What do you wish for?

If you were granted three wishes
you could wish for your child
Would you keep it thrifty
or would you dream wild
Would his journey be easy
or would the path have hills and valleys
Would she always be winning
or will she have to rally
Would he be just like you
or totally the opposite
How about only the good traits
remain after the filtered deposit
After all, it’s really up to you
They’re like arrows ready to be fired
Aim high.
Aim higher.

The journey is not alone

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”~Ernest Hemingway

Many of you will agree that the journey is what counts the most. This is a consistent theme, yet I can still get so consumed with the destination that I forget that it is what happens in the process that makes me who I am.

When I took this picture of a young man walking his mother to a wedding ceremony, I was reminded that we don’t do this journey alone. People’s journeys and destinies are tied to mine. The ones most affected by my journey are the ones I lead, that is, my family.  I set the direction. I set the pace. I define the boundaries. I speak the dreams. I share the victories and the disappointments.

Many parents have dreams for their children to become a wildly successful lives as adults. Let’s not forget that it’s the process that happens on the way to the destination that makes the child become who he is.

Remind everyone on the journey with you that it really is the journey that matters, in the end.

Are your expectations of your child realistic?

As many of you may agree, Michael Jordan is considered by many peers, fans, analysts, basketball historians, and even critics as the greatest basketball player of all time. Yet, Jordan’s career field goal percentage over most of his career was .497. That means that Jordan missed more than half-of this shots. That statistic may not seem to match the word “greatest” but the greatest player of all-time missed half of his shots.

Remember about Jordan’s 50% career field goal percentage when your child still doesn’t get an “A” on the math test even after you spent extra money for him to go to tutoring. Remember that when your child doesn’t protect the goal and the opposing team scores a goal. 

As I’m typing this I recall the time I was verbally beating my son for not running a fast time in track. Yeah, he was 5 years old! Yeah, at least at the moment, I was “that” dad. One of the team mom’s confronted me and put me in my place with these simple words, “Chill. Remember, he’s just a kid.”  It wasn’t one of my finest moments. It was definitely a miss for me. Remember yourself as a child, and even as an adult, of the times you missed the mark.

You can be the parent who focuses only on the 50% of the shots that your child missed or you can be the parent who celebrates the 50% of the shots your child made and encourage him/her to go for more. I think most people, regardless of age, respond better to encouragement and support. Don’t you agree?

Allow me to include some Bible here because I believe we can get big-picture perspective to challenge and encourage us to adust our attitudes and approach to parenting. Psalms 127 records this about God, parents, and children, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” Kids are a gift from God. They are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. Hey warrior, which direction are you pointing your children?

I believe in success, but I also believe that the journey to success includes all the misses too. When you parent your child, it is a must that you account for the misses as well as the makes. I always remind myself, “It’s about the process.” The primary focus of your parenting should not be about your children meeting your expectations but about them being taught, trained, and coached into growing up as young people who can be confident about their place in this world and taking on the dream that God has put in their hearts. 

So what are your expectations for your children? Is it expectations of them or is it expectations for them? In other words, is it about you or is about them? 

 
 

Parenting and the game of marbles

I used to play marbles on the playground in 5th grade. I wasn’t very good at the game. I showed up at school with a pocketful marbles, and by the end of the day my pockets would be almost empty. In a basic game of marbles when you lose you actually lose the marbles you played. I did get better the more that I played. 

The point of a basic game of marbles is to shoot your marble at another players’ marble with the intent to hit his marble. If you hit your opponent’s marble, then you get to keep the opponent’s marble. 

I believe that parenting is the same way. The marble player is the parent, and the parent has to aim the marble (the child) at a target. We have to intentionally point our children towards a target. We have to aim our children towards a target. The difference is that children have their own free will and ultimately can choose to go their own way, but the point is to intentionally aim your children at your target.

Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United State was quoted as saying, “Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” You may parent the same way I played marbles; I missed the mark a whole lot. As long as you are raising your children with purpose, you are winning.

The power of playing games

I’m lame when it comes to playing most board games, especially I Spy. Forget about even winning a round with my wife at this game. My daughter has been kicking my butt at this games since she turned 7. Monopoly? Thank God it’s not real money. I do have better fortunes with card games, but Uno is no beuno for me. My poor performance at games is not the point. Playing games is the point. I believe that there are tremendous benefits to playing games together as a family. 

I’ll state the obvious first. Playing games gives you a great opportunity to bond with your family. In some cases, like mine, it puts you on the same level playing field with your children. Children love it! They eat it up! I remember the day my son realized that he could beat me on a certain video game. He lit up and smiled the whole time. At the same time there’s a connection happening between you and your family. If it gets you to put the phone down or pulls you away from the tv show then that’s a good thing.

Playing games usually results in a lot of laughter. If there isn’t laughing I am going to guess that you are being too competitive, and many times that’s not fun at all. What is fun is your family seeing you at play. You are probably more approachable and easier to be with when you are in play mode. Laughter breaks down the walls between us. There is a Jewish Proverb that says that laughter is like medicine for your bones. I heard that laughter releases those endorphins in your body. You get natural pain killers working in your body from playing a game? That’s a great reason to play a game! You feel better afterwards!

So go and put that phone down and break out the board game. If you don’t have one, then buy one. Buy board games to invest into your family. For you gaming pros, which ones do you recommend? Which games are great for little ones? Which games are great for older kids? Game on!

Back to School

It’s time to go back to school. Some of your kids already started the new school year. By the way, whatever happened to starting school after Labor Day? You would think that being a former school teacher would mean I that I knew all the Jedi tricks to help your children succeed in school. Not really. I need help to help my own kids. Here’s my short list:

  • Your children need a lot of sleep. I’m an adult and I don’t function at my best when I lack sleep. My children are no exception. Neither are yours. I remember in junior high telling everyone that sleep was overrated, yet I was the one with my head on my desk by the afternoon.
  • Your children need to eat breakfast. You might have convinced yourself that breakfast is optional for you. Don’t let your children to live the same. They spend 1/3 of their day not eating as they sleep throughout the night. To continue going on another 4 hours until lunch is a bad idea. I put gas in my car if I want to get somewhere. You child needs fuel for the day. Plus, going without breakfast makes your children’s bodies crave everything that’s unhealthy. Make it a healthy habit to eat breakfast.
  • Your children need space to be kids. Maybe your child is that type that needs to be in 3 sports at the same time, along with the Scouts, and on top of a couple hours of homework. My point is that to not fall into the trap of thinking that being overwhelmed and proudly living over-busy lives is a good thing.

The main thing is that your children need your support. School is their “work week.” What do you do to help your kids succeed in school? Comment below.

Do you watch or play?


Did your mom watch you play in the wet sand or did she get down and play with you? How about you now? Do you watch your kids play in the wet sand or do you play with them in the wet sand?

This past week, after I took a few pictures on the beach just like this one, my daughters asked me walk further out with them towards the whitewash. The two girls took turns attempting to body surf. For every wave each girl jumped into, the same girl would ask about their performance on the wave. They weren’t satisfied that I walked out with them to the shorebreak. They wanted me to submerge myself under each wave that crumbled over us. I took note of that because my kids aren’t little preschoolers. They are preteens, yet they wanted the same kind of engagement and acknowledgement as they did years ago.

I agree with the writer, George Bernard Shaw who was quoted, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing,” and Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” I don’t want to forget how to play. Do you?

That “Let-me-show-you-how-it’s-done-son” moment


Any of you old enough to remember the cartoon episodes when Sylvester the Cat would attempt to teach his son the art of bird-catching, yet he would fail every time he tried to catch Tweety Bird? That was me at this skate park 20 years ago trying to teach my son how to skate inside of a bowl. I powered about 6 feet up the side of the bowl on a skateboard when I realized I had no clue what to do next. I tried to bail out and keep my dignity, but my foot planted in the cement on my fall downward and I landed at the bottom of the pool in the splits position. I felt my hip pop and remember limping for a good month.

I think every dad has one of those failed let-me-show-you-how-it’s-done-son moments. At least my son and the kids that were there had a good laugh. If there were cel phone cameras back then, I would’ve been a viral sensation and invited to be on Ellen’s show. Do you remember your “Sylvester” moment?

It’s time to add wisdom to your knowledge

I think I know more now at almost a half-century of life than I did a couple of decades ago. I foolishly thought that I knew it all when I was out of college at 24, but the more I know now, the more I realize I don’t know much. Growing in wisdom is the key to our journey. There is a Jewish proverb that says that wisdom is better than gold, and that is definitely proving itself out in my life, and I bet it is in yours as well.

I think that’s how most good movies play out. Our main character has an enemy he has to defeat or a mountain he has to overcome. Somewhere in the story he gets wisdom that helps him win.

Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge you have but applying the knowledge you have. You can know how to make money, but the wisdom is in how you use that money. You can be an expert at driving, but if you are constantly getting traffic tickets then that knowledge is not being maximized to your own benefit; let alone any good for anyone else.

Wisdom is a heart thing; not a head thing. Many times, wisdom is making the tough decisions 90% of people are not willing to make. Wisdom is selectively choosing relationships and endeavors that are usually not popular. Wisdom is the voice that keeps you from repeating that same mistake over and over. Many times, wisdom requires courage to see it in action. Wisdom requires courage because the decisions you make influence others linked to you.

The sign in the picture says, “You know more than you think you do,” and let me add that the greater challenge is to apply what you already know to benefit yourself and those connected to you.

Your children are living in a world that is moving a whole lot faster than we were kids. They are being bombarded with so much information that parents have to “compete” with. It is crucial to be an active and intentional voice in their lives. And by the way,”Do what I say and not what I do,” is about the laziest and most ineffective way of parenting.

Parenting requires wisdom. Show your children over their lifetime how wisdom works. Teach them that wisdom is a heart thing; not a head thing. You will have to repeat yourself countless times over many years, but keep reminding them that wisdom is making the tough decisions 90% of people are not willing to make. Keep modeling for them how you are using wisdom to choose relationships and endeavors that may not seem popular nor easy.

We can all be students of the school of hard knocks, but have the heart of someone who wants to graduate. You and your children can apply that wisdom that keeps you from repeating that same mistake over and over. Growing in wisdom requires courage, time, and patience. When we grow wiser those connected to us benefit.

Lastly, if you don’t have wisdom, then ask for it. The writer in the book of James said that if you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. That doesn’t work if you don’t read your Bible because that’s where the wisdom is.

Proverbs 14:1 was written thousands of years ago, yet applies to our families today, ““A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”
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Let’s continue to use wisdom to build our homes.