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Frederick Douglass once said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Being a dad is one of the biggest challenges of my life.
I have three awesome kids, Hayden (aged 8), Madison and Logan (both aged 5) and raising them to become adults who are able to confidently make a positive contribution to society isn’t always easy.
They didn’t come with a manual and whilst I want to be the best dad I can be, I know that I fall short of my own expectations far too often.
One statement that I used when the kids were very young was that “we’re not raising children, we’re raising 25 year olds.”
The idea is that when I focus on the short-term, I can become reactive and make decisions that suit me at the time. But when I think about the long-term consequences, I discipline them better, give them more attention and help them to become better people.
As I said earlier, I don’t always get it right, but there are 10 things I want my kids to know when they’re older. If Karen and I get these right, we’ve done OK: Read the rest of this entry »
My oldest son, Hayden, has started to learn the cello.
Every night, he carefully gets his cello out of its case and begins strumming the strings.
I won’t lie, it’s not pretty.
Whilst he’s getting better every day, he’s a long way from becoming the next Yo-Yo Ma.
This led me to wonder what Yo-Yo Ma was like the first time he played the cello.
Of course, we now know him as one of the most extraordinary artists in the world, but I’m sure that when he first tried, he wasn’t much better than our Hayden.
I’m not suggesting that Hayden is going to one day take the classical music world by storm, that takes great talent and years of diligent training. But he’s got to start somewhere. Read the rest of this entry »
After our oldest son, Hayden, comes home from school, I ask him how his day was.
Most days, the response is a perfunctory, “Good.”
If pressed for more information, he will often respond, that he can’t remember anything.
It’s very frustrating for Karen and I as we have a genuine interest in our kids’ lives and want to be involved in their world.
I’ve laughed about this with other parents (especially of boys), who relay their similar experiences, so you can imagine my delight when our school newsletter came through with 10 great questions that are designed to start slightly more interesting conversations with our children. These questions originally come from the excellent and helpful site, blogs.kidspot.com.au/villagevoices and you can be sure that I’ll be trying them out over the next few weeks: Read the rest of this entry »
I admit it.
There are times when I just want to sleep in, but my kids won’t let me.
Or times when I just want to watch a football game without having to answer a hundred questions.
Or just be able to go to the toilet without someone yelling “Daddy!” and interrupting my fortress of solitude.
There’s no doubt that my kids can be a pain at times, but if that’s all that I focus on, what a miserable person I would become.
They may be an inconvenience sometimes, but being a dad is an enormous privilege as well.
My kids love all things digital.
They love computer games, watching DVD’s and playing on their Nintendo DS’s and Wii system.
The twins got their own CD players for their birthdays and it’s not unusual to hear Coldplay’s “Paradise” blaring from Logan’s bedroom. He sings along and knows every word.
Such gadgets keep them occupied, keep them entertained and keep them quiet (most of the time), and for that we are occasionally grateful.
However, for all of the technology that our kids are immersed in, they still love board games.
I was visiting a friend recently and I noticed that outside of his kitchen window, there was a nest with three blackbird chicks.
In the hour and a half that I was there, I noticed that the parents of the chicks flew up almost a dozen times, feeding the young ones a variety of worms, snails and insects.
They were so attentive, responding so often to their cries and making sure that their little ones were well looked after. I hoped that they were able to get something for themselves to eat as well, but that didn’t seem to be the priority for the mum and dad blackbirds.
I couldn’t help think that if only we human parents were so attentive.
When it was time to consider schools for our oldest son, Karen and I visited a lot of schools in our area.
We didn’t really know what to look for, so I asked a good friend, who is a school principal, for some advice and he was very helpful.
Armed with this information, we had a list of criteria that we used to assess each institution.
We were very impressed by most of the schools that we visited and had a tough choice to make as we compared cost, student:teacher ratios, facilities, distance from home, size and the core values of the schools.
After much prayer and careful consideration we made our decision and have been rapt with the school that we chose for our family.
But as dramatic as this decision was this wasn’t the most important choice that we had to make regarding our children’s education.
Sometimes, I just want to tell my kids:
- Can Daddy just have five minutes of peace?
- Do you know how much that costs?
- Do you know how hard Daddy works?
- You think you’ve got it tough? Let’s talk about orphan children in Uganda.
- We didn’t have (insert modern gadget name here) when I was young.
- I’ve just got home from work, can’t I put my stuff down before you start harassing me?
- Why do you need to play with me? You’ve got two siblings and a whole room full of toys!
- Do you know how much money, time and sleep Mummy and Daddy had before you guys came along?
I want to tell them these things (and too often I give a version of them), but it’s not what they really need to hear.
I can still remember the wonderful, miraculous moments when each of my kids were born.
There was the amazingly efficient event seven years ago when my oldest, Hayden, came into the world. I can still vividly recall the moment when he first grabbed my finger when he was about two minutes old.
Then there was the chaotic drama four and a half years ago when our twins, Madison and Logan, were born. I recall not knowing which one to go to, so I sat in the middle and looked slightly confused at them both, relieved and excited.
I’m not sure if I’ve had a proper night’s sleep since, but this post isn’t about sleep, it’s about dreams.
When our children are small, we dream big dreams for them.
They are blank canvases with unlimited potential. We don’t even know their personality or level of intelligence yet, but we marvel at their ability to roll over or eat solid food and guess at their future occupations.
Jerry Seinfeld once asked, “What’s happening to me? Can I do this? Am I a shusher? I used to be a shushee!”
I know how he felt.
I used to be the rowdy one until I had kids. Now I’m the one constantly telling them to be quiet.
I’ve gone from being a shushee to being a shusher!
Then a couple of nights ago I asked my four-year old daughter, Madison, what her favourite bible story was.
She told me that she likes the one when Jesus let the children come to him despite the people who didn’t want them to. And then He let them make as much noise as they wanted to.