Roofs are important. More specifically, roofs that don’t leak are
important. Roofs with no holes. Roofs that protect. My family and I stayed in a
cabin at St. Johns. We liked to eat on the deck. It had no roof, but it really
wasn’t a problem until an iguana climbed onto a branch above my daughter and
well… “relieved” himself in her cereal. A roof would have been
Or, the time my family and I went
camping when I was a kid and it started raining. I mean pouring. It always did
when we camped. Of course, we had the tent and a dining canopy to keep us dry.
But they were old school and as soon as you touched them, they started leaking.
Drip…drip…drip. Drip on my head. Drip on our game. Drip on the table. Yeah, a
solid roof would be nice.
Recently my wife and I visited a beautiful
location in Cartagena. They had a nice outdoor
dining area. A mango tree grew just outside the walls of the roofless dining
area and its branches offered some shade. Nice…until mangoes started dropping
off onto peoples’ heads. Needed to add a
roof for protection.
Yes, it’s nice to have a roof…even
in your marriage! Paul, a first century Jewish evangelist, tells us that
“love bears all things” (I Corinthians 13:7). Interestingly, the
Greek word for “bears” (“stego”) means to “cover, to
protect.” It’s the verb form of the Greek word for “roof”! In marriage,
love is like the roof over our heads. Love takes action to cover, to protect,
to preserve. A roof protects the security of our home by keeping weather,
animals, and other harmful menaces out of our house. But what does love protect
our marriage from? More specifically, what does love protect in your marriage?
protects our reputations. Rather than
talking trash on a spouse, love lifts a spouse up. Love elevates a spouse to
others. Love speaks words of admiration about a spouse. Love does not broadcast
a spouse’s shortcomings or mistakes but works first and foremost to resolve
them in the private intimacy of their relationship. Love stops the gossip that
threatens reputation and seeks the truth that can replace that gossip.
protects us from hurtful words.
Love offers words of blessing rather than words of cursing. It offers words of
encouragement rather than words of discouragement. Love does not drown a spouse
in impolite, angry words but showers them with words of kindness and love.
Rather than criticize and put down, love lifts up and encourages.
protects from outside forces that interfere with a healthy marriage. Love keeps those
things that do not belong under a marital roof out of the marriage—things like
pornography, unhealthy people, and overscheduled lives. Love strives to keep
the marriage a safe haven, a place where nothing interferes with a growing love
Yes, a roof protects. It covers. It
keeps the unwanted out and enhances safety and security within. It allows us to
be vulnerable and grow more intimate without fear of outside factors
interfering. Love does the same. Love is the roof over your head.
I have a friend who likes to ask about my holidays. I especially remember his question about Thanksgiving. Rather than saying “How was your Thanksgiving turkey?” he places a strategic pause in the question to make it “How was your Thanksgiving, Turkey?” That one minor pause changes the whole character and meaning of the question. The pause has the power to create humor…or subtly insult the listener. We must use it with caution in our family conversations to avoid insulting one another.
A slightly different scenario plays out with my wife and me on occasion. The other day, for example, she said, “I hate that. Can’t you change?” I was stymied. My mind began to race through the current conversation and the previous two days. What did I do? What does she want me to change? Why am I the one who always has to change anyway? What about…? Suddenly, she interrupted my racing thoughts by finishing her question with the words “…the TV channel?” Oh, relief flowed through my body as I realized she didn’t like the TV show coming on and she wanted me to change the channel. An ill-placed pause left room for my insecurities and racing mind to jump to the wrong conclusions. The pause has the subtle power to create misunderstandings.
Just the other day I had another experience with the power of the pause…a slightly different experience. My wife and I were talking about my daughter moving in to an apartment with her friends. I was faced with a difficult choice: take an unpaid vacation to help her or let her and my wife handle it alone so I could work. I wanted to help my daughter but finances are tight. Frustration gave intensity to my voice. I’m sure I sounded angry and my wife most likely felt my anger pointed toward her. In a moment of wisdom, I sat back and quit talking. In the pause of that silence I could take a breath and collect my thoughts. “I want to be there for our daughter,” I said. My wife replied, “You’re going to miss her aren’t you?” It was true. A pause, my silence and my wife’s willingness to wait through that silence, brought clarity to our conversation and my emotions. It allowed us to understand and connect. It brought us closer. Yes, the pause has great power for good as well. The pause allows for the building of intimacy and understanding.
The power of the pause can result in pain or joy. It has the power to disconnect or build greater intimacy. Be aware of the mighty power of the pause…and use it wisely!
I am a male. So I write this blog with great hesitation. But, I am also a father of two daughters. So, I feel compelled to pass this scientific finding on to my daughters…and all of you. An article in Medical News Today reported the results of a study analyzing the winners of the Darwin Awards (click here to read). The Darwin Awards “commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chance of long-term survival.” I have enjoyed reading the Darwin Awards. You can read the stories of several Darwin Award nominees on the Darwin Award website.
A recent analysis examined the Darwin Award nominations of the past 20 years and found 332 independently verified and confirmed. Of those 332, only 318 involved individuals (14 involved joint male and female nominees). Of the 318 verified Darwin Awards, 282 were awarded to men. Only 36 were given to women. In other words, 88.7% of Darwin Awards are won by men! The authors believe this verified their hypothesis: “Men are idiots and idiots do stupid things.” Now you know why I hate reporting this information to you. But, I am the father of two daughters and I want them to be aware of the variety of males swimming in the dating pool. I want to warn them to choose carefully when looking for a date…and, even more significantly, when choosing a mate. In that dating pool, a percentage of males are idiots. Not all, mind you, but a portion. So, let us encourage our daughters to choose wisely!
Of course, you and I are not Darwin Award Nominees…and we live to proclaim this fact. We do not fall into the percentage of men who never have the opportunity to speak of how they won the Darwin Awards (you have to die to become a recipient). And, we want our daughters to choose men in their lives like us…non-recipients of the Darwin Award. With that in mind, let me share four ways you can encourage your daughters to choose a boyfriend (and eventually a husband) like you, a wise man who will never receive a nomination for a Darwin Award.
- Model wisdom. Think before you act. Practice restraint. Learn to seek out godly wisdom before making choices. Let your daughter witness you accepting your wife’s influence when making decisions that impact your family. The more she witnesses you living wisely, the less likely she is to date a Darwin Award nominee.
- Be involved in your daughter’s life. Women who have involved fathers show greater wisdom in choosing boyfriends and, eventually, a husband (click here to learn more). Daughters with a secure, supportive relationship with their father are less likely to experience teen pregnancy. They also tend to have romantic relationships that are more emotionally intimate and fulfilling. By remaining actively involved in your daughter’s life, you increase the chance that she will choose a wise mate…just like her Dad.
- Communicate with your daughter. Talk about the news. Learn about her interests. Tell her about your feelings, fears and hopes. Enjoy simple daily conversation about the little humdrum aspects of life, but don’t stop there. Take time to have intimate, heart-felt, vulnerable talks of life with her as well. Learn about her and let her learn about you. Open up and share. In doing so, your daughter will more likely avoid the Darwin Award nominee when choosing a man for her life.
- Meet your daughter’s boyfriends. Don’t let your daughter date the unknown boy. Have her bring him to the house. Invite him to dinner. Talk with him. Get to know him. Learn about his interests, strengths, and interests. Encourage him to think before acting. Assure him that you are actively involved in your daughter’s life and will remain her protector throughout her dating career. Just knowing you will be interacting with any boy she brings home will help her choose more wisely.
Fathers, we need to take a stand against the bad rap of this study. Those of us who make wise choices, and never win a Darwin Award, need to unite. We must protect our daughters from those men who might gain a nomination in their lifetime. Step up and model wisdom for your daughter. Remain involved in her life. Communicate intimately with her. Meet her boyfriends. Keep the Darwin Award out of the family!
I have observed a new teacher in town interacting with our children. This teacher is a pro…incredible, amazingly effective. He actively engages our children to get them involved in the learning process. Children learn under his tutelage without even knowing it; and, even more amazing, they have fun doing it! This teacher gets children to practice skills and thinking patterns over and over again without getting bored. In fact, after practicing skills and thinking patterns all afternoon, the children under his tutelage are still eager and excited to practice some more. They even beg to continue. When the children make a mistake, he dishes out a quick and simple punishment and then offers them another chance before they forget the lesson of the mistake. This teacher also follows each success, each accomplishment, with a swift reward. He really is an amazing teacher…one of the best. His name is Mr. Video Game. That’s right. Video games, whether X-Box, Play Station, I-Phones, I-Pads, or home computers are the new teachers in town. They are teaching our children lessons every step of the way, changing their brains and impacting their thinking in amazing ways…some good and some not so good.
First, here are some good lessons learned and mental skills enhanced by playing video games:
- Following instructions is a must for playing video games. Break the rules of the game and your game ends quickly.
- Problem solving. Many video games encourage the player to devise creative ways to solve puzzles and problems or to get around various obstacles.
- Dexterity. Video games require the player to use fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination to manage their character and manipulate virtual objects.
- Attention to detail and spatial relations. Video game players must keep track of their characters position, movement in space, speed, and aim as well as the details of the objects, friends, and enemies in their environment. Interestingly, at least one study suggests that video game experience is related to better surgical skills for adults (read it here).
- Planning and use of resources. Successful players learn to plan ahead in order to make the most efficient use of limited resources in games like Minecraft.
- Quick thinking and decision making. Many video games demand that a player quickly analyze a situation and decide on a plan of action. The more accurate their decision, the more successful the game. This is a useful skill in today’s fast-paced world (read about it here).
- Studies have also shown that video games can be used to successfully reduce anxiety (read a study here) and reduce cravings (read abstract here).
- Video games can also result in increased gray matter in parts of the brain associated with memory, strategic planning, and working memory. This increase may help reduce the risk of dementia (read about it here).
- We could list other benefits like providing the opportunity for parent and child to play together, perseverance, memory, teamwork, fun, etc. Many of these benefits can be had outside of video games as well.
On the other hand, video games can teach negative lessons as well. For instance…
- Social isolation can result from spending too much time playing video games and not becoming involved in other face-to-face activities.
- Video games can become addictive (read more here). Kids who appear addicted to video games often exhibit more anxiety and depression. They fight more often with peers and argue more with teachers.
- Video games can contribute to obesity and muscular issues when played too often.
- Academic achievement decreases as video game playing increases. Children will skip homework to play and play instead of reading or engaging in an educational activity (read study here).
- Video games can teach negative values. Some video games include violent behaviors, sexually provocative characters, and inappropriate language. Many video games also reward vengeance, aggression, and violent solutions.
- Research also suggests that children who play more violent video games are more likely to engage in aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The video game allows the player to repeatedly view violence from the perspective of a perpetrator and then experience a reward.
As you can see, video games teach our children a lot…some good lessons and some dangerous lessons. Ultimately, parents are responsible for their children’s education. We need to monitor this new teacher in town, make some hard decisions and establish some firm boundaries. Here are some suggestions to help monitor the impact of video games in your child’s life.
- Keep the video game console in a common area of the home. This way you will know when your children play, what game they play, and the content of that game.
- Play the video game with your children. You do not have to play every time they play. However, playing sometimes when they play will establish your “presence” as part of the game just as going to visit their school helps to establish your presence in the school.
- Check the game ratings. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has established ratings to help parents know the age appropriateness of game content. For instance, a “M-Mature” game is rated by the ESRB as a game for 17-years-old and up.
- Set limits around video game playing. Limits can include: the amount of time your children play video games, what games they play, when they play, expected behaviors during and after game playing, and other tasks that take priority over game playing.
- Educate your children about internet safety and protocol. Teach them to not share personal information with other players. Watch for “cyberbullies” or other inappropriate materials that your children might encounter. Monitor your children to assure they do not engage in cyberbullying or the sending of inappropriate materials. Children often do things without thinking through the consequences. So, even if you have generally well-behaved children, monitor their activity to prevent immature, but dangerous, mistakes.
- Learn how to use the parental controls on your video game system to monitor activity, block players if necessary, limit inappropriate material, etc. ESRB and the PTA offer an excellent brochure that can help in each of these areas (download it here).
I read an interesting fact about sheep recently. (You might wonder why I read anything about sheep…I really don’t know, it just happened.) At first, I did not believe what I read. Then, I heard the same fact again, this time on TV (Dirty Jobs). Intrigued, I began to investigate and discovered the fact was true. What was the fact? When a sheep gets turned onto its back, it may have difficulty turning upright and standing. Shepherds call this sheep “cast.” The “cast down” sheep will lie on its back, struggling to turn over. If the shepherd does not help the sheep turn over and stand upright, internal gases build up and the sheep can die.
That got me thinking…our children can “get knocked down” or “knocked off their feet,” discouraged and “cast down” for several reasons. Failure can lead to a “cast down” child who is discouraged and afraid of trying again, of “standing on my own two feet.” Self-indulgent behavior can lead to selfish, lopsided living that will eventually “knock their feet out from under them” and “cast them down.” Disobedience brings consequences that can leave a person “flat on their back,” fearful of losing support and love. Ridicule and teasing can knock a child down, leaving them discouraged and doubtful about themselves. Even just feeling misunderstood can bring us down and result in our feeling “cast down,” hopeless and helpless. A child who feels discouraged and “cast down” becomes vulnerable to the world. Other children prey on the discouraged and “cast down” child. Drugs and sexual intimacy become more alluring to the discouraged, “cast down” child. In fact, if not rescued quickly, the “cast down” child becomes at risk for all sorts of dangerous behaviors. What is a parent to do? What lesson can a parent learn from the “cast down” sheep? How can a parent successfully shepherd a “cast down” child? Here are 5 lessons of a “cast down” sheep.
1. Be vigilant. Remain attentive of your children, “keep an eye” on them. Vigilant parents remain aware of their children’s friends, interests, and even moods. They are observant of any changes, especially abrupt changes, in friendships, interests, and moods. As parents remain attentive and aware of their children and their children’s lives, they can recognize when their children become “cast down.” They can then respond quickly and appropriately to help their children get “back on their feet” as soon as possible.
2. Provide gentle, loving correction. Parents help their children “stay on their feet” by replacing harsh, crushing punishment with loving discipline and correction. Remember, the purpose of discipline is to teach appropriate behavior, not crush inappropriate behavior. Make sure the discipline teaches your children and strengthens their moral muscles, enabling them to “stand on their own two legs” amidst any pressures that arise. Rather than coercing them to behave a certain way, assure that the consequences of misbehavior are more uncomfortable than the consequences of positive behavior. Teach them the benefit of rules.
3. Become an encourager not a faultfinder, an advocate not a critic. Look for opportunities to praise your children for their effort and their progress. Encourage their appropriate behavior. Even when you have to offer criticisms, preface the criticism with some acknowledgement of positive behaviors. Keep criticism constructive, not destructive. Lift your children up with your encouragement rather than “casting them down” with your discouragement.
4. Provide opportunities for your children to serve in the home and outside the home. Your children are a member of your family’s household and, as such, they have the responsibility to help maintain your family’s household. Do not rob them of that responsibility and allow them to become self-indulgent. Instead, maintain an expectation that everyone contributes to the household and then provide opportunities to do so. Give your child responsibility to complete meaningful chores in the home. Create opportunities for you and your child to work together on projects around the house or in the community. Encourage their participation in these service projects. Celebrate their involvement and the completion of each project.
5. Be your child’s ally. Support them in pursuing interests. Defend them in difficult circumstances. When they experience failure, lift them up. When they disobey and suffer consequences, help them get back on their feet. Assist them in learning from those mistakes and in learning how to make better decisions in the future. Express faith in their ability to learn and grow. Brace them up when they face challenges and reinforce their positive efforts.
Our children, like sheep, can become “cast down” by a variety of circumstances. You, their parent, have the best opportunity to return them to the appropriate path of maturity. Be vigilant, provide loving discipline, encourage, create opportunities to serve others, and become your child’s ally. Happy Shepherding.