For most of us, especially guys, the win-loss column in our lives is a big deal, a very big deal. By nature we are scorekeepers. Unconsciously and consciously we keep track of the score throughout our day.
- Was I the first off the line when the light turned green?
- Did my idea get the most traction at our team meeting?
- Is my department leading our company in profit vs. cost this quarter?
- Did I beat the dog to my favorite chair after dinner?
And so it goes…
We don’t always win. Rack up more losses than wins and it’s time to change the game plan. We do this in our fantasy leagues and armchair demand it of our professional sports franchises. We proclaim: “If I were in charge I’d do things differently.” Implication—we’d be winning and I’d get the credit.
Some guys are winning in the world and losing at home. (I can be included in that number at times) Success in the workforce, ministry setting and among your buddies doesn’t necessarily equate to wins at home.
After racking up a recent loss at home with one of my daughters I realized that as a dad I have a tendency to “lose the game” in three ways when it comes to resolving conflict with my kids.
Logic: as a dude this is my default response in addressing problems. Assess the situation, determine the threats, weigh their validity and bring reality to bear against anything that falters under the weight of a swift logical mind. “You feel like your going to be late? Just look at the clock—what time is it? You have twenty minutes and it only takes five to get there.” Problem solved, right? Not so fast Usain Bolt. When logic fails I often make the next mistake…
Lecture: from a position based on my pride—I now simply repeat the arguments developed during the previous phase as if somehow they were not heard clearly. Increasing the volume, adding emphasis, bringing in outside evidence and citing previous deficiencies of my hearer are classic moves to add power and force as necessary. “You have plenty of time—stop stressing out!” “You always get so worked up over little things—you need to work on that!” Works like a charm---hardly. What to do now?
Leave: faced with a threat I believe I have no possible way of overcoming or a contest I now view as futile to even attempt to address I succumb to the realization that I don’t have a clue about what to do. So I bail out. I can take a nap, watch football, work in the yard, head out to meet the guys—whatever the flavor—it’s time to practice one of the classic “dad” moves and escape. That’s helpful right? Leave Mom to pick up the pieces and give the hugs—that’ll do the trick.
Dads—we lose more than often than we think. Likely, your dad taught you to play the same way in dealing with conflict. Logic, Lectures and Leaving are part of the masculine landscape—one that God wants to change.
Too many kids and dads are racking up losses in this common scenario.
How can you win?
Underneath the emotion, frustration and anger is a kid who wants to know that they are going to be okay, that the crisis whatever it may be isn’t going to bring their world to an end. The path to help them see, know and feel this isn’t through logic, lectures and certainly not leaving.
What makes your kid feel loved? For some it means listing to their irrational fears, troubling thoughts and concerns. Listening without a corrective response—at least for the time being. For others it may be a long hug, a lengthy time of silent presence in which you both can collect your thoughts, let the intensity of the emotions diminish and just be close. Don’t know what your kids need? Simply ask. “What can I do to help?”
Time together will yield an opportunity for you to speak the truth. Time together will soften their heart and clear their mind so they can actually hear what you have to share.
God moved toward us with love not a lecture.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. --Romans 5:8
Jesus died to rescue and redeem me from sin. As a father I have to die to my desire for logic and lecturing to win, a desire to leave when they don’t and follow in the footsteps of my heavenly Father who loved me and demonstrated it by sending Jesus to die on a cross.