Too Rich to be a Good Dad…

Money

Doesn’t that statement sound absolutely ludicrous? For the majority of us striving to be good mothers and fathers, more money could solve many of our problems!

In his book David and Goliath, Malcom Gladwell** looks deeper and explores the concept of wealth and its impact on parenting. In the 2nd chapter of this book Gladwell walks through his interactions with one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. A man who came from a lower-middle class family to now own a house that could contain his childhood home in one room.

The Hollywood man states that it’s much harder to raise children in wealth than most people imagine. “People are challenged and ruined by economic hardships, but they can also be ruined by wealth because they lose any sense of ambition or pride.”

He never states that it will be hard from a material standpoint for his children. (Let’s all cry for the children of millionaires right!) He was stressing the fact that it will be harder for him to raise successful children with a healthy perspective of the world they live in because if his wealth.

Gladwell goes on to address that it is hard to be a good parent when you have too little money. You end up working too much and trade off providing “things” for your children instead of providing Y-O-U. But at some point on the wealth spectrum, money makes it more difficult to raise children properly. Want to know what the magic number is? It may surprise you that it’s not higher. Research on happiness indicates that the key number is $75,000 a household per year!

Later in the chapter Gladwell continues by stating that this adjustment to raising children in wealth is most difficult for “immigrants to wealth.” These are first generation millionaires that did not grow up in the wealth they created and have difficulty saying “no” to their children when the phrase they heard growing up, “we can’t afford it,” is not an option.

Psychologist James Grubman informs Gladwell that the phrase “No, we won’t” is much harder for a parent then “No, we can’t.” Grubman actually walks parents through the conversations they need to have with their children and how they need to explain that “Yes, we can get that, but we’re not going to…and here’s why…”

If you’re at all like me, you would LOVE to have the problem of saying no to your kids because it doesn’t match up with your values versus you just can’t afford it. From my current perspective, I’d much rather have to explain “no” than not having enough money in the bank!

But the research indicates is that being a good parent involves much more than providing for our children’s wants, desires, and even needs.

I want to be a good dad. Some days I actually am. And I hope and pray that no matter how much wealth we have, or don’t have, that I can be a good father that will intentionally lead my children to have a proper perspective of money and the world in which they live.

–SH

 

**If you have not read any of Malcom Gladwell’s books, I highly encourage you to do so. He has a unique perspective on life issues and you can greatly learn by looking through his lens.

It should be noted that David and Goliath is not a “Christian” book per se, even though some may think this by the title. It is a book about “Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” But through writing this book, Gladwell found his way back to his childhood faith by encountering the forgiveness and power of God through interactions with the Derksen family. Read his story of this encounter HERE.

malcolm_gladwell

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Father Like a Fisherman….

What virtues are most important for fatherhood? How do we know what is the best approach when raising and disciplining our children? Should we lean towards justice or mercy? Patience or swift action? Every child and every parent is different, so how do we know which direction to go?

The other night Rachel and I watched an interesting movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Here is the brief overview as listed on IMDB.com:

“A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.”

There is a key scene in this movie that can greatly aid to this developing mystery of how to properly father a child. When the main character, Fred, meets the Sheikh for the first time they go salmon fishing at the Sheikh’s estate in Scotland. Being from the desert, Fred asks the Sheikh how he started salmon fishing and why he enjoys it so much. The Sheikh replies, “Fishermen only care about 3 virtues. Patience. Tolerance. And humility.”

It hit me instanty while watching that scene—what if I could focus my duties as a father on the 3 virtues of fishermen? Patience. Tolerance. Humility.

Patience--bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

Tolerance–a fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions or practices differ from one’s own.

Humility/Humble–modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance/courteously respectful.

Patience

What if I, as a dad, could bear more annoyance without losing my temper or getting irritated? Every child has their time when their annoyance or irritation level rises to new heights. I can sometimes be what some would call a “high-strung” individual. Each of my children are very different, and the one that is most like me in personality (and gender :) ) can push my buttons in mysterious ways. Life could be so much better for all of us if I could continually choose to bear more without becoming irritated.

Tolerance

You parents out there know what it’s like. You tell your son or daughter not to do something or how to do something, just to see them forget 10 minutes later. What if I could  maintain a fair and objective attitude toward them? Amidst the growing pains and forgetfulness of a young child, a fishermen’s dose of tolerance would make fatherhood immensely more effective.

humility

How can you be humble or have humility toward a child? To someone you’re in authority over? Let me ask this question, what if we continually and intentionally put our importance below our children’s? Rachel and I were just talking the other night of how we are the product of the helicopter parenting generation. (I’ll discuss helicopter parenting more in a later post.) Many of our generation are extremely self-indulged and self-focused. I am looking in the mirror on this one. It is very hard for me to put the needs of others ahead of my own interests. This shortcoming is directly why I need to intentionally put my importance below my children’s. In short, my children need to be more important than myself. (This must be done in a delicate manner so as not to create another self indulged generation.)

Patience. Tolerance. Humility. The way of the fisherman may help me to better navigate the rivers of Intentional Fatherhood.

–SH

 

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“The Girls”…..

I am the proud father of 1 boy and 3 girls. Their names are Christian, Selah, Jadah, and Adriah. I needed to state that because I recently found out that when I refer to my children I actually only have 3 of them. Christian, “the girls,” and Adriah. Somehow my common speech when describing my family has left out the names of my twin girls Selah and Jadah.

This was pointed out to me a few months back by one of my best friends, Nate Woods. Nate doesn’t have any kids of his own yet and has a very dry sense of humor, so it actually surprised me when he pointed this out to me several times (apparently I refer to Selah and Jadah this way often). After the 3rd time of him telling me, I realized he was serious and that it happened all the time.

This realization of my phrasing made me think about how I look at my children individually.Or how sometimes I may NOT look at them individually.

Parents of identical twins can attest to the difficulty of this task. If I spend a lot of time with Jadah, it’s hard to make sure I create some time for Selah because in some ways I feel like I was just with her!

They look the “exact” same, are the exact same age, and are at the exact same stage developmentally. Normally if you go from spending time with one child to spending time with another, these variables will change to add a little diversity to your interactions as a parent.

It makes me recognize how extremely intentional we need to be in our interactions with our various children. What cheers one up on a bad day may make another one sad. My son’s favorite meal may be one of my daughter’s least favorite. (I am NOT suggesting making them separate meals. You’re home is not a made to order restaurant.)

They are each very distinct individuals, and I need to make sure that I constantly see and praise that individuality–that unique design. For me, maybe it simply starts with consciously making sure I refer to my children as Christian, Selah, Jadah, and Adriah?

May we as fathers and mothers see our children as the unique individuals they were created to be. May we parent them based on their needs and avoid the concept of parenting children and in exchange parent each child. And may we accurately learn and recite each of their individual names with as few mistakes as possible. :)

–SH

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