How An Absent Father Can Affect His Children

I speak to women regularly who are in a state of turmoil because their husbands have left them. Maybe he left her for another woman, maybe it was for drugs, or maybe it was because he was not ready for the level of responsibility necessary to have the title of “Daddy” bestowed upon him. He leaves a frightened wife, but he also leaves behind children who will never know the love that both a father and mother can give or the level of specific personal resources a man can impart on his offspring.

There are many opponents to the man’s role in the home, especially as they deal with his natural tendencies toward leadership and problem solving. To some, these are politically incorrect notions. However, a home without these, whether they come from the man or the woman, is not a home at all. It is a machine of dysfunction that spirals at the whim of the children and adults who do not understand what it is to be a person of character. A man’s role is even minimized to the point of questioning its necessity. Scientists at the University of Newcastle have managed to create human sperm cells using a female embryonic stem cell ( While this is certainly fodder for every feminist out there, it also sets boys (and girls) up to believe that men are not needed. Subsequently, the desire to start a family and defend it to the death is never developed. Instead, boys become old adolescents who look out for themselves. Then, a crucial place in the American home is sacrificed and our children are put in jeopardy.

If the wife represents the nurturing portion of the family, the man represents its strength. Daddy chases the monsters away which helps children see that they have nothing to fear. This develops courage. Daddy helps junior reel in his first fish which teaches that a man can eat if all he has is a string, a hook, and a worm. This is survival. Daddy teaches his little girl to slap the first boy who sexually harasses her and also ensures that this fiend will pay for his mistake beyond that if necessary. This is self-respect. Children who don’t have an active father at home miss out on many of life’s lessons. They then become prey for a world that does not think of their emotional well-being but only of what they can be exploited for.

Real men are missing from our homes. Children who need to learn life lessons have holes that they fill with mood altering drugs and destructive behavior. A boy whose temper is lost at the drop of a hat could have been taught to control his inner beast by a good man at home. Instead, the boy’s rage comes out regularly as he develops a disregard for authority at school and with his mother. A girl who is missing a daddy who will love her unconditionally looks to boys for this fulfillment. Selfish males can’t possibly meet a girl’s deepest needs to the degree that the man who gave her life can. Boys see her only as an object, not for the precious being that she really is. This makes her a victim rather than a princess.

A father’s absence leaves a child with questions that are all too often answered in the wrong ways. A child being raised by a single mother can grow up to be a respectable person. However, the influence a good father carries with his children is immeasurable. When a father is absent, the child’s behavior and tear stained face are a testament of this to me.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Men: 3 Reasons You Trade Your Family for Your Job

Dads like to stay busy, but they often miss out on a lot of things. Ball practice, field trips, and those special moments right after school or daycare just to name a few. This is the sacrifice men make in many homes because he and his wife decided purposefully, or just by how their work schedules played out, that she would be the one to do most of what many call, “running around with the kids.” 

Men, if we are not careful, we may miss out on much more. Here are three ways we often trade our job for our family. 

1. You work late. While more money makes us all happy, it doesn’t necessarily make our homes happier places or even provide lasting joy. Maybe you have the drive to work more than 40 hours per week. That is fine, but there must be a cap at some point.

2. You think that you only contribute to the family by working. This is a fallacy. While men may feel a great deal of accomplishment by working, they can do so much at home with their kids to ensure they grow up right.

3. You consistently say yes to your employer and no to your family. How have you spent your time during the last week? Keep a log of how much you devote to your job and how much to your kids. You may be surprised. It is sometimes easy to put our families off because they can’t fire us as easily. However, by not doing a good job at home, you definitely lose your influence there.

The solution?

1. Discuss with your wife a reasonable work schedule. Maybe you work late two times a week or maybe only once. In any case, make a plan so that everyone knows when to expect you. Otherwise, you may set yourself up to be a consistent disappointment.

2. Know your family’s schedule. There are many shareable calendar apps that make it easier to know what is going on. Show up to things because they are important to your kids.

3. When you are not at work, be totally engrossed in the moment with your family. Make a big deal about being with your kids, and always make time for your bride. 

You’re away from your other job. Be present in your most important one.

Parenting Effectively

A TV In Your Car Can Save Your Marriage

My two children (ages 8 & 3) are just like me. They like to talk. Well, they like to talk a lot, and when you have three people in a car all yelling at the same time, “I’M TALKING! I WANT TO SAY SOMETHING! MY TURN!!!” it can be a bit un-nerving and unproductive. So, we have developed hand signals of acknowledgment in order to let the wanna-be speaker know that he/she will have his turn. This simple act cools the jets of an over-anxious conversationalist who must say his piece. 

The second part of this story goes as such. I enjoy long, uninterrupted conversations with my wife and one of the best places to do this is in the car, but this can be difficult (see first paragraph). So, when we bought our SUV a few years ago, we installed a DVD player with wireless headphones and a wireless video game system. Now, I am the first to say that kids need to watch less TV, but if there is a time and place for it, it is in the car that involves any trip over twenty minutes.

Please don’t think I’m a terrible father. I’m actually a pretty good one, but I also want to be a good husband. It’s much easier to turn the TV off at home than in the steel-cage death match known as the car as we travel to Gatlinburg or Hilton Head. 

I am anecdotally convinced that couples stop talking to one another because the kids (if they’re like mine) do not allow them to talk. You must make time to talk to your spouse. It will ensure a good marriage which is what your kids need to see even if they see it with the head phones on while they watch that DVD for the thirtieth time.

Parenting Effectively

Can You Keep Up with Your Child?

My family spent Easter weekend at a hotel. It had a pool and my kids just love to swim. We forgot my daughters arm floaters so I was left with the task of holding her like one might hold a wet seal; which I did enjoy tiring though it was. After we were there for a few minutes I noticed that the pool had a collection of life jackets just her size. I went over and borrowed one. She was so excited as it meant she would have a bit more freedom. I put it on her but still held her close. She continued to wiggle until she pushed away from me and said, “I’m OK daddy.” She’s three and she’s telling me she’s OK in four feet of water!!? Yes she was.

As parents it is our job to prepare our children to go into the world. It is our job to instill in them a value system that will bring joy and happiness so they can do it on their own. Some parents leave their children to “discover” things on their own. Discovery is good in the right context, but without preparation by the parent, who knows where the child will end up.

By the end of our swimming session, my little girl was jumping into over four feet of water . . . without her life jacket. Boy, I hope I’m doing this right.

Changing Tough Behavior

Mama Ain’t Happy

We’ve all heard the expression, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” This is always good for a laugh and it makes for a funny sign to purchase at Cracker Barrel. Also, there is some truth to it. Mothers are often the driving force of morality and civility in a home. They are the embodiment of a home’s comfort and warmth. They are the central figure regarding love and compassion. Yes, if mama ain’t happy, something is terribly wrong and somebody else in the home is doing something wrong.
However, there is an ugly side to this aphorism. What if a mother (or father for that matter) is controlling? What if their wishes are the only one’s that matter? What if this person does not guide with a loving and pious hand but rather rules those beneath her with guilt and the threat of a difficult evening if things do not go exactly her way? Then, nobody’s happy because mama (or daddy) makes everyone miserable.
Maybe it is biology, or as we may say in the south, maybe he is just plain ornery. In any case, someone who is constantly in a bad mood (causing everyone else to be miserable) has some deep soul searching to do. Scripture encourages men to be leaders in their homes and it encourages women to be a source of wisdom and trust (Proverbs 31). If a story was written about you, what would it say? At your eulogy, will the preacher have a wealth of positive, or will he pronounce you deceased and a sigh of relief echoe over your family?
“Someday you’ll be nothing but a memory. Make sure it’s a good one.”

Managing Parental Anxiety

Parents often struggle with a child who is constantly, if not subtly, disobedient. A firm parent will “nip poor behavior in the bud,” but a passive parent will continually struggle to gain some type of control. Both are difficult but let’s look at the optimal method by which a parent should approach this type of child.
There is a steady climb of parental anxiety as a child misbehaves little by little. She throws food at her little brother and you clean him up without saying a word. She makes a deliberate mess of her room and you say, “Stephanie, don’t do that.” Finally, she does everything but take a bath as you instructed her and you wonder where your parenting clout has gone. I say, “what parenting clout?” As you allow your child to engage in negative behaviors, your anxiety goes up because she is not behaving like you want. You eventually scream to get her to listen and it then takes you a while to return to a state of normalcy. It looks something like this. The red line represents your child’s misbehavior across time while the blue line represents a parent’s anxiety level.

The best thing to do is be swift and direct regarding a child’s poor choices. The downside of this is that parenting anxiety makes a swift spike, yet the positive side is that a return to normalcy can be much quicker. Why does it look like this? Your child is behaving like you want her to. Instead of working tirelessly to manage a disrespectful child, you quickly stop the behavior you do not want to see.

As you can see here there may be a spike in parental anxiety (for some) as they correct their child, but consider the fact that misbehavior is much shorter and a return to a normal mood level is much quicker for the adult.

Check out the following program that is guaranteed to help you be a calmer parent.

Calm Parenting

BOOK REVIEW: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

I believe that my generation; Generation X, was the last generation in the woods. We saw the advent of the video game system and air conditioning spread through small town America like wild-fire. We had reasons to stop reading and to stop going outside to make our own adventures because both needs were met through our video game consoles in our comfortable bedrooms. Today, the issue of depressed and obese children is even more of an issue because “outside” is a scary place. Richard Louv works to displace this irrational fear.

I read this book as I am interested in parenting and nature. This book was a bit more nature than it was parenting, but still a good resource for those parents who wish to raise well-adjusted children, not television zombies.

Louv approaches the issue of how our society has left nature in many ways that include where we live to how our children play and how we view nature. He discusses how stress, depression, and obesity are up in kids, and he believes there is a direct causal relationship with our inactivity with the outdoors. Louv believes technology obviously has its place but our inclination to make everything technology driven is keeping our children (and us adults) from experiencing anything of substance. You can see a mountain stream on the screen but you can’t touch it or catch the trout that swim in its waters.

Basically, many of the ills our children experience, he believes, can be remedied by more time outdoors. There is something therapeutic about it. He even cited a study by Kapplan and Kapplan regarding Attention Restoration Therapy whereby children with ADHD were improved in their attention capabilities just by experiencing the outdoors.

Lots of his material is based on studies and in contrast, our fear of the outdoors is fed by movies and a propensity to stay inside with the air conditioner; giving no thought to what we are missing. I enjoyed his references to the Bible and how the outdoors are good for you, plain and simple. He spelled out how our behavior in the past has been bad for the environment and outlined ways you can do your part to improve our land’s future.

His political stance for the environment (in some cases) made good sense. For instance, hunters (typically not thought of as conservationists) should work together with those who want to save the land. Otherwise, there will be no place for either to go. Some of his other points were slanted towards “greener” living that in a perfect world would save energy, but in reality often do not. How does one person in a mass-transit vehicle save gas? It doesn’t. His vision of small yet fully autonomous villages for Americans to live in (food, jobs, homes, etc) seems a bit far-fetched to me, but he did have meaningful methods for seeing it through and maybe it can happen.

This is a good read if you love the outdoors, your kids, and want to see them both get together more.

Parents, Teens, & Cell Phones

Thirteen-year-old Greg Hoffman had been begging his parents for an iPhone all year. So on Christmas morning he was thrilled to find the object of his desire under the tree, but there was a catch.
The phone came with an 18-point set of terms and conditions that he had to agree to before the phone could be his. And the agreement did not come from Apple or the phone provider, it was from his mother.
What a novel idea! A parent working to control her child’s actions. More parents need to get a clue and direct their children like this mother has rather than watching the train wreck their children slowly become. Here’s the list she came up with and if you are looking for ways to help your child become a productive adult, this may be a good place to start.

Her rules were edited by Bart King.
  1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
  2. I will always know the password.
  3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.

  4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s landline, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

  5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill.

  6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.

  7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. 
  8. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

  9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

  10. No porn.

  11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

  12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.

  13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

  14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO — fear of missing out.

  15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.

  16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

  17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

  18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. We are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.