Category Archives: family

Father’s Day Memories – Weekly Dad

(originally posted on the DadPad blog)

My birth father wasn’t in my home growing up, or at least not for very long. I don’t remember living with him. My parents divorced when I was 3 and, therefore, I don’t recall ever waking up and walking over to my dad while he lived in our home. Yet, unlike many with a very similar tale, my dad was in town and did make the effort to see me on a regular basis as I grew up.

My earliest memories of my dad are of him arriving to my house on a Sunday morning. He and my mom had an unusually amicable relationship (it wasn’t unusual for me as a child since it was all I knew but, obviously, I have come to find out that it was rare). After a few minutes of “chat”, we would leave. Most of the time we would stop by a place to pick up lunch and then it was off to his apartment.

When I was 10, my dad purchased his first set of Minnesota Viking season tickets. I remember sitting in old Memorial Stadium freezing my yammers off but loving every minute of it. I learned to love football through my dad. We still spend a lot of time criticizing the Vikings each season :).

During the summer of my 13th year, we took our first of many summer vacations. We drove up to the lakeshore city of Duluth, located on the banks of Lake Superior (Lake Gitchegoomy for you Gordon Lightfoot fans). I don’t recall anything that transpired that weekend but I remember it was with my dad. The trips got more extensive (and expensive for him) as I got older. Road treks included jaunts to Seattle, Los Angeles, the Bay area (SF and Oakland), Cleveland (yes, that Cleveland), and a pre-bicentennial trip to Boston, New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia. There were blown tires, overheated radiators, lost contacts in a pool, bumpers ripped off by exposed fence posts and other mishaps. Those only served to make the trips more memorable.

Despite all of the good memories of times with my dad, latent longings began to develop inside. Later in life, I realized how much of my life my dad missed. I never recall him attending a baseball game. When I dated I missed having him readily available to counsel me about things to avoid (or look forward to ;). I couldn’t sit down and just tell him about my day. As I contemplated college and career, he provided no input. Feelings of a missed childhood filled my thoughts and I was sad.

During these years, my mom remarried. My stepfather was a provider for the home but we were never close. He wasn’t a bad man, just not a great father. They divorced after 15 yrs of marriage and I have seldom seen him since. We are friendly and cordial when we meet. But, my “dad” hole was never filled by him.

Now, as a nearly 50 year old father of three nearly grown children I look back on time with my dad with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I have some very fond memories of those times together in his apartment, eating strange foods that I still have an affinity for, bonding through football and our trips. Yet on the other hand I wonder what it would have been like had he been more “fatherly” in my life. Might I have persevered through some personal challenges and decision making around a broadcasting career instead of wilting and giving up? Would I have had a healthier view of dating and relationships if he had spent more time teaching and coaching me in that arena? I’ll never really know the answers to these questions.

And, maybe it’s not really relevant. I’ve moved on and love my dad for who he is. There’s no resentment, only wonder and some sadness. His childhood, which was a mystery to me until recently, was not something to be emulated either. Fathering for him had to be a challenge since he missed a father who was active in his life.

So, for this Father’s day, I just want to say, “thank you, dad”. Thank you for introducing me to football and sports. Thank you for the great road trips we took which gave me a love for the road and travel. Thank you for wanting to spend time with me and staying close so that we could be together weekly. Thank you, dad, for loving me and caring for me and loving my family. Happy Father’s day, dad.

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Glad to Have the Ducklings Back in the Nest–I think ;)

Just when you start getting used to quiet, they return.  But, unlike an unwanted weird relative, when your children return home from college, at least for us, it’s a good thing.  Here are just a few of the things we get to get used to again:

  • Almost assured that every time I need to use toilet paper it will be the last few sheets of a roll
  • When I go to pour the cereal I’ll get that ever enjoyable dust at the bottom of the Honey Bunches of Oats
  • I’ll be relegated to the bedroom to watch a television program on our 1987 19 in. TV (which is getting harder to see) because they’ll be playing Guitar Hero on our main TV
  • The air-conditionless vehicles will be mine to use as much as I want
  • That last “goodie” I was saving for myself in the refrigerator will no longer be safe
  • No more listening to Country Western music in the car when we are driving together (unless I enjoy griping and complaining)
  • This popular family statement will be frequently uttered again, “I didn’t do that” or the variation “It wasn’t mine” when we ask who left the clothes on the furniture or the shoes in the entry way
  • The phone still won’t be picked up by anyone
  • and, everyone will think that it was someone else’s duty to feed the dog, pick up after the dog or have anything to do with the dog (except mom who always gets stuck with dog duty whether it’s 3 or 5 people in the house).

Seriously, it really is a joy to have our family all back together again for the summer.  Unfortunately for us (but a good opportunity for her), Erin will only be home a week before she spends the next three months with a ministry that serves a local KOA camp and spreads the gospel while serving the campers in Camp Hatteras, NC.   Then, she’ll be home a couple of weeks before school starts back up.

Ah, yes, summer has arrived and our nest is full again, if only for a short time—it’s GREAT!

THOUGHT TO COMMENT ON: Why are you happy your kids are home from school? — or — What will you do this summer that you are looking forward to doing as a family?

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How’s Your Tread?

(as originally posted on DadPad)

Tires are kind of like the “Rodney Dangerfield’s” of the car. Of course the engine gets attention. Incredible sound systems enhance the ride. Plush interiors or talking GPS units are attractive extras. Except for the monster tires that are four times larger than needed for the trucks they are on, tires are mostly ignored. Yet, without them you won’t go far. And, the most important maintenance tip you need to follow to get the maximum life and effectiveness out of them is making sure they are properly inflated. That’s it. What goes into the tire is what makes it most effective.

Tires are like dads. Sometimes our society forgets how important dads are. Heck, if it wasn’t for writing the DadPad blog regularly, I am sure I wouldn’t think about my role as a dad nearly enough. I forget until my kids start displaying conduct that reflects being neglected or they simply start living as though I’m not there. Just like a tire that has been neglected affects the ride of the car, the family begins to feel the impact of a dad who hasn’t been “maintained” well. Continue reading

Dad as Consultant – Last in the series

(as originally posted on the DadPad blog)

Coach…Counselor…now Consultant. Over the past three posts I’ve shared a few thoughts about the importance of these sub-roles of being a Dad. Remember that I have stated you don’t distinctly move into these roles but there are phases where they become critical and are inherent in that phase. Coaching is ongoing but is really important during the first 8-9 years of your child’s life. Being a Counselor will undoubtedly be required as long your children are living but it is especially critical during this next phase of your children’s development, between 8-14 years of age. Then, there’s consulting.  I’m experiencing newness in this final sub-role as the consultant.

Having been in a number of business positions over the past 26 years, I’ve dealt with a lot consultantof consultants. I’m not sure I want to emulate many of them. However, they play a pivotal role in most organizations. They are able to step into a situation and see things from the outside and give a perspective that’s sometimes hard to see for the organization embroiled in the same issues day after day. So it is with a dad during this stage of life as he speaks into the increasingly complex world of his children.

Unlike a business consultant who can step away and move onto the next job without much ongoing ownership (other than the pride of knowing something he/she did helped an organization), a Dad is not supposed to step away in that manner from his children’s lives.  However, in this phase you must be invited in by your kids, much as a consultant being invited in by a company.   Continue reading

Dad Duties – Dad as Coach, Counselor and Consultant Pt 1

There’s a theory out there in the annals of “daddom” that the lifecycle of fathering can be loosely characterized by three major phases; Dad as Coach, Dad as Counselor, and Dad as Consultant. Over the next few posts, I’m going to break these down and look a little bit deeper into each of these “job descriptions.”


Motivational. Inspirational. Teaching. Leadership. These are just a few of the adjectives that capture the essence of being a great coach. I love sports so when I hear the word “coach”, my mind is immediately filled with some of the great coaches in sports history. Guys like Vince Lombardi, George “The Gipper” Gipp, or the legendary George Halas. Then there’s always a local lore that brings my mind back to coaches of my favorite teams. Coaches like Bud Grant of the once dominant (never Super Bowl winning) Minnesota Vikings, Billy Martin of the Minnesota Twins or Murray Warmath of Gopher football fame. No matter who comes to mind for you, every successful coach possesses these traits.

Coaches are motivational. Some of the greatest speeches ever uttered have been shared in the locker room of college and professional sports teams. Continue reading

Spring = New Start

(as posted on the DadPad)

Waking up to the melody of birds chirping and seeing those beautiful weeds flowerpopping up just ahead of the grass turning green reminds us that Spring is here. Spring is the season of newness. What has been dormant begins to come alive. Even those pesky weeds indicate new life.

Maybe there are a number of you that have read our DadPad posts and think to yourself, “That’s all great stuff and I wish I HAD been more loving, expressive, intentional and a stronger spiritual leader in my fathering. But, my kids are grown or don’t live with me anymore. So, thanks for the advice DadPad, but it doesn’t apply to me.” Nonsense! Continue reading

At The Core of Christmas (or A Bread Maker is always a Bread Maker)

When you peel back all the wrapping that our culture has put on Christmas and get back to the central message you find the celebration of Christmas is about a gift. It’s a gift from God to mankind…ALL mankind. Just like any gift, it not only must be offered but it must be actively received and then, used as intended. If someone wraps up a bread maker and gives it to me but I wanted a coffee maker instead, there are going to be a lot of grumpy mornings at my house. I wanted caffeine, not wheat and flour. Not that a bread maker isn’t a good gift. But, I can’t make or turn it into a coffee maker. That’s not what it was made to do and the gift giver assumed it would be used as intended…to make bread.

Despite all the things that get included in the celebration of Christmas, there is a core message or purpose for this historical, world changing event. Babies are born every day. Babies of all shapes, sizes, colors and health. But NO baby like Jesus was or has ever been born. No matter how He’s depicted in a manger scene, the fact remains, He is the Son of God. The incarnate God. God, dressed in flesh, coming into the womb of a young betrothed virgin girl named Mary. That IS Christmas. It’s not about family getting together—though that’s a good thing. It’s not about the beautiful, funny or even ireverent songs sung during this season—though they add to the celebration. It’s not about the trees, the presents, the food or the tradition—none of which are “evil” or bad. But, they are NOT Christmas. Somewhere over time, we’ve lost the focus of this celebration. In techno-geeky terms we’ve swapped the “plug-ins” with the core application. A plug in is no good without the application to “plug it into”. And, so it is with Christmas. If we don’t fall on our knees at the gift of salvation that the Baby came to give us and accept it for what it is, than Christmas is just another social, retail, economic event. Not a bad thing. Just not THE thing.

I probably won’t stop shopping, spending time with family, elbowing the lady next to me to get the last available of something (ok…I’ll probably have to stop that), listening to all kinds of Christmas music and the other wrappings of Christmas. But, God…please help me, once again, to fully embrace what You did by sending Jesus Christ to this earth. That Baby changed my world forever when I realized at the age of 17 why He came:

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Lk 2:10-14, ESV)