Disciplining Your Child — A Whole New Perspective

It Can and Should Be Quite Positive

Discipline. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Punishment? Making kids shape up or ship out? A child crying or fighting back?

This is what I mainly thought of in my early parenting years—kind of a drill sergeant’s perspective. So I was shocked to discover that rather than being negative, discipline can be and should be quite positive.

The new perspective begins with recognizing that the word discipline is derived from the Latin word “to disciple”. And to disciple someone is to teach and to lead them.

Teach them what? We dads should teach our children principles and values that will help them develop an inner guidance system so they can function responsibly by themselves. In short, we discipline so our child can learn self-discipline.

To discipline is to lead. To lead is to set an example. Next month we will focus on this one key topic – how to model good behavior.

A third, even more usual meaning of to discipline, is to love. Solomon, the wise king of Israel, was probably one of the first humans to link love with discipline: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him.” In modern day parlance, “rather than causing your child to question your love, discipline confirms your love (Chuck Swindoll)

[in my next post we will look at the first of 4 strategies in an offensive drive by dads to discipline constructively]

What Am I Doing Regarding My Child’s Spiritual Development?

The Answer Could Well Determine Your Child's Future

I want to ask you one of the most significant questions that you as a dad have to answer.

First, do a brief exercise. Look at each of your children in your mind’s eye. What do you see? You should see a physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual being. As a dad, we should be concerned with how they develop in each area.

If you are the typical dad, you either have already poured — or will pour — dozens if not hundreds of hours into their intellectual development — helping them with homework, and those Science Fair projects, etc, etc.

Now, how many hours have you spent in helping them develop spiritually? Again, if you are the “average” dad and honest, the answer will be a big fat zero.

That is tragic. Far too many dads are busy building intellectual mansions on a foundation of emotional and spiritual quicksand. So when you send that “mansion” off to a great college, the problem is that with the first real crisis, that “mansion” – that son or daughter – could come crashing down.

So the BIG question is this: What as I doing – or what will I commit to do – regarding my child’s spiritual development? That could be the most significant question you ever ask – as the answer could well determine your child’s future.


The Best New Year’s Resolution

Just Maybe Your Best Decision Ever

We just had our three adult children with us for Christmas.  Before they left, we all participated in a sacred Hamrin tradition — done for the past 31 years.  We all went through our New Year’s Resolutions for 2016, scoring them for which we kept and did not keep.  Then we wrote down our new ones for 2017.

Dad, here’s a terrific New Year’s resolution for you to make: I am going to give it my best shot in 2017 to be a Great Dad to my child.

If you make this resolution – and most importantly if you keep it – then you will likely see 2017 be one of the most significant years in your life. Because what could be more important than laying the foundation of being a Great Dad to your child for the rest of our life on earth?

How do you begin this journey? Two ways.

The first is to get a copy of Great Dads – building lasting, loving relationship with your children. This book contains all the key principles and practices that you need to be a Great Dad to your child. (available at www.GreatDads.org)

Second, take “The 6 Basics of Being Great Dad” training. You can do so easily at www.GreatDads.org where there is a series of video training modules that will lead you one-by-one through each of the 6 Basics.

Dad, I’ve heard from over 53,000 fathers that we have trained in the 6 Basics how their relationship with their child(ten) was wonderfully transformed. And I’ve sought to apply them for the 39 years of my fathering journey with our three children.

Trust me – making this resolution and keeping it will be something you will be deeply grateful for the rest of your life. You may well view it as your BEST decision ever.

And your children will be so blessed and grateful.

Practice What You Know

It Will Pay Long-Run Dividends

In a national survey, fathers were shown 116 fathering practices and they judged four to be the most important: (1) showing affection, (2) being a good example, (3) exhibiting parental togetherness, and (4) being spiritually mature.

This shows the dads had great knowledge. They knew the critical factors in being a great dad.

The big problem came in the practice. These were the same four practices that the dads said they did least well in with their children.

Thus, these dads get an “A” for knowledge, an “F” for practice.

Dad, your kids deserve your DAILY PRACTICE of what you know:

  • show them affection,
  • be a good example,
  • exhibit parental togetherness
  • be spiritually mature.

Such daily practice will pay long-run dividends in their lives.


Expressing Thanks To Your Child

Could be Best Thanksgiving Ever

It is all too easy in our fast-paced world to not really think through what key holidays really mean.

For instance, Thanksigivng is tomorrow. “Ah” you think, “good turkey, lots of food, a football game, a day off, some out of town relatives.”

I invite you to just stop and think for a moment what you are really thankful for. For those of you who are married, I trust that your wife comes to mind right away. And right after her should be each child you have blessed with.

So why not do something very different this Thanksgiving. Why don’t you let each child you have know just how thankful you are for them.

Buy them a card. Or better yet – create your won Thanksgiving card – or Thanksgiving love note. Nothing fancy – just a few simple words to say, “I am so thankful today to have you as my son – my daughter.”

It could just be the best Thanksgiving ever – for you and for each of your children.


The Third Fundamental of a Long Obedience

In my last two posts, I mentioned to you that we as dads should exercise A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (title of a great book by Eugene Peterson).

I highlighted that this long obedience involved three fundamentals. The first two we looked at were showing unconditional love and practicing patience.

Today our focus in on perseverance.

The apostle Paul had these wise words to say: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” While not directed at dads per se, these are good words to guide us on the fathering journey.

Dad, striving to be a Great Dad will mean that you will encounter some “fights” along the way. These should involve issues that impact your child’s character and spiritual development – as these are what can strongly guide your child throughout their lives.

But notice Paul’s second phrase: “I have finished the race.” This “perseverance to the end” is extremely important in the fathering journey. Far too many dads give up somewhere in the middle of the race. They simply get too frustrated or discouraged to continue the race to the end.

You are going to be a father till your dying day. Be there – fully – for your child at your finish line.

You will then enjoy the deep satisfaction of KNOWING that you persevered through all the hard times, showing your child that you always loved them unconditionally and did your best to exercise patience until things did turn better.


The Second Fundamental of a Long Obedience

In my last post, I mentioned to you that we as dads should exercise A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (title of a great book by Eugene Peterson). I highlighted that this long obedience involved three fundamentals. The first one we looked at is to show your child unconditional love.

Today our focus in on PATIENCE. (next post will be perseverance). Patience is a tough challenge for many dads because men are prone to want instant solutions – instant obedience.

But a child is not wired to give us instant results or instant obedience. At times, they will – but in most of our journey with our child we will experience times of great frustration that something is not “going right”.

In these times, when we are tempted to get angry, discouraged, or bitter, just ask yourself: “Do I always come through with the results that others want, finishing the task before me on time?

Hopefully, when you recognize that all people fall short, you will cut your child some slack. You will say to yourself, “Just have patience. Encourage them to do better next time – to give it their best shot.”

Each time you exercise such patience, you are building a more solid and close relationship with your child.

The Fathering Journey – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

It Starts with Unconditional Love

The longer I go on the fathering journey (39 years and counting), the fundamentals come into sharper focus: Love. Patience. Perseverance

Dad, how well are you doing in those three areas? If you can really exercise and demonstrate those to your chidlren, YOU WILL BE A GREAT DAD TO THEM.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is a book by Eugene Peterson. While this book primarily refers to one’s walk with God over life’s journey, I believe that the phrase can equally apply to our lives as dads – being a Great Dad is exercising a long obediience in the same direction.

Obedient to what? First and foremost, to God. Going beyond this foundational relationship, we as dads are to be obedient to the emphatic call upon us to show unconditional love. That is Basic #1 in our 6 Basics of Being a Great Dad training.

How can you show your child unconditional love? We say there are four key ways: see each child as a unique child of God; build them up; discipline them well; and give each one a blessing.

Always remember that God loves you in and through all the things you do that don’t live up to His standards – things that disappoint but never diminish the love He has for you. Show that same love to each of your children.

We will look at Patience in my next post.

Affirming Basic Moral Values – Final 2 Values

Caring for Others and Learning from Failures

Today we will conclude our series of tips on instilling moral and spiritual values in your children by looking at the final two values that I sought to instill in my three children: caring for others/responsibility, and learning through failures/overcoming difficulties.

Our children—each mature human being—should have the capacity and the inner sense of responsibility to look beyond themselves and their needs and desires to meeting the real needs of others. That looking beyond should begin in the family where they recognize that the family needs them—that their contribution helps and strengthens the family.

Don’t stop at the home boundaries. Teach your children to reach out to others; help them to understand there is a world of suffering beyond your neighborhood and perhaps within your neighborhood as well. Assist in this by modeling caring and compassion for others yourself.   You will be very glad that you helped your children realize they can make a difference in the world.

Another value for children is their firm belief that although failures and difficulties are inevitable, they can learn form them and overcome them. How valuable for them to learn early on that life will at times be tough – even unfair – but that the critical ingredients for overcoming difficulties are perseverance and the proper attitude.

These two values, and last post’s integrity/goodness, are the three values I tried to instill in my children. You can pick and choose among these if you wish – or simply develop your own short list of the “must-have” values for your children.

You and your children will reap great benefits as they incorporate guiding values in their lives.



Integrity/Goodness as First Moral Value for Children

Honesty and Goodness of Character

What are the basic moral values that dads should teach their children? Obviously, no standard list exists. Each dad, in conjunction with mom when possible, will develop his own list.

I can share with you the three fundamental moral values that I tried to instill in my children: integrity/goodness, caring for others/responsibility, and learning through failures/overcoming difficulties.

We’ll focus on the first one now and cover the last two in my next post.

One of my fondest hopes for my children is that each will always be a person of integrity—someone who is rooted in solid principles and will stick to them no matter what the circumstances or what the crowd says.

A key element of integrity is honesty—children who have a commitment to truth and strong consciences. One way to affirm honesty in your children is to always congratulate them for telling the truth, even when they are admitting misbehavior, and perhaps especially then.

Integrity is closely related to goodness. The goodness I am referring to is not goodness in the sense that children should be “good” and do as they are told. I mean goodness of character: an adherence to fundamental moral principles, a kind nature, a pure heart.