the reckless dad

‪reck·less /rekləs/ adj. without thinking about the consequences. rash, heedless, impetuous, impulsive, daredevil, audacious, madcap‬

Category: Child Welfare (page 1 of 3)

Four Tools you should have in your Toolbox

There are four tools that everyone needs in their toolboxes. Not everyone has these tools and they can manage through life without them, but it certainly is easier with them.

I have been a proponent of strengths-based service delivery since before I even knew it was a thing. Strengths-based service delivery is centered around finding the strengths of those you are working with and building upon those strengths by adding more tools. I have taken very personally Abraham Maslow’s assertion that, ‘if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to approach every problem as a nail.’ I am not that much of a handyman or construction dude, but I have done enough shade tree projects to know you have to have the proper tools for the job. The same thing is true of life. If you want to overcome the stressor or difficulty facing you, you need the proper tools to overcome it. Here are four tools that I believe are essential for us all to possess in our toolboxes, whether we are helping other or just looking to overcome our own stressors.

  1. Empathy – Empathy can be defined in many ways, but simply put it is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Being able to understand their perspective and see the situation from their eyes. This goes a very long way when we are helping others, because we are able to step outside of ourselves and see things from their point of view and combining that with our knowledge assist them in devising a solution. It is also helpful because sometimes we are wrong and we need to see the other side in order to come to resolution. We need to know how we have hurt someone. We need to be able to understand how others think and feel. Additonally, empathy entails a genuine care and concern for others. This isn’t a sympathetic feeling sorry for others, it is an authentic care for them as people.
  2. Apathy – This may seem strange, but I have come realize I can only do so much. And it doesn’t matter how much I want something for you, if you don’t want it for yourself you will never change. As long as I can lay my head down at the end of the night knowing I have done all I can do, then I am good. You have to want it to and until you make the efforts to change or adjust, it doesn’t matter how I try to change you. This is the classic ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ scenario.
  3. Everyone has at least one strength – This is tough… because it doesn’t always feel like this is true. But deep inside, somewhere hidden amongst the mess is their strength. Is something they do well. Something they are proficient at. Something they are confident in. Finding this strength and building upon it is critical to working with others. And when we are facing our own struggles, it is critical to recall our own strengths and not dwell or wallow in our shortcomings. Which really leads to the last tool:
  4. We are the same – I learned very early on when working in child welfare (fancy name for the child abuse field), there was a fine line separating me from my clients. This is still true today. I have more tools, more resources, more supports but without them I would be in jeopardy of making choices and decisions I would regret. I have to realize the tools I have doesn’t make me ‘better’ but charges me with a responsibility to help others. This can also be worded as humility. Knowing I don’t have all the answers. Knowing I make mistakes and I am in need of the same grace I am offering you.

Having these tools doesn’t guarantee success or an easy life or whatever. But having them is one step closer to being better prepared to face whatever may come at you today.

Undivided Attention – What Kids Need Part 2

In our digital, global, information overload world with rapidly changing images and stimuli, we have cultivated a culture where less is more and this has bled over into our relationships and most detrimentally to our relationships with our children. As parents, we often look for ways for us to not give our kids the Attention they are looking for.

It is the little things in life that make the most meaningful impact sometimes. It is the tying of the shoes. It is the folding of the clothes. It is the completing of the homework. It is sweeping or making of the bed together. It is the picking up of the toys. It is the time spent doing the tasks or things that have seemingly no importance at all that make the difference. It is the not-so-helpful hands preparing dinner. The snuggles on the couch before bed. It is xbox, board games, card games, kicking a soccer ball, playing war or the occasional lightsaber battle in the living room. All of these are times when children get the attention from their parents they crave desperately. Attention focused on them and no one else. Attention given to them, showing them their little lives matter to us as parents.

Sometimes it is hurtful yell or scream. Sometimes it is chastising glance and mean words given. Sometimes it is unending berating in the form of a lecture about how the smallest mistake means the child is stupid. Sometimes it is spanking, the slapping and the forcibly being put into the corner or on their bed for timeout. It is the undivided attention of a parent who can no longer ignore the actions of their child and now they have to intervene and give attention to the child because the child has so completely disrupted whatever activity the parent is engaged in.

Either way, the bottom line is attention. Children crave the attention of their parents. The old cliche is so very true, ‘negative attention is better than no attention at all.’

Many kids just want someone to pay attention to them. Someone to give them something. The challenge as parents is for us to not be irritated when our kids need attention from us. Often, if we stop what we are doing for just a few minutes we can give our kids the attention they desire and be able to get back to our tasks. It isn’t hard. It is about giving them the attention and time they need. It usually doesn’t require a lot of time. As parents it is our responsibility to be on the lookout for the attention our kids need from us and then give it to them. Offer them what they desire. Give them the love and attention they crave.

Are we looking for ways we can give our kids the attention the desire or are we viewing every interruption by them as a nuisance to be overcome? I challenge you today and the rest of the week to take the moments your kids ask for… and then some. Don’t be bothered. Don’t be agitated. Don’t get mad. Give your kids what they want from you… you. Your attention. Your time. You.

Are you willing to accept the challenge?

Image result for give attention

Mentors

Mentor defineA big brother. A father. An uncle. A grandfather. A best friend’s father. A youth leader from church.

Every person, but young men especially, need an older man to pour into their lives. We need someone to help us learn how to be a man. In our society, we put a lot of pressure on young women but there is also a lot of pressure put on young boys to become manly men. There are certain things that men must know. Things it is expected as a man we are aware of. There are also expectations for men which will dramatically change the world all of the men on the planet would get it right. Once these boys develop into men and then as they take on the roles of husband and father, the expectations only get higher.

How do boys learn to be men? How to boys learn the critical ‘man-stuff’ they need to know? The same way any of us learn anything – someone teaches us.

We need someone who will teach us how to treat women. Women are to be treated with dignity and respect, not as objects for our use and abuse. Boys and young men need someone to teach them the proper way to speak to a woman. The proper way to treat a young woman. I am not necessarily a supporter of the whole idea of courting, but certainly something has been lost in the way our youth and young adults are approaching dating. It has lost the special-ness and wonder it once had. It is now a commonplace, ordinary thing and not something that is special. We have lost to excitement and mystery of entering into a relationship with the opposite sex. There are a myriad of societal issues that could likely be traced back to this… that is a discussion for another time! As boys we need someone to teach us how to treat girls and ultimately women.

We need someone to teach us the mystery, wonder and exhilaration that is fire. This is essential to being a man. Other men will immediately gauge the usefulness of a man based on whether he can build a fire. Whether you use raw elements, a flint stone, lighter fluid or straight gasoline a man must be able to make a fire. This ties into a man’s overall outdoorsyness. Men are supposed to skilled outdoorsmen, too. How good of an outdoorsman can you be if you can’t start a fire.

We need someone to teach us how to properly grill meat. Any meat. Dead animal cooked over open flames is quintessential manhood. Without this ability, is a man really a man? Grilling is more than utilitarian preparation of food, it is an art form. It is something special.  Magic happens when meat is grilled.

We need someone to teach us sports. Almost without exception, it is not possible for a group of men to arrive at a park, field, friend’s house or church without some sports equipment. It could be as simple as a football, soccer ball, Frisbee or a baseball and glove. It would seem as though men are hardwired to play sports. In a group of dudes, even the ones that aren’t ‘athletic’ will find themselves getting drawn into the exhibition off sports. While we seem to be inherently keyed into sports, we still must have someone take the time and interest to cultivate the athlete inside of each of us.

Who teaches us these critical life lessons? It is often our father. Sometimes it is an older brother. It can be an uncle. Maybe a grandfather. Maybe it is your friend’s father. Or it could be a youth leader from church. Or maybe it is all of the above. As boys and young men we need someone to teach us important skills and lessons we need in life. We need someone to mentor us.

We all do. We all need someone to pour into our lives and help us to grow. It doesn’t have to be a perfect mentor. It just needs to be someone who cares about us enough to walk through life with us for a season. Mentors change. Seasons and times of our lives change and what we need out of mentors change. But, no matter the season of life we are in we need mentors.

Who has been a mentor to you? What have they taught you? Who have you been able to mentor?

Goal Setting

Clear strategy and solutions for business leadership symbol with a straight path to success as a journey choosing the right strategic path for business with blank yellow traffic signs cutting through a maze of tangled roads and highways.

Sounds simple, right?

Make a plan, devise a strategy for what you want to accomplish in a given time frame. Make a plan of attack and accomplish things. This isn’t always the case though, is it? There are many roadblocks that get in the way of us setting goals and then sticking to the goals to make them happen.

I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that I am a goal-oriented person, but I am a task-oriented person and I like to set or plan tasks for me to accomplish. Without a daily and weekly task list, I would never get anything accomplished with the exception of trolling Facebook and Youtube. Setting goals in my mind is like making a task list, but on a bigger scale. A task list breaks down the goals into measurable, accomplish-able action steps. Setting goals and then breaking the goals down into tasks is one of the things I have been stressing to the young men I work with at Grace Landing.

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of having a plan is very enticing to me. Knowing where I am going and how I am going to get there is comforting. I like the expected. I like to know what is coming. I don’t like surprises and I certainly don’t like the unknown. I have identified in my life 3 obstacles to setting goals that I have overcome and 3 corresponding helpful tips to setting goals.

Three obstacles to setting goals:

  1. It feels silly. Ok. Sometimes it does. It does get a little tedious constantly writing a script for the day and then sticking to it. There is little freedom to ‘go off script’ in the way I organize and arrange my day. It feels silly as an almost 40 year old adult, I have to make plans for how my day is going to transpire. It can feel silly and even childish, as though you don’t have the knowledge or discipline to do what needs to be done.
  2. It’s kinda hard when you are just trying to keep your head above water. I can relate to this. I have spent many days feeling like I was drowning, just barely keeping my head out of water. This inability to see beyond the moment at hand makes it hard to set goals. Feeling as though this is how it will always be, is a misguided belief. At some point, you will be done treading water and then what?
  3. I have no idea where I want to go or what I want to do or what I want to be. We tell ourselves we are still trying to figure it out and box ourselves in. We have created a box, a prison if you will, that we are powerless to overcome.

Three helpful tips to setting goals:

  1. Don’t worry about feeling silly. So what? If what you need to do in order to be successful is make a plan and then stick to it, what does it matter? There is still freedom in my days to have fun and be spontaneous… after I finish all the tasks I need to accomplish. Haha! But seriously, I have built into my tasks and schedule spontaneous times, or times where it is ok for me to stop what i am doing and do something unrelated to work just for fun. You can’t worry about feeling silly because at the end of the day when you have finished everything you need to get done you can relax and enjoy yourself, not worrying or panicking about upcoming deadline because you are ready for it.
  2. The obstacle of feeling like you are drowning is a tough one to overcome, because it makes sense. This is an intense fear of mine… drowning. But, I know that by slowing down and taking each day as it comes to me I can make a plan of attack and get done needs to be done. Being able to step back and take big picture view will help you in getting past what is going on right now so you can see the goal setting was worthwhile. At some point, you not be treading water and if you don’t have a direction to go, you will continue to tread water and go nowhere. Goal setting is the big picture, beyond the current sensation of drowning.
  3. Hogwash. There is no box I fit in, let alone one I can’t break out of. This is the epitome of shortsightedness. Have you ever considered you don’t know where you want to go or what you do or what you want to be, because you never actually spent any real time reflecting and planning? Is it possible, there are no goals because you have been too afraid to dream about what you could accomplish and rather live in the security of the self-imposed prison? Maybe. Dream. Dream big.

Not that I am the authority on any subject, but I struggle the same as the next dude. Here’s how I have implemented goal setting and task listing. Were these thoughts helpful to you? What have you done to help in setting goals?

Stay Connected

 As he approached the cliff’s edge he was very shaky and nervous. He looked down and slightly tugged on his harness to make sure he was hooked in. He was. He visually inspected the carabiner and figure eight to ensure they were properly attached to his harness. He had gloves on. He bang to slowly inch backwards towards the edge of the cliff.

The closer he got the more nervous he became.

He got to the edge. He froze.

He called back from the edge and begged to be pulled up. He started to go again… stopped and once more begged to be pulled up. It was the point of no return. He was over the edge. He couldn’t go back up.

Back he couldn’t go down either.

He was frozen. Neither able to go up or down. Stuck.

He was going do stay on the cliff face until he died… which fortunately wasn’t going to be long!

Before he knew it he, was rappelling down the cliff. He was still afraid, but at least now he was moving… down.

As he unclipped from the rope, he realized he had conquered his fears. He was still afraid of heights, but they had not won this battle.

In September, I had an opportunity to take two young men from the Independent Living Program at Grace Landing on a camping trip as a culmination of a mentoring program we did with them this spring/summer. The first activity of this trip was a rock climbing trip. This portion of the trip was going to push their limits and challenge their fears. If you have never gone rock climbing or rappelling before, you must pay singular attention and your focus must be on the task at hand. One of the things you learn very quickly, is being connected to the rope is critical… lifesaving.

If you aren’t connected to the rope you will die.

Hands down. There is no way around it. Losing connection to the rope, while on the rock face will end tragically. Over the course of the weekend, one of the conversations I had with the guys was as a man the very real need to stay connected to a community… but more than that, the need to stay connected to God. We are not able to navigate this life on our own. We simply can’t do it. And too many times, we men view asking for help or relying on others as weakness. It isn’t weak to recognize where you need help and then ask for help. Being a part of a community, having a support network allows us to draw on a larger range of experiences and resources to navigate the rough waters of life. Having several other dudes who care deeply about you, allows you a built in accountability network as well as confidants and friends to carry you through the tough times.

But more important than all this, is of course the connection we have to have with God. Having a community of other men is highly beneficial, but we must be connected to the ultimate source. God should be the foundation for all we do and all we are. Relying on him in tough times. Turning to him in good times. Trusting him no matter what is swirling around us in life is essential to being successful. Other people will disappoint us. It’s a matter of when, not if they will. Being connected to God allows us to manage through the times other people let us down.

I encouraged our guys to stay connected to a community, but more importantly to stay connected to God.

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