Archives For parenting

dadEvery year on Father’s Day, there’s a mixed bag of emotions running through me. On the one hand, I am the dad to three amazing kids – a role I have longed for since I was their age. One I also take very seriously, which speaks to the other hand.

My dad died when I was six, but even if that hadn’t happened, my parents were separated heading for divorce. So, the hole his death left was inevitable – albeit absolute. My step-dad came into my life a bit later, but he went to work one day just before my eighth grade year and didn’t come home. And from there, I have been without a man in m life that is required to love me.

I am creating a father’s legacy…literally from scratch.

God has blessed me with incredible men that have taught me very important lessons on how to be a man and provided countless Godly examples of how to be a father, but as I reflect today…there’s still something missing.

If I had a third hand, it would be pointing to my Heavenly Father. He has not filled in the gap, but rather added another dimension or character to the person of father in my life.

We learn when we grieve and grow when we must work around those holes in our lives. The people around us need us to succeed, which is why I write about this stuff. It helps to put into words what is in my head and heart at times.

Father’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate dads everywhere…just know that there are people out there that hide on this day because the pain is too great.

Remember to pray for His peace to invade their hearts.
Remember to be sensitive to those you know are hurting.
Remember to hug them; look them in the eye; and tell them how much they mean to you.

Love. That’s it…just love.

Today was one of the best Father’s Day ever for me as a dad, but still hard as a son -> loved as a dad; lonely as a son.

Into the Fire

Steve —  1.21.2010 — 1 Comment

Priincipal's OfficeI had a chance to speak some new truth into my son the other night. About an hour after he went to bed, he woke up crying and I went to see him. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he didn’t like “those boys at school pulling on my shirt.” I knew what he was talking about because it coincided with other events of that day that resulted in a trip to the “principal,” but that’s not the story.

He was mad – the kind of mad that makes you cry and hit and scream…all at the same time. In that state, he told me he wasn’t “going back to that school – NEVER!” and continued to sob. I snatched him up and tried my best to console him. This is the first time that I felt like he was being picked on by other kids. It obviously made him mad and it certainly made me mad. It’s my boy they’re jerking around, and what’s worse, it has caused him to be afraid.

Fear is tricky and very powerful. Even more so in the mind of a 4yr old. So I did what any other dad would do, I told him that I had his back and that Manatt boys don’t run away from our problems, we use our head and our heart to overcome it. Low and behold, it seemed to work. Cool – that was just a shot in the dark. It was true, but I didn’t expect that to actually assuage his fears.

This taught me two things:

  1. My son looks up to me and believes that I can help him
  2. This parenting thing is starting to click for me…a little…ever so slightly

Today was the day he went back to school (only half days, one day a week) and it went great. My wife was able to talk to his teachers and share our concerns about an apparent breakdown in supervision and asked for a higher degree of sensitivity for the way the kids “played” with one another. How about some kudos for the wife – she’s getting that parenting thing down too!

All kidding aside, this showed me how important my job is to help prepare my kids to handle situations that scare them and to remind them that mommy and daddy have their backs. I sure am glad that God has my back!

Kiddos

What a weekend we’ve had – full and great! Friday evening was pretty routine except that we chose to dine out at the best fast-food restaurant on the planet – Chic-Fil-A. Great food and a great study in marketing if you’re into that like I am, but I digress…

Saturday started off pretty good. A trip to Wally World with the kids while my wife stayed behind to vacuum (kids present doesn’t make for ideal dirt-nabbing conditions). Normally, I like to go to the store, but normally, it is just me and the boy. Add one 14-month old to the mix and you’re all of a sudden trying to play a zone defense in a store that acts like a third opponent. By the end of the 90-minute ordeal, I was just about done and it wasn’t even 10:00am yet!

Sound familiar? Yes? That’s great, but more on that in a minute.

Saturday was also host to one of TWO birthday parties for the boy because trying to cram everyone into one big party at our house would involve a paddy wagon for me and the Mrs. This party was just for family, and the cousins were the main attraction. Before they arrived, we thought it important that the kids take a nap. No problem for the little one – she’s a great sleeper, but the boy fought it the whole way. He was simply too excited to see his cousins and couldn’t wait to run and play like banshees. I’m sure you can relate…right? That’s fantastic!

The party came; presents were ripped open; and grandma’s cake was eaten (mostly just the icing) while I watched with pride. All of this was very normal for a family that has its roots in some very abnormal beginnings. Adoption is anything but normal, but my kids and the relationship we have with them is just like any other and that makes me swell up even more.

God is the great normalizer – taking the absurd and changing it to the amazing and making it feel like it should have been that way all along. I’m grateful to my Father for my family. I couldn’t have designed it any better with a million years time. Oh, we have our encounters with the world where we are reminded of the special DNA of our family, but that only keeps us grounded and ensures that He gets the credit for it all.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year for a myriad of reasons: I have some great memories as a child and I love to give and show my love via gifts and the thought that goes behind them. However, the most incredible part of this time of year – this year – is that I get the chance to tell my 4-yr. old son about why we celebrate Christmas.

Sure, he’ll struggle to put some of the concepts together when all he really wants to do is ramp his trucks off the living room ottoman and watch the Thomas video for the 1000th time, but I persist regardless. I’m confident some of it is getting in there and next year more will make it in and every year it will get more and more comprehensible.

For me, this time of year is about hope – actually Hope. There was a time in my life when things looked like they would remain mundane – the days would be “normal” regardless of the activity. At some point in college, I started wondering if this was all there was…was there any hope for anything better – even supernatural?

Growing up in the south, God is talked about as commonly as baseball and apple pie, but this does not make a faith. Did I believe God existed. Sure. Did I believe he was interested in me? Nope. Was He relevant to me day in and day-out? Not in the least. After all, I was in control and managed to keep it between the ditches for all these years – I’m wasn’t sure I NEEDED God.

At some point, I started wondering about eternity. What happened after I died? Who was right about that? Would I come back as a cricket or go to heaven or, worse yet, cease to exist. The only one worth examination seemed to be heaven, so I started asking some questions and found out that, not only is this scenario plausible, it is possible – FOR ME.

There was more! In my research, I discovered that not only could heaven be my destination, but my daily life could have true meaning. A relationship with Jesus Christ promised eternal life starting NOW!!!

Eighteen years later, I still marvel at the wonder of my salvation. The story is absurd from a human perspective – nonetheless, it is true and I believe it to the core. The birth of my Savior put in motion God’s plan to restore hope to humanity. His death and resurrection thirty three years later finalized it.

So, for me, hope was restored during this time of year when Hope was born. Someday, my son will understand the Hope that can be found in this time of year and I pray that it doesn’t take him as long to “get it” as it did me.

As we all know, there’s a choice to make lemonade from the lemons in life and that choice certainly holds true about how you approach marriage. One such choice that has served me and my wife well is the value of getting away – just the two of us.

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To be a father is the most challenging aspect of life – if done right. The weight of the responsibility is crushing, overwhelming and incomprehensible should you dwell on it for any length of time. As for adoptive dads – we asked for it, begged for it, spent a small fortune just for the chance.

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