Dads…and Being One

“I miss my kids. My ex won’t let me see em’ since we’re split. I was a good dad, I just messed up one time too many. My “best friend” and the ex hooked up…I shoulda never trusted him. But I’ll get even, you can bet on that. I’m a good dad.”

Those words, and words similar, I’ve heard many times in recovery meetings. I don’t question those young, and not so young men saying such. If I sponsor someone that is separated from their offspring, I offer what advice I can to help them. The recovering young men want to get straight so they can be involved in their children’s lives. In my humble opinion is that they have a vague conception of what fatherhood means.

Even “straight” men know little about being a dad, often taking what they see on TV and movie dads as the proper way of rearing children. Some have a twisted notion of fatherhood from what their father did, or didn’t do in their upbringing. You know that story, my father gave me nothing so I’ll make sure my kids get everything. Or, my dad gave me what I wanted, so I have to do the same. In both cases, things take priority, purpose and virtuous living has no place in their thoughts of how to raise children.

I am no genius. I see horrific mistakes I made in rearing my three children. I had many of these same ideas. I really thought keeping the kids active covered a multitude of sin opportunities. Entertainment, sports, and the like were priorities…I thought. There was one right thing their mother and I did. We TOOK them to church regularly in their adolescence, when they are the most teachable. The failure, I think, is my thinking that fifty-two plus hours at church yearly would teach them all there is to know about God. If they turned out bad, at least I did my part. How ignorant.

The public school system has over a thousand hours each year to convince our children otherwise. Biological evolution, random chance, meaninglessness, have become the tenets of disbelief we now fight to undo today. Sadly, from what they learn in society and not from their parents, young men and women in recovery rooms worldwide grow up thinking there is no one to answer to for their lives, no principles to guide, no committment to uphold….if it feels good, do it.

Well, it felt good, they did it, they sit in rehabs, jails, recovery groups, and in total confusion of why they are there, how it came to this, and why they cannot see their children. After all, “I’m a better dad than Homer Simpson,” some of them think.

So what should we do? How can I be a better dad? 
(Look in the Book, the Manufacturer’s manual. For the best results, follow the directions.)
“Hear my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” Prov.1:8-9

There is more to say than what I can put here in trying to keep this post short and readable. I will do my best to post again some thoughts I have learned as a parent, both good and bad. For now, think about this; what are you teaching your kids? They will be what you and their other parent are,…is that a good thing? Do you really believe you give enough time in training and teaching them right and wrong? Do YOU know right from wrong?

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Sticks, Stones, and Words

I would think everyone living has heard the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That’s how we were taught to respond to someone saying hurtful things to us as children. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, I do not believe it. The truth is, sticks and stones will break bones, and words can do irreparable damage…life altering damage.

I have both played the victim and the inflictor of painful verbage. It has always been okay for me to inflict others with hurtful words, but they are wrong to hurt me by the way they talk. The measure of the wound can be according to the extent you and I believe the statement intented to harm us. A really healthy self image may not be affected by words from anyone. That is a great reason to take a look at how you see yourself.

“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Prov.12:18 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” Prov.15:1-2 (NKJV)

 I think we have used the little “sticks and stones” saying to ensure our little ones aren’t harmed by the sharp barbs from others, but what about how you speak to your kids? Words from parents are as damaging as words from anyone, and often, more so. Don’t walk in the door and proceed to scream over things that are of little importance. The house may be cluttered, the grass may need mowed, but let me ask you, is that worth possibly injuring mentally your child forever? You do know that your behavior is mimicked by your children. What? You want to make sure your grandchildren’s lives are messed up too? Keep working at it, you are sure to succeed.

I’m sure no one wants to be bullied. The bully does not want to be bullied, of that I’m sure. Words bully and intimidate others. Do not think for even a second that your child is not a bully. Hopefully they are not. If your children bully others, there is a chance they are being bullied…by you perhaps, and you may not even realize you are doing so.

You may not know if your child is a victim of bullying because of your communication gap, especially teenagers. This is heart breaking. They are afraid, and guess what? Their greatest fear may be their fear of disappointing you. With you making a decision to open communication lines with your kids, you may find out about some darkness they are living with. Don’t let your child deal with this alone. Be there, it is hard, but be there.

There are words that heal. If we are wise, we tell our children these words over and over and over again. Then we repeat it…until they believe it to be so, because it is. These ancient words are God’s Words directly to whoever will listen and do them.

“My son, (daughter), give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the middle of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you; let your eyes look straight ahead.” Prov. 4:20-25 (NKJV)

 I am very sorry about some of the words I have used on others in life. I feel that since I have entered recovery from alcoholism, that my objective to grow up and really be someone that cares and is concerned for people, has been key for me in watching things I say and how I say them to others. I feel that many hurtful words directed towards another was mainly to get a rise  out of them. More joking, than sincerity with intent to harm. I try to be careful even when I kid with folks these days. I have no desire to make anyone feel hurt.
I must realize that I have to be watchful in my kidding around, not everyone has a good sense of humor. In truth, I have been offended from words that were nothing other than someone joking around with me. I can look at the little childhood saying today, and know nothing said to me for harm can touch me, if I remain spiritually fit. When I see myself in the light of God’s Word, sticks and stones bounce off of me as though I have a force field…and I do. In Christ, I am part of God’s family, royalty, a new creation.

Words can hurt, words can heal. Today I choose to speak words that bring health, and not allow words intended to hurt me to have an effect. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith