Partner with Mom

If Married, Tell Children there will be No Divorce

Whether you are married or no longer married, you need to partner well with the mother of your children. And if married, remember that parenting together is the ideal. Why?

It is what God wants. The Bible makes clear that it is God who designed marriage as the context in which children are to be conceived – AND RAISED.

It is what kids want. Surveys have shown that kids want two things: the unconditional love of their parents AND for their parents to stay together. Further, children say that one of their two top fears is “their family won’t stay together.”

So married dad, consider giving your child an absolutely marvelous gift. The gift is your child hearing from you that he or she need not fear divorce because divorce is not an option in your home.

Prayerfully consider this before telling them, because you had better be absolutely committed to fulfilling it. But if you can tell them that, it will give them a great ongoing sense of underlying peace that “I know my parents are going to stay together.”




Giving Forgiveness for the Father Wound

Through Forgiveness, You Will Gain Freedom and Power

Today I want to look at giving forgiveness, focusing on getting release from the Father Wound that so many men carry all their lives as a major burden.

The average man in America today has not been emotionally and spiritually fathered and they are suffering from that.

Yes, men today are angry at their fathers for the most fundamental neglect of all – the neglect to show love to a child. Without that love, boys grow up thinking, “Dad doesn’t value me. I mustn’t be worth very much.” They do not know what it feels like to be a real man.

And this causes anger – and also pain, hurt, and feelings of inferiority. So how can forgiveness enter in when I’ve been hurt so bad? It seems impossible.

It may well be impossible in the flesh. But with God, all things are possible.

It must begin with a CHOICE YOU MAKE: you must choose to forgive. And you really should choose to forgive, for if you do not, then you are going to continue to be bound by this anger and even hatred.

So take this Father Wound to Jesus. Knowing the heart of Father God is what ultimately heals a man’s father-wound.

And let your father know – whether he’s dead or alive – “dad, I forgive you.” Forgiving him may even help you see him as a man who was very real and vulnerable – one who needs your mercy, respect, and honor.

Through forgiveness, you will gain freedom and power.


Discipline Your Child Well

Just as Jesus "Disciplined" His Disciples

I have talked about the importance of demonstrating to your kids unconditional love. I have highlighted that one key way was to build them up and how fathers were absolutely critical to forming a child’s self-image.

Another significant way to demonstrate unconditional love is to discipline your children well. This sounds strange, but it is so true. Consider these two “shocker” statements.

  1. DISCIPLINE IS NOT NEGATIVE. It is quite positive. It is commonly thought that discipline means punishment. You can gain a whole new perspective on it when you learn that it comes from the same root as “to disciple”; thus it means to teach, to lead, and to love.
  2. KIDS WANT DISCIPLINE. Yes, kids do want it. You may say “not my child”. But surveys have shown – and kids have clearly expressed – that they want loving discipline from their parents. It shows them that their parents care.

So dad, discipline your children well – teach them, lead them, and love them just as Jesus “disciplined” his disciples in this way.

Doing Things Together with Your Kids

Gifts You Can Give Your Children on Father's Day

When 1500 school children were asked “What do you think makes a happy family?” the children did not list lots of money, big screen TVs, fancy vacations. Their most frequent answer was “doing things together”.

So here are some neat activities that you can do together with your kids.

First, establish traditions. Family traditions strengthen the ties that bind. The closer a family is, the more traditions it’s likely to have. In the Hamrin family, we welcomed each spring with the bluebell walk and each fall with the Bluemont Fair. And holidays like Christmas can have a whole host of neat traditions.

Get into your child’s interest area. Every kid develops keen interests or passions. When they do, explore that with them. For example, when my son Eric developed a passion for roller coasters around age 13, we rode every wooden roller coaster together in the Mid-Atlantic area over the next two years.

Other good ideas: go to their birthday parties (ages 1-10); have family reading times (after dinner is great); make a list of mini-adventures to take them on (local fun activities); have one on one dates at restaurants, movies, etc.

I saved the best for last. Give your child one half day and say, “you choose what you want to do”. That would be a terrific gift, and you may well be surprised what the child will come up with.

I wish you a very Happy Father’s Day!


Trouble Communicating Well with Your Teen?

Be Patient -- Better Times Do Lie Ahead

Having trouble communicating well with your teen? Think that once the kid leaves the home, your fathering days are done?

I want to share some personal advice gained over 39 years of fathering.

When my three children were teens, there were many very exasperating and just plain difficult times – times when the child just wasn’t talking. You knew something was wrong – or really on their mind – but they would not let you know what.

These are tough times to go through. You wonder if they will ever share with you.

If this is happening to you, take heart. They most likely will share, perhaps in college and most likely as they move through their 20s.

So during the teen years, just be patient. Wait for the time when they feel like talking. It may not come often, but such times normally do appear. Meanwhile, just let them know you love them and care deeply about them.

And know that better days most likely lie ahead.

As our three children moved through their 20s and now through their 30s, there were NUMEROUS times when they consulted either me or my wife — often about serious concerns. They recognize as young adults that perhaps the parents do have some good advice and wisdom to impart. I am sure you will find – as I have – that your fathering days are certainly not done after age 18.

In fact, the best talks with your child are probably straight ahead.

Building a Healthy and Vibrant Marriage

The Three Keys - and a Bonus

Mother’s Day is coming in ten days. So it’s a good time to focus on mom.

Partnering well with mom is a critical part of being a Great Dad to your kids. So if you are currently married – or you think you will be married in the future – there are a couple of “keys” to building a healthy and vibrant marriage you should bear in mind.

Couples who had been happily married for 50 years or more were given a list of 39 statements and asked to choose which explained why their marriage had prospered so well. Each husband and wife responded separately.

The three top winners – for both the husbands and the wives – were in the exact same order:

My spouse is my best friend.
I like my spouse as a person.
Marriage is a long-term commitment.
If you can say that about your wife and your marriage, you are well on your way to a long-term, happy marriage.

And here is a bonus. Several Gallup national surveys have shown that couples who prayed often together scored higher on every aspect of marital happiness.

So see, it really is quite simple: if you want a happy marriage, pray together with your wife!

Disciplining Your Child – A Whole New Perspective Part 4

Tying Privileges to Responsibility

I will conclude our look at four offensive strategies to discipline our children constructively. In the past three posts, we looked at modeling good behavior, paying attention to your child’s good behavior, and establishing fair rules and boundaries. Now we look at tying privileges to responsibility.

We don’t live in a free-lunch world, but too many kids don’t realize that. Their view of the world is that parents [and other people] are there to serve them, to meet their every desire. They believe that rewards come easy.

Do your children a big favor: tie privileges and rewards to responsibilities so they can learn that personal satisfaction comes from setting small and big goals, short- and long-term goals, and then reaching them through dedicated effort.

The rule that will teach them this valuable lesson is, “When you have …, then you may…,” as in “When you have picked up your room, then you may go outside to play.”

Through accomplishing genuine, helpful work, they develop such valuable qualities as perseverance and diligence, and they are rewarded with a sense of satisfaction.


Disciplining Your Child – A Whole New Perspective Part 3

Establishing Fair Rules and Boundaries

We continue our look at four offensive strategies to discipline our children constructively. In the past two posts, we looked at modeling good behavior and paying attention to your child’s good behavior.

Now we look at establishing fair rules and boundaries.  While the topic of establishing rules is a broad one, two basic points need to be understood and applied.

The first is that all families need a well-understood set of household rules—some boundaries—so that children know the territory they can operate within safely and freely. This sense allows children to experience, grow, and develop. Without rules and boundaries, there are only chaos and confusion. Thus, we have this paradoxical conclusion: firm and fair rules give freedom to a child.

Remember in establishing rules and boundaries that a combination of flexibility and inflexibility is called for. As dad, you must at times say a firm no—a no that is really meant and clearly understood.

But dads also need to be flexible—to cut some slack for our kids. Try to say yes to everything you can so that when you do say no, it will be one your child understands.

The second basic point is what Josh McDowell calls “the #1 rule” for parents who want to be heroes to their kids:  Rules without Relationship Lead to Rebellion  Rules with a Relationship Lead to Response

How many dads have said, or are saying right now, “We have some very clear rules in our house, and my child seems to be out to break every one of them”? Why? In 99 homes out of 100, the relationship isn’t there.

As Josh eloquently puts it, “Children do not respond to rules; they respond to relationships.”  Build that strong relationship with your child.



Disciplining Your Child – A Whole New Perspective Part 2

Pay Attention to Child's Good Behavior

We are in the middle of looking at four offensive strategies to discipline our children constructively. Last post, we looked at the first of these: modeling good behavior.

The second is to pay attention to your child’s good behavior.

This strategy is basic, but too often neglected. As dad, pay attention to, acknowledge, and affirm your child’s good behavior.

All children, of any age, want attention. They so crave it that much misbehavior results from seeking parents’ attention. Given these basic facts, it stands to reason that we can minimize the misbehavior by paying attention to, thereby reinforcing, the good behavior.

As dads, we give kids our attention by noticing and praising their good behavior. So they practice further good behavior to get more of our attention. Pretty soon, in a positive self-reinforcing cycle of father-child behavior, a relationship develops in which children have the confidence and the desire to do what is right.

Children will perform in the way that pays off. Encourage the good behavior by providing a big payoff for it.

In the next post, we will look at establishing fair rules and boundaries.

Disciplining Your Child – A Whole New Perspective

Modeling Good Behavior

I said in my last post that we will look at four offensive strategies to discipline our children constructively.

The first of these is modeling good behavior. We begin with this because of the definition of discipline which is an instruction to be imparted to “disciples’ or learners.

This means that a dad must first live a life worthy of his children’s emulation. To do this, we must have our own values clearly established, and we must live them.

The importance of having such values and living them was demonstrated persuasively in a Swedish study, which found that well-disciplined adults who live in accordance with their values hardly need to preach self-control to their children and rarely do it. It also found that the converse was true: parents who tell children to be disciplined but who lead undisciplined lives are ineffectual.

True. And easy to say, but oh so hard to do.

I’m reminded of the poignant imagery conveyed by Robert Bly of what children get from all too many modern day dads. He talks about how children used to receive the father’s teaching and his temperament. Now when dad drags himself home from the office or factory at 6:30 or even 8, the children get only his temperament. Dad’s tired, and he probably has had a rough day. That’s reality.

It is also what Great Dads are called to rise above. It’s quite basic. If you want disciplined children, be a responsible, upright, self-disciplined person—a living example of the values you embrace.