“ Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is eight or nine, he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passions for procrastination and weird clothes.”
― Bill Cosby
Now, when I say “time out” weekend, I’m not talking about a punishment. For the sake of my wife’s sanity, I periodically suggest on a weekend when we’re not too busy with other commitments, that she have a weekend away by herself. She rents an inexpensive hotel room, in which she can sleep, have whatever food she likes, and spend the time doing personal things that she likes to do. Mostly she just enjoys a little bit of downtime while I take care of the kids.
Before she goes, she makes a list of things she wants to think about, such as problem she’s having in her life or things she wants to improve on. She also thinks about what goals she would like to make for herself while she’s gone. The setting of getting away from the normality of the routine, really seems to help her focus on the big picture and to think clearly without the distractions that occur naturally with having children.
Though it is a difficult weekend to have her away, it is well worth the investment. She always comes back refreshed and rejuvenated, cheerful and happy to see us.
The so-called stripling warriors were a group of young men whose story is told in the Book of Mormon. Their land was besieged by enemy forces, and though they were very young, they took up the call to defend their country.
They were put under the command of a man named Helaman and sent out into battle. These young men told their commander that they had faith in the words taught to them by their mothers that God would deliver them from their enemies.
They charged into battle against a superior foe and turned the tide against them. After the battle, Helaman gathered up and counted his warriors, fearing that many of them would have been slain in battle. To his astonishment and joy, though all of them had been wounded, none of his warriors had been killed.
These faithful warriors trusted in the things they had learned had home. Their parents taught them correctly, and their children applied their teachings. Though we do not know their names, we can learn from their example.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just hook up your brain up to your children’s brains and download all the information that you know? There are so many things that you have learned from experience that you wish you could simply tell them have them take it all to heart. Too often, however, the child doesn’t really learn a lesson until it personally impacts him or her in a way that makes the lesson sink in.
For example, you can tell your children night and day that it is not a good idea to procrastinate doing their homework. You may even tell them about times when you procrastinated and have a bad outcome. It’s not until they actually realize that they had a five-page paper due the next morning and haven’t even started on it and that it’s worth 20% of their grade, that they realize that you were telling the truth.
Though like Mr. Unser says, his dad taught him everything he knows, it just isn’t possible to teach all of the knowledge we have gained to our children. This this should also be a liberating thought for you as a father. It means that you don’t have to teach everything, and so you can focus on trying to teach the things that are the most important, through your words and, most importantly, by your example.
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Consider the story of the prodigal son, who wasted all of his inheritance in sinful living and then returned to his father to beg to be made a servant. He was homeless and had debased himself to eating with animals because he was so desperate for food. He expected his father to throw him out, or at least to become angry with him.
Instead, the father ran to him at the very first sign of seeing his son returning, and treated him as this scripture describes. This father gives the perfect example of forgiveness and mercy. The lesson that his son likely learned from his harrowing experience might not have been able to be learned any other way. It certainly would be more deeply learned than if his father had simply told him how to live.
Chances are that sometime you will forget to bring the diaper bag. This can be a stressful experience, especially when you are in a restaurant with the baby who just exceeded the capacity of his diaper. That is what the emergency kit is for. In addition to carrying around the diaper bag, we put together an emergency kit that always stays in our car.
Our emergency kit fits inside a plastic bin with a lid and has a permanent residence in our trunk. It contains many of the same things as a diaper bag, such as diapers, baby wipes, but also a few things for me and my wife such as a little cash, a razor, and spare batteries.
There are plenty of times that we were so busy, and running late that we forgot the diaper bag. In these instances, having an emergency kit that is always in the car has really saved our bacon. Kids don’t wait for a convenient time to make a mess or need a change of clothes. If you have this always on hand, you do not need to worry about these unexpected situations.
One of the potential joys or pitfalls of fatherhood is keeping your children occupied in the car. The children can sometimes have a love/hate relationship with the car. Some kids look forward to car rides they’re on their best behavior, while others can’t stand it.
One of the best ways to pass the time to keep your kids occupied is to give them things to look for outside the window. One of the games that we would play as a family on long car rides was called the alphabet game.
The idea was to look out the window and see who could find all of the letters of the alphabet in order first. As far as finding the letters, anything went from the billboards, the street signs, to license plates. In fact, we had to rely pretty heavily on license plates to find letters like Q,X, and Z.
As you got your letters, you would announce where you found them. “S on the billboard over there” or “I found Q on that license plate”. This is especially fun if you have young children who are learning their letters and are excited about identifying them.
Best of all, you’ll get so many fewer calls of “are we there yet?” if your children are having a good time.
There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. — Author Unknown
Which of these three phases are you it? Is it possible that you don’t believe in yourself?
It is amazing what a difference a little extra sleep can make. I know that for myself, because I don’t get enough sleep. When I don’t, I feel lethargic and my patience is not as strong as usual. In short, it is just hard to be your best self when you don’t have energy.
Chances are that your wife has many things on her plate, many exhausting things. She is sure to get worn out after a long week, and you need to be sensitive to her needs. If you notice that she seems particularly agitated and tired, you can offer to let her sleep in, taking some of her usual routine upon yourself. This is much easier to do on weekends, but with a little creativity, can even be done midweek. It may be baby difficult to sacrifice your own sleep and to put in the extra effort, but the returns you will see in a happy spouse are more than worth it.
Alma the Younger was a missionary talked about in the Book of Mormon. In his youth, he went about trying to destroy the Church of God, but changed his ways and instead devoted himself to missionary work. He brought his three own sons along with him as he traveled about preaching.
The Book of Mormon records the time when he sat down with each of his sons to give them counsel and each son received a very different set of advice.
For two of his sons, he had generally positive words of encouragement and praise. For his third son, however, he has a few stronger words of rebuke. This son had abandoned his missionary labors and instead had wasted his time pursuing an evil woman. The son had set such a bad example that it reflected poorly on the rest of his family so that the people who heard his father preach would not believe his words.
Alma the Younger had been a wayward child himself, so he understood that sometimes patience is required with wayward children. He also knew that it was his responsibility as a father to do all that he could in order to teach his wayward child. Though Alma the Younger did have some hard words for his son, he also expresses his love and concern for him and told him that he would not dwell on these things if it were not for his son’s well being.