How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

Time: The Critical Investment Every Father Needs to Make: #4-Toddlers: 4.1: Don’t Try to Play Make Up

September 23rd, 2011

with my dad in my hometown on my 55th birthday!

Your son is now at an age when he is mobile and he is curious. This is also the age when you can get him away to explore on your own. “Mom trust” kicks in a bit more, she gives you a “boys” pass, and it is time to let the fun begin! You have prepared for this day since before he was born and now…

Hold on! Time for a little self-inventory:

  1. Are you going to try to give your son the focus you did not receive from your own dad?
  2. Are you going to try to create a mini-me whose interests directly mimic your own?
  3. Do you have dreams of this little bundle of joy being in the NBA, on the PGA, or going to Stanford for a PhD?
  4. Do you keep upgrading your video and photo capabilities with new hardware and software, renewing like yesterday’s magazine subscriptions?




1. Are you going to try to give your son the focus you did not receive from your own dad?

Memory research is showing us that our memories are selective at best. In fact, the latest studies are showing us that we remember more clearly the things we think about the least. The more we play those “tapes” from our past, the more reality and perception clash. You are not your father and your son is not you, neither now, nor when you were a little boy. So relax, take a deep breath and repeat after me:

“My son is a unique child of God. There has never been anyone quite like him, and there will never be anyone quite like him, ever.”

and, repeat after me:

“I am a unique father for my son. There has never been a father quite like me for him and there will never be a father quite like me for him, ever.”

Now, doesn’t that make you feel better? Isn’t that good to know? You can imitate the best of what you can remember from your own father/son relationship, imitate solid fathers you have known or know now, and learn from fatherhood resources (like this blog!), which will help along the way.

Time: The Critical Investment Every Father Needs to Make- #3 Infancy

September 21st, 2011

a little too much time investment!

The relationship between a dad and his son is the original, “old school” male bonding experience. This is a very simple truth that is often overlooked. Having an active father in a baby’s life provides a strong environment for healthy growth in all arenas. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, however you look at it, when dads are there, it is like fertilizer for a healthy life. There is no in vitro substitute for the influence a father brings.

This is not just about a dad and his son; it is about mom, too! It may “take a village to raise a child,” but the village begins with having your husband by your side, and covering your back. When I hear someone say, “Children don’t need a father in their lives,” I know this statement is not coming from a dad or from a mom who has raised kids with a dad.

If this simply means “It is possible to raise children without a father,” then, obviously this is true. The same goes for a mom. From a possibility perspective, “Children don’t need a mother in their lives,” is equally true. We just never hear this.

Practically, sharing in the tasks of raising an infant brings husbands and wives closer together. It isn’t healthy to project all our needs for encouragement, joy and affirmation onto one person. Human relationships flourish as we join together with others for a common purpose. We can share work, share interests and hobbies, raise pets, and such, yet raising a child becomes the most primal, instinctual place for growth. Our capacity as men and women expands as we raise children together.

Now, dads, this doesn’t mean you have to get all weird on me. I don’t want to see any breast feeding apparatus like Robert De Niro, as Jack Byrnes, in Meet the Fockers(2004)! Yet, sharing in those basic infant care tasks has a ton of psychological and emotional influence, for you and your son. Here are some examples:

Holding your son closely and watching him drink from his bottle is about as close as you will ever get to seeing pure peace.

Sharing in soothing your son during nighttime fussing is not just for the sake of relieving your wife’s sleep deprivation; your son is learning that you are there to bring security into his life, as well.

Changing diapers may have been a bit too much for some of our fathers to handle, but we step up. Because it is the politically correct thing to do? No, because we learn so much in this simple action. We learn that if we can take crap from our sons at an early age, we can take crap from them later! One of those lessons in “unconditional love,” let’s just say. O, and remember to have another diaper handy to throw over him just in case…

Taking a nap with your son lying on your chest is a great excuse to get some rest, and your son can get used to the rhythm of your heart, as he has his mom’s for so much time in the womb. An added bonus is, while you are snoring because you are sleeping on your back, she won’t poke you. Instead, she’s thinking, “Isn’t that precious…” Saw away, boys!

Now is the time to sing, pray, and give blessing to your son each night. Faith is not a “woman’s thing.” A habit formed from the beginning like this will have huge dividends as he grows older. Both for him and for you (I will spend a whole chapter on the topic of spiritually nurturing your son).

Yes, spending lots of time with your infant son is as much about you bonding with him as it is he bonding with you. I can’t help but think of those old film clips I saw when studying Psychology, of ethologist (study of animal behavior), Konrad Lorenz, walking with geese following him. He is showing an example of “Imprinting” (“in which a young animal acquires several of its behavioral characteristics from its parent.”)

Your son is not a goose, he isn’t your clone, but as a dad, you have to realize how the time investment you make from day one will significantly increase the effectiveness of your influence in the coming years. Your journey has just begun. Honk! Honk!

How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life