Dads Need to Feel the Love Too!

If you were to believe most Father’s Day ads, you might think that we dads are quite different than our parental counterparts. Ads for Mom’s Day imply family gatherings and surrounding mom with her favorite people, while ads for Dads suggest giving him the day off, the space he needs to go fishing or camping alone or some new toy he can play with in the garage.  Maybe I’m the odd one out, but the perfect day for me is not a motorcycle ride alone on a country road.  It’s being surrounded by children and grandchildren who make you feel wanted and loved, even if they are grown.  It’s not something we ever outgrow.

The other night I was watching one of the popular talent competitions on television.  A young thirteen-year old girl astonished the crowd with an old throwback song that she killed.  Upon the applause and accolades of the audience she broke into tears and went running into the arms of her dad like a five or six year old might do.  I broke, because I remember that feeling!  When your child wants nothing more than your love and approval, and is content to just be on your lap or close by, there is no higher achievement or sense of pride one can have than at that very moment of being Dad. Sadly, for most anyway, those moments tend to decrease with age.  It’s not that the love and appreciation isn’t still there, it’s just the misconception that we fathers no longer need or want that display of affection.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was struggling to make my business a success.  It remains one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted.  But no matter how bad a day I might have been having, when my grandson came running into my office and jumped into my lap, followed by his older sister, everything bad in my life faded away like a puff of smoke. Their love and presence put everything back into perspective at least for a short time.  These are moments and memories that will remain precious to me.  It is then that I have some sense of what our Heavenly Father must feel when we approach him in the same way, wanting nothing more than to be in his presence, to crawl up into his lap and embrace being loved just for who we are.

My children are grown and the grandkids are getting older every year, but I will never outgrow the need to feel their love.  This is the point I hope to get across with his post.  Don’t buy into the media or marketing suggestions otherwise.  Dads need to feel they are still loved.  They need to know they are still needed, even if just for wisdom and encouragement.  We need to know we aren’t forgotten or left behind by our children who now have their own families and children.  We need to know we made some small difference or impact, either in our approach to parenthood or in the lessons we learned by our mistakes, so that we can take some small credit in the good and successes of our children.  If married, dads need to know their wives admire and love them for their roles as the father of her children.  That respect is priceless-wives will never truly know!  But above all, I think most dads just want that feeling when that young son or daughter runs and jumps into their arms, just because he’s their dad and they love him that much.  When that stops happening for whatever reason, then yes, we may as well go on that weekend fishing trip alone because nothing will ever truly fill the void of a child who no longer needs their parent.  It’s an empty that is hard to fully describe.  Divorced fathers feel the pain of this rejection even when they have done little to deserve it.  It’s a pain I’m familiar with.

I have so many friends my age who will not be able to spend Father’s Day with their dads or grandfathers because they are no longer living. Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was ten years old.   There will be fathers in convalescent centers who will not be acknowledged by their families again this year.  There will be fathers who are widowed and will spend the day alone.  God Bless the moms for all they do-they deserve every accolade showered upon them for the roles they play in our lives.  But don’t be deceived into thinking we dads don’t want a little love as well. If you really want to make his day, crawl up in his lap and just squeeze him for a moment.  I guarantee that no matter how old you are or how big you may be, he will still see you as that little one from long ago and will relish the gesture for all it’s worth.  He, I, we still need to feel we are that larger-than-life hero in the eyes of our kids.  There is little more important.

Have a Happy and Blessed Father’s Day.

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Halloween-the Eighth Deadly Sin

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The beauty of owning your own blog is the freedom of opining without apologies on certain controversial issues.  Yours is a choice to read, agree and share or cast stones and pray for my soul.  Either works for me-why should the kids have all the fun on Halloween?

It happens this time each year.  As parents of young children contemplate how to dress their young ghouls up for the traditional night of begging for candy, the do-good keepers of the faith and all that is holy come out on social media and proclaim with mighty shouts of condemnation the evils of celebrating a time-honored festival. Young Christian families, wanting to honor God and train their children up correctly while not depriving them of one of the rites of childhood are caught in a dilemma.  Guilted by the pressure to disavow themselves of any acknowledgement of such an evilly rooted pagan ritual, they bow out of all observances of Halloween much to the dismay of little Frankenstein and adorable Snow White, and the legalistic overseers of Christendom wring their hands and give glory to God for another backslidden lost soul that has been snatched from the fire.

I suppose by now you may know where I’m going with this. So while the Pharisees are preaching to you about All Hallows Eve, let’s examine a few facts, just for the record.  The term “Halloween” dates back to 1754 and is, hold on to your seats, of CHRISTIAN origin! It is a Scottish term meaning holy evening. It is an evolved term from older English that refers to the night or eve of a Christian holy day, All Hallows Day on Nov. 1 and All Saints Day Nov. 2, in commemoration of all the departed souls through death and martyrdom.  While fundamentalists will try to link this holiday back to the Roman observance of Parentalia, or festival of the dead, it is more typically and easily traced back to the Celtic Festival of Samhain,or Summer’s end.  But the posted theories of Halloween’s beginnings are so numerous that even scholars can’t easily agree with it’s birth or original intent. Sadly many won’t do the research to come up with their own understanding of the roots and origins of Halloween but will instead treat as gospel all they hear from the legalistic protectors of the church, the same that lead you to believe similar heresies about Christmas and Easter observances. What’s important to the young mom struggling with this decision is not how it originated 1000 years ago, but what it represents today and how you share it with your children.

I have fond memories of Halloween as a boy.  Our parents had many hard times due to labor strikes, etc, so money was not always abundant. Most years I recall putting on one of my dad’s over sized shirts around me and a pillow to look like a little rascal street bum.  The pillowcase from the pillow served as my treat bag and I was pretty good at filling it up. Unlike today, in the 60’s every house was lit up as the homeowners anticipated what creative costumes the new year would provide. There was nothing evil, sinister, dark or demonic about the holiday.  I might add that my parents were strict Full Gospel at the time and saw nothing wrong with the way we observed the night. Our neighbor would host a Halloween party for the kids on the block (not the musical group) complete with treats, scary stories and a buffet of gruesome finger foods (brains, heart, intestines) made from simple ordinary foods.  We had to partake blind folded for the shock value.  An amazing thing happened-I lived and am not possessed (usually).  I even went on to a brief time of pastoral ministry.

As a young father I couldn’t wait to take our boys out and introduce them to the same childhood ritual I had partaken in many years before.  We would take them house to house and then gather as a community for one large block party at the rec center. Not one time in all my observances did I feel the Holy Spirit convict me of honoring evil influences.  One of my fondest memories as a Christian teen was our Youth group’s annual trip to a haunted house in Indy called Scream in the Dark, an AG church sponsored function. There is still within me that part that likes the thrill and suspense of the holiday. I never morphed into an evil ogre or dreamed of releasing sadistic rituals on the unsuspecting. I wasn’t hypnotized by watching scary movies and I didn’t have nightmares of Sleepy Hollow (Freddie and Michael hadn’t been born yet).

So it begs to question-can the evil forces that constantly plague our souls for control use Halloween as a conduit for warfare?  Absolutely! Can they do the same while watching an NFL game on TV?  Absolutely! Can Christ be honored at Halloween? Absolutely! “Whatever we do, do for the glory of God”. Churches have opened their facilities to host alternative celebrations or Trunk or Treat evenings. They have used this occasion as an opportunity for outreach to attract kids and families from their local communities to the existence and ministry of the church. It is not uncommon for an entire family who had not gone to church prior, to find a new church home as a result of these outreaches. Many in our faith will wrap small chocolate bars with scriptures they printed out and use the time as an opportunity to plant a small seed with the candy. Christian bookstores sell candy and gum already imprinted or wrapped with inspirational quotes or verses. Some just find a sheer joy in opening their homes up on Halloween and giving treats to kids just because.

Of course there will be those who take advantage of the night to perpetrate evil, as they would with any holiday. The night will only shed light on the evil that is already present.  Halloween doesn’t mysteriously bring evil to life like the immortal Michael Meyers.  He comes back more than an ex-wife for an alimony check. If as a believer in Christ you are genuinely confused about how or if to observe Halloween, seek God for peace in your spirit one way or another. Don’t bow at the feet of the Puritans words without doing your own soul searching on the matter.  If you ask me, the only evil of Halloween is the sinful amount of calories consumed as you raid your child’s treat bag!

Spare the Rod and Other Misquotes

From my recent involvement on other threads this week let me state at the beginning that I realize how controversial and polarizing this topic has become due to recent new stories regarding the Adrian Peterson Child Abuse investigation. That said I have never been one to shy away from controversy, especially when based upon misinterpretation of Biblical passages.  So here we go.

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I am a firm believer that parents who love their children should correct them using appropriate measures that fit the offense and teach a lesson as to why the offense is harmful.  That includes when necessary spanking the buttocks with an open hand and never an object that leaves marks, cuts or bruises. I also believe discipline should NEVER be applied in a reactive moment of anger but in love in the way God corrects us.  God shows great love, mercy, patience and tenderness when He corrects us, and always for our benefit, never to release His revenge.

I’m also a believer, however, that Bible misinterpretation should be a misdemeanor punishable by no less means than that administered to an unruly child!  I am so weary of parents hanging the entirety of their parenting skills on five Proverbs misused to justify the beating and abuse of children.  While I have never supported efforts to relegate the Bible’s relevancy to social and modern times, there are some things that are Biblical that have been done away with due to the work of mercy and grace granted us by the one-time atonement for all sin by our Savior on the cross. For example, how many of us would be here today if the practice of stoning for sexual sin as read about in the Bible was still practiced today?

Here is my problem-either The Bible is wrong or we are guilty of gross negligence in our handling of The Word.  One of the five Proverbs often quoted to support caning a child says “beat the child, he will surely not die”.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Consider the following disturbing statistics:

* 1640 children die each year from abuse or neglect

     * 80% of those deaths were unintentional or from mistreatment

     * 77% of the children were 3 years old or younger

     * 80% of the deaths were at the hands of one of their own parents

But the Bible clearly states they won’t die as a result of corporal discipline.  So how can this be? Either the Bible is in error or we are misapplying a passage in a harmful and negligent manner.  I tend to believe the Bible is inerrant so that only leaves one possibility.

Perhaps now that I’m a grandfather I’ve become too soft, or maybe I’m just now getting it right!  Last evening I attended my grandson’s football game and pulled into a parking spot a few minutes early.  While sitting there another car pulled in beside me-you know the ones-they can’t judge distance and park within a foot of your vehicle. Sure enough I felt and heard the sound of their door opening right into the side of my truck, which I have babied since buying it new.  I wanted badly to jump out and say something but for some reason just sat there a few minutes to see who got out of the back door that had just dented my truck. Mysteriously the door closed but I couldn’t see anyone until the mother took her by the hand and walked away.  The culprit was a little girl, maybe three years old with curly hair and the biggest eyes for her age.  She looked back at me as I sat there and then walked off.  How could I be mad at one so young-I was grateful God caused me to stand down. It just wasn’t that important anymore.

I loved my boys and can count on my two hands the number of times I may have spanked them collectively.  I can’t comprehend the anger directed toward young, still learning, tender-hearted children in the guise of “sparing the rod”.  I can’t buy the over-used argument that says “that’s just the way I was raised”.  If we are to use that as a defense then slavery would still exist, women wouldn’t be able to vote and men would have multiple wives and be protected by laws allowing them to spank them too!  At some point we need to as a society and as a Christian body of believers recognize the harm we are doing our children by the archaic means of punishment we dish out on them, causing them not to love us but to fear us.

Another argument often used says if we don’t discipline them someone else will, implying that harsh beatings save them from criminal behavior. But a study done on the NYC Penal system revealed just the opposite. Of all the adult felons serving time when the study was performed, nearly 70% of them stated they were severely beaten and disciplined as children and yet they are doing time for violent crime.  Something about this argument doesn’t add up either.

Here is a litmus test: if your child returned from a visit or a trip bearing similar marks that are left when you administer your discipline, would these marks be acceptable? If you can answer yes to this question, then you advocate child abuse-if you answer no, then you need to reevaluate the forms of discipline you incorporate on your children. Bruises, cuts, open wounds and any other marks that are still visible two days later are not representative of Proverbs 13:24. We need to lovingly correct our children and teach them and train them in ways that don’t leave permanent physical, emotional or psychological damage. Any other means is unacceptable and shame on us for using God’s word to justify this practice.