Learn to Babysit Your Kids

613px-Father_with_childGuys, I’m talking to you.

Take a look at your wife. She is the lady you chose to spend your life with. Your soul-mate. The love of your life. The apple of your eye. You chose her to be the mother of your children. Your companion through thick and thin.

Now I know she is hard to understand sometimes. She wants to talk a lot about feelings and relationships. She is not quite happy with that thing you “fixed” last weekend. I know it’s functional, but she wanted it to look better than that.

At times, it can be difficult to know how to please her. She seems to want “time with you” and “your attention.” You spend lots of time with her. You can listen while playing Angry Birds, really you can! But she doesn’t see it that way. There is something mysterious about that femininity that pervades her. The movies make it out to be mysterious and seductive. It really is just odd. Why can’t she be more like a guy?

I don’t have all the solutions for you. I too am perplexed by my own wife. She is so pretty, so smart, and yet so very dedicated to the concept of sweeping the kitchen every single night. I don’t get it either.

But one complaint that the ladies have about us is legitimate. There are a lot of well-educated, competent men out there that cannot watch their children alone. How can this be? How can professional, organized men not be able to manage the adorable cooing poop factories they call their children.

To be honest, I really identify with the difficulty men have watching kids. They are complicated. It involves a lot of know-how from how to change a diaper to remembering when bedtime is and knowing how warm the bottle should be. There are actually a lot of skills to know to keep a little human alive.

In addition, there is the pressure. You can feel your mother watching with disapproval as you wash that baby’s bottom off in the bathroom sink. You know there are wipes, but you can’t figure out where they are. You are sure that if your wife, mother, friend, coworker, neighbor, mayor, mailman, evil twin, or dog catcher ever found out about this, you would be humiliated. The myth you believe is that they did it any better the first time.

To top it off, you wife seems to think that house should not be a trash heap when she returns. Seriously, where does she come up with all these expectations. Watching kids AND keeping the house clea…well…not filthy.

But in reality, every struggle you face in caring for you kids at home is one your wife is facing too. Have compassion on that poor woman and learn to take care of your kids by yourself. Ask your wife what you will need and talk with another guy who knows what he is doing with his own kids. Your wife needs you to be able to independently care for your children in such a way that they will not need therapy later.

You can do this dad.

-Chip

P.S. Get one of those removable shower heads for your bath. It makes life a lot easier. You won’t have to use the sink to wash them off anymore.

Photo by Barbara Murdter and is used with Creative Commons Permission.

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The War on Pouting

just-a-guy-pouting-250Pouting, moaning, whining, complaining.

Often considered the weakness of children, it is alive and well in men. Particularly this man.

This weakness would have gone on unaddressed but for an excellent Ask Pastor John called Make War on Pouting. In it, Pastor John challenges us to fight this pathetic childish sin.

What, pouting, a sin?

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent,children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Phil 2:14,15

Yes, gentlemen, a sin.

Think about what whining says about God. We look to the floor and pout because we think God should have given us a better wife or house or kids or car or job. Far from being content in all circumstances (Phil 4:11), we prefer to pout.

How pathetic is that? Grown men. Sons of the supremely majestic God of the Universe, looking at the floor because someone hurt their feelings or interrupted their video game.

You see, I am experienced pouter. I arrive home and my wife doesn’t greet me at the door. What, after all I’ve worked, no greeting! Not only that, but a child has just had diarrhea in his diaper (this may be a reason for the failed greeting) and another child is potentially going to kill the fish. I clearly deserve better than this. I work hard. God should have given me a more grateful wife, better behaved children, and more resilient fish.

Of course, I don’t think all of those thoughts that explicitly, but I believe them. What I really do is rescue the fish first, then do the minimum necessary to help after that. After all, I was treated poorly. No greeting at the door. Am I considering that my poor wife has been working with the diarrhea/fish assassinating children all day? Could the children’s behavior problems be more related to Dad’s behavior than their own?

Do I love my family like Jesus does? Do I sacrifice my comforts to care for them in this difficult time?

Well, I would, if they treated me better (pouting look).

To be clear, I am not talking about real grief. Jesus cried at times about real suffering including his own. No, this pouting is what we men do with the annoyances of life. It is not the flood, it is the drip.

The fact is, pouting is very unloving. It says that rather than being the one who sacrifices for my family, I am the one who takes what I need from my family and screw them if they don’t pay up with enough gratitude. This is not love.

To love them is to walk in the door and be so full of God’s approval, mercy, kindness, and joy, the I spill that joy into my home. It should drip off of me to redeem a room. I should not be a sucking hole of joy in my home, I should be a God saturated conduit of joy filling my home with it. The opposite of pouting is joy.

Pray for me that I can be that kind of husband and dad.

-Chip

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – A guy’s review

Chick-flicks are dangerous things. The only reason to watch one is that the lovely lady in your life would want you to. It is particularly dangerous for me because I have a habit of mocking movies that have weak plots. Seriously, in The Wedding Planner, he is a creep and she is a homewrecker and no amount of cute M&M’s will make up for that.

Unfortunately, this trait of mocking movies that my dear wife might like can make me an unpopular fellow. So it was with a little trepidation that I was asked to watch What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 

The story follows several couples whose lives intersect with each other and are expecting a baby. The movie really does explore many of the ways you could be expecting including singletons, twins, international adoption, and a miscarriage. It explores several difficult topics like breastfeeding, the pressure on women from other women, working while pregnant. All of this sounds like perfect chick-flick territory and warrants my discomfort with the movie.

So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be an excellent movie. As a man had four kids in two years and two moths, I laughed hard and frequently at the honest and common problems these couples faced. The classic pressure that women experience during pregnancy was throughout made clear. Of course there is the lady who just glowed and loved pregnancy talking to the woman who can’t walk, sleep, eat, or breath comfortably. I remember how miserable Sam was through all of her pregnancies.

But what makes this movie stand out is the strong male presence in the movie. The men are NOT props for the ladies to make fun of and complain about. They are real guys acting like guys who are struggling with fatherhood. The highlight of the film for me is the dude club which is a group of fathers that walk through the park and talk. There are two rules of the club.

  1. Don’t talk about the dude club.
  2. No judging.

Then throw several dad’s together and you get an irreverent, honest, and hilarious discussion. On watching them have lines like “(fatherhood) is where happiness goes to die” you could get the feeling that the movie is negative about children. Later in the movie, this same group forcefully affirms, “We love being dads.”

This is reflective of the conundrum that I feel. How do I discuss how tired I feel and yet communicate that I do love my children? Both can be true.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting really surprised me as a great movie for guys. If you’re a dad, give this movie a shot. It’s your best shot of watching a chick-flick that you and the lady in your life would agree on.

-Chip