If you parent a kid you have to learn about what they are teaching. Really.
So Mother’s Day came and went. It is kind of a strange day for me in our family because there is joy and sadness. Joy for the celebration of my wife and all that she does for the kids that only she, a mom, can do.
Sadness for the loss of opportunity to celebrate our daughter’s birth mom, who we have no idea where or how she is. I know I celebrated her in my prayers, thoughts and tears because she chose to carry and birth this beautiful, compassionate, loving girl. This girl who continues to expand my capacity to love and care for those around us. This girl who loves so unconditionally that it scares me sometimes. This girl who desires to serve and not be served.
So, as I mourn the loss of relationship with her birth mom, I pray that someway, somehow, someday, we can celebrate a Mother’s Day with her.
Devon and I spent some time last week at a conference to help support adoption/foster care ministries and families on the adoption/foster care journey. There were so many deep, life promoting quotes and I needed to jot them down somewhere…
She looks to you for affirmation, encouragement, & guidance. As she grows through puberty (ESPECIALLY, as she grows through puberty), she needs your voice reminding her that she is beautiful, valuable and worthy of love. If she can learn to believe you, then she’ll believe her future husband when he tells her the same things.
Set the Standard
Be the husband you want her to have one day. Enough said. Is it difficult? Yes. Does it mean sacrifice? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. I watch my husband daily making changes to be a better husband and dad. He’s amazing. He demonstrates for our daughter the kind of man he wants her to marry one day.
Talk About the Standard
Talk about the future. As you “Imagine the End” and think about the man you hope she marries… talk about it! Let her know what you expect. Set the bar. She’ll do everything she can to jump over it.
Let me level with you, dad. The more you affirm her today, the less she’ll seek affirmation in some teenage boy later.
I Need You to Believe in Me
I think John Eldredge is right when he says the question every boy asks is “Do I have what it takes?” When you show confidence in them, they develop confidence in themselves. Keep your criticisms constructive and believe the best.
Don’t Withdraw, Even Though I’m Withdrawing
Every teenager withdraws. It’s a natural part of growing up. Most fathers don’t know what to do when that happens and end up making a critical mistake: they withdraw too. Take your son out for lunch. Take him golfing, mountain biking, fishing, to a football game—whatever. Just do something with him. Don’t withdraw just because he did.
Give Me Someone to Look Up To
I’ve told my sons for years that their heavenly Father is their ultimate father and the one they need to look toward every day. But it’s also true that they see me. If my life is significantly different from the life I’m asking them to live, my counsel means little. How we treat our wives is how they will learn to treat theirs. How we handle our emotions (or don’t handle them) will set the standard for them. They want to look up to us. We need to give them a reason to continue to want to. Guys, that means we need to work on our junk. If that means going to see a counselor, do the manly thing and do it.
I just read that excerpt from Orange Parents, a site that has had many good insights into parenting and this one is definitely a good read.