#trainingformy40s

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

Category: Being a Dad (page 1 of 13)

A Run-Of-The-Mill Soccer Weekend

It’s Monday morning. I am sitting at my desk, wishing I was at home in bed. So far, this Monday is winning the battle. It was a long weekend, but it was a very good weekend. Our two oldest boys played in a soccer tournament this weekend, the Alliance Cup. And by all standards, the tournament was a success. By far, the most successful tournament our boys have participated in.

In the past, tournaments have kind of been a necessary evil. A long weekend of soccer that leaves you exhausted and wishing you could go back in time and devise any excuse to have not gone to the tournament. This weekend is different. I am tired and I am sunburned, but I am satisfied with the outcome of the tournament.

More than that I am proud of how my boys played their hardest and showed how much they have grown and improved in soccer this fall. They are both playing with an intensity and commitment that brings great joy to my heart. But more importantly, they had fun and enjoyed the experience.

hayden-goalHayden’s team finished the tournament 1-2 and did not make the finals. However, in the game they won Hayden scored a goal. This was his first goal of the season. He was so excited and happy! He barely could contain his excitement throughout the day and weekend. This was definitely a highlight for him and us as parents. Our satisfaction with Hayden doesn’t change because he scored a goal. We love him the same no matter what. I am full of joy because of the happiness this goal has brought to him. Aside from the excitement of the goal in that game, Hayden played one of his best games he has ever played that game. He was put on the field as a forward and several runs on the goal with the ball and had it not been for the defenders stepping in, he would have been in a position to take shots on the goal (somehow, he managed to make runs without the support of his teammates). During the other games, he played goalkeeper and he has show great improvement overall but especially as a goalkeeper this year. I could not be happier with where Hayden is at this moment.

Noah’s team finished the tournament 3-1 and Champions of thenoahchampir division. They came out strong and played strong throughout the tournament. Noah played goalkeeper in every game and he only let 3 goals in for the whole weekend. He had two clean sheets during the weekend. He claims his team named him the Man of the Match for the final game. The final was a great game and he played a very good game. He was challenged by the opposing team and stood the test and emerged victorious.

This was a significant tournament for both of out boys because their previous tournament experiences left something to be desired. This season as a whole has been a great one. I credit their growth and development as young men to making this season a good for them in addition to a new coach (they both have the same coach) who is able to coach and speak to them in terms they can understand. He is a great coach and really enjoys coaching and enjoys these boys.

As a father, it is hard me to find greater joys than seeing my boys happy. And today, they are happy… therefore I am happy.

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?

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Common Threads – What Kids Need Pt. 1

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I’m not an expert on anything… except maybe Jeeps and Star Wars. I would pit my knowledge of those two subjects against any other human on the planet and bet on myself every time. Hands down. Other than that, I’m not an expert in much of anything. But I pay attention to people, things and details. I watch. I listen. I take notes. I connect the dots. I read between the lines and see the picture beneath the surface. I cultivate an interest in behaviors and the motivation for the behaviors. I desperately want to understand the ‘why’ of what motivates each of us to act the ways we do. I make assessments and evaluations based on what I see, hear and observe.

As I look back on my professional career (which has involved a wide range of jobs/roles, but with one common thread throughout), it is clear working with youth and families has been the center of everything I have done for the last 20 years. I have worked with youth and families in a wide range of settings. Sometimes it has been fun. Sometimes it has been difficult. Sometimes it has been uncomfortable. Sometimes I have been an advocate. Sometimes I have been a fried. Sometimes I have been an adversary. Sometimes I have been a mentor, teacher or guide. And sometimes, I have been the ‘bad guy’.

Through it all, it has been highly rewarding for me personally. I have learned tons and grown much. I have jokingly called myself a ‘Jack of all Trades & Master of None’ due to wide variety of roles I have found myself in. The reality is, I have consistently worked with youth and families fro 20 years. It feels very good to be able to say I have been a field of work for that long. I have been told (finally) my resume is impressive. For someone who struggles with confidence (a shocker, I know) this is a much-desired boost.

In my current season, I am working as a therapist with an agency which allows me to offer therapeutic services to youth both at the homes and in their schools. On a side note, I really enjoy seeing a kid in their home and then seeing them at school and being able to see the difference of personalities that come out based on the setting. I spend a lot of time with kids these days. I spend a lot of time having fun, joking and laughing with kids. I spend a lot of time sitting in the homes of families. I lose a metric ton’s worth of card games in any given week. And sometimes it’s not on purpose. Haha. There’s more there for another time. I spend a lot of time one-on-one with kids trying to tear down the walls they have built to protect themselves. I get to take the time to just sit and talk to them. To play card games. To have conversations that don’t always have an agenda. I get to take a genuine interest in the menial things of life that matter most to kids.

As I have spent these hours with kids, I have started to notice some trends. I have begun to notice common threads running through the lives of each one. Abraham Maslow identified some basic needs each human being has and noted until we learn to meet each need as we develop in life, we can’t move on until we learn how to meet each need progressively. I find there is some truth to his assessments. I notice certain kids react or behave in specific ways towards me each time I see them. I have also come to realize, I can learn much about what is going on in the life of these kids based on how they respond to me. I can learn much about what affirmations they are getting… or not getting at home. I can learn about their insecurities and where they are confident.

I have noticed at least three common needs each of the kids I work with has. I think these three needs are common to the experience of every child. I believe every child looks to have these needs met by their parents and other family members, friends, teachers and other important figures in their lives. No doubt, there are many more than three needs each child needs to have met or affirmed, but these three seem to me to be common and are likely some of the easiest for us as parents to dismiss or to simply just miss on.

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.

In a world where social media has become dominant and our relationships have become more and more surface with little actual substance or depth to them, we have created a culture where we have confused disconnection for connection. As parents, we have missed the critical aspect of Connecting with our kids and learning more about them than what kind of day they had at school.

In a world where we are strapped for time, being pulled a million different directions and our kids are bombarded with an ever-increasing amount of homework, sports, video games and Pokemon to catch, we have cultivated a culture where we are too busy watching mindless television and immersing ourselves in the ridiculous lives of unworthy role models we don’t take the time to actually play with our kids anymore. As parents, we relegate Playing with our kids to the iPad, Xbox, PS4 or whatever else we can so that we don’t have to be distracted from our Facebook feed.

In my work with youth and families, I have found these three needs do wonders for lives of the kids I work with. When I take a few minutes of the time I have with them each week, to invest in each of these needs I see a marked change in their attitudes and behaviors. I think these needs are critical and as parents we must work overtly to ensure we are reaching our kids in these three ways.

I’d like to take the next few weeks to discuss some of my observations on these needs and how I think we as parents can do better about meeting them. Will you join me in learning how we can meet the needs of our children?

First Week of School 2016-2017

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Here we are having finished the first week of school for the 2016-2017 school year. We have successfully navigated the beginning of middle school for our oldest son. We have survived our second son starting fifth grade and our youngest growing up into first grade. It has been quite the first week of school. There have been no major mishaps, but there has certainly been humor and growth along the way already.

We started the year, before it even started, in email communication with the principal asking for our 5th grader to be moved to another classroom. We were denied our request. We went into the year with trepidation over how this year is going to go for him. At the close of the first week, he is confident he will be ok in the class. There is much more to this story, but suffice it to say we are keeping an eye on the teachers and the school experience for him.

Our first grader seems to have had a first week without a hitch at all. He has a great teacher who is on maternity leave for the first month or so and his sub is fantastic. She has subbed at the school for years and she recognized Jagger at meet the teacher and it is going to be a good year.

Our 6th grader is the one we were most nervous about. Mainly because there is such a dramatic transition to 6th grade. He is the source of the most humorous moment of the week. Due to a scheduling mix up he ended up attending the wrong class at least one day, maybe more and was totally unaware of the experience! If Ronda hadn’t been checking his planner, no one would have been any wiser to this.

This week we also had several experiences which I would classify as significant progress in the development of these men we call our boys.

The first is brought to you by our 6th grader. He plays goal keeper on his premier level club team. Last year, US Youth Soccer changed the way they divided youth on teams. This is significant because it means he went from playing U11, 9v9 on a 75 yard field with a smaller goal to 11v11 on a full size field with a full size goal. He has a large learning curve ahead of him currently. This dramatically changes the nature of game for his age group. He asked if he could try out for the soccer team at his middle school. We said yes. He went to the first day of tryouts and had a really good showing – he was asked to come for the second day of tryouts. He made the cut, so to speak. That night, he approached my wife and I and asked if it was ok with us if he didn’t continue going to tryouts because he didn’t want to play for the school. We asked him why, and he said ‘I think with everything I have going on right now, I might be putting too much on my plate. I have a lot to learn for my premier team, I am still playing on an indoor soccer team too and on top of all of it, I’m in all honors classes this year. I think I already have a lot of work for me to do and adding this might be too much.’ We were like, whatever you wanna do, son. I was proud of him (I am proud of him no matter what, honestly. Or should I say I delight in him?) for having a moment of clarity and lucidity to realize he may not be able to do it all. If I have learned anything about myself, I have learned I am a visionary. I have big ideas and grand plans and significantly overestimate what I have the bandwidth to accomplish. This week, an 11 year old was able to do something I usually can’t – know his limitations. This was a moment that made me feel as though I had done something right as a parent. Or more realistically, my wife had done something right and he has just witnessed me get in over my head many times and decided he didn’t want to be like dear old dad. Either way, I am placing this experience firmly in the ‘parent win’ category.

The second is brought to you by our 5th grader. On Saturday, his soccer team had their first scrimmage. Kick off was at around 1pm. If you don’t frequent Florida in the summer at 1pm, you may not know it is hot as balls or hell… whichever you determine to be worse. It was wicked hot. His team managed to get scheduled to play an older, more established team (my son’s team has a new coach and many new players whom this was their first on-field experience together). Our team lost, but my son played with a headache and low blood sugar the whole game. He played hard and he played good. He was subbed out for a short time and was put back in and finished the game. This was very frustrating for me, because I know he can play better soccer than what he did at that game. But he finished the game. He was in tears at the end of the game partially because he felt as though he could have done better and because his head hurt him so much. I am proud (Or should I say, I delight in it?) of his determination commitment and strength of character to finish the game, even though the easier road was to give up. His character stood strong.

As we move to my youngest son and I am reminded he has a constant spirit of joy. He is the happiest little boy I have ever met. From the moment he was born, he has brought joy to our family. He is happy and enjoys his life. I am proud (Or I delight) in the way he brightens up the room and brings happiness and joy to our family. He has hit this first week of school in stride and has had fun during it. He is growing so fast, yet he still takes time to snuggle and cuddle with his mother and I. He takes time to bring us some of the joy he feels each day.

All in all, this has been a good first week of school. The boys have been fantastic. Each day I am reminded of the blessing it is to be a father. I hope each week is as good as this first week.

Faith or is it Hope?

cropped-grace-family.jpgHebrews 11:1 says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This verse begins what has been called the ‘faith hall of fame’ in chapter 11 of Hebrews. Often, as I read the Bible I am thankful it was written long before my feeble attempt at being a Christ-follower ever occurred… because I am not certain any action of my life would warrant being recorded in such a book. Except, maybe as the ‘don’t do it this way’ kind of story. In a situation like that, it is better to not be remembered than to be remembered as the idiot who didn’t do it right. I imagine that is how Peter feels that Matthew and Mark recored in their Gospels that he drew his sword and cut a dude’s ear off when they came to arrest Jesus. (Ok, we don’t know definitively that is was Peter… but it seems reasonable.)

One of the words that sticks out in this verse is ‘hope.’ This word is tied to a concept that is difficult for me to grasp and understand. I say this because hope implies a change is possible. A change of significant value. A change that is worthy of the hope we have placed in the change. My hope often falters because I place my hope in things that falter.

In myself.

I expect that I am capable of being the hope that I hope for. I expect that I am the one who is able to make the change, to make the adjustments, to fix the broken that is my soul. This is simply not true. More than that, it is arrogant to think that I am powerful enough, dare I say sufficient enough, to make the changes needed in love my life. As I reflect on that, it occurs to me that if I was able to make the changes to my broken soul that need to be changed God would not have had to sacrifice his son to cover my multitude of sins. I would need no savior, because I would be my soon savior.

This perspective is fine and dandy, if one does not believe in the saving power of the death of Christ on the cross. However, if one takes an honest look at the idea of humans being capable of the kind of good in actually takes to save one’s soul from damnation you would wonder why things had gotten so out of hand in the first place. If humans are capable to save themselves and do not need the saving grace of God who loves them, then why is the world full of such shit? Please excuse the language, but this is reality. How did things get such out of hand if we can do it ourselves? The answer here is, we can’t. We need something outside of ourselves to save ourselves from ourselves.

Enter the dragon… or maybe just Jesus, riding a dragon. Leese_CRU-T-shirt_09jesus dino

No seriously, just Jesus. He is the one who can save us. He is the one who gives us hope. This morning as I am grasping for hope and realizing my brokenness, I will cling to a savior who can actually save me and not my feeble attempts at being my own savior. I will hope in something bigger than me.

Where are you finding your hope?

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