Category Archives: Fatherhood

A Decade with Anna

Ten Years of Anna

On March 10, 2005 Anna Mae Newton entered our lives. I can still remember how slowly I drove home from the hospital with tiny, little Anna Beans buckled up in her car seat. Hillary and I had created a little person together and now we were responsible for her.

A decade later so much has changed. Our little Beans who was strapped in that car seat is now ten years old and starting to grow into a woman. Gone are the days when I could pick her up and toss her into the air. Tonight she will get her ears pierced as a sort of rite of passage into womanhood.

As Anna grows into a woman and goes through many different changes over the next decade, this is my prayer for her from the writer Ann Voskamp:

A prayer for a daughter

Father who breathed into this daughter…
I pray for this girl being formed into eternity….

May the wind always be in her hair
May the sky always be wide with hope above her
And may all the hills be an exhilaration
the trials but a trail,
all the stones but stairs to God.

God, clothe this girl in a gown of grace
Grace, the only dress that makes beautiful,
the style of Your spirit.

Nourish her on the comfort food of the Word,
Word, that makes her crave more of Christ,
have hunger pangs for Him.

Enclose her in communion with You
You, Love who makes her love, who folds her heart into a roof
that absorbs storms for souls,
that makes her tongue speak only words that make souls stronger.

May her vocation in this world simply be translation
Translating every enemy into esteemed guest
Translating every countenance into the face of Christ
Translating every burden into blessing

When it’s hard to be patient… make her willing to suffer
When it’s ridiculous to be thankful … make her see all is grace
When it’s radical to forgive … make her live the foundation of our faith
And when it’s time to work… make her a holy wonder.

May she be bread and feed many with her life and her laughter
May she be thread and mend brokenness and knit hearts
May she be dead to all ladders & never go higher , only lower, to the lonely, the least & the longing
Her led of the Spirit to lead many to the Cross
that leads to the tomb wildly empty.

Oh, and raise me, Lord, from the deadness of my own sins to love this beautiful girl like You do…

In the name of Christ who rose

and appeared first

to one of His daughters…

Amen

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The Tween Years: Confidence or Fear

 

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I can still vividly remember my preteen and middle school years. I remember going with my mom to buy special clothes for gym class complete with the awkward jock strap. All of us in the middle school gym class had the required white shirts and red shorts. One of the girls in our class developed much quicker than the rest of the girls and bore the brunt of the jokes and laughs from the boys. We were all awkward with our own development, but this girl was the recipient of all our jokes because she developed quickest.

In a few months our oldest daughter Anna will turn 10 and officially venture into the preteen/tween years. We were blindsided by her entrance into puberty and couldn’t figure out why she would break down crying at the most random things and soon after act out in a temper tantrum.

Just yesterday she broke down crying in gym class and her gym teacher tried to console her. He asked her why she was crying and Anna exclaimed, “I don’t know why I’m crying!”

Anna has entered puberty.

I have a Master’s Degree in Youth and Family and years of experience working with teenagers, yet none of this can really prepare me for our own daughters becoming teenagers.

I entered puberty early and benefited from being six feet tall in middle school. It’s different for girls. Just like the girl in my gym class who was made fun of by the boys, it’s harder for girls who develop early.

Once again I am presented with the ultimate test of parenting.

Confidence or fear.

I can be fearful of what could happen to my daughter or have confidence in her ability to have perseverance and courage with whatever comes her way.

Whether I choose confidence or fear, Anna will be able to see my emotions and will probably respond the same way I do.

As a father, I must continue to make my relationship with my daughters a priority especially during the awkward and sometimes traumatic years of puberty.

I must choose confidence.

Inspiring Confidence in Our Daughters – #LikeAGirl

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You run like a girl. You fight like a girl.

Why do we make statements like this?

How does puberty change a girl’s confidence?

For more on Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign, click here.

Developing Your Family’s Mission and Values

Hillary and I have been reading through Bruce Feiler’s new book “The Secrets of Happy Families” and have been devouring it. The ideas and principles are different from any other parenting book yet practically transformative. Definitely worth picking up!

One of the insights Feiler found as he talked to different families was coming up with a list of values and mission statement that are unique to your family. I don’t want to explain the whole process because I really think you should pick up the book. In chapter 3 titled “Branding Your Family,” Feiler dives into how it is important to discover and communicate your family “brand.” So often we develop values and mission for our work but don’t bring those principles home.

On New Year’s Eve, we sat down with our girls and came up with ten values that fit our family. We asked our girls the following four questions from The Secrets of Happy Families:

  1. What words best describe what we want our family to be like?
  2. What is most important to our family?
  3. What are our strengths as a family?
  4. What sayings best capture our family?

We kept the discussion short because we wanted to keep their interest but it was cool to see what was going through their minds. It is so important to have our girls play a role in what our family is becoming.

Now we will hang these values and mission statement by our kitchen table so we can refer to them with the girls.

Here are our Newton Family Values and Mission Statement:

Family Values Poster

Goofiness, Baseball and the Magic Chair

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Dads, do you have a chair in front of the TV that your kids don’t dare sit in?

I spent Monday through Wednesday going through basic chaplaincy training with the Colorado State Patrol in preparation for my new role as a volunteer police chaplain with Edgewater Police. Police officers have unique stress that can have a destructive role on themselves and their families. One of the ways they cope with this stress is zoning out in their “magic chair” and tuning out what is happening around them.

I don’t think this is unique to police. I do it. Just last night Hillary bravely told me to turn off the World Series and be present with our girls.

And boy was it worth it last night.

We found out that Apple’s GarageBand app for the iPad is free and we had a family jam session on our iPads. Then we found out that there is a vocal recording part of the app that allows you to record your voice and then make it sound like a chipmunk or a monster.

The sounds that we made together were hysterical. At one point I thought Norah was going to wet her pants she was laughing so hard.

All it took was me getting out of my “magic chair” and engaging with my family.

Eating Like a Cave Man and Losing Weight

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I blame over five years as a youth pastor and endless pieces of pizza for my weight gain. I tried to exercise and even ran a marathon but losing weight was virtually impossible. According to my BMI(Body Mass Index), I was overweight and it really began to bother me.

My last hope was to change my diet.

I had heard friends talk about the Paleo Diet so I did some research. The idea of the Paleo Diet is to mimic the diet of early hunter-gatherers to optimize health and lose weight. So here is what this means:

 Can Eat

  • Grass-produced meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

 Don’t Eat

  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes (including peanuts)
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Salt

Taken from The Paleo Diet

 So basically I am limited to eating meat, fruits and vegetables. But the amazing thing is that since starting the diet in June I have lost over 20 pounds. For me it really comes down to self-control and the Paleo Diet really makes this manageable.
To be honest, I cheat a little on the diet. I drink beer and take half & half with my coffee. Once a week I eat sweets and pizza with the family. I don’t want to be one of those crazy, legalistic diet people.
So if you want to lose weight without having to count calories and feel better about what you are putting into your body, check out the Paleo Diet.

Man of Steel: Movie Review

Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) with a young Clark Kent

Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) with a young Clark Kent

Need a great Father’s Day movie this weekend? Catch the new Superman movie Man of Steel and be inspired as a father!

Instead of giving you a long drawn out explanation of the story and give away too many plot surprises, I thought I would just layout some of the elements I loved about the new movie.

  • Inspiring performances by Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Superman’s alien and earthly fathers. The self sacrificing nature of both of these characters is inspiring for fathers. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent was perfect casting and provides some great quotes on self-restraint.
  • Amy Adams as Lois Lane exhibited strength and great chemistry with Henry Cavill as Superman. She wasn’t a damsel in distress and could stand up on her own two feet.
  • Henry Cavill as Superman was the perfect mix of strength and down home Kansas kid though his man boobs might have been a little too big in the beginning.
  • As a follower of Jesus, I couldn’t help but see the messianic undertones throughout the movie. As Clark Kent (Superman) grows up he struggles to understand his strength and when to use it. In numerous flashback scenes from his childhood, I couldn’t help but imagine Jesus growing up and having those same struggles with his divinity.
  • Soundtrack by the master Hans Zimmer was perfect, lofty and inspiring.

It was hard to watch Superman and not compare it to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy though they shouldn’t necessarily be compared. Bruce Wayne (Batman) is human with technology that makes him a superhero while Clark Kent is an alien that is inherently a superhero. Man of Steel focuses on Superman’s alien nature and his struggle with the alien General Zod. An alien war on Earth brings total devastation while Batman’s struggles with his enemies weren’t as devastating. The panoramic action sequences in Man of Steel dwarf any of the scenes in the Batman trilogy.

I thoroughly enjoyed Man of Steel as a stand alone Superman movie and hope that we get a second movie in this series. Throughout the movie there are references to Lex Luther and Lexicorp so it sets up well for his character in the second movie. I’m also holding onto hope for a Justice League movie (try and catch the reference to Bruce Wayne in Man of Steel – look for the logo on a satellite in space).

So dads, catch Man of Steel this weekend for Father’s Day and you won’t regret it!

Get Away from the Kids and Be a Better Parent

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For a week and a half, our kids are staying with their grandparents and my wife and I have time to just relax together. This past weekend, we were in Seattle for a wedding and a number of times I felt like I was forgetting something. My greatest fear is losing my daughters somewhere. So as Hillary and I explored Seattle there were definitely times where my thoughts jumped to, “Where are my daughters?”

It is hard to shed our roles as parents but it is a healthy practice to spend time away from our children so we can concentrate on our more important roles as husband and wife.

Our role as spouses comes before our role as parents. I dive deeper into this here.

So it is important to find a babysitter or a grandparent or a friend to watch our children on a regular basis so we can concentrate on our role as spouses and strengthen our marriage. This is most important when our children are young because they demand more of our time and energy.

So get away from your kids on a regular basis.

Make time for regular date nights.

Play hooky from work and go out for breakfast.

Take a vacation without the kids.

Find a group of parent friends and alternate who watches the kids so you can each have a date night.

But most of all, make your marriage a priority and you will be a better parent.

Power of Dads

I applaud companies who highlight role of dads. Here’s a great commercial from Oral B about the “Power of Dads.”

Overprotectiveness and Holding Our Kids Back

As you might know already, parenting daughters has taught me a lot about trust. Letting my daughters go is one of the hardest thing for me to do and they aren’t even teenagers yet. Now that both our daughters are in elementary school, I have even more opportunities to trust.

Recently, I have been driving to work in the mornings so I drive our daughters to school instead of walking them to school. Norah, our kindergardner really likes to have me drop them off in the circle drive instead of parking and walking them to their classroom door. I enjoy waiting with Norah and the other kids for the teacher to open the door and let them into class. Other parents wait outside with their kids as well.

For the past couple of days, I have put aside my trust issues and overprotectiveness, and dropped the girls off in the circle drive in front of the school. I can’t even look in the rearview mirror at “little” Norah walks to her classroom. It’s too hard for me right now. I admit it. I’m a sappy dad.

But I know that by dropping Norah off and letting her walk to her classroom, she is learning responsibility and starting the process of becoming an independent woman. It is better for her development even though it is hard for me.

How do we as parents stifle our child’s growth because of our own insecurities and trust issues?

For more on overprotectiveness, responsibility and letting our kids fail, read this great article from the Atlantic.