My Parenting Goal

My parenting goal is pretty simple:

Inspire my children to be who they were created to be and go live accordingly.

Of course, there are other goals, but this one seems to rise to the top. In a season of graduations and college planning one needs to get pretty singular.

The irony of my stated goal is found in the opposition each of my children face every day. For example:

  • The school system where I live is fixated on testing. It runs from state testing to the ACT. Heaven forbid, they don’t do well on these. The stress and anxiety can be downright sad. Especially since very little meaning in life has ever come from a pass, fail or score
  • Our culture has thrown out meaningful self-care (nutrition, stress management, physical exercise, and on) as an important habit to practice
  • Distraction is blocking the ability to embrace our 5 senses and the power found within

I could list other things, but I think you feel me here.

In my family, inspiration is the keyword. My children have been watching me for a long time. That reality is daunting. The conclusion is a parent’s influence is greater than the “system,” for the good in this case.

Excerpt From the New Book

As I get closer to finishing my second book, I wanted to share an excerpt. I’ll save the details around the concept/premise of the book. The working title is;; Stop for a Moment: 60 Seconds to Look Around and Find What Matters Most.

Look for a late summer, early fall release. Enjoy!


Eileen and I had been married for over 7 years before we had our first child. As is it is with life, some of that was planned, and some was not. We weren’t entirely sold on being parents in the beginning, so we decided to wait a few years. As the years passed, we began to feel the longing. We both figured it would be an immediate thing. It was not an immediate thing. We waited 3 ½ years before Lauren arrived. The process of waiting, medical testing and feelings of doubt was tough.

I stopped giving advice on parenting after our first. Especially, since I felt so ill-equipped to be a father. Later on you realize most parents feel this way. It was tough for me. My dad was the only model for human fatherhood and he never said much to me, so I felt alone to figure it out. Fortunately, my relationship with God helped immensely. One thing was clear then, and now, there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

After my son was born in late 2001, I started realizing the power of influence. I came to understand that often your kid’s behavior and view of the world is heavily based on what they see in you. That’s one of the biggest reasons I value forgiveness. You never know how important forgiveness is until you do something that you deeply regret. I’ve had many lessons in this area.

As my kids are now in their teens, I’ve discovered the need to let them know I’m listening. I make sure to verbalize my feelings for them, and to let them know that I pray for them everyday. I may miss the boat on college planning or a homework assignment, but they will know how important they are to me in the areas that matter most.

Questions to Think About:

  1. Do your children know they are loved? Does your home echo the sound of “I love you?”
  2. Do you spend too much time trying to teach, versus listen, to discover and encourage?
  3. Are you modeling behaviors that would produce light or darkness?


What Martin Taught Me


Seemed right to re-post this today, for the obvious and the not-so obvious truth that we need courage even more today.

It seems annually, I watch this You Tube clip from 1965 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was taken from a segment of Meet the Press. Dr. King was being interviewed by journalists about events that had occurred in Selma, Alabama. The questions were tough and circumstances of the time even tougher.

So what did Martin teach me?

I don’t know what was going through Dr. King’s mind as he spoke on that Sunday morning news program, but it seemed like he was being carried by something greater than himself. Remember, there were more than a few people who wanted him dead.

Courage is manifested by something greater than ourselves.

Sadly, we live in a time where real courage is often refused. We now manufacture events and circumstances to show our faux-courage. We’ve found a way to manage authentic courage out of our daily lives. Our careers, our parenting, our relationships are often managed to avoid the difficult and daunting.

I find myself thankful for what Martin taught me. The reality that every human being will one day face a crossroads of courageous. It may be small or it may be large. But regardless, no one gets a pass.

The question remains, are we listening to that voice?

What a Father Leaves Behind

Legacy is defined by what I leave behind. For the purposes of this post, what I leave behind as a father. A friend told a few weeks back that he could see my legacy through my work (writing, engagements, etc.). Funny how you sometimes don’t think about those types of things when you’re in the midst. It’s still vitally important, regardless.

My friend also recognized that all people have a legacy. He even believes more world problems would be solved if more understood the implications of their legacy. I agree and way too many don’t even consider it.

I want to leave the following behind for my kids:

  1. A sense that I understand the “fierce urgency of now.” The idea that now matters, problems matter, the fight matters.
  2. Love until it hurts. Much of life will be measured by this.
  3. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake or failing. Go ahead and risk being laughed at.
  4. Find out what God made you to do. This is destiny and it’s worth the pursuit.
  5. People matter and they deserve your respect.
  6. Position yourself for good luck.
  7. Never let the child in you die.
  8. I love their mother, in my words and my actions.
  9. You must always speak up when evil seeks to silence.
  10. Mindfulness opens the door to loving God.

I’m sure there are more things I want them catch, and not catch. The list represents the lens I see through today.


October 2010 053
My daughter is not unlike other teens, she's fighting hard to establish her identity. I didn't always realize how much of a role I played in this. Culture at home, at school, at church, are the battlefields.

I only control the home front.

The implications can be daunting for the following:

  • Business doesn't really care how my daughter deals with the fight my daughter faces. Business wants to be my daughter, if not my master. You get me, it wants to be the center of everything. I'm thankful that I had a tough conversation with business letting it know who was master. It's still not easy.
  • American society is so full of it. On one hand it wants a good citizen, and on the other, it celebrates the very things that will lead to the opposite.
  • The school system is in denial. It believes that a world that no longer exists, still does. Ignoring all facts in-order to protect a status quo.
  • The American government is content with leaving my family and my daughter's future in financial ruin. Again, another form of denial in-order to protect a status quo.
  • I fight my own ghosts from so many years ago, but I am fighting. Maybe that leaves her inspired and assured.

As I parent, it occurred to me how much she needs me to be REAL. Not some guy who believes that words are not needed or touch is for a baby only. My daughter needs an example of what a REAL man is and is not. She needs my love, my attention and my touch.

BTW, this is so foreign to my history. Change is a great thing.

The Impact of Parenting

I've been married for almost twenty-two years, fourteen of that as a parent. I am in the camp that can't believe that much time has gone by. It really feels like yesterday for all of the roles-husband and father.

Maybe like you, you have a child that participates in an activity or two. My two, are into dance and basketball. It's in those environments that I observe much. What has struck me in this new year is the impact of parenting. Specifically, when it fails and damages the child. No psych analysis here, just observations that are vivid if you look close enough.

Many children are trying to thrive in the midst of chaos and pain.

We here in America place a lot of pressure on children. From education to athletics, we want them to succeed. Even though most adults have a difficult time defining what true success is. Just the same, we put a lot of pressure on them.

Now add a broken family to the insanity.

For the life of me, I have no idea how we will survive this. I pray often on this. Most cultures don't survive what we've laid at our children's feet. A thirteen or 16 year-old is supposed to be able to handle divorce, grades, hormones, and the list goes on? And as you know, many of these children are alone in the management of the list.

Here's what I'm doing with my children:

  1. Pissing off a business partner when I have to take my son to basketball practice
  2. Sending myself a note via my iPhone everyday that reminds me to affirm
  3. Showing them how much I love their mother
  4. Laughter and humor
  5. Pray everyday for their needs

By the way, the above list used to be very alien to me. It took serious change in my life to move me forward. I am thankful.

While the Kids Get Older

Kid playing

From time-to-time I wonder about how present I've been with my kids.  As a parent it's so easy to be waited down by the cares and struggles of life.  You might call them distractions of the most insidious form.  Whether a career moving in an unpredictable fashion or a fractured relationship with a friend.  The siege guns roaring at you.  They never seem to stop do they?  In the end, tt doesn't matter because time just keeps moving and you wonder how you got where you find yourself.

As my kids have gotten older, my parenting approach has changed.  In some arenas I'm more of a teacher.  In some areas I'm just a father with no words, just listening.  When you watch the change in yourself it reminds you of the brevity of this window you have to influence.  And though influence never fully goes away, these are the "wonder" years.  As things go, my daughter who is almost a teen, received the holiday edition of the American Girl catalog last week.  When she arrived home from school that day, I asked her if she wanted the catalog.  Part of me knew she would refuse, but another part of me hoped she wouldn't.  Of course she did refuse and I stared at the catalog with a bit of melancholy thinking of girl that had merged into someone new.

The someone new requires flexing and change.  It really forces me to move to the new, even if I'd prefer the old.  This is a good thing.  A way in which God uses to get me out of the land meant only for my memories.  Isn't that what we're supposed to be?  This unfolding story with highs and lows, smiles and tears.  And so I go onward.

I have figured out and accepted that I can't slow it all down.  No unhealthy levels of nostalgia.  A sense that it would be better to learn how to handle riding a fast and unpredictable horse.  And as I learn this art, I can love, listen and influence.  And for a boy that had a father that didn't say much of anything at all, I'd say that's a pretty good place to be.