Get In There!

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     I can only imagine that, after being 6 posts in now, you are wondering when we are going to start discussing being a father- you know, like raising kids. Well, I hear what you’re saying. Obviously, I wanted to do a little ground work before we jumped in, but as the title says, it’s time to “get in there.” In this post, we will discuss some of the do’s and don’t’s of engaging with our children.
     Have you ever sat next to you child, and after about five minutes felt yourself start to pull away? Do you often “watch” your children while you are browsing the internet on your phone? Do you keep a countdown of the hours before your children go to sleep? If so, you are in good company. I think most of us can relate to this. I find it difficult to play my thirtieth game of “Ring around the Rosie” with my oldest daughter or wait for my middle daughter to get her shoes and coat on (which she believes she doesn’t need help with anymore). Taking part in the early stages of child development is challenging. Spending time with your children can feel intimidating, awkward, boring, and draining. It’s so easy to give up and move on to something a little more “your pace.”
     Caring for our children in the early stages is kind of like starting a new sport or playing a new video game. At first, you have no idea what you are doing. You don’t know where to stand, when to jump in, and when to let someone else take over. We men, we don’t like feeling inadequate at something, and so we often pull away toward other parts of life that we are good at or makes sense to us. However, just as you can’t get better at a sport or video game without “getting in there,” the same is true when engaging with children. Spending time with your children will feel clunky and maybe even embarrassing at first, but if you stick with it, you will start to develop a flow. With practice, you learn the tricks that help you succeed.
     With all this in mind, let’s explore some application. Here is a short list of some do’s and don’t’s when engaging with children.
Do
  • Read books, tell stories, and take part in interactive play.
  • Share what you are seeing. Make comments like “you picked the purple crayon” or “now you have the big dinosaur and the small dinosaur.” Think Blue’s Clues, but you are talking to your child, not an audience.
  • Re-frame what is said or seen in play. If your son says, “Dad, I caught it! Was that a good catch?” you can say, “Yeah! That was a great catch. Nice job, bud!” Kids love this stuff.
  • Act silly and playful.
  • Set a start and stop time if needed. Let the child know when time is getting close, such as a 1 minute warning, so that the child knows what to expect.
  • Roll with it. You may go from one activity to the next. If your child is young, he or she might not have the capability to stick with a task for long periods of time. This will get better as the child gets older.
Don’t
  • Have media playing in the background that is unrelated to the play. Interactive play time is not effective when dad is messing with his phone or watching a show. There is a time and place for these activities as well.
  • Dictate the style or content of play. If barbie is getting married to a giraffe and rides a toy hamburger to school, let it go. This is creativity at work.
  • Get frustrated when things work out differently than planned.
  • Force a lesson out of each interaction. This is especially true when the children get older. It’s okay if something is learned while play takes place, that’s the whole point. However, becoming rigid in play will lead to the child feeling unheard.
  • Play in a way that harm’s the child physically or emotionally.
  • Question or challenge the decisions made during play. A child will shut down when they believe they have done something wrong. A question such as, “why would you choose that paint?” might not send the message you were implying.
     As always, this is not a master list. Feel free to check out some books or take a parenting class if it helps. Teachers have a great wealth of knowledge in this department. If you are experiencing special circumstances, there are clinicians that specialize in play therapy and can help you create a bond with your child. Just as we benefit from seeking advice from a coach in a sport or an experienced player in a video game, brushing shoulders with those that have picked up a few tricks along the way is a great way to get started. With all this, I have one last thought. The goal here is to increase the joy that you and your child have with each other. Obviously, your experience is going to be different than that of others, so don’t feel like you have to keep up with every piece of advice you hear. In time, as you “get in there” you will learn what works for your family and what doesn’t. The key is to stick with it.

On the Same Page

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         There is a scene from the movie “We Were Soldiers” that I believe reflects the relationship that many husbands have with their wives. The scene goes something like this: The LZ (landing zone) becomes overwhelmed after North Vietnamese troops surround Lieutenant General Hal Moore and most of his battalion where they have set up base camp. This leaves Moore without needed reinforcements. After a large scale North Vietnamese offense is called on the base camp, LTG. Moore is forced to call in “Broken Arrow.” This means air assistance is needed to assault the enemy force close to where his own men are struggling to hold their position. During the attempt to repel the enemy soldiers, there is an incident in communication leading to an American aircraft dropping napalm bombs onto their own troops. Obviously, once the mistake was realized, corrections were made, but the loss of American ground troops was catastrophic.
     So, what does this have to do with relationships? In my experience working with couples, as I listened to the partners share their concerns and hurts, I would often think to myself, “I don’t think these two realize that they are on the same side.” When there are some breakdowns in communication, we start experiencing casualties and loss. Far too often, we develop feelings of bitterness and resentment toward our ally, our partner, and start attacking them. It is during these times that I get the picture of Moore and wonder what would have been rolling through his mind if he hadn’t viewed the bombing as an unintentional error. He might have said things like, “my own allies did this?,” “why would they want to hurt me like this,” and maybe, “they won’t do this to me again, I’ll make sure of it.” That is where our pain takes us when we start viewing our partner as the enemy.
     If we are going to work with our partner to love and discipline our children, we can’t treat them like enemies that we are living with. When I would counsel couples and realized that the “enemy mentality” had settled in their hearts, I would share with them a challenge. If you have ever found yourself treating your partner as an enemy, I give this challenge to you now. Before engaging in any conversation with your partner, pause and say this phrase to yourself in your head, “she is not my enemy, she is my ally.” The conversation should be framed in a way that reflects this statement. If you start feeling heated halfway through, go back to this statement. You may have to gently remind your partner that you’re not the enemy too from time to time. This might sound too simple to have any meaningful effect, but give it a try and see how much different your conversations go. If you can keep this thought in mind, you will be surprised how much easier it becomes to find common ground and to support the decisions of one another.
     Once the enemy mentality no longer dictates conversation, then it is time to start taking ground together. Discuss everything. As long as you and your partner remain a team, then talk about the details of life: chores, responsibilities, parenting styles, traditions, money, plans, faith, fears, dreams, you name it. These topics only become barriers when we treat our partner like they are against us, that they do not want what is best for us. If you feel hurt, give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Ask questions to try to figure out where a breakdown in communication may have taken place. If hurt was intentionally caused, then apologize to each other and take steps to make sure the incident doesn’t happen again. Learn from past mistakes and be willing to compromise. Use a tone of voice and body language that reflects love and not judgement.
     These are some ways that you can work with your partner instead of against her. As the old saying goes, “behind every great man, there is a great woman.” This means that if we are to do great things, we are going to need the support of our partner. Rock Solid men are strong because they remain united with there allies. Always remember, your partner is not your enemy, she is your ally.

A Game of Tug-of-War

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I was the oldest of four growing up; one sister and two brothers. My sister, the next in line, is 5 years younger than I. As many older brothers have done, I often used the advantage of my age and experience to prey upon my poor, innocent siblings. One of the worst tricks that I can recall is when I made money “trades” with them. I imagine you know where this is going. Whenever they would earn a quarter or find one on the street, I would trade them five pennies or a few nickles. I understood the value of the change in their pocket much more than they did, and because I did, I took from them more than what they got back in return.
     I share this piece of family cruelty for more than a confession. I wanted to paint a picture of how we as people, when not properly informed, can get confused about the value of our limited resources and the return that we get from them. Every person has a decision to make about where they invest their time, money, energy, and attention. We all have 24 hours in a day, no one has access to more. I can only do so much before I am exhausted. So, why does it seem like some people are getting along better than we are? Why are there people ending their life happy, and we are struggling to keep the ship afloat? The answer may surprise you. Its because they are cheating.
     The concept of cheating is not my own idea, I got this from a great book called, “Choosing to Cheat” by Andy Stanley. In his book, Andy discusses how we can’t be fully invested in every area of life all the time. There are many, many people and situations that demand of us what little we have to give. Our work and our family are, by far, one of the hardest games of tug-of-war to be caught in the middle of. With each decision that we make, we can feel the pull on each side, seeking to claim victory. No matter how hard we try to keep everyone happy, some people and situations are not going to get the best of us by the end of the day. The secret that successful people often make is choosing what will get cheated for the day, what will take priority. They intentionally start their day with a plan and they execute that plan. Most importantly, they are aware of what is going to give them the best results over an extended period of time. They see past today and far out into the future. They make the decisions now that will help them get to where they want to be later.
     So, if we can’t be all and do all for all, where might our priorities best lie. I suggest that we must learn the value of giving the family our best. When we measure that against the other things that compete, over the long haul, we will get the biggest bang for our buck when we invest in our family. You will have to trust me when I say that our family is a more lucrative investment than giving to work, recreation, material “stuff,” or the public eye. It may not seem that way at first, but that is because we still see things like a child who just got five pennies for their quarter (no offense intended). We like watching the money roll in, the attention of our peers, and the praise of our co-workers. Yet, in 20 years from now, what is going to have any lasting value? Money gets spent, people forget our accomplishments, that sports car sitting in our driveway is going to rust. If we think these investments are going to pay over time, we are falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book.
     In conclusion, I encourage you to invest wisely. Give to your family with generosity. The return may not be obvious right away, but your involvement + family = lasting joy; ask anyone who is over the age of 60 and happier than yourself, they will tell you the same. If life is making demands of you that keep taking away from family, don’t fall for the trap. Your children are going to grow up quickly, they need their father present. The world is always going to want more from you. If you try to solve every problem or finish every task, you will be taking from what belongs to your family. As hard as it might be, a good father is comfortable with cheating the world out of what it believes it is due to make sure the family stays strong. You don’t have to sacrifice your integrity, but you do have to say no every once in a while. It is okay to walk away from an opportunity, even if it seems hard to pass up. Believe me, when you put your family first, it will be worth it in the end. I promise.

Who’s Got Your Back?

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    Even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto. We are no different. Every man needs someone to lean on. No matter how tough of an act we try to pull, we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can get by all on our own. To be the father that we want to be, we have to understand that there is benefit in having others around to lend a hand from time-to-time.
     After getting my feet wet in the world of counseling, I quickly realized one need that, if not addressed, was a bane to any success my clients might hope to make. That need is a support system. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines support system as: “a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support.” Our supports can come from home, school, work, religious affiliates, clubs, groups, community, or general places of recreation. In other words, supports can come from anywhere. A good support is someone who not only has their own interests in mind, but considers yours as well.
     One of the best supports in our life could and should be your partner. If you’re married, then you have made a commitment to stick with this person through thick and thin. Your spouse has made that commitment to you as well. Your partner, in the context of a healthy relationship, is someone that you can go to for wisdom, rest, and insight. If it affects myself and my family, I try my best to run everything past my wife before making a final decision. It can’t hurt to get a least one extra set of eyes on the situation.
     While we are discussing things that I have learned through counseling others, let me share another one with you. People tend to like to help us. It feels good to swoop in and save the day. In most people, there is a drive to want to nurture or be the hero for others. If our partners believe that something can be done to meaningfully meet our needs and there are no barriers (emotional or other) holding them back, they are likely to give us aid.
     The friends that we have developed over the years are another support that we can look to. Now, I’m not talking fair-weather friends, I mean real friends. The kind of friends that are there for you when they have nothing to gain. Men struggle to make these healthy relationships, especially as they get older. If you can’t name at least two or three guys that you could call today if you lost your job and needed to talk, then you are missing out on something huge. My encouragement for every man is that they do all that they can to maintain healthy friendships with a few upstanding gentlemen. Make sure you are there for your friends as well. If it has been a while since you have last spoke, call them up this evening and tell them that you are thankful for them. It might sound sappy, but if you want to have real friendships, you must do this often.
     Finally, it might be in your best interest to connect with your community. There are men and women all over the world that have made it their profession to help you and I get through the trials of life. Do you need food, housing, further education? Many communities can help you with these basic needs. Are you wanting to start up a new business or take on a different career path? Look up a few businesses in your area and ask if you can chat about taking the next steps. These people might be the same people to help you get your foot in the door.
     Most of the jobs and important opportunities I have gotten over the years have been from the recommendation of someone I have met along the way. Talk with any successful businessman, and they will tell you that networking is key. You’ve probably heard it before, “it’s good to have connections.” Let me say this again, having a support system is crucial to success as a father. There is a wise saying that goes, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Make maintaining strong connections a high priority in your life; this is where your rock-solid strength lies.

All According to Plan

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    Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar, American motivational speaker and author said, “If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.” That’s the reasoning for why many companies will make it your first priority to memorize and adopt their “mission statement” when you begin working for them. Alongside this, many companies will also provide an accompanying set of “core values.” These two pieces together give each employee a clear understanding of the vision that the company hopes that you will follow, with and without oversight. In order for a company to be successful, it needs to have two things: 1) a plan; 2) adherence to the plan. The same applies to military operations, sports plays, and cinematic masterpieces. I suggest that the same could apply to a family just as well.

If you are anything like me, you hate planning ahead. Though it’s rough when things don’t go well for me, I rarely ever do anything to prepare for a favorable outcome. It’s easy to watch life go by and take things as they come. However, if you want your children and your relationship with your partner to succeed, you are going to need to commit to something. Whether it’s easy to admit it or not, it is our responsibility as men to lead our household. Your mission statement for your family, as well as your core values, need to be understood by each family member. Is education a priority to you? How about maintaining a moral code of conduct? Without a plan, you are likely to miss opportunities along the way to instill the basics needed to achieve these aspirations.

     Let’s start small. First grab a paper and pencil. It is beneficial to write these things down, because it increases the solidity of what you are committing to, and it will likely help you remember what you decide. Next, ask yourself, “What do I want most for my family?” If you can narrow your response to a sentence or two that can clearly be understood by others, then you have for yourself a mission statement. Now take one more step, ask yourself, “what values support the vision that I have?” If you are struggling with this part, here is a small list of some values you might consider:
– Discipline              – Honor                    – Strength
– Integrity                – Dignity                   – Courage
– Honesty                 – Respect                  – Resourcefulness
– Diligence               – Passion                  – Dedication
– Responsibility      – Zeal                         – Persistence
– Leadership            – Adaptability          – Loyalty
– Mastery                  – Justice                   – Grace
– Love                        – Faithfulness          – Wisdom
– Curiosity                – Will                         – Contentment
     This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good place to start. The last step is to write down a few opportunities that you don’t want to miss in order to guide your family toward these values. Think of these opportunities as “openings.” This is how we adhere to the plan.Try to catch as many openings as you can while your child grows up. The more you can make the most of these, the stronger those values will stick. Openings to consider are meals at the dinner table, moments before bedtime, sports games/meets, car rides, after school activities, or family vacations. Again, these aren’t the only opportunities. If you can think of others, write them down. Most importantly, be the example for your family. No one wants to follow a leader that doesn’t follow his own teaching. Children are more likely to do what you do than what you say. Your partner is more likely to value what you value if it is apparent in your behavior. With a mission statement, some core values, and adherence to a plan, then you have one of the greatest tools for your success; you have direction.

A Journey Toward Rock Solid Fatherhood

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For the first post, I wanted to give you a little background behind the blog and the person writing it. The concept of starting a blog came from the challenges created by the COVID-19 outbreak. I had just started my efforts in getting the fatherhood program on its feet when the outbreak hit. As a result, I had found myself sitting on some excellent resources, a plethora of topics to cover, and few clients. And so, I found myself needing to get creative with a medium for communicating information that I have been gathering. That is how this blog came to be.

I have never been a blogger before. In fact, I don’t think I have written much that wasn’t for a class. However, I have a strong passion for seeing men become the fathers that they crave to be. One of the most motivating responses I have received over the years from past clients has been, “yeah, I actually think I can do that!” I found power behind messages that are clear in content and application. I am not aiming to write a best-selling novel. I want you, as the reader, to feel like each post is a simple reminder of timeless truths that can be put into action today. I seek to share whatever wisdom I may have attained from others in a way that does not condemn, but respectfully calls us to action. Make no mistake, I will be challenging myself with these messages as well. We all have room to grow as fathers.

When I was a teenager, I was poured into by a youth pastor that spent a great deal of time teaching me not only what to think, but how to think. Often, we would sit at Outback Steakhouse or the local diner discussing life. We talked about faith, relationships, hobbies, passions, career paths, movies, music, and dreams. That is the vision that I have as I write to you. Though I may never get the chance to sit with you personally and enjoy some steak while I hear about the real you, I want you to know that I write each word as if we were. Additionally, I want you to know that I am living this out as best as I can myself. I too wish to be a better parent today than I was yesterday.

Let us grow together in our role as fathers. Come with me on this journey of self-discovery and personal development. It is my privilege to share what I have learned so far. I hope that you may always find freedom, hope, and encouragement with each message. Feel free to write back and share your thoughts; I want to hear them. Most importantly, may the foundation that you make for your family hold strong through all of life’s challenges.

Sincerely,
Brian J. Faust

Get to Know Heartline

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Heartline Pregnancy Center invites you to get to know Heartline

Hear what’s new at Heartline and tour the clinic and BABE Store

Thursday, September 26, 2019 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm

K21 Health Services Pavilion in Conference Room A
1515 Provident Drive Warsaw, IN

Hor d’oeuvres by Saucy’s

Please RSVP by September 23rd to 574-267-5110
or abates@heartlinepregnancycenter.org

Heartline Offers Premium Sponsorship Opportunities for Upcoming 5K

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Sponsors are needed for Heartline’s Donut Dash 5K

Warsaw, Ind.—Heartline Pregnancy Center’s Donut Dash will take place on October 19, 2019. Heartline invites area businesses to sponsor the 5K run/walk for life. Sponsors’ logos and promotional items will be featured throughout the event, and those who sign up before August 31, 2019 will get premium sponsorship opportunities.

“Sponsors are crucial to our presence in the community,” says Heartline Director of Operations Alyx Bates. “Their partnership ensures not only our event’s success, but also our mission’s success. Every sponsor plays an integral role in changing local families’ lives.”

Four levels of sponsorship are available, but spaces for sponsorships are limited. To learn more about the opportunities, visit Heartline’s website: www.heartlinepregnancycenter.org/donut-dash-5k/ or call 574-267-5110.

Heartline is dedicated to working to encourage and equip women and men who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and help them improve their parenting skills.

Heartline to Host 7th Annual Banquet

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On Thursday, April 25, Heartline Pregnancy Center will host its annual Gathering of Hope Banquet at the Winona Heritage Room in Winona Lake, Indiana. Tickets for the event can be purchased online or by calling Heartline at 574-267-5110.

The keynote speaker will be Melissa Coles. Melissa is the birth mother in the short documentary I Lived on Parker Avenue. She will share her story of almost aborting her son, his adoption and the experience of meeting her son 19 years later. Melissa has told her story to audiences around the country.

The emcee for the banquet will be Alan Alderfer of Alderfer Bergen and Company. Alan is the co-founder of the KC Riley Kids Fund, which raises money for families whose children are being treated at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. He is also on the board of trustees for Kosciusko Community Hospital, is president of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, was a past president of the Warsaw Rotary Club and is a former board member and treasurer of the Kosciusko County Community Foundation.
“The Gathering of Hope Banquet as always will be a great evening of celebration,” says Alyx Bates, Heartline’s Director of Operations. “We’re excited to share the night with the people in our community and report on what our supporters are accomplishing through Heartline.”

Heartline is dedicated to combating generational and situational poverty through a variety of programs, working to empower and equip men and women in the community who are involved with an unplanned pregnancy.

For questions or more information:
Alyx Bates
Director of Operations, Heartline Pregnancy Center
Cell: 217-251-6192
Or email: abates@heartlinepregnancycenter.org