiasco was financed by a European . . .  yes, a ‘white’ European.

Lately the news outlets are full of situations like these.  People don’t realize that murders and violence statistically are less than they were in subsequent years.  However the media makes the most money when there is controversy and tragedy.   Teach your kids to look behind the “news” into the truth.

Look to your leaders.  I pointed out earlier that Jesus was a champion of diversity, and he struck an eternal blow to prejudice by just telling a story.  He didn’t revolt, riot, burn down buildings, and the only thing he disparaged, was pride.  I have a great respect for other leaders that enact great change while following in the example of Christ.  Martin Luther King Jr is one such leader.  Nelson Mandela is another.  Gandhi is another.  Chief Joseph is another.  The world needs more leaders who embody the Scripture “overcome evil with good.”  People you see in the news recently do not follow such principles.

Don’t try to solve society.  It’s easy to get angry and take a global view of racial issues.  But very few of us are in positions to change the mindset of city officials or correct all the ills of society.  What we can do is to vote our beliefs.  We can teach our kids to be aware of the world, pursuing truth, and to be loving of all races.  And, of course, we can set the example as leaders in the world for following the leadership of Christ.

I invite you again to comment or e-mail if you agree/disagree.  That’s another thing that makes the U.S. great: freedom of speech.

Also, I saw someone post a little snippet from an interview with Morgan Freeman the other day.  It echoes much of what I wrote above, and, it’s Morgan Freeman!  Here it is:  https://youtu.be/GeixtYS-P3s

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad Washburn is a father, husband, and Director of a Christian counseling center in Tampa, Florida. He has helped hundreds of people over the last 15 years. In particular, he desires to see fathers be “men after God’s own heart” — a description of King David in the Bible who was a lover, fighter, sheep herder, and harp player . . .

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Jul
28

Name that . . .

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Image Credit: Brad Washburn

Image Credit: Brad Washburn

I think it is a guy’s job to name things of importance.

Good thing that this blog column is for Dads and females aren’t reading it . . . right? Right?

Oh man, I think I’m in dangerous waters.

First, let me start with the Bible. In the Beginning account in Genesis, Adam’s job was to name the animals. In the Old Testament, men were responsible to name places, and put names to events where God did something amazing.
As you continue throughout Scripture, guys put names to things of importance. Read about Zechariah in Luke 1; even when he was mute, he wrote down on a slip of paper that his newborn son was to be named John (the Baptist).

I can hear legions of women picking up pitchforks and heating up cauldrons of tar. Let me expound on this a little more before the mob arrives.

In the history of culture described in the Bible, guys had a significant role as leaders and God-followers. So, much of the “important” details of naming things fell to them. There are, of course, very clear accounts of women also naming things. For instance, the plethora of kids named in the ‘son making war’ in Genesis 30.

There are other examples of women in the Bible naming things, but I’m risking provoking a
feminist mob to say this: Dads, we need to take the responsibility to name things.

I’m not talking about kids or pets. Although, as a side note, most of my awesome name suggestions for our kids were somehow relegated to our pets. Our turtle got the name Quinn. Our Dog, the PH.D. in Phrenology, got the name (Dr.) Bohdi. We had a snake once named Martok, and in each of these cases I think you will agree that these are EXCELLENT names.
I think my wife was agreeing to me using some of my best name suggestions for the pets, so that I wouldn’t try to use them for our kids. She’s devious. And, she’s obviously never seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . .

Anyway, sometimes Dads need to be the one to name, or label, what is really happening.

For instance, let’s say that it’s the week before school starts. The family has been doing all the usual roles of a family preparing for this event. Parents are quietly rejoicing and shopping for school supplies. Kids are trying to ignore the fact that schools starting. Many families try to squeeze in a vacation. Schedules begin to be disrupted. . . . and suddenly there is the presence of a high amount of stress.
This is where a Dad steps in and names the situation. “We are all stressed because school is going to start.”
It seems like a miniscule thing, but naming a situation like this helps everyone understand how they are feeling and gives them insight on how to cope. Once such back-to-school stress is named, then everyone can take measures to deal with it. Read More→

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