5 Tips For (Younger) Dads This Father’s Day

It feels so good to wake up here.

I am waking up this Father’s Day at the Clark Cabin in the mountains of Southern California. I have a loving and adorable wife and two incredible, unique, strong, brave, faith-filled kids, one in college and one in high school.

And I am thinking, “How did we get here?”

First of all, we didn’t drift here. Our goal from the “early days” of parenting has been to have a WORLD CLASS FAMILY. And because that is true, I knew we couldn’t just drift.

I was young and didn’t know much about how to be a good parent, but I knew enough to rely on God for His guidance as the only Perfect Father.  As Rene and I leaned in to God’s Word, seeking His wisdom for our family, God gave us some ideas that have allowed us to have a great family and personal relationships as our kids have moved into high school and college:

  • Daddy Day (Time) – When Ruby and Cole were small I would take off work each Friday. This was our Daddy Day. It did not matter who called or what else become urgent – these two were most important.
  • Camp Clark (Energy) – When I was a youth pastor I would spend weeks and months planning a retreat for students. That caused me to wonder, what if I put the same amount of energy into my family that I put into our youth group? What could be the result? From a decade of experience as a youth pastor and a decade of experience as a lead pastor, I have seen far too many families who give their everything to their career and their leftovers to their family. And that is what led to “Camp Clark.” I spent several weeks putting together a full blown weekend retreat complete with personal journal, devotion schedule, worship time, recreation time and lights out … JUST FOR MY TWO KIDS! What if you decided to give the same amount of energy and creativity to your family as you do to your job? How WORLD CLASS would your family be?

 

  • Little Notes (Encouragement) – From the time Ruby was old enough to write, she started slipping little notes under our bedroom door at night when she was scared or just wanted to say one more time how much she loved us.  Her sweet little notes got us in the habit of leaving little notes for each other. These handwritten notes on bedroom doors, bathroom mirrors, Keurig coffee makers, Bibles, shoes, backpacks, lunch sacks and a hundred other simple places have become a big deal for our family. We keep the notes. They remind us on the tough days that we have a family behind us that believes the best.

 

  • Sand Holes (Boundaries) – I remember the first 10 times we took our preschool age kids to the beach. I would lug all the chairs, shovels, umbrellas, towels and coolers to our ocean-front camp. We would only be there for about 10 minutes, and Ruby and Cole would be upset and ready to go home. I can vividly remember picking up and leaving prematurely time after time. And then the event that changed everything happened. We were packing up to the leave the beach, and as we were leaving we noticed a family next two us with two little kids. Their dad had dug a huge hole for them in the sand, and it had become their world. As we started to leave, Ruby and Cole migrated over to “the hole,” and before we knew it, they were in this new world with the other two kids. They played for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20 minutes had gone by, and they weren’t even thinking about leaving “the hole.” I thought to myself, “Could this be it?” Could this be the answer to all our premature beach departures? To make a long story medium length, it was the answer. The hole actually translated into boundaries for our kids. When we arrived at the beach with no boundaries it was intimidating and expansive and scary. But the hole created a safe place. The hole was the answer, and for the next 10 years it was my first duty upon arriving at the beach.
  • NOTE: Today we don’t dig holes in the sand for Ruby and Cole as they are 16 and 19 years old, but we do still create healthy boundaries for them that make life feel less scary and intimidating. We create boundaries that allow them to enjoy and soak up life just like they did on the beach all those years ago.

 

  • Family Dream Sessions (Vision) – Each summer since Ruby and Cole were in elementary school we have gathered together at the beginning of June to consider our summer. This 1-2 hour family dream session has become a family tradition, and this is one of the main ingredients that has led us to experience a WORLD CLASS FAMILY.

If you’d like to know more, I have written a whole post called “How To Lead A Family Dream Session.” Check it out.

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