Posts Tagged ‘Husbands’
A little boy is on the phone in a long-ago kitchen with his best friend, Adam. It’s Saturday morning, and Adam is trying to persuade Bjorn to come over and play. “Not today, Adam,” Bjorn says. “My dad’s off this weekend and that means we get to spend the morning with him.” Adam is insistent: “O come on, Bjorn. What are you going to do this morning anyway?” Bjorn: “I don’t know, Adam. But whatever my dad is doing, I’m doing.”
“Whatever my dad is doing, I’m doing.” The words have echoed in my heart through the years. So many memories of Woody’s Saturday morning adventures with the kids. Sometimes they’d drive up to the rocky coast north of Boston and climb the rocks and collect sea glass and make up imaginary stories of sea kingdoms and castles and fairies and monsters. Or go to the historic Concord bridge and climb around the banks of the river throwing sticks in the water and just “mucking around.” Or, in the winter, sled down the fearsome hill at Tower Park. Or just hang out in the basement with Dad while he cleaned up down there—probably making a game of it somehow. Or at least drinking root beer in the basement and having (OK, I said it) burping contests!
Later, being with his children meant Woody needed to go where they were—to soccer games near and far; to a college apartment 10 hours away to arrive early on a 21st birthday to take a very surprised daughter to breakfast before turning around and driving back in order to teach Sunday School the next day; to many a college mailbox and computer inbox with hilarious cards and encouraging—or entertaining—emails.
Always, the theme verse in Woody’s head was Deuteronomy 33:12: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” When the kids were little, he loved carrying them everywhere in a backpack. Of course they quickly outgrew the backpack. But he continued to pursue creative ways to let them know they were beloved and secure. It was meant to be a picture of their Heavenly Father and how HE carries them from here to eternity “between his shoulders.”
“Whatever he’s doing . . .” Being present with our kids, and being a model of a Godly man (not perfect, you understand—but God-directed) with Godly values, and loving God in ways they watched—all the greatest gifts Woody could give our kids. All the more important in these parenting days. A much-needed contrast to the “20 minutes of action” philosophy!
And now the next generation is passing it on, living out Deuteronomy 6, each in their own way with their own kids. My greatest joy in this world is watching this happen. So, as Father’s Day approaches, I want to give a shout-out to the dads in my family—Woody, Bjorn, Lars, and Richie. They all do it in such different ways, but each of these dads is living life with his kids in such a way that my grandchildren are getting to know their Father’s love through the love of a human father.
Another very important shout-out: I feel huge gratitude when I see Christian dads reaching out to those around them who don’t have a “present dad” in their lives. For a host of different reasons (so many of them heart-wrenching), many kids in our world do not have a dad who is able to be with them and model their Heavenly Father’s love. I also want to give a shout-out to moms who are marvelous conduits of God’s love to their children; many single moms I know are Jesus-in-the-flesh to their children with a grace and power that astounds me. But it is a gift to us all when Christian dads come alongside these kids to do fun “guy things” and model the love of our Father in masculine ways. We need reminders of the stunning love of the Father we all have through Jesus. No matter what. The real reason I can wish every one of you a Happy Father’s Day!
One little bonus: As I was writing this, our son Lars posted this on Instagram:
A great idea for celebrating with the dads in your lives! ☺
Recently I had the fun of engaging with a group of women in a Q&A session. And they asked some great questions! I’ll share one of them in this post and at least one other in a future post.
“How can I get my husband to see that Scripture has more than negative rules—do’s and don’ts? Growing up we tend to hear the ‘rules’ and not the love.”
A really important question. But it made me a little sad—to think how easily our view of scripture can be distorted (depending on our backgrounds and early exposure). For the Bible truly is God’s love letter to us. Or, as Philip Yancey so succinctly put it, “In a nutshell, the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 tells the story of a God reckless with desire to get his family back.” (The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 268) The “rules” are rooted in relationship. They grow out of our relationship with God. And they facilitate better relationship with others. God’s ways are, as some have put it, user friendly.
So how to help someone see the true message of the Bible? My first thought was, “Invite him to read it!” But then another part of this woman’s written question got me. “How can I get my husband to…?” The short answer? You can’t “get your husband to” do anything.
Bulletin: We wives are not called to be the Holy Spirit in our husbands’ lives—no matter how good we might think we could be at the job! So maybe our starting point should actually be on our knees. Step one would probably be: “Pray that the Holy Spirit will open his eyes and heart to God’s message of love to him.”
Then think about how your husband might best be able to see the scripture for what it is. Maybe there’s an opportunity to attend a class or join a small group that could help him hear God’s message of love to him. Or, if he’s a reader, books like Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God or Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing about Grace? might be useful.
Perhaps best of all, try showing him the love of God in the way you love him. After all, our children often best come to understand how God loves them by the way we love them. May be that could help a husband, too.
It’s happened again. Someone in an audience asked a great question. And now, over a week later, I can’t get it out of my mind.
Woody and I were speaking at a Mom to Mom Couples’ Night in Massachusetts which was followed by a brief Q&A. We had talked about the huge challenges of Woody’s schedule (as a medical oncologist) in our parenting. I mentioned how much I had wished Woody could be home earlier in the evening.
Afterward a man in the audience asked,” What were you looking for in wanting your husband home? Were you looking for an assistant? Or a companion?” Great question! After a moment’s thought, I answered, “yes—and yes.” Both. I really needed both.
Certainly I needed help at the end of those long days with three kids five and under. Every mom reading this will resonate. But I also longed for adult company. No, more—I longed for Woody’s company. He’s a really great guy—intelligent, thoughtful, interesting, and just plain fun to be with. And he makes me laugh. After all, I married him because I like to be with him. I still do. Yes, even after over 40 years of marriage!
But the question got me thinking. And I asked myself another question: Did my husband know, in those days, how I longed for his companionship as well as his help with the kids? Does he know I still do?
How about your husband? Does he know you like being with him? Does he know that your need to have him home is not solely for parenting assistance? That you see him as much more than just the “rescue parent” at the end of the day?
I’m just asking. It’s a hunch, but I’ll bet his knowing that could make a big difference in your marriage. Let me know what happens when you tell him!
A number of moms have asked how they can get their husbands more involved in the parenting of their kids. Common complaints include: “He just wants to be a playmate, leaving all the discipline to me.” Or: “He really just wants to do his own thing and not get involved at all in day-to-day caregiving.”
Good question! And not an easy one to answer. As I thought about it, I happened to be visiting one of our sons, so I thought I’d get his male perspective on the issue. He happens to be a very involved Dad himself. But I asked him what advice he’d give other moms as to how to get their husbands more involved.
His first response put things into stark perspective. “That’s really a hard one, because we all are basically selfish and want to do our own thing.” [BTW, by “we,” I don’t think he meant just men. All of us are basically selfish, though I do think moms get a lot of day-to-day practice in becoming selfless!] He went on to say that a lot of the men he knows seem to be a lot more focused on their own leisure pursuits than on their time with family.
An uphill battle, for sure—at least in some cases. And the hard part about it is that, as we say so often at Mom to Mom, the only person you have power to change is YOU. You really can’t make another person do anything.
Having said that, here are a few tips I’ve gleaned along the way—some from my own observation and experience and some from a great group of moms who dove into this question along with me:
- PRAY about it—first, last, and always. Pray especially before speaking about it with your husband. How you approach it can make all the difference!
- Watch your attitude! Some of us women are particularly gifted with “attitude,” and if, like me, you are also gifted in sarcasm, watch it. Another point of prayer….
- Use “I….” statements rather than “YOU…” accusations. “I feel,” “I need,” “I miss,” “I want your input” are far more effective than “YOU always…” or “You never…” But do tell him what you need, rather than “stuffing it” and letting it smoulder.
- Use fewer words rather than many (and this from Linda!) When it comes to men and words, less is more, believe me!
- Help your husband see the difference he makes for your children—and you! For example, “Honey, he so looks up to you. “ or “She’s just watching for you to notice” or “We just love having you home—and a part of these projects.”
- Create opportunities for successful interaction. Sometimes we get so used to “doing everything” that we don’t even leave space for him.
- Avoid a constant critique of everything he does—e.g., he went to the store but bought the wrong brand, he put the baby to bed but put on the wrong PJ’s, he never sets the table right. (Ouch! But honestly, Woody does still get the fork and knife sides reversed—is it male dyslexia?)
- “Change your thinking.” This from one mom who said she finds she needs to refocus periodically to see what her husband actually does do to help, rather than only what he doesn’t do.
- Affirm whenever you can. Let your husband know, at every opportunity, the things you appreciate about him. One mom shared how an older wiser woman with whom she would sometimes share her “husband complaints” would always begin by asking: ”Have you made the list?” The list, that is, of all you love about him—even before the “complaint list” that may come more naturally to us.
- Pray some more. Let “Lord, change him” become “Lord, change me.” And sometimes—not always, but sometimes—he will change, too.
Not an easy question. But maybe some of you have something to add. We’d love to hear from you!