I’m not a big fan of bragging about my kids. My parents had some close friends when I was growing up and all they talked about was how amazing their kids were. It was annoying. 

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As a parent now, what I do want to make sure I do is encourage my kids, without prideful statements. As a Christian, I value humility. But don’t get me wrong, I struggle with pride and have to make a conscious effort to kill it in my heart every day.

It seems the Lord has given particular talents that make this harder. I’m an actor, a writer, and a leader. All these things are prone to increase your pride and often require self-promotion (hate that word) when you need to market yourself. 

And let’s not forget, I’m male…and men struggle with the sin of pride anyway, even without talents and abilities. It’s in our nature. I could blame it on testosterone, but it’s deeper than that. Maybe I’ll blame it on Adam. 

At any rate, because I struggle with pride, it’s hard to not see it in others too…especially my middle school-aged children. But this is when they to be bragged about most. I see it in their eyes, that longing for approval and esteem. 

Middle school is hard for kids. They are stuck between childhood and adulthood. There’s so much pressure to be liked and approved of among peers. They come home exhausted from the social interactions alone. 

So when they brag about themselves it’s because they are desperate for it and I’m probably not doing a good enough job reminding them how awesome they are.

Last week, one of my daughters begin talking about how good she looked. I caught myself getting ready to share the importance God places on modesty and humility but I stopped. She just needed Daddy to mention how incredibly beautiful she was, without turning it into a lesson on pride. 

Yesterday, my other middle school daughter wrote an email to the school dean asking him to reevaluate a teacher’s decision to give a bad grade. The email was mature and professional and contained no teen angst that might normally disqualify her complaint. Not once did she include “It’s not fair!” or “Mrs. X hates me.” 

I was proud of my child and I told her. Later–about an hour later–I brought it up again, letting her know I was still pondering it and how impressed I was with her maturity.

Lest you think I’m a better dad than I am, let me tell you: I don’t make a practice of this like I should. Most times I think it but don’t say it aloud, for fear I’ll create a prideful teen.  

Sometimes I suck at parenting. But I’m trying.

How about you? Do you agree it’s ok to encourage your kids? What about in public, among others, where it could be considered bragging? How does this fit into our family as followers of Christ? Where’s the balance? Share your thought in the comments. 

If you’re a single parent, consider The Single Dad Detour, available today on Amazon.com

 

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I love the group MercyMe, so when Christine and I had the privilege of previewing this film several months ago, we jumped at the chance.

The movie, I Can Only Imagine (in theaters now) tells the story behind the 2001 hit song by Mercy Me.

I have to say, the Erwin brothers (Directors for Mom’s Night Out, Woodlawn and October Baby) have done it again. It’s the emotionally-charged life story, so far, of MercyMe’s frontman, Bart Millard, and how he came to eventually write the tune about heaven.

The film opens in 1985, when the young care-free Bart Millard lives on a farm with his parents in Texas. But we quickly see his dad Arthur is not a nice guy. He does some pretty rotten things that hurt Bart and shock us too. In the role as Bart’s father, Hollywood veteran, Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point, Frequency, The Parent Trap and Soul Surfer) does an excellent job.

Bart goes to church camp and becomes a Christian, where he meets Shannon a girl who obviously likes him. Although Bart returns home spiritually renewed, he finds his mother has left. No way! Is this what she was planning all along…for Bart to be gone when she packed up and abandoned the family?

Left with his abusive father, the young dreamer continues trying to earn his father’s approval by joining the high school football team. But when an accident breaks both of Bart’s legs during a game, he’s told he can never play again.

So much for pleasing Dad.

In the months that follow, Bart discovers he can sing. Who knew? What’s more, he likes to write songs.

As a young adult, Bart eventually forms a band, MercyMe. But when he returns home one day to confront his father, he finds a different man there. That’s all I can say without spoilers.

For a main character that we’re supposed to love, Bart (played by newcomer J. Michael Finley) has a lot of faults and he’s a little pushy (prideful?) about his talent. But I’ve always heard your protagonist should be flawed if viewers are to like him. So there you go. Many characters model patience and grace toward Bart, especially his girlfriend (whom he dumps) and his band’s manager.

I love the spiritual content of this film. Faith, fear and eventually forgiveness intertwine as we follow Bart’s journey to overcome the deep damage caused by his mom and dad.

We see Bart with a Bible, singing in church, practicing forgiveness, helping the less fortunate (a.k.a. his dad) and other signs of fruit.

While obviously a Christian film, I Can Only Imagine is rated PG, so parents want to be careful if your kids are sensitive to some of the following images:

  • Bart’s parents have a fight and we hear screams and breaking glass off camera.
  • His angry dad stands outside his room holding a belt.
  • The father throws things when angry, breaking windows and dishes–even breaking plate over Bart’s head. There is blood.
  • He throws a gallon of milk at Bart’s head another time.
  • You’ll hear the crunch of bones when Bart breaks his legs and the Xray might be gross to some viewers.
  • Also, Bart’s dad is ill at one point and screams while clutching his stomach.

But that aside, there’s no sex, no alcohol, drugs or cussing. Still, I Can Only Imagine is about pain and redemption, brokenness and forgiveness. I think they portray this beautifully and realistically.

All of us have broken places inside in need of redemption. I liked it. Fans of MercyMe will love it. You just might want to add this one to your collection.

 

AGOODYEMy daughter is entering high school this fall. Oh my goodness, what did I just type? I feel like she was just born a few months ago and I holding her in one arm.

Single parents, have you ever said “I have plenty of time”?

 

I’m not so sure we do. Time flies by so fast and before you know it, it’s dusk.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t often realize how fast the “second half” of our kids’ time with us passes. The first nine years goes by so slow. It seems to take forever as we watch them learn to walk, start talking, get out of diapers, go to school, ride a bike, etc..

It just seems natural the next 9 years will be drawn out too. Wrong!

Those second nine, they progress three times faster. When we hit their ninth birthday, we’re 75% done, people. Everything accelerates.

So what factors contribute to this?:

_____We get busier as parents and our careers often cause us to spend less time at home

_____Other people start influencing our kids. Things like friends, TV and music, teachers…all accelerate their exposure and learning.

_____Younger siblings demand our time, so the older kids get less of us.

_____For single parents, as the kids get older they often decide to spend more time with one parent and so the other parent loses time and influence.

____Part-time jobs for our teens pull them farther from us.

____(Fill in another 20 reasons).

Ephesians 5:16 encourages us to make good use of our time on Earth. The opportunity to be influential in our child’s life doesn’t last as long as we think.

Sunset is quickly approaching. I want to seize the day and invest in our kids aggressively before the sun sets and they are no longer under our roof. Non-custodial parents have even less time.

What are some ways you influence your kids? Share some ideas with us so we can redeem the time we’ve already lost.