Most men never get the opportunity to spend the summer with their kids.  I am so blessed to be in this challenging position.  Structure and activity has been good for all of us but sometimes it seems to go too far.  Engagement in activities, whether it’s going to the pool, archery, drawing pictures, seeking evidence of God, or writing a book is contingent on a simple evaluation – Do I like this?  With any drop in excitement someone says “I am bored” and seeks the next moment of entertainment and personal pleasure.

Their hearts are the sum total of who they are.  The heart is their center of motivation, desire, intention, thoughts, feelings, and worldview.  My son loves the pool.  He thinks he should go even in the rain.  He wants to be outdoors.  My daughter loves drawing and writing books.  She loves to be inside.  Their hearts are being revealed in the engagement of life.  Play is therapy for boys; girls need to talk.

Boys use activity like play to connect, grow relationally, and deal with the problems they have experienced.  Girls use intimate conversation to connect, grow relationally, and deal with problems.  This became clear when my wife went out of town for a couple days.  The normal pattern was unavailable.  They couldn’t turn to Mommy because she was gone.  My son and I played baseball, video games, board games and in the process he and I connected and had a great time.  My daughter and I would talk.  We talked over coffee (she had milk).  We talked about our shared television show, and we talked about all things cute.  We talked and talked and talked.

Boys and girls are not the same.  They need different things in different ways.  As a parent you have to be flexible and creative to do a good job.  Parents have to be things for their kids they might not be equipped for or want to do.  It pleases me to give my kids fun, exciting, pleasurable things, but is entertaining personal pleasure the best thing for us?

It is easy to be drawn off course by the childlike heart that innocently evaluates everything based on personal pleasure.  All you have to do is go with the flow.  We know that the only time you coast is when you are going downhill.  If you are like me, then you want your kids to benefit from your leadership.  You want them to be something greater than yourself, to become and do more than you can imagine.

Daddy Bootcamp Lesson: don’t chase every moment of personal pleasure.  These impulses are rooted in a self-exalting heart.  Making our own pleasure a god that must be served is not a good or liberating god.  Instead focus on discipline to say “yes” or “no” selectively and appropriately as it serves a higher purpose and calling.  Focus on saying “no” to personal pleasure in order to create time, opportunity, and energy for serving others.  In what simple area can you start to practice this discipline?  Where do you need to draw the line and say “no” so you are free to say “yes” to something more important?

Author: Todd Davis, PhD, MFT, LADC

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