“DAD, DO YOU ACCEPT ME?”

 

I served as a Guidance Counselor for a school for several years concurrently while I was a Kids Church pastor. I remember when a young girl came to my office alarmed and panicky because her parents told her that if she didn’t make it to first honor, they will cancel their family trip to Hong Kong. For a 9 year old girl, that was a lot of weight to carry on her shoulders. Imagine, all your siblings will get mad that they won’t get to see Mickey and ride Ocean Park’s Hair Raiser roller coaster just because she didn’t make it to first honors.

I had to talk to her parents and let her know how burdened their daughter felt with that condition. I appreciate their humility for acknowledging their mistake merely wanting to inspire not knowing it was bringing the opposite effect.  They apologized to their daughter and changed their stand.

Acceptance is embracing people for who they are rather than what they do.
Our children need to feel that we accept them whether they get first honor or a failing grade, made a 3 point shot or complete miss the rim, make it to the cheer dance team or get cut from the team.

When we show unconditional acceptance, we give our children a sense of security.

What we are communicating to our kids is this: “I don’t love you because of what you do or what you accomplish. I love you because you are my child. Our love and affection towards you are not based on grades, performance, accomplishments or even behavior.”

We live in a highly performance oriented society. If we get first honor, we are rewarded. If we make it to varsity, we become the favorite in the family. If we win in the student council, we end up being the topic in the family reunion.

That goes on through adulthood. When we land a good job, we are the jewel of the clan. When we achieve something that none in the family has achieved, we become highly favored.

That is why we have a lot of frustrated and badly hurt people because they can’t seem to win the approval of the people they dearly love.

In the process, our kids end up feeling unaccepted, insecure and lack a sense of belongingness.

Obviously, the counter balance is for our children to not strive or endeavor to be the best at their field.

But what I am saying is that as they desire to excel, we appreciate their praiseworthy attempts than criticize for not making the cut.

Acceptance says “I love you no matter what.”

Jesus showed us unconditional acceptance. He didn’t die for us after we started obeying. In fact, the Bible says in Romans 5:8, “He demonstrated His love to us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

He accepted us way before we were worthy of being accepted.

————–

NOTE: This is part 2 of a 4 week series on Capturing Your Child’s Heart.
To read week 1, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/serendipityfoto/3730898356

CAPTURING YOUR CHILD’S HEART

 

 

 

This is the first of a 4 week parenting series on the topic of capturing our children’s hearts.

The 4 topics are AFFIRMATION, ACCEPTANCE, AFFECTION and AVAILABILITY.

Let’s start with affirmation.

——–

I didn’t grow up in a family where we were affirmed. It didn’t help that I grew up in a single parent home. My mom and dad separated when I was 11 months old, right before my first birthday.

Because that was the case, I grew up very insecure , trying to obtain a sense of significance through different means – athletics, friends, academic achievements. I wasn’t very successful in most of them but when I do squeak right in the achievement zone, it was a HUGE thing. And I mean HUGE. At least for me.

This led me to trying to get affirmation from whoever would give me a pat on the back. I became a people pleaser and while I looked humble on the outside, I was very prideful on the inside, trying to celebrate the win quietly. That ugly head of arrogance shows up every so often like that mole in the Whack-A-Mole game in the amusement park.

When I became a Christian, I realized that I was affirmed, loved and rescued not because of what I can do but because of what He has done for me when He sacrificed Himself on the cross. Realizing this truth, after I became a parent, I endeavored to mirror what my Heavenly Father showed me. He affirmed me in spite of me. That’s just who He is, a God of love.

Parenting is never easy but God’s grace is indeed available. It is so easy to catch our kids doing the wrong thing. It actually takes a deliberate effort at times to catch them doing the right thing. On a white wall, it is easy to focus on the small splotch of dirt than appreciate the whole white wall.

We can be specific with our words of affirmation.

“I appreciate you because…”
“I was pleased to see you…”
“Thank you for…”

This may be quite a challenge at the beginning for the uninitiated, but you’ll get used to it in time.

And you can never over encourage your children. I have yet to hear a toddler say, “Daddy, I already too encouraged by your words. Please stop because I don’t need encouragement anymore.” Believe me, go for it. They need to hear it from you.

 

———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/113543666@N05/13921668330

WHAT DO YOU VALUE AS A FAMILY?

No clue.
No idea.
Oblivious.

Getting married and having kids didn’t come with a manual.

Because I grew up without a father, being a husband and a dad didn’t come easy. But one thing’s for sure – this was one endeavor I wanted to succeed in.

“Refuse to sacrifice family on the altar of success.”

This rang in my head since the first time I heard this statement.

During one semestral break, we took the kids out of town.  With us were the Sy’s (Dennis, Thammie and kids), Marge, Teri and Bruce.

As a family, we often take the opportunity to take off when we can because schedules have been crazy these days.  Even our kids are now ‘busy’ – from basketball to musical theater, Friday Night Youth services to piano lessons.

During one of our conversations over breakfast, Thammie asked me a question, “What are your core values as a family?” I really didn’t have a nice, carved out answer.  I guess all these years Jenn and I have operated on instincts and never really wrote down our ‘core values’.

I know many have written books these type of stuff like Patrick Lencioni who wrote a book entitled “Three Big Questions For A Frantic Family”.  I know that James Dobson have written a few books on these too.

While driving home, I thought about that question again and I began listing down guiding principles we worked with through the years as a family.

1. LOVE GOD.

If we can teach our kids to do this, then I feel we’re on the right direction.  We desire to help them develop a relationship with God.  We feel that that is the most important task we have as parents – to connect them with God.

We won’t be there for them all the time, but if they have a relationship with their Heavenly Father, then we know that they’ll be just fine.

2. LOVE FAMILY.

Respect. Compassion. Love for family.
I guess that’s why we invest (not spend) on family vacations though we have an old, ugly, clunky Crosswind.

Memories have been a priority for us.  We may not have a lot to leave them in terms of inheritance, but memories through times together is definitely on the top of our list. Seeing my kids love each other and look out for each other is definitely another important one for us.

PRAYER FOR MY FAMILY: to understand His radical grace in a greater measure each passing day.

3. LOVE OTHERS.

Service. Empathy. We want to teach our family not to just think about themselves, which we already are are very good at.  Life is really not about us.

It’s about God and the people He loves.

4. LOVE LEARNING.

With the influx of information today, the accumulation of it is no longer the key to success.

Everything is now ‘googlable’.

However, processing and filtering of information is now the name of the game.  Critical thinking has never been as critical.  If we are successful in inputing love for learning, then I feel they will accomplish what God has designed them to be and do.

I was oblivious to being a husband and dad. But thankfully, by the grace of God, I have learned from His Word and have been surrounded by shining examples who are neither perfect nor flawless yet live under the shadow of God’s radical love and God’s radical grace. For that, I am forever grateful.

RUDE (Dad’s Side of the Story)

My friend Joe sent this link to me from You Tube and I couldn’t help laughing and at the same time nod my head in agreement. So I went ahead and blogged about it.

Found in the link is a cover of Magic’s song RUDE by Benjie Cowart.

As a dad of an 11 year old girl, he thought he’d respond to the original song’s line,
“I’m going to marry her anyway.”

“I was like, ‘You know what? I need to write a response to that because the dads are not being represented well,” replied Cowart who is a professional Christian-music songwriter from Nashville. Cowart is also an instructor for the National Praise and Worship Institute at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

Here are a few of my favorite lines from his parody.

Seeking permission to marry my princess, son what’s wrong with your big head?
It’s the first time I met you, why would I let you run off with my baby girl?
Get back in your Pinto. It’s time that you go. The answer is no.

You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life,
well you gotta make more than burgers and fries.
Get out your momma’s basement, go and get you a life.
Son, you’re 28, don’t you think it’s time?

Why you gotta call me rude?
I’m doing what a dad should do — keep her from a fool like you.

And if you marry her anyway, you marry that girl, I’m gonna punch your face.
You marry that girl, I’ll make you go away.
You marry that girl, you’re in the bottom of a lake.

You may not get this, let me explain coz you need to understand
This is forever, she deserves better
She really needs a grown man
I know what you’re thinking, you think you’d still take her
Now give it your best shot
I may be a Christian but I’d go to prison
I’m not scared of doing hard time


———

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sadistisches/5763313907

INVESTING IN THE NEXT GENERATION

If we don’t invest in the next generation, someone else will.

CBS News reported a few years ago that advertising budget that was poured into marketing to the next generation grew as the years went by.

In 1983, it was a mere $100 million.
By the time 2007 hit, it ballooned to a whopping $17 billion.

Advertisers and companies seemed to think it was worth their money because research tell us (www.globalissues.org) that teens spend about $160 billion for their gadgets, clothing, food, games among many other things. Those who are in their “tweens” (8-12 year olds), spend about $30 billion. Those who are under 12, influence their parents to spend about $670 billion per year.

If Nike, Xbox, and Mcdonalds see this, why can’t we?

We obviously don’t have the billions they have, but we have a gospel that is powerful to make a difference not just for a game or two, or for a year or two, not even for a decade but for all of eternity.

Hannah prayed to have a son and God granted her request in 1 Samuel 1.

What can we learn from her story?

1. Pray for the next generation.

Hannah prayed to the Lord for Samuel.

We need to pray for the next generation. With all the bombardments from all sides, growing up in this environment these days can be challenging.
We need to pray that they will hear meet God early in life and desire to live for Him the rest of their lives.

2. Prepare the next generation.

Hannah waited until Samuel was weaned.

Time will come that we will have to release the next generation to fight their own battles.
We cannot always be there and we should not even try.
Not letting them fight their battles will end up emasculating them.

Our goal is to see them become less dependent on us and more dependent on God.

3. Mentor the next generation.

Hannah found someone who can mentor Samuel with her – Eli.

We need to see the value of multiple anchors.
It’s nice to dream that our kids will always hear what we say.
But input from others in invaluable.

I’m thankful for David, Rich, Joey and Joe who have mentored my son Nathan all through these years.
I’m grateful for Rica, Dar, Carla who have taken time to impart faith and life into the life of my daughter Janina.

Raising the next generation is so much better when we have partners who can help us.

Oh another thing, it is also great to bring our children into an environment where they can encounter God, hear the gospel of Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior.

Our kids ministry at Victory Fort recently had their Camp Equip for the pre teens and it was absolutely powerful.
Watch the video below.

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO AN AMAZING MOM

 

Every since I met you, you’ve always loved kids.
Way before we got married, you’ve looked forward to becoming a mom.
And the way you’ve turned out to be was way beyond I ever saw or imagined.
Sacrifice. Love. Compassion. Fun. Insane. Thoughtful. Amazing.
I thank God everyday… EVERY DAY.

Happy Mother’s Day, Jenn.

MOMS. THE REAL MVPs.

This past Tuesday, May 6, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was named Most Valuable Player of the National Basketball Association.

His speech was delivered with transparency, candidness and raw emotion.

Part of his speech included honoring his mom.

“We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe,” Durant told his mother.
“You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs. You put food on the table.
When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate and [you] went to sleep hungry.

“You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

I believe what KD said articulate how we all feel towards our moms.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.

Watch part of his acceptance speech.

TUNAY NA BUHAY EPISODE

Helen Vela was allowed to go through what she went through, I believe, because her life became an encouragement and an inspiration, that though you go through what went through, your life can still be a blessing to many and ultimately bring glory to your Maker.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share my mom’s life story through GMA 7’s Tunay Na Buhay.

Here’s an excerpt of her episode.

 

PARENTING TRANSITION

My eldest son, Nathan, started driving. While it’s a risk for us to allow him to do so, we know that it’s something that’s just a natural flow of life. We need to teach him to be out there on his own.

On the other hand, Joaquin, our 5 year old is slowly learning to brush his teeth, change his clothes and tie his shoe laces by himself.

The way we parent my 17 year old is very different from how we would parent our 5 year old.

I’ve realized through the years that there are stages to parenting.

From 0-6 years old, it’s the TELLING stage.
Then from 7-12 years old, it’s the TRAINING stage.
From 13-18 years old, it’s the COACHING stage.
Then from 19 and older is the FRIENDSHIP stage.

I recognize that there’s overlap in the stages and it doesn’t happen exactly the way I’ve divided the ages but generally, it’s that way.

When they’re in preschool, we just tell them what to do.
“Brush your teeth.”
“Finish your food.”
“Take a bath.”

When they’re in elementary, we begin to teach and train so that they can do things on their own.
We teach them to do their own homework, fix their room, pick their own clothes.

When they reach teen years, we begin to release them slowly so they make their own decisions.

Then when they become fully grown adults, we hope that we become not just their coach but also life-long friends.

The goal is to release them to become independent of us and dependent on God.

CHILDREN FOR SALE

 i

A couple from Shanghai was charged with the possibility of going to jail for many years after allegedly selling their baby daughter to buy an iPhone and other luxury items as reported by Yahoo.

While this news article is indeed shocking, I so appreciated Ryan Tan’s comment when he posted the news article on his Instagram.

“Before you judge, ask yourself: Am I “selling” my own kids for success, money, fame, convenience?”

He is absolutely right.

While as a parent, I may not be literally selling my kids to a buyer, it is possible that in my pursuit of career, financial gain, or maybe even ministry, I am already sacrificing my children in the altar of success.

This thought pushes me to think about a few things…

1. TIME

Do I spend most of my time for personal gain or maybe even on something world changing while neglecting moments of building life with my kids?

2. WORDS

Do my words build up or do they tear my kids down?

Worse, I don’t even speak to my kids to connect with them.

3. AFFECTION

Do I spend moments to tell them that they are valuable to me?
As an indication of that value, do I physically express my affection by giving them a high five, pat in the back or hug?

I often hear Joey Bonifacio’s voice and his proverbial “Dying Breath” visualization.

“When you are catching your last few breaths in your death bed, the ones who will be around you will not be your golfing buddies. They will be there an hour, maybe 2. It will not be your officemates nor your high school friends. It will be your spouse who has stayed with you all these decades. It will be your children who have been your source of joy for years. It will be your family who will be holding your hand in those last few moments on earth. With this in mind, guess who you should be investing your most precious moments with?”

Just a thought. A good one at that.