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Editorial

A Father's Heart


At the Kitchen Table with Dad



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06/01/2008 - Recently, as we sat at the kitchen table, I asked my dad to tell me some of the things he'd learned along his journey as a father, grandfather, and great grandfather. With typical humility he said, "I don't want people to think I know what I'm talking about. I don't want to give advise on how other people should raise their kids." I assured him that all I wanted to know was what he himself had learned on his specific journey. That it had nothing to do with what anyone else should do. So, feeling a little reassured, he and I pondered and wandered and came up with this:

1)Love your children's mother with all your heart. Show it in everything you say and do.

2)Family is the most important thing in this life. Your actions affect your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and on through posterity.

1)Each of your children, and this includes grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc., is a unique individual. Get to know the rare and only him.

2)Encourage your children and let them know that they can be whatever they want to be.

3)Protect and guide your children but let them grow up.

4)Be patient.

5) When disciplining your children, never scream or hit them. A very rare spanking may be necessary if your child has done something which could have cost him his life and you want him to remember to never, never do that again because you love him and you want him alive on this earth for a long time. For example, my brother and I were each only spanked by Dad once in our lives. (As for my sister, surely she was spanked at least once. Surely.) He at age 3 for joyfully riding his tricycle around and around in the middle of our intersection. Me at age 8 for "taking the afternoon off from school" to play in the park with a friend. Our parents thought we'd been kidnapped. The police were involved. A tearful reunion and a hug followed by that spanking reminded me how very loved and cherished I was and how my actions affected the two people I loved most in the world. I never forgot it.

6)The best discipline is to just talk to your children. Let them know how their actions disappointed or hurt you and that their actions have consequences.

7)Praise your child when he has earned it. Don't offer empty praise. Your child will start thinking you are insincere and that your word can't be trusted.

8)Hug your child and let him know you love him. You never know when it's going to be the last time.

9)Guard what you say and do in front of your children. They learn from your example.

10)Be willing to hold your child and then be willing to let him go when he signals that it's time.

11)Lovingly guide your children to the Lord. Don't "thump the Bible" at them. Instead, foster their desire to know God themselves.

12)Don't take your teenager's angst personally.

13)Offer advice sparingly and only when asked. There are exceptions, of course. For instance, if you see that your child is ready to jump off the high dive into a pool with no water.

14)Bite your tongue and don't speak in anger.

15)Stand back and let your children and grandchildren do their own parenting.

Well, this pretty much sums up my conversation with Dad. Come to think of it, it pretty much sums up the man himself. Happy Father's Day, Dad!

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