Raising a Gentleman

I am rather old fashioned when it comes to gender roles.  I supposed that this is evidenced by the fact that I stay home with our children while Brandon works to provide for our family.  More than that, I like Brandon to open doors for me, help me in or out of a car/bus/train/whatever I’m getting in or out of, pay for my meal (even though it all comes out of the same pot) and generally treat me as a lady.  This is not to say that I don’t have an opinion or that I don’t like to share it frequently.  I definitely have a mind of my own.  But overall I like to be treated like a delicate flower.

Now that our son is old enough to understand some of these things, we are training him to be a gentleman.  Because I spend the majority of my waking time with him, this task falls largely to me.  He now knows to open doors and hold them for ladies (including his sister).  He is never to hit a girl and he is not to wrestle with girls.  We are currently working on not pushing or shoving to get ahead of someone, especially not a girl!  (Did I mention he is only 4 1/2?)

All of my instruction, reminding and harping can only do so much.  Sometimes the lesson has to be experienced.

A couple of weeks ago we were on Disney’s Epcot ferry returning to our car after a very long and exhausting day at the park.  Being first on the boat, Brandon, the kids and I all sat on a bench.  It was plenty large, so no great sacrifice there.  But as the boat continued to fill, all of the seats became occupied.  Brandon, being the gentleman that he is, stood and offered his seat to an older woman who was stuck standing.  She gratefully accepted the seat and we proceeded across the lagoon.

After a moment, my son leaned over and asked me why daddy got up for the lady.  I was so pleased and proud to be able to explain to him that daddy is a gentleman and a gentleman always offers his seat to a lady.  He accepted this answer and we rode on in silence.  But I can’t help but be thankful that our son received such a wonderful lesson from his dad.  It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t scripted, it was just Brandon being who he is: a gentleman.

What are you training your children to become?

What lessons do they learn just by watching you?

Why Teach Tithing?

I taught my son to use the toilet so he wouldn’t be wearing diapers forever.

I taught my son to say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” so that he will be polite and well-mannered.

I am teaching my son to read so that he will be a literate, productive citizen.

And I am teaching my son to tithe so that he will be a man who loves God and submits himself to the leadership of our Lord.

Every parent knows the importance of teaching potty training, manners and literacy.  They are necessary skills for life.  But few parents recognize the importance of teaching tithing.  Contrary to popular belief, tithing has very little to do with money.  Instead, it has everything to do with the heart.

God does not need our money.  He does not need the 1¢ my son will drop in the offering plate.  What he wants is our hearts.  He wants my heart and he wants my son’s heart.

God knows that we value money.  He understood it so well that he gave us over 800 verses of Scripture to help us understand how to use money in a way that honors him.  If God thinks it is that important, shouldn’t we obey?

God gives us everything we have.  To some he has entrusted more and to some he has entrusted less.  I want my son to understand that no matter how much or how little he has, it is from God.  God asks only that we return the first 10% of what he gives us.  Not because he needs it, but because he wants us to recognize he is the source of it all.  He allows us to keep the other 90% for ourselves.

It is all about having your heart in the right place.  A heart that is willing to trust God.  A heart that is willing to obey God.  A heart that puts God first and all else second.  That is the kind of heart I want my son to have.

By the way, my son is four.  We are starting small: an allowance that is easily divided into ten (10¢ in pennies works for us).  I explain that God asks we return one out of every ten to him.  He can easily understand that if there are ten pennies, one should be given to God.  I also explain that one way we can return it to God is to give it to the church to use.  Then we take the penny with us on Sunday and give it in the offering.

Simple lesson, but how much easier is it for him to start with a penny, then increase it to 10¢, 50¢, $1, $5 and so on.  It is a lot harder to teach a teenager to be faithful with his $10 or $20 if he hasn’t first learned to be faithful with his 1¢.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”  Luke 16:10

Amazing Saturday at Home

The morning started with my son bursting into the room yelling, “Dad are you up yet?”  Then we spent the morning wrestling and playing until my daughter woke up.  We put on our capes and masks and grabbed our weapons and began the duel between “Evil Doctor Daddy” and the “Lightening Knight”.  The knight won of course, as my daughter cheered and my wife laughed.  After the duel we sat down and had a tea party as mom made breakfast.  The day continued with lots of fun, some work outside, a Christmas parade and Pizza.  Days like these make you so glad to be home from deployment.

I have been home just over a week and this past deployment gave me lots of time to think about about what’s important in life.  Today confirmed those priorities.  I want to be a good husband and father and make up for the time I have been away.  What I have realized is that people matter more than products.  My family is more important that anything else.  My time is something that I can’t get more of, but I can always make more money.  I am beginning to realize my most valuable resource is my time.

As I think about Christmas, I am beginning to realize, that my children don’t need more plastic stuff they need me.  They need to know that their dad loves them and enjoys being with them.  I want to create memories this Christmas.  I plan to enjoy time at home and stay as far as I can from the mall as possible.  I have just stated a book called, The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge and hope to hone my skills as a father to help develop and encourage the Lighting Knight and the Cupcake Princess as they grow and mature.

If you are deployed this Christmas, do all you can to make memories and over come the obstacles of being a world away.  While you are way connect in any way you can (call, email, video chat, write letters, make Christmas cards etc.).  Those of you who are are deployed and away from your family, know that I am praying for you, your family and you safe return.

Whether you are home or deployed make the most of every opportunity to connect and encourage you spouse and children.

  • What are somethings you have learned about being a better parent? 
  • What are the things that you love doing with your children?
  • Even when you are deployed, what are somethings that you can do or have done to create memories for you and your families? 
  • What is stopping you from doing it?