3 Things I Taught My Son By Cutting The Grass.

Being a dad is a big deal. Last week I taught my seven-year-old to cut the grass (push mower). I was hesitant to unleash him with a spinning mechanical blade, but his mom wasn’t there to stop me so I went for it and I’m glad I did (just kidding, she trusts me). In the process we had several unplanned father-son moments as his attention was hyper-focused on learning to mow the grass. Here are a few that I caught myself teaching him.

cutting the grass

  1. Your Actions and Lack of Actions Affect Others.

Our first task was to fix the self-propelled components of the mower. Though he is a strong kid, he is just seven. Having the self-propelled component working would help him be successful. So we got out the tools, pulled the cover off and started cleaning things up and looking at why it didn’t work. As we were doing this together, he was goofing around and touching stuff on the mower. I knew there was no real danger since starting a mower is an involved process but I asked him, “What would happen to my hands right now if you accidentally started the mower?” Of course he knew by where my hands were that he would “cut them off.” I then asked, “Is that something you want to do?” Of course he didn’t. So I suggested that when someone is working on a machine the best thing to do is stand back and watch, unless you are asked to help.  We then talked about how all of our actions affect others.

2. It is Easy to Mistake The Symptoms for the Problem.

Once we were fixing the mower we talked about how what we perceived as the problem (the self-propelled component wasn’t working) was actually a symptom of the real problem. Likely a part had broken, a belt had slipped, or we simply got to much stray grass had gotten under the cover. As it turned out there was a ton of grass and the belt had slipped off. It was an easy fix. In the process though we talked about how in everything from lawn mowers to relationships that when something is broken, we often see the effects before we can analyze the cause. It takes wisdom to look for what caused the problem and fix it instead of just looking at the problem and complaining.

3. Always be on Guard Against Mission Drift.

Mission drift is common in everything from cutting grass to life in general. If we are not careful we will be more concerned with where we are than where we are going and in doing so we will end up way off course! Without a vision for what needs to be accomplished it is easy to worry more about pushing the mower than where you are pushing the mower too. He learned this all too quickly as the first few rows were crooked, leaving pockets of uncut grass in some places, and mowing over the same territory twice in other places. I shared that We must always keep an eye on what God has called us to or we will miss the mark simply because we thought more of the moment than we did the outcome. I applied this especially to living under authority. I shared that even I as a parent and pastor fall under the authority of scripture.  It’s easy to respond to the feelings of the moment, but wise men go back to what God has said and follow that path.

I’m sure that a lot of the conversation went over his head. Yet, it has also become a background song to his life. He knows more about cutting grass and more about life than he did a week ago. I’m reminded that our children often learn more from us as they join us in activity than they do when we sit them down to have a specific conversation. I’m always looking for those teachable moments.

50 Shades Away. A Letter to My Son About Love

So maybe we won’t have all of this conversation today (He’s just 5). But we do talk like this about Love.

Just so you know, I love your mom. I mean I LOVE her. That word is so hard to grasp sometimes. We use it for everything from the newest video game to the pizza we ate last night. So when I say love, I mean I treasure your mom. She is precious to me. And when I say that I’m not saying that I “posses” her or have a right to her in any other way than she posses me or has a right to me. The ring on my finger says that I’ve committed to her, I belong to her. It affects my decisions, my leadership, my actions, my everything because we are in this together.

Love is more than something that is just emotional. Because I love your mom I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions. Some of them we’ve shared like the joy of exploring new places or the deep happiness when you and your sister were first brought into this world. Some of them were reactionary like the deep empathy for pain I experienced when your mother was in the middle of giving birth to your sister (no pain meds). I scared myself with how angry I got one time when someone insulted your mother’s character and another time when someone stole her purse. To be fair we’ve been mad at each other too but have almost always found a way to reconcile before we went to sleep.

To be sure, love is physical, but not always in the way you might expect. It’s holding hair back while your loved one vomits. It’s coming home from work early to clean up vomit. It’s a trip to the drug store to pick up medicine. It’s rocking a sick child in the middle of the night so she can get some sleep. It’s fixing a car. It’s doing the dishes. It’s working hard at a job so you can spend your paycheck helping to put a roof over your heads and food on the table. It’s a deep hug that says “I will never let go of you” at the moment when it feels like the world just changed. It’s a holding a hand at the right moment to say, “I’m with you no matter what” (not just at the movies). It’s a sweet little kiss on the cheek every day. Then inside of marriage there is the gift of sex. It’s a physical expression that no one else shares. And just like everything else with love, it is an act of giving. 

You see love is sacrifice. It is commitment. It is work, but above all it is giving. If you want to really experience love one day. Work hard, stay out of debt, and practice extreme generosity. We never love perfect people (though your mother gets closer to perfection every day) and we never love perfectly (hopefully I’m getting better at this too).  So keep short accounts, be quick to forgive, and never hold grudges. Be the first to believe the best about others and the last one to believe the worst.

Above all, honor the women in your life, especially your mother and sister. They are not objects, they are holy creatures made in the image of God and deeply worthy of honor.

1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5, Song of Solomon

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“Secure Daughters, Confident Sons” by Glenn Stanton

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity by Glenn Stanton is a book about raising sons and daughters to be confident boys and girls.  Mr. Stanton argues extensively that men and women are equal, but different.  He bases his argument on Genesis 1:27 but he also makes a solid case for gender differences by utilizing information from various studies done across cultural lines.

Mr. Stanton does a great job of fleshing out the different functions that men and women take place in shaping society.  I was especially grateful for the careful way in which the author outlined examples of strong men and women who exude their masculinity and femininity.  He also does a fantastic job of expressing the influence that a mother and father have on a child’s life.

Overall the book was positive and seeks to be non-offensive.  Perhaps this is also its greatest pitfall.  While I praise Mr. Stanton for a book well written, I also wonder if more might be said about the differences between men and women and how we treat one another if he were not writing for such a broad audience.

I really appreciated this book and can see how it would be for a wise investment for parents regardless of how old their children are.   The retail price of Secure Daughters, Confident Sons is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available around the web in places like Amazon.com for $10.19. I gave it five stars.

If you are looking for more information about the equality, yet uniqueness of men and women check out the website for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

5 Ways for Dad’s to Be Involved With Their Kids

I am sure there are tons of statistics out there about how much influence a dad has in the lives of his children.  I am sure I have even heard a few before, but I don’t need statistics to know that I need to be involved in the lives of my children.  They are going to learn a lot about life from somewhere and since they were born into my house, it would be good if it came from me.  So here are 5 things I do at a minimum (and would recommend) to be involved in the lives of my kids.

1. Regular Quality Time

I actually got this out of my father’s play book.  Even though there were four of us, he seemed to find time to spend about an hour a week with each of us alone.  When I was younger this was usually a drive out to a bible study and back or a weekend trip to go fishing.  The way this works with my daughter is that we go out (or stay in) for a pancake breakfast every Friday morning.  Its a regularly scheduled deal that she looks forward to every week.

2. Read Together

I love to read (if you can’t tell by the rest of the blog) and often read several pages a day in real books just for school.  But taking time to read to my daughter is essential.  Reading books she enjoys ensures that one day she will like reading too and reading will open doors for her beyond her own world.

3. Play Together

This is a little tricky when you have a daughter.  Though I have played my fair share of doll house, tea party, and princess games, I really prefer to stay masculine and bring my daughter into my world of play. I’ve found getting outside is one of the best ways to maintain my masculinity and play on a real level.  She loves to swing and jump on the trampoline and I love to see her smile.  She also like sitting on my back while I do push ups or letting me pull her around the block in the wagon.

4. Share About Your Day

Most days when I get home I let her share about her day and I give her a play by play through my day.  We started this when she was 3.  At first I wasn’t sure if she was up to the task, but after a few weeks it kind of became a regular thing.  I’ve learned a lot about what is important to her by hearing her share her play by play of the day.  It only take a few minutes but has quickly become a highlight of her day and mine.

5. Use Strong Words of Affirmation

Our children need to know that we love them, that we are proud of them, and that we think they have great potential.  My kids hear that I love them several times a day.  They hear it when they wake up, they hear it when they go to sleep, they hear it when we talk.  There does not need to ever be a doubt that I love my kids.  Its not enough to show it, it  has to be said.

My kids also need to know that I am proud of them.  I let my daughter know that I am proud of her for setting boundaries when people hug her for too long.  I let her know that I am proud of her when she is helpful and when she learns the right sound for a letter.  By letting her know that I am proud of her it reinforces the posetive behavior in her life.

My kids need to know that they have potential.  I enjoy helping my daughter find a vision for reading if she would practice more.  Saying things like, “You are really catching on.  I’ll bet you will be able to read this book to me by the end of February” really sets a goal out there for her and lets her know I think she can achieve it.  I’m not just proud of her current actions and abilities, but I have confidence that she will grow.  My confidence in her gives her confidence to try new things.