Mother’s Day is upon us. If you’re a single parent, are you making assumptions about spending time with your kid? Have you discussed it with your ex and your child?
During the first few years following our divorce, my ex-wife and I were awarded joint custody. We lived close by so everything worked out well.
But later, when we lived three states away from each other, my ex and I both had to compromise when it came to holidays. We could no longer drive the kids to one another’s home mid-day on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sharing was hard, especially when minor holidays (i.e. Memorial Day, Father’s Day) didn’t merit a road trip.
Whether we live close to our child or not, rotating those special occasions will eventually be an issue. We need to emotionally prepare ourselves by having a plan, asking each other some questions:

  • Should we rotate every other holiday?
  • What special days do I consider unimportant to be with my child? Which are non-negotiable?
  • How does your former spouse feel about this?
  • What’s my child’s expectation?

As Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach, discussing these with the ex-spouse is key. Now it’s your turn….share your advice for the rest of us. What has worked or not worked for you?   

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I had the opportunity to interview Yoda from Star Wars, asking him advice on parenting as research for my newest book.

I asked him why he thinks so few Jedi warriors can be found these days. Of course, he quickly replied, “Children I do not have, but advice for parents I have plenty.”

He gave me these 10 reasons why parents aren’t raising Jedis like they used to. But I think he was feeling a bit snarky. At any rate, enjoy!

  1. “Protect your child from inconvenience and failure, you should. Grow in fortitude and resilience, never will they.” 
  2. “Touch a lightsaber never should they. Dangerous are Jedi skills.”
  3. “Award you should, participation ribbons. Celebrate you should, mediocrity.”
  4. “Intervene you should, when low school grades they get. Helpful is it. Dependent forever on you, will your child be.”
  5. “Entitlement you should teach. Owes them a living the Force does.”
  6. “In your basement should they live–into their 30s they should well be.” 
  7. “Coddle them you should.”

“Follow these simple rules you will, then Peter Pan your kid will be. The Dark Side will he join….Finished I now am.”

Okay, well there you have it… seven pieces of wisdom for us parents to live by. Said it better I couldn’t have.

 

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 myself, and have to make a conscious effort to kill it every day.

It seems the Lord has given me particular talents that make this harder. I’m an actor, a speaker, a writer, and a leader. All these things are prone to increase my pride and often requires self-promotion (hate that word) when I need to market myself or my books. 

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. I love pointing fingers!

At any rate, because I struggle with pride, it’s hard not to see it in others too…especially my middle school-aged children. But this is when they need 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 humility. 

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. She never asked her mom or me to do it for her. that would be helicopter parenting (but that’s a topic for another post). She was confident enough to take this upon herself and she did well. The email was mature and professional and contained no teen angst that might normally disqualify her complaint. There was no whining. 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, 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. Silly, I know.

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 your family if you’re followers of Christ? Where’s the balance? Share your thought in the comments. 

If you’re a single parent, consider Tez’s book, 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.