Five Principles Every Dad Should Practice With His Son

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12

Too many dads are absent and are eroding the health of their families. I don’t mean they are not physically present. Often, they can be found “on the premise” but they are not engaged. Dad’s, your kids need to have your attention, talk with you, be challenged by you, and learn from you. Your son(s) especially need to learn how to be a man from you and the truth is they most likely will follow in your footsteps whether it’s the right path or not. How you treat his mom is probably how he will treat his wife. How you communicate love and affection or lack thereof will be most likely how he communicates it with his children.

I have come to understand that there are several strategic things I can do with my two boys that will help them become the man I believe God wants them to be:

1) Quality Time– first of all, your boys need you to spend time with them. They need alone time with their dad. When I do spend time with them, my boys need to know that they have my undivided attention. They need to know I am fully engaged in the moment. I think there are a few ways to communicate this to them. Eye contact is a big one. They need to see your eyes and that you are connecting on their level. I think asking questions of your boys about their interests and feelings communicates interest. I think showing interest in what they like to do makes them feel valued. All of these things maximizes time spent with them. It will create memories they will never forget.

2) Show them affection-  boys are not like girls but that in no way means they don’t need hugs and words of affirmation consistently from us. They need to hear we love them and that we are proud of them. They need our affirmation. It is food and water for their young soul. If affirmation is not given then they might feel they never measure up or that they cannot do enough to earn your favor. Your kids don’t need to earn your favor; they need to be told over and over that they already have your approval. I try and hug and kiss my boys a lot. I don’t let it be awkward and I fight through their shrugging it off. I don’t let their body language deter me. They need my affection whether they realize it or not.

3) Vulnerability- my boys need to see me be vulnerable. They need to hear me share about my struggles and weaknesses. They need to see me admit wrong and be quick to apologize to their mom when I mess up. They need to see that I can take responsibility for all my actions, good and bad . They also need to see me communicate my feelings. That I am not scared to talk about being hurt or sad or happy. They need to see me be sentimental at times. My boys need to see me dote on their mom. At certain times they need to see me cry. Real men are willing to be vulnerable. I need to model that for them.

4) Talk with them about sex- I am amazed how many boys grow up to be men and only learn about sex from their friends and television. What are we thinking? I know the topic can be awkward for both the dad and son but they need to hear from us on sex. They need to know that being curious is normal and that having sexual desires are natural. They need guidance from us on what is appropriate to do with those curiosities and desires and also what is not. They need not feel embarrassed when they ask tough questions or express what they are feeling about sex. They must know  their dad is a safe person they can talk to and not feel ridicule or embarrassment from. I don’t let my boys anticipated awkwardness on the subject keep me from talking about it with them.

5) Teach them how to be a man- I want my boys to not live by fear: to be willing to stand up for truth when others don’t: to treat a woman with honor even if it looks old fashioned: to do what is right and not necessarily what is popular. To me these qualities define a real man. It is not about being gruff and loud and working to make them see how strong you think you are. Macho-ism is often a ruse. I think real men treat women with respect, our sensitive to others, do what they say they are going to do, love Jesus, show affection to their family, and are willing to sacrifice anything for the good of those they love. If I hope to see my boys be this kind of man then I have to model it for them and guide them to it.

Our boys are a blessing. You only get a small time with them to train them for adulthood. Don’t look back and regret that you didn’t do the things above to help your boys be the men God wants them to be.

When Men Lose Their Backbone at Home

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Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.  1 Peter 3:7

Men can be two different people. The man you see at work, with his friends,  or on the ball court is not necessarily the same man you observe at home. At the work place men can be driven and assertive, engaged, leading, and high energy. In their element they are confident and strong, like a lion. Conversely, when they get home many men transform into a passive invertebrate. Assertive and vocal with their friends, coworkers, and teammates, they are reduced to a passive blob with their wife and children. Sound a little extreme? Maybe so but there seems to be an epidemic among men where the wife is the leader and strong voice in the family instead of him. The results don’t seem to be better among Christian men. Christian men often remain passive at home, yielding to their wives to make decisions, direct the family, and train the kids. Christian men often leave it to their wife to handle the spiritual things of the family. God is not ok with this.

Men convince themselves that their primary purpose is to provide monetarily  for the family. Yet, no adult I have ever met has felt the greatest thing their father did for them was bring home the bacon. Men give much of themselves to their work  and hobbies and little of themselves to their family. Being masculine to most men means working hard and not being romantic, being sensitive to his wife’s emotional needs,and being vulnerable with his children. Many men are insecure and are not willing to be vulnerable and emotional, even with their family.

Why do men turn passive in the home? Most likely they just want to keep the peace. They are emotionally spent from work and they just want to do as little as possible emotionally at home. They avoid issues, tiptoeing around potential “landmines.” When they do finally voice their opinion it is ignored or steamrolled because the wife knows for better or worse, she is in charge.

Some men would read this and think they are giving their wife just what she would want, to be in charge. Most women I talk with tell me the opposite. Recently a lady in my office lamented: “I would love to be able to follow my husband’s lead but he prefers to let me lead. When I ask his opinion he tells me whatever I want to do.I not only want to follow I need to follow him. Yet, he will not lead.” Men opt out. They take the easy road and they are misguided into thinking that their wife is ok with that.

Adam was passive with Eve. When God calls Adam out for their sin He rebukes Adam for “yielding to his wife.” Adam is a wet noodle. He just goes along with what she desires. He doesn’t take a stand even though when God rebukes Him He is quick to mention He didn’t agree, that it was she who did it!

When men are passive at home, their wives respect for them erodes over time. They feel isolated and alone in overseeing the family and raising the children. The sons are robbed of an example of what it means to be a real man, one who is sensitive, vulnerable, and engaged. Their daughters often marry passive men because they have watched mom run the roost all their life. This is not how God intended it to be.

Now I am not saying that the husband is ruler and the wife and kids need to act like slaves. I am saying that men need to be present in the home in a direct and influential way. They need to be carrying the bulk of the load. They need to stand up for their wife and children where needed. They need to have the “hard talks” with their children and not just leave it to mom. They need to be a shoulder for their wife to cry on. They need to be quick to listen and slow to try and fix it. Men need to be engaged spiritually and emotionally with their family. It is not the woman’s job to take care of those things.

Families need men to grow a spine at home and stop just taking the path of least resistance at home. Men need to step up and lead their families. I find that most women are willing to let their husbands lead if they will just do so.

Here are a few things that would be great steps towards being the leader God has called the man to be:

  1. Pray over your wife and children.
  2. Be a good listener to your wife and do not try and quickly fix the issue
  3. Engage your wife and children in emotional subjects
  4. Be vulnerable and admit your faults and failures to your wife and kids
  5. Show your wife affection in front of the kids. Teach them how a man should treat a woman.
  6. Take your kids out on dates and listen to what they are going through.
  7. Do devotions with your family at the dinner table or before the children go to bed.

Step up men. Let’s be the leaders God has called us to be in our families.

Daughters need their daddy’s affection


And so train the young women to love their husbands and children.    Titus 2:4

My daughter turned 15 this weekend and I have been having thoughts like… I am old… She is only here for three more years… How did this happen… How do I invent a time machine?

Stronger than any thought has been the reality that I only get one opportunity to raise my daughter. She needs me to model for her how a man should treat a woman. She needs to be encouraged and affirmed by me so that she does not need to find it in men. She needs to know I am a rock for her so she can face things confidently. My daughter needs me pouring into her.

It’s not enough to just be present or to buy her things or to lecture her with words of instruction. She needs to receive my affection. That means hugging and kissing her even when she acts like my touch is coming from someone with leprosy. That means telling her she is beautiful even when she says you are just saying that because our dad.

Even though this age is the most awkward for giving her affection she needs it more than  ever from me. This is a crucial age. She is becoming a woman and change happens rapidly in every area. It’s scares me to death but I don’t let her see that! Only God can truly understand women.

It’s easy to feel a little edgy around our daughters at this age. Scared to do anything that would be awkward but our daughters still need their daddy’s touch. I have the power to create a place of security and peace for her with my affections. In the same way I can disrupt her serenity by being overly cautious and distant. There is something powerful about a hug and a gentle kiss that words just can’t convey.

One way a dad shows his daughter affection is by listening to her. Not jumping in quickly to fix it or judge her actions but patiently listening. Every dad longs to influence his daughter on dealing with boys, peer pressure, priorities, dress, work ethic, and choosing of friends. For us to truly be heard we have to earn it though. Sure you can force your voice to be heard but does it really influence? When we listen sensitively and patiently we earn our daughter’s trust and then our voice becomes powerful to them.

One of my greatest opportunities is to model for my daughter how a man should treat a woman. How I treat her mother will model for her the expectation, or lack thereof, she will have for her own potential husband. That means I need to be consistent, sensitive, trustworthy, caring, and engaged with my wife. As I lead well and love well my daughter’s expectations of what a man should be is raised. She is less likely to settle for a man who doesn’t show the same positive traits.

Raising a daughter is not easy but it is one of the most rewarding opportunities I have ever experienced. It is a great honor and comes with great responsibility. It is one task I cannot fail.

Diary of a Wimpy Parent: Raising A Teenager

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

There is a lot of things I want for my teenager  but her thinking I am the coolest dad around is not one of them. Now I am as cool as the next guy, at least in my own mind, but I want to be something else to my daughter than cool. I want to be her role model, her rock, her guide, and maybe even one day her hero. I am not willing to do what it would take to be her cool friend. I don’t want to be a wimpy parent who lets my teenager set the tone for my relationship because I want her to like me.

Now don’t get me wrong… I take the time to find out what she is listening to in her music, what she is doing on Instagram, and who she is hanging out with. I want to be engaged and not clueless about what she cares about. But I want to be the parent and not one of her friends. Too many parents want their kids to like them so much so that they let things go in order to not come across stuffy. That kind of compromise sets the wrong tone for a teenager.

Thing is our kids don’t mean it when they act like they are put out by our being a person of authority . They don’t really want their parents to be hip. Rather they want boundaries and direction from us. Sure it seems like they fight it with every breath. If my daughters’s face ever froze with some of the looks she gave me when I was parenting, it would terrify you. But don’t believe their outcry, they want you to stay strong with them.

Here are a few principles I suggest you implement in raising your teenager, regardless if they think it’s cool or not.

1) Ask your teenager if they have prayed about it when they mention a struggle and take time to pray with them over that struggle.

We have to teach our children that God is more vital to us than someone we just mention on Sundays. That talking to him is crucial for life. Not only should we challenge them to pray but model it for them. Pray over them. Will they roll their eyes or make a sarcastic comment? Quite possibly. But don’t let that deter you. They desperately need you to set the spiritual tone in their life.

2) Monitor what they do on social media continually.

How can I stress this enough? Think this kind of urgency:  there is a fire in the house and you need to get out. Social Media can be an evil place. A place of cruelty and sexuality and vulgarity. There are so many ways for your teenager to get into trouble. Set the boundaries and monitor them! Get a filter like BeSafe and block their accessibility to graphic sites. Our daughter cannot add or erase apps from her iPhone. Only we can do that. Does she like it? Nope but we do it for her own good. We check her texts. We keep her off of snapchat and other sites we believe are used by many irresponsibly.

3) Listen don’t lecture

Teenagers are beginning to become adults. They want to be heard and their opinions to be respected. They don’t what to be treated like a child. Give that to them. Listen to what they have to say and don’t always be quick to correct. Let them have an opinion, and if it is not hurting them, let them learn for themselves if they are wrong. Try not to lecture them. They listen to lectures all the time at school and in church. Let them talk about life as they perceive it and be slow to correct their thinking unless necessary. When you need to correct do so patiently and encouragingly.

4) Be Consistent and Strong

It is so hard not to give in when they are upset with you. Don’t do it. Don’t let them play you. My daughter has me wrapped around her finger and she knows it! Stay strong. Be consistent. Teach them that you mean what you say. It will help them be consistent and strong themselves one day. We are not teaching them well when we give in just to keep the peace. It is not fun being the “bad guy” but it is for their own good. You got this!

5) Don’t stop hugging them

My daughter turns into a limp fish when I try to hug her right now. It’s like I have cooties, leprosy, and body odor all wrapped up into one  scent that repels her. Sure I would rather go hug a cactus than be made to feel like I’m being completely rejected, but you know what… I wouldn’t stop doing it for anything. My daughter needs her daddy’s affection. No matter how awkward it gets I won’t quit. She needs affection and I much rather her get the right type of affection from me than seek it out from a teenage boy! I love on my daughter and won’t stop even if she does act like I am tortuting her by my every touch.

This list is not exhaustive but has been helpful in my raising of my teenager. Please share it with others if you found it helpful.

A Call to All Dads With Daughters: Some Things Must Never Go Out Of Style

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Recently I bought my twelve year old daughter a promise ring and presented it to her at her favorite restaurant. It was the highlight of our many daddy-daughter dates. I will not write what I shared with her here out of respect for her feelings but it was a great talk!

I had a lady, who sitting near us, inquired about the purpose of the ring. I told her it was to serve as a reminder to my daughter that God wants her to remain sexually pure until she is married and that the most important man in her life until that day is me. She expressed her feelings about the ring with oohs and aahs and presented me with a big smile. She told me how she was glad to see me practicing something that could have come from a black and white film more than the practices of today. Something she thought her great grandfather might have done back in the 1920’s.

I understood her sentiment but I hope something as crucial as daddy’s investment into their daughters would be timeless, not reserved to any period of time. Is there anything more important I will do in the next six years than model for my daughter what her standard for a husband should be? I think not.

This means more than just modeling it in my work ethic. Men can be great at working hard but I do not know many wives or children who are impressed with their husband/daddy spending long hours at work so they can have more stuff. Work ethic is important to teach but more is needed for dads to model for their daughters.

I want to model affection for my daughter. I hug her and kiss her and tell her she is beautiful a lot. I will continue to do so even when she acts like she does not want me too as she hits the teenage years. That time where a kiss from her dad is skin to the bubonic plague. I might annoy her but it’s going to be with the annoyance of affection! She must know that she is loved by more than just my words. She needs to feel herself a princess in my eyes. That I adore her as the precious gift from God that she is to me.

I also want to model for her how her future husband should treat her by the way I treat her mom. I want her to see me doting on Christi, honoring her, respecting her. Am I perfect in this? Unfortunately, not even close but I am intentional.

Above all I want my daughter to see me as a godly man. Someone who strives to live by faith. Someone who messes up but is quick to admit it and embraces grace. A man of scripture and prayer. A man who seeks God for wisdom and direction.

There are no guarantees in how my daughter will choose to live her adult life but I trust the Lord to use my intentional investment in modeling these things for her in a way she will not easily overlook their influence when she considers a worthy mate one day.

May dads never stop investing in their daughters. May every dad be intentional in making their daughter feel the princess she is. Dads, if like me,you greatly desire your daughter to marry a godly, confident, sensitive man one day, then model for her now what her target should be.

If you think this would be helpful, please share this with dads with daughters that you know. May it be an inspiration to them as they teach their daughters what a real man looks like.