"WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DADDY MAKES" by Dr. Kevin Lehman 

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Additional thought of Graham White in highlights.

Parenting is not about controlling your child to get them to do what you know they need to do.  No one can be controlled.  You may be able to force people to do things, but that doesn't mean that you have controlled them.  Parenting is about guidance and leadership.  Parenting is about letting your children fail at the time and place when you are able to be there to help them pick up the pieces.

In the beginning, your job will resemble that of a MANAGER.  As your child grows, that role will become more of a consultant.  If you have been a controlling manager, when your child becomes a teenager they will ignore your advice as a consultant.  If you attempt to control them as a teenager, they will cut you out of their life.

I have fantastic news for parents, You don't need a Ph.D. to figure out a child.   Do you want great children?  You don't have to play music while they're in the womb, you don't have to make sure you have all the latest educational toys, you don't have to send them to the best schools - Be a good dad.  Be a good mom.  Be INVOLVED!

Notice I didn't say you have to be a great dad or a great mom.  In most circumstances, good will suffice.  Good will produce amazing results.  There is more margin of error for parents than most of us realize.  If you love your kids, they'll be confident.  Spend time with them doing what they enjoy and letting them know that they can succeed.  Let them fail, but help them overcome and make sure they know that you know they'll succeed.

The beauty of focusing on the right relationship rather than doing the right things is that it can be applied in every family, whether you bring in a six-figure income or live just above the poverty line.  Your kids don't need the things you didn't have as a kid.  (In fact, a well meaning rich parent can spoil their child into a brat quite easily).  

Rather than stew over what you lack, give your kids what you have - and then remember that there are things that it is important not to give your children certain things as well.  When you come home from a trip, don't fill your suitcase with gifts, fill your kids lives with time you make up with them.  If you come across something that is perfect for one child in particular, pick it up.  That way, when your child receives it, they know it was because it was a special thought just for them.  Don't buy off your kids.  Parenting isn't about being Santa Clause, it's about building a relationship.

How much does it cost to "buy" the qualities of being a good dad - honoring your wife, believing in your child, letting them grow through pain, being there with them often, and working at understanding them and their world?  It's free!  

What type of degree do you need?  None!  Why?  Being a good dad is about being relational.  It's not what you can buy your kids; it's not slick strategies or secret lessons.  It's taking time to be there, to care, to get involved.  That's what a good dad is - relational.

He's there.  He cares.  Don't worry about being a great dad.  Just practice being a good one and your daughters will be richly blessed.

 

Men, I've never met a wife who told me, "I'm so thankful that I'm number two in my husband's heart and our children are number one."  Our job as men is to move toward our wives.

A father's relationship to his daughter is one of the key determinants in a woman's ability to enjoy a successful life and marriage.  You must learn to guide your children through the wilderness rather than carry them through it.  You may think that too little attention is bad and be tempted to go to the other extreme - to do everything for your child, parenting them too much.  Unfortunately, that is just as dangerous as ignoring your child.

Sometimes kids don't want to grow up.  It can be a painful process for your child to begin making their own decisions, especially if you've been trying to make them all for them.  A dad who over-parents will smother his child.  He is positive he knows just how his child should turn out, and he'll raise them to be like a seal that slaps its hands when Daddy holds out a fishy little morsel.  This will leave them always seeking Daddy's ever-elusive approval and having little or no confidence in them self.

When a father over-parents, he doesn't give his child an opportunity to develop their inner resources.  They become unduly dependent on their dad and will never be able to fully leave.  Rather than enter their marriage as a full-fledged partner, they will make their spouse feel like they have another child on their hands.

The marks of over-parenting are these:

  • Instead of helping the child form their own opinions, you berate any idea that differs from your own.

  • Instead of encouraging them to become responsible, you encourage them to stay dependent.

  • Instead of teaching them to develop their strengths and abilities, you criticize or coddle your child to such an extent that they never learn what their strengths and abilities are.

  • Instead of telling them they can be anything they want to be, you help them avoid failure by making sure they don't try to exceed their abilities.

Instead, day by day, week by week, and year by year, begin to dole out a little more independence and responsibility and draw back when you suspect your child becoming overly dependent.

There are ugly things in the world.  God gives us the responsibility of protecting our children from these things until they are old enough to deal with those realities themselves.  There is no way we can shield our children from the ugly realities of life, even if we wanted to.  But we can use them as teaching experiences when our children become aware of them.

It's important to put positive imprints on our kids, but it's just as important to put negative imprints on what we hope they will avoid.  Whenever we drive by a car accident we say, "Drinking or drugs, or too tired to be driving."  I want my children to associate the negative things in life - tragedy, financial ruin - with what usually causes them - irresponsibility, ignorance, laziness or selfishness.

Tragedy occasionally strikes good and decent people, but it is certain to follow foolishness.  

What silent father's don't realize is that their lack of direction forces their daughters to guess in order to find their own way.  Try to remember how little you knew about the world as it really was when you were 18.  Do you want your daughter making decisions now with no more knowledge than you had?

A silent, noninvolved dad leaves women clueless about men.  (A distant mother leaves men without any understanding of women.)  Who better to tell a young woman what is going on inside a male when she lets a boy kiss her than her own dad, who happens to own the same equipment as a girl's suitor.

There is no better antidote to peer pressure than a father's affirmation.  A young girls who has been lovingly, thoughtfully, and carefully imprinted by her father has been equipped to say no to a peer group that demands, "be like us."

To be relevant means that a father intersects with his daughter and enters her life in a meaningful way.  Simply because you're living in the same household isn't getting to know someone.  Take the same care to get to know your daughter's needs and demonstrate that you love her as you did for your wife as you were getting to know her.  

Most women want men to intuitively understand their needs.  They don't want to tell their husbands what they need; they just want their husbands to know.  Most husbands remain clueless, and so thirty years later, when they take Junior aside on his wedding day and try to explain things, the poor young man inherits a game plan that might work on Jupiter but will have absolutely no relevance on this planet.

With mothers talking to daughters and fathers talking to sons - ignorance is passed on like a communicable disease, and marriages become sick accordingly.

The cure?  Strengthen father-daughter, mother-son relationships.  Let a woman tell a man what a young wife needs.  Let a father tell a young woman that her husband's primary need is sexual fulfillment, notice I didn't say sex, but sexual fulfillment which involves a willing and enthusiastic partner.

Too many men miss the opportunity to develop a relationship with their daughter because they spend al day fighting at the office to prove to the world that they matter.  Let me tell you something: If you have a daughter, you matter more than you'll ever know.  

If you ever get tempted to dump your wife, do yourself a favor: hold your daughter in your lap, look into her eyes, then just try to tell her you're going to leave.  You can't divorce your wife without making your daughter feel you're divorcing her as well.

Bob Carlisle, who wrote and recorded the popular song "Butterfly Kisses," gets letters all the time from young girls who try to marry him to their moms.  What kills him is the fact that they don't want romance for their mom's as much as they want they dad in that song.

If your little girl wrote an essay on how a husband should treat his wife based solely on what she has seen you do, what would that essay say?  What does your daughter see when she observes you with your wife?  Does she see love, kindness, consideration, and a willingness to serve?  Or does she see competition, arguing, cheap shots or even physical or psychological abuse?  

 

When two people marry, at least 6 individuals are coming together - the bride and groom, plus two parents on each side.  Couples ignore childhood influences at their peril.  Every person brings a rule book to life and marriage and the more rule books there are, the more likely an unsuspecting spouse is going to break a rule.

Most women marry exactly the wrong man.  I've seen many women scarred by their fathers and then stack the deck against themselves so that they can prove they're not worth anything - just like their father told them.  Women who have a low view of women invariable marry men with a low view of women.

A woman will look for and marry a man whom she perceives to have the same qualities as her father, but tension will arise because a young woman's and a young man's perceptions are notoriously inaccurate.  They remember their parent with strong biases.

Do the following assignment:

Take a piece of paper and write the word Mom on top.  In a few words, describe her personality.  Do it honestly and don't describe the mom you wish you had, but the one you did have.

Now ask yourself the question, "Am I paying the price or reaping the benefit of a good relationship with my mom?"

Take another piece of paper and do the same thing regarding your relationship with your dad.

Now do the same in regards to the relationship with your children.  How would you characterize the relationship?  What do you suppose she is learning about life and men (women) from the way you are treating her?  Have you been affirming or critical of her?  When she tells you "You have made me who I am" will that be a compliment or a criticism?

Understanding your relationship with your own parent of the opposite sex can provide tremendous understanding in your own marriage.  You will begin to see how things are not personal and actually come from the relationship with your own parents.  You may also want to explore your relationships with your siblings.  They have affected you much more than you realize.

Imagine that someone you have never met came up to your door one evening and said, "Hey, my kid really admires that Corvette sitting out in your driveway.  How about letting me take it for a spin?  I'll bring it back tomorrow morning as good as new."

You wouldn't loan your car out this way, but your kid - hey, why not?  Send them to a daycare where you know the people even less than your neighbor.  Have you read their background check?  Have you spend a day watching them with your child to be certain that they have the same standards you do, not just that they say they do?

If you have to get someone else to watch your children, why not see if there is a stay-at-home parent you respect who will watch your child too?  What about grandparents or other relatives nearby?

Under-parenting dads place kids low on the ladder of priorities.  Even when they're home - which doesn't tend to be a big priority - these dads are often someplace else mentally and emotionally.  Their children are welcome to tag along, but the dads make little or no effort to enter their kids' worlds.  They don't know what music their kids listen to, what shows they watch on television, or how they spend their afternoons.  All they seem concerned about is that the kids "behave" (that is, that they don't cause any trouble or commotion that would require the dad to expend a precious bit of his energy).

Under-parenting dads need to realize that they are emotionally and relationally crippling their children.  Women who are obsessed with succeeding in order to feel good about themselves may be able to buy a big house, but the happiness they seek will inevitably elude them.  They'll find themselves unable to connect intimately, as relationships are based on acceptance, loyalty, trust, and intimacy, not performance.  Unfortunately, an overachiever often has a difficult time turning off the need to perform.

It's crucial for fathers to have a balanced view of parenting.  Our kids will follow us.  If we don't move at their pace we will either stunt their growth or leave them behind.

The healthy father must walk between two extremes - becoming active and involved where appropriate, but teaching his child to build their own self-confidence and esteem in the process.  He is an involved but respectful parent who allows his child an opportunity to give back to the family, contributing to how it is run.

Letting your children fail

For some reason, parents seem to recognize the need to let their sons fail or get a little hurt to toughen them up.  If it's a daughter, they often tend to think that she is too delicate to get damaged and overprotect her.  It's a tough world, it's painful and unfair.  We must be careful we don't stunt our children's maturity by acting as if pain has nothing to teach them.  Just because they're struggling doesn't mean you need to rush in and save them.  Sometimes being a good parent means letting your child work their own way out of a tight and even painful spot.  It's not easy, but it is essential.

Use every opportunity possible to allow your children to experience failure at the times and places where it will not permanently injure them physically or psychologically.  Notice I said permanently.  It is our mistakes and failures that we learn the most from.  It is no different for our children.  Allowing them to fail is the best way of teaching them.  If they know that they are safe, even if they fail, if they know that you are there to help them up even when they fall, they will develop unlimited confidence.

Ironically, it takes a strong father to give a woman a high view of femininity.  Kids - especially daughters - get a sense from their dads that they're worth being loved.  The woman who doesn't have a good self-image because she had no father or had a non-affirming father will typically marry a non-husband or a non-affirming husband.

Men, you need to come to grips with the fact that your neglect will tempt your daughter to make a disastrous parental choice that she may pay for the rest of her life.  It will also greatly affect the way she treats your grandkids.  Is that job of yours so important?  

How often does your daughter hear you say "I love you"?  If your answer is, "Not very often", don't be surprised if your otherwise "good girl" tends to sleep around as she gets older.  She is just looking for the love that you're not giving her.

A procrastinator can be developed by only criticizing the negative traits of a child.  If that is all they hear about, they don't feel able to accomplish anything, so they quit trying.  Guess how they'll treat their own children?

Acceptance is crucial.  One of the most fundamental human needs is acceptance.  Kids are going to belong someplace; the question isn't whether they belong, but where they belong.  If kids can't feel good about identifying with their home life, they will identify themselves with people outside their home.  They will belong to a sports team, another family, a gang, or a girlfriend, but they'll belong somewhere.

Boundaries

A classic study was done to determine if kids behave better on playgrounds with fences or without fences.  While they didn't learn about how well they behave, they did find that kids in playgrounds without fences tended to huddle closer to the center of the yard.  If there were fences, they felt safe to venture out to the edges.  Kids want and need boundaries!  You're not hurting them by creating firm boundaries, you're hurting them by not giving them firm boundaries.

Kids need to have dad present in and around the home, taking interest in what everyone in the family is doing.  His presence provides assurance and comfort.  Kids need to have dinner with their family.  Only routine, quality and regularity can build a healthy sense of belonging.

Showing up to your kids game or play tells her more than that you value the activity, it also speaks loudly about how much you value them.  It says, "You matter.  You're important.  I'm interested in what interests you."  They know you have a demanding schedule and your willingness to take time to make them a priority literally forms their soul.  If the principal male in a young woman's life affirms her this way, it will shape her expectations and present a rather formidable defense against the jerks and takers who view women only as sex objects or servants.

Your little girl will develop her expectations for her husband by watching how you treat her mother.

How would you feel if you watched your young daughter suddenly grow twenty years in twenty minutes and you were allowed to peek in on her marriage?  You watch as your now grown daughter finishes a hard day running around with the kids and is greeted by a husband who's getting more potato chips on the couch than in his mouth.  There is a mountain of housework, she needs his individual love and affection, but he's too busy with the TV or out with his buddies.  Is this the model you're setting?

There are so many influences looking to get our kids attention.  Kids left on their own don't have the experience and maturity to deal with these influences.  That's where Dad needs to step up.  Not saying anything is approving of anything they choose.  Silence from dad may say, "This isn't sex; this is just 'touching.'.  

So you work, you're tired and you've had a long day.  What is the more important job, your company or your family?  Would you call work after a long weekend with your family and tell them you're not coming in because your kids have worn you out?  Of course not, so why tell your kids by your actions that they're not as important as your job?

If you promise to do something with your children, be certain to follow through.  Not keeping your promises will create a distrusting and hostile child who will grow into a distrusting hostile adult.  A woman who is afraid to be vulnerable will quickly draw back from her husband.  The degree that she does that, her husband will be frustrated.  He'll feel that he's not enough for her.  He'll sense that she doesn't trust him.  He'll feel cheapened, unworthy, and put down.  That's a prescription for a failed marriage.

A father who fails to build trust in his daughter and who neglects to model loyalty and trustworthiness sets up his girl to be exploited by men.  Regardless of how she learns to cope, the mistrust sill always be underneath of her coping strategies.  What's even worse is trying to make up for many instances of neglect with big presents or trips.

Trust is built when a daughter sees her mother model trust.  If her parents are at war, a daughter learns to put up her guard.  She sees her mom crying into her pillow.  she hears her mom pouring out her heart to a friend, and she knows that somehow, Daddy is behind all this pain.  There isn't a single place on earth a dad can take his daughter to help her forget her mother's pain, or her own.

It's the little moments with her father that helps a daughter learn how to trust a man.  It's either there or it isn't, you can't fake it.  Absentee dads aren't there at the moment of need.  You can't substitute time of your choosing for the time of her need.  If you work long hours, are out with friends or doing things with your sons, your little daughter will learn to cope, but she'll never learn to trust a man and to be vulnerable.

Merely being home isn't enough.  Trust is built by shared adventures.  These intangible moments shape a girl's soul in profound ways.  When a daughter is afraid and learns that her dad is capable of leading her through her fear, later on she'll be confident that she and her husband can tackle life's fears together too.

Kids who are throwing temper tantrums are desperately seeking for a boundary.  They don't feel safe until they know where the boundary is.  They know the temper tantrum is wrong, but it is more important to them to know exactly where the boundary is than to avoid being disobedient.  It's the child's job to make mistakes and to test the limits.  It's the parents job to help them get up and to keep the boundaries solid.

Living in a world of chaos, a child should be able to know exactly what the rules and boundaries are at home.  As fathers, we can give our children a place of refuge where they clearly understand what is expected of them.  Men, such ordering doesn't happen by accident.  A neglected business will ultimately fail.  A yard left to itself will return to the wilderness.  A family is no different.  If the parents don't establish order, they're inviting chaos.

Trust sinks its roots in security and consistency.  When your child feels that the rules are always changing or that they can manipulate their way around their parent's righteous wrath, it actually creates a climate of negative fear, because they realize "Everything depends on me.  Unless I find a way to talk myself out of this I'm doomed."

A consistent father provides security.  The child knows that if they do A, B, will follow.  There's no guesswork, and that is actually -in the end- more comforting.  They learn to trust.

Another aspect of creating a healthy fear - in addition to being consistent - is being approachable.  Even when we are rightfully angry, our children should know that we will never abuse them.  They need the confidence that we can handle negative emotions without letting those feelings cascade into inappropriate behavior.

One of the most important things a father can do for his child is give them the freedom to fail.  Let your children see your failures.  In fact, go out of your way to point them out - and how you learned from them as a result.  Teach your children how you handle your own embarrassing situations.

If you hold up an image of a man or woman who never fails, who is never laughed at, who never does anything wrong, your kids will feel all the more low when they fail or do something embarrassing.

If you fail in relation to your children, apologize quickly.  This is how you build intimacy and trust, not by trying to be perfect.

Perfectionism devastates children.  The drive to always be right, always do the right thing and always be perfect is one of the worst things to happen in a person's life.

A child, especially a daughter, should never feel "average" when she sees her reflection in her daddy's eyes.

If you tie a kid's self-esteem to achievement, you'll run them ragged trying to find something they can excel in.  Let your kids choose ONE extracurricular activity a semester and don't you run them ragged or let them do it to them self.  Help them learn to be balanced and enjoy the simple things in life.

Develop a sense of worth and belonging that comes from contributing to their home.  If you want to raise a well-adjusted child, don't run them into exhaustion in a vain effort at helping them finally prove them self.  Prove your love.  Prove your commitment.  Prove your affection.  That's what builds healthy kids.

Love Each Child Differently

If you have multiple children, love them differently.  Become a student of your child and find out their individual bent, and raise them accordingly.  Too many parents get caught in the trap of "Even-Steven".  That's disastrous parenting, and it's impossible to achieve.

Even-Steven parenting has the opposite effect of what it intends: It makes natural competition all the more vicious.  The truth is, kids want to feel special, not average.  Each child is going to fight for their own share of Daddy's affection.  They know they can't occupy the same place, so the discerning dad will help each child find their own unique bond.

It's impossible, from your kids' perspective, to treat them exactly the same.  Even if you spent the same amount, down to the last penny, on Christmas gifts, one of the children would feel slighted, because the gift-giving wouldn't feel the same.

Favor all your kids from time to time.  It's ok to take one aside and have special time with them, just be sure to spend special time with the other doing what they enjoy.  Let them know that even though you have more than one child, they're all special to you, each in their own unique way.

Let each one know that they have their own unique gifts and that they don't need to be the same or as gifted as their sibling in everything.

Don't project onto your child all of the dreams you never fulfilled.  If you do, you will miss their God-given talents that may look nothing like yours.  Don't mold them into your image, mold them into a better, stronger, more mature version of them.

Teaching Your Daughter About Sex

It's the father's responsibility to clue his daughter in to how a man thinks about sex.  (A son's mother should be teaching him how a woman feels as well).  Your daughter won't understand the way a boy thinks, unless she hears it from her dad (and trust me, your wife probably doesn't completely understand because her father never told her and you've never filled her in either).

They need to know that first, a man has little control over feeling sexual urges.  She needs to know that if she's alone with a boy, he is likely to have sexual thoughts about her.  She needs to know that the further she lets the physical contact get, the more he will want to fulfill his sexual urges and the more difficult it will be for her to say no, both because she won't want to upset him and also because she will begin to want to fulfill her own desire to be so completely loved.

Next, she needs to understand that what her husband wants is different from what teenage boys want.  Teenage boys (and men looking for sex outside of long-term relationships) simply want sexual release.  In marriage, what men want is sexual fulfillment.

She needs to understand the difference between release and fulfillment.  A married man wants a sexually responsive wife, one who wants to have sex and will occasionally initiate it.  It is equally important for a young girl to see healthy affection for a wife towards her husband when she is fulfilled.

Sexual fulfillment is not based on a wife's willingness, but rather on a wife's eagerness.  He wants a partner who is fully there in the moment, not someone who is thinking about what to put in tomorrows lunch or if the kids can hear them outside the door (and they shouldn't be able to, so make sure they're asleep, downstairs or go on a date and rent a room).

Women, if you really want your husband to reach the gloried heights of fulfilling sex, surprise him!  Wear something sexy that he's never seen before (Ask him what he likes before you go shopping).  The mere thought that you planned this, without him asking you to, will rock his world.  Showing him that you desire him is one of the two most important things you can do.  (The other is admire him).

There are some things that a woman should discuss with young lady, such as feminine hygiene, but sex is definitely not one of those things.  It is a classic case of absolutely the worst timing when a father begins to pull back from his physically developing daughter.  That is precisely the time that he should be drawing near.  A father's love is a safe harbor for a developing young woman.

If you have issues, find some help, a mentor, a counselor to help you deal with them.  Don't let your daughter suffer because you can't deal with her budding sexuality and how you feel about it.

At precisely the time that a young woman is cast into insecurity by a changing body, at exactly the moment when she is wondering how males will view her as a woman instead of as a child, father draws back.  It sill confirm all her worst fears and may even send her reeling into the arms of a hormone-driven boy who will gladly pay attention to her - for a very high price.

Don'tlet your daughter's sex education come through the sex-hungry mind of a teenage boy.  Your daughter may very well say that the last thing she wants to hear spoken from your mouth are the words sex or, especially penis.  When my daughters were younger, it wasn't unusual for them to say, "Dad, I don't really want to be hearing this."  We didn't have a one-time sex talk.  We had many regular talks that came up in the normal course of life, so they had plenty of opportunities to pretend they didn't want to discuss the more private aspects of being a human being.

Another practical tip I've learned - particularly with pubescents - is that the best place to talk about sex is in the car.  That way, both father and daughter can look out the window while they're talking.  It can be a bit intimidating to sit across from each other and peer into your little girl's eyes while you mention body parts.  Just as difficult as sex, however (although every bit as important), is modeling the fact that you have a healthy sex life.

We tend to be shy of showing our kids that we're sexually active.  The one difference is kids with single parents because their partners are staying over.  What kind of society are we building when kids with married parents think sex never takes place, but kids with single parents know it does?  This makes sex synonymous with sin.

 

Mother's need to tell their son's how important it is to put down the paper and turn off the TV in order to listen to their wife.  I've yet to meet a man who can honestly answer an ad reading, "Single female, in search of caring, understanding male, who enjoys long walks, quiet meditative talks, cuddling by the fire, and watching romantic comedies."  Give me a break!  Husbands generally don't come home from work saying, "I can't wait to sit down and have a 45 minute talk wit my wife." but I urge men to do it - because it matters to their wives.

Tell your son, "Why don't you be different?  Why don't you be the one guy girls know won't pinch their bum or call out a number when they walk by?  See if you can rise above the morons who masquerade as men."

That's a challenge to be mature to be mature.  The reason we can't be afraid to use understandable language is because in today's world, kids need specifics.  A girl needs to know that it doesn't take much to make a fourteen-year-old boy - or a twenty-four-year-old boy, for that matter - sexually excited.  She also needs to be forewarned that a sexually excited boy tends to get more aggressive than a girl would expect, and that the vast majority of those aggressive boys will keep being aggressive until they are told, quite firmly, to stop.

You should also be teaching your children, both boys and girls the joy and the art of cooking.  If dad doesn't cook, son might not see the value in it either, so dad...get cooking and give mom a break.

Teach your children how to earn and save money.  Develop the knowledge of how to invest and run your own business (or at least maintain your own books).  If you can't do it, chances are they're heading for the same financial headaches, regardless of the education or job that they get.  More income without financial education simply means the ability to get into more financial trouble.

 

 How to approach difficult subjects: 

"Let me ask you a question, honey.  Can you trust daddy?"

"Yeah."

"Has Daddy ever lied to you?"

"No."

"Okay.  What I'm about to say to you is the truth."

What I'm doing here is cashing in on the safe relationship I have with my daughter.

www.realfamilies.com

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