Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Like father—like son

My son is in the 7th grade this year and more and more is becoming his own person. Glimpses of him as the child he was have become harder to find and as a view of the man he is becoming takes center stage.

There are things about my son’s behavior that irritate me at times and as his parent it is my duty to point out these fallacies much to his chagrin. Such has been the way of the father-son relationship for as long as there have been fathers and sons.

Some fathers unfortunately take this role too far and the relationship eventually falls into a pattern of conflict that can be very hard to break. The pattern of conflict works to create the “Father wound“ and can impact a boy well into manhood.(more on the wound on a later post)

The other day I came to the realization that many of the things I lash out the hardest to Conner about are really inner anger points at me. Sure, part of parenting is to help our children not to repeat our own mistakes and to grow into a better life than we experienced. At the same time, it is just as important we don’t let our personal fallacies get in the way of our children growing into who God intended them to be. Perhaps my weaknesses can grow to be his strengths.

There are many things about myself that I hope Conner will never become. The mirror I see myself in is often filled with doubt, selfishness, fear and pain. Basically it is a mirror filled with a human living in a fallen world just like you and everyone else.

My commitment is to not stop correcting the boundaries since that is a critical part of parenting. I will however make sure to focus on strengths more than weakness and check those three fingers to ensure the finger I am pointing is not just three at me.

As a parent, do you find yourself lashing out really towards your own faults rather than your child’s actual issue? Let me challenge you this next time to really consider the source of your irritation before correction.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My next door neighbor passed away last week. He was 88 and had lived a long and meaningful life. He was only next to us for a few years but I learned much from this great man.

Fred's bride of 68 years is the sweetest woman you would every meet. A delightful smile, quick to hug, and always cheerful. I can see why a man would love her so much and for so long. Francis also has dementia and most every time we met it was at if we had never met before. The cool part is this meeting with her was always with the joy of meeting a new friend.

Francis "Now remind me who you are again?"

Fred--"Why honey, this is David. He is the young man that lives next door to us"

Not long after this a hug and a hello would follow from Francis.

Throughout any conversation with Francis there were many repeated questions. Each time Fred would lovingly and patiently answer the question as if it were the first time in his life he had been asked. I am sure that when alone most of their conversations were very much like my little time with them. Imagine how many times Fred had to answer the same inquiry. I have no doubt every response was just as full of love as I saw in person.

In this simple gesture, I learned what it really means to love someone not just during the boundless start of life's journey but all the way to the joyful end.

Love is not just about the firsts. It is about the in-betweens and the ends as well.

Thank you Fred for this lesson and thank you for being my neighbor. I will never forget the lesson you taught me through the example you lived.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"We can take it"

My family recently spent several days at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas for some spring break fun. I love taking time off with the family and the planning for our vacation time has always been something I do. It is my thing.

My goal is always low cost, high adventure, and high opportunity for long lasting family memories. This year we chose caving, bouldering and a backpacking hike overnight. This was going to be the second time for my son and the first time for my wife.

The hike was especially a challenge. We backpacked with all gear on our backs including our food, water, tents, and more. I knew it would be long but had not anticipated the hills of western AR. I have done a lot of hard physical things and carrying a 35+ pound pack 9+ miles to our day one campsite was indeed one of the my more difficult experiences. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for my family, the more difficult things get the more enthusiastic I tend to become no matter what I might be feeling inside. My mantra was: “We are building memories!”—“Anyone can do easy stuff!”—“Don’t worry! This is the last hill” (Yes, I am sure there were brief considerations to leave me in the woods)

At the end of the trail we were greeted by this great statue of a CCC worker and the slogan, “We can take it”. That as much as anything could have been our slogan. Yes the hike was hard and yes we could have done something a little more leisurely for our holiday. Instead we decided to take on a real challenge just the three of us.

The moment sitting by the campfire in the glory of the wilderness sharing as a family and then the moment when we stepped off the trail the final day will live on in our family lore for years. To me, the bonding experience of enduring on the trail was simple training for future endurance of other challenges our family will face together. I am sure there are challenges to come beyond just a little hike. Together though, and with a faith in God I know “We can take it”

What about you? Are you being deliberate to prepare your family for adversity? What is your strategy for family bonding and lasting memories?

Can you take it?