Bravo, Single Parent

Last Thursday, a little after 4 in the morning, I drove my wife to the airport where she would catch a flight to spend the week with her sister celebrating her sister’s wedding. And so began a week as a single dad.

I’ve cared for them before and, well, I’m quite good at it. I suppose that’s why it always bothers me when I see posts that assume dad taking care of the kids equals dinners out and other assorted disasters. I love my kids, I can cook, and I enjoy being with them.

However, this week had some known stressors and some big things I would need to make sure happened. They did, but along the way O got a taste of what it was like to be a single parent.

Rush home so you can thaw meat so you can cook dinner so that everyone is fed so you can get them ready for bed so you can wake them up before you really want to so you can do it all over again.

To a single parent, the week must feel like one giant run on sentence. I wanted to have dinner at a reasonable hour. I wanted to get them to bed so I could have time for me. I wanted to go to bed at a decent time.

But life.

Of course any single parent would say, “You have no idea!”
And they are right.
While I was incredibly lonely for my wife, I could call her and I know she’s coming home. Single parents don’t have that knowledge.
My kids have had 2 parents all their lives. Teaching and correction can happen when I’m not feeling overwhelmed. I’m not sure there is a moment when single parents aren’t feeling overwhelmed.

While this is a story about my current life, what I really learned is that single parents need help – sort of.

Dishes pile up and you don’t feel like doing them.
You have an appointment and need someone to watch the children.
You need advice but never had the time to make friends with anyone so you are on your own.
And, you don’t want anyone to think you’re weak or failing at parenting so you just hang on.

For the church, this is a great opportunity. We, the church, can provide places for friendships to happen – leading to people getting help when they need it (advice, babysitters) not just on Sunday mornings.
The church can provide opportunities for parents to have fun with their children – and not have to worry about cleaning up afterwards. We need to provide these times to allow them to turn off “parent mode” and enjoy being a parent.

But we have to do these things in a way that doesn’t make a parent (single or otherwise) feel like their a complete failure or they will never stay long enough to hear the freeing message of the gospel.

Our methods can’t be all about training, lectures and Bible study…so what are you going to work on?

New Traditions

This year we’ve started a new tradition for our family.
Tuesday nights are family game night!

We started by each making a list of games we wanted to play, then each week one of us chooses from the list. 4 of us, 4 weeks.
So far we’ve played Airlines Europe and Cinque Terre…but we’ve been able to squeeze some other games in as well.

So what traditions are you forming? What memories will your children carry to their families? Do you have planned times that your family will gather and just enjoy being in each others company?

My Top App of 2014

Everyone has a packed schedule.
Everyone has something that needs to be done by a certain time.

As a children & family pastor that’s no less true for me. In fact, I often feel like I have much more to do than can be accomplished – and if I didn’t delegate that would be true. But delegation means that I have another thing to keep track of – another “to do” for the “to do” I gave away.

I’ve tried a ton of to do apps. Todoist, toodoledo, Don’t forget the Milk, Reminders, and on and on. I’ve also used pen and paper. But no matter what I use, I seem to always lose track. Things slip through the cracks and go undone or my list gets so full that it becomes ignored.

And along the way, my creative side suffered. I didn’t realize it, but David Allen of Getting Things Done is spot on when he says “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” As we clutter our minds with things that we need to remember – a job our mind isn’t very good at – we crowd out creativity – a job our mind is good at doing.
Free your mind »

Limiting Parents’ Screen Time

A friend recently started a conversation about screen time and in thinking though my answer I found this article on limiting screen time and thought it good enough to share.

Remember, your children are given to you by God and He expects that you can make decisions regarding their care. Yes, seek wisdom from others, but in the end they are your responsibility and you need to make the call.

Also remember that you are the role model – don’t be a hypocrite.

The Magic of Christmas

Heroclix mayhem

If you have been reading Coffee With Dad for any length of time, you know that I am big on passing on a legacy and that traditions is one of the tools that we all have to help us pass on that legacy.

Of course, when you hear words like “legacy” or “tradition” you may get a picture of a Normal Rockwell like home, with everything in its place and everyone living a well behaved (or just the right amount of mischief) and balanced life.

But that isn’t us.

First off, we have 2 boys aged 8 and 12 – that means that our house can be loud. Sword fights, gun fights and wrestling matches can break out at any moment. Blissful calm can erupt into a full fledged fight in the blink of an eye.
And, my wife and I are far from perfect. In fact, this year has been a struggle for me (more on that in another post) that has led me to see a counselor to help combat depression.

Snowball Fight

So, as we headed into this Christmas season, things seemed more low-key that before. The magic of Christmas – that special feeling – seemed to be running low. We looked forward to our normal traditions, but it also seemed like we needed something to spice things up.

In thinking about the magic of this time of year, I read the words C.S. Lewis used to dedicate the Chronicles of Narnia to his goddaughter Lucy, “girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales …. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
Mayhem Magic »

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