Tag Archives: parenting

Biological Reproduction vs Fatherhood

fatherhood-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreIt’s easy, and frankly, quite an enjoyable experience for a man in producing a child.  The responsibility that follows the conception and birth of a child, though, is another story altogether.

I was raised by a single mom. My Dad was distant, not just geographically but emotionally and physically as well.  The role models for Fatherhood in my life were few and far between.  My point of reference left me feeling ill prepared at best. In short, the thought of Fatherhood scared me.

What would I do with a child?  How would I relate to him/her?  Could I love them and be committed to their growth in maturity?  Do I have what it takes to be more than a biological donor and become a young man and/or young lady’s Father?

Please set aside the stereotypical image of Father’s today. Sitcoms depict us as forgetful, undependable, and dim-witted.  Fatherhood today is downplayed significantly despite the research that affirms over and over again the incredible importance a Father plays in a child’s development toward healthy responsible adulthood.

If you’re a Dad or a young man who struggles with the idea of being one can I encourage you with the fact that your role as Father is incredibly important. You’re role as an involved Father is needed.  And your role as a Father is valued by the children who call you Daddy.

Until next time, may your act of Fatherhood intentionally invest in the adult your child is becoming.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

Fathers, You Can’t Afford a Stay-at-Home Mom

stay-at-home-mom-gregory-blandI’ve had this thought in my head for a while now. I’ve been thinking that I can’t afford for my wife to be a Stay-At-Home Mom. Now, I don’t at all mean to offend anyone with this post. I just have to say that for me personally, I can’t afford it. I’d like to explain exactly what I mean by that so that no one thinks I’m in any way devaluing Stay-At-Home Moms. On the contrary, I mean that I quite literally cannot afford my wife to be staying at home. Here’s why…

My wife stays home and takes care of our son every single day. She changes his diapers, feeds him, plays with him, puts him down for his nap, and comforts him when he’s upset. And that’s just the bare minimum. A child can typically get that attention at a day-care. But on top of that, he is her only focus. There’s no other children to tend to. He gets all of her. All of her love, all of her time, all of her energy. She is always there, always near, and always listening. Obviously, this is part of being a parent. You take care of your child and you raise your child. But let’s face it. In our day and age, every service (and I mean EVERY service) is hireable. There is a company ready and willing to do just about anything. So while, yes, my wife is my son’s mother and it is a natural result of being a parent to love and care for your own child, there is also a very quantifiable dollar amount that can be attributed to the services rendered. I am in no way trying to simplify, objectify, or devalue the priceless love of a mother for her child. But let’s be real. Pay day feels good for a reason. Because you’re seeing your hard work appreciated in a tangible way that lets you “treat yo self”. And this is exactly why I can’t afford my wife being a Stay-At-Home Mom. The national average weekly salary for a full-time nanny is $705. That’s $36,660 a year.

Read the rest of the story on weareglory.com

The Purpose of Conversation with Teens

 

purpose-of-conversation-gregory-blandConversation with our teens can be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience as a parent. Listening as they begin to ‘put into words’ their passions, hopes, dreams, and even their fears warms the heart.  These are the moments we long for as parents and want to hold them with tenderness and grace.

There are other times when our conversations take a turn and feel anything but rich and rewarding.  In these moments it is important to pause for a moment, regain our composure, breathe, and build perspective.  If possible, before it goes from bad to worse.

In these moments, when conversation becomes heated, the words of Solomon ring very true and clear, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

gentle-answer-gregory-blandThis gives me hope.  Although I know that I cannot control how my teen will respond to me, I also know that I have an incredible influence how they might respond.  I need to take responsibility for myself, my actions, and reactions.

In light of this, the first place to look when a conversation begins ‘going south’ is within ourselves.

For me, I take a moment and ask myself, “What am I doing right now that is contributing to the negative direction of this conversation?”

Consider for a moment  . . .

  • What am I communicating to my child/teen right now with my words, tone of voice, and body language?
  • Have I stopped authentically listening to their story and slipped into ‘telling mode?’
  • Might they perceive that I am passing judgement upon them and/or  trying to ‘fix them?’

If we recognize that we have slipped in any of these areas and are communicating negatively with our teen, it’s time to take action and respond in a mature manner.  Apologize and ask to begin again.

Apologize to my teen?  If necessary, absolutely! Humbling ourselves in moments when we are clearly at fault communicates maturity, responsibility, incredible value and respect to our teens.

  • We model humility and maturity in conversation.  When we are wrong, admit it, and ask for forgiveness.  This provides a living model for them to emulate within their relationships.
  • We value our relationship together and are willing to take responsibility for how we communicate with them.
  • We are giving them the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and desire to truly understand what they are thinking, feeling, desiring.
  • We are building self awareness by engaging our own thoughts/feelings and understanding how we are impacting other’s around us.

The next time you begin to experience a conversation ‘going south’ with your teen, take a moment to pause and reflect, and reengage in that conversation in a healthy manner.  I’d be interested in hearing what happens as a result both with yourself and your teen.

Until next time, let’s use conversation to build a deeper connection with our kids not show them how wise we are and in what ways they need to change.  Remember, you can have a rich rewarding conversation with your teen.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
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Everyone Leaves a Mark. What will Yours Be? by Gregory Bland

leave-a-mark-gregory-bland
“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark.” Chinese Proverb.

It is intriguing the impact ‘others’ have upon our children. Sometimes it is dramatic, and other times it is almost imperceptible, but there is a mark.

Time and time again one of my children has approached me and asked something like, “Dad. Did you notice what ‘Roger’ just did?” Our conversation about what ‘Roger’ just did, or other observations my children make, affirms quite naturally that our children are influenced by the words, actions, and behaviors of others. Whether ‘major’ or ‘minor,’ it leaves a mark.

Several years ago friends of our family encountered some serious marital difficulty and eventually separated. Although these were friends  and not Mommy and Daddy themselves, this experience made a profound mark upon our children.

For the longest time as I prepared to head out for a days work at the office, the children would run and hug me tightly, squeezing with all their might.   As much as I relished these moments of attention, it was their consistent question that haunted me the most.  Their innocent little voices asked with a degree of concern, “Daddy. Are you going to come back home?”

That question betrayed the impact that outside influence had upon the hearts of our children, and a mark was made.

I would assure them each and every time they asked. “Yes. Absolutely I am coming back home.”  Several times through the day I’d call and assure them of my love.

If others, with varying degrees of influence, can so readily mark our children, how much more can we as parents leave a mark upon them?

We are NOT passers by, casual encounters, or subtle influences.  As parents we are positioned to best influence and leave a positive mark upon their lives!

As you reflect upon this think about the mark you are leaving upon your child?

Self Coaching:
Imagine for a moment that it is 10 or 15 years from today. Your children have matured and have launched out from the shelter of your home and they are on their own. Maybe they are married and even have children of their own. You find yourself enjoying a quiet lunch in one of your favourite restaurants when you hear a familiar laugh at a table close by. You sneak a peek and recognize your daughter (or son) enjoying dinner with a friend and they have not noticed you sitting there.

You prepare to announce yourself and say hello when she/he begins speaking about you. More specifically she/he begins speaking about the mark you’ve made upon them as they ‘grew up’ within your home. You pause, and wait, curious to see what they will say. (OK. Now you’re an eavesdropper but try to imagine this for a moment.)

What would they say to their friend about you and the mark that you made upon their lives?
How would they describe your influence upon them?
What would they most appreciate about your parenting and the values you espoused and/or passed on to them?
What highlights would they share?

Listening in on your future son/daughter could be very sobering and/or encouraging.

What Legacy do you desire to leave and how can you begin making a healthy mark upon your children and teens today?

Until next time recognize and know you are making a mark upon your child/teen. Let’s make a good one.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and The Legacy Centre

* Photo credit :  DollarPhotoClub 39193738

Face to Face with Fear pt 6 by Gregory Bland

pummeled-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centre“I could never love another child the way I loved Katelyn.”   That thought haunted me and catalyzed a tangible fear within my heart. I forced myself to go through the motions . . .

– I read story’s to Lynn’s belly as we lay down at night just as I did with Katelyn.
– I’d play the guitar and sing to Lynn’s belly. A treat that most never hear and for good reason.

– I would speak to the baby developing within the womb, affirming my love, telling stories of what to expect in our family, and awaiting the press of a hand or foot against my gentle hand.

I was hoping somehow all of these actions would diminish my “irrational” fear. It didn’t. I was still scared. Questions nagged me day after day, week after week, and month after month. It was unrelenting.

Could I love this child the way I love the first?

What if I couldn’t?

What impact would this have them?

Am I going to wreck them emotionally?

As the birth date approached my anxiety increased and there was a barrage of new questions. My mind felt as though I was in a boxing ring, back pressed against the ropes, hands up guarding my face as Evander Holyfield pummeled me.

Are we having a boy or girl? I know how to father a girl, but what happens if we have a boy? What do I do then? I don’t know how to relate to boys? I didn’t even have a Dad at home. I don’t know if I could love another girl, let along a boy. How would I love a boy?

I was a wreck internally.

The Dr’s decided that my love would be tested on June 30th when they declared that Lynn would be induced on that day so they could monitor the birth. Instead of watching the fireworks at the Freedom Festival between Detroit/Windsor, I’d be watching fireworks of a different sort this year.

You’d think after 5 months of fighting with these questions I would have resolution walking into the hospital room. I didn’t. Lynn was induced early in the morning and as the hours passed my anxiety increased and my prayer intensified. Lynn may have thought I was praying for her, but I wasn’t. I was selfishly praying that somehow, someway, God would give me the strength to love this child as I should. Would my love be divided? Would it be diminished in any way with the addition of this child? The unpleasantness of that thought was disconcerting and I continued praying.

The hours rolled by and nothing tangible changed. Not within my heart or within Lynn’s body. Nurses checked frequently on Lynn but precious little was happening. Lunch came and went and still no change, “You’re still 2 cm dilated,” the nurses repeated, over and over and over again. As the supper hour passed anxiety ramped up. It seemed as though God was doing His masterful work of forging patience within our lives.

Lynn and I sat side by side on the love seat in the hospital room, not much was said, but I know a lot was being contemplated. All of a sudden Lynn screamed. I mean screamed, it was so loud I jumped to my feet in an instant and almost immediately nurses were running through the door.

Finally something is happening! It was fast and furious, you’re completely dilated and the baby is crowninlove-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreg. One nurse paged the Dr, as the others helped Lynn into the bed. I watched in amazement. (I’ll spare you some of the details.) The Dr. arrived at the room just in time to see the baby being born

He held the baby up and said, “Mr and Mrs Bland you have a baby girl. It’s a good thing she ca
e when she did because her umbilical cord is in a perfect knot and it’s tightening.  Take a look at this . . .”

I looked at her through the tears that flooded my eyes, “Hannah Mercedes,
welcome to our family.” In an instant my doubts and fears were erased. I was overwhelmed with LOVE for this precious child. My love was not divided, it was not diminished in any way, but rather I could tangibly tell it was multiplied!

I thanked God for this little girl’s safe arrival and the instant work He did within my heart. It was late that night, 11:25pm, that all my fears were eclipsed by the reality I had a greater capacity for love.

Until Next time
Consider the depth of love you have for another
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

Face to Face with Fear pt 5 by Gregory Bland

expecting-2nd-child-gregory-bland“What do you mean you’re pregnant? You’re breastfeeding! Is that even possible?” Apparently breastfeeding is not a foolproof form of birth control. Some things you just learn by experience. 😉

The words, “Greg. We’re pregnant, we’re expecting another child,” sent a cool chill up my spine. I did not expect this news. I knew that I should be happy, yet I felt a strange sense of loss. Something inside of me wanted to be supportive, encouraging, & helpful, but I was scared and didn’t know why or how to communicate this with Lynn.

I tried to mask my immediate thoughts, put a brave face on, hugged Lynn and said with less-than-heartfelt words, “That’s great honey.”

I couldn’t help thinking that the life I had grown so quickly to love and the image I had created for our future was suddenly shattered.   All the dreams I had of the three of us gone with those simple words, “We’re expecting another child.”

I loved Katelyn with all my heart. So much so that this ‘good’ news impacted me in a way I never thought possible. I’m not ready for this. How can I cope? I’m certain my stress markers went out the roof as my mind reeled with questions that I could not seem to answer.

Why am I feeling like this?

I love children, what’s going on inside of me?

How can I cope?

In a very real sense I felt like I was going crazy. I could not put my finger on the source of these thoughts, but I knew they were stemming from something deeper within me. Yes, they were irrational, yes, they were selfish, nonetheless they were real and overwhelming.

For weeks I wore a façade. Pretending to be excited and happy while I secretly wrestled with these questions and guilt over the way I was feeling. I can’t remember exactly the moment it dawned on me, but there was a time I recognized the source of my fears.

Like lightening piercing the darkness a thought shot to the forefront of my mind. “Greg,” yes, sometimes I talk to myself. O.K. according to Lynn, I talk to myself a lot! “Greg,” I thought, “You are feeling this way because you’re scared you cannot love another the way you love Katelyn.”

That one statement resonated with my spirit. Yes, that’s it, that’s it. It’s true I love Katelyn so deeply I am scared I could never love another child in the same manner. I just don’t have it in me.

Although I knew the source of my fear, I did not know the capacity of my love until Hannah was born.

Can you relate in any way? It seems crazy to many, but it was very real to me. I was just plain scared that I could never love another the way I loved the first.
Until Next time
Consider what love is
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

Face to Face with Fear pt 4 by Gregory Bland

Katelyn-birthKatelyn was welcomed into our home with great anticipation and hopeful expectation. As a couple we had been active in many youth/children’s ministries during the years of our courtship and marriage. Believing in, encouraging, and fostering growth in children/teens was something that we loved doing. I had come to believe that our children and youth are more capable than we often give them credit for.

Somehow though, this was vastly different. We were no longer simply experimenting with ideas, offering encouragement, counsel, creating growth experiences, lavishing love on the sometimes unlovable, then sending the kids home to their parents. No. Katelyn’s birth noted a significant shift in our lives.

We would have direct involvement, 24/7, for a period of years. She was not our possession, but rather a gift we would steward, invest in, and encourage toward the fulfillment of her destiny. Even at birth, there was a stark realization that the days were numbered and one day she would be launching out from our home to make her own mark on the world.

I was determined to do the best I could in preparing her for that purpose.

I knew exactly what I wanted to be as a Dad.

Involved.

Proactive.

Communicative.

Involved: I had witnessed a few families disintegrate because of Dad’s over-involvement with work/ministry and lack of involvement on the home front. It seemed tragic to me that the devastation on the relational home front took less priority than serving others outside the family. What I frequently heard from teens was, “Dad’s always available for them, but never seems to have time for me.” In my mind I thought, “What would it profit me to build a great ministry/business and lose my family in the process?” I had determined to set my boundaries and keep them healthy. Katelyn would have my best, not my leftovers.

Proactive: I was determined to fully engage and enjoy each moment while katelyn-bicyclemaintaining an eye to the future. There will be moments of laughter and celebration; I wanted to embrace every one of them. There would also be tears, and the experience of pain; I wanted to foster learning and embracing the value of these moments as well. From the first words spoken, “Da Da,” her first steps, the first bruised knee, first successful ride on a bicycle without training wheels, driving the family car, graduating, college/university, engagement, marriage, and children. Wow, even as I write that, I recognize how quickly time passes. Katelyn is now driving the family car! The often spoken of and ignored reality is, “Our children will not remain children forever.” Time is fleeting. In retrospect, 18 years is a very short time, and I want to make the most of every one of them.

Communicative: Too often I hear; “Dad doesn’t communicate and simply holds things in until he’s so upset it explodes.” “Dad never says, ‘I love you.’ ‘I can’t remember the last time I opened up and shared my heart with Dad. He just seems disinterested or judgmental. So I seek others that I can be open with.”

Our work with children and teens had evidenced over and over that children/teens will open up to those they know love, accept, and listen without prejudice. It was my heart to cultivate an environment where open communication would be the norm, not the exception and I knew that would mean I would have to model this behavior.

I embarked on our parenting journey with great optimism, enthusiasm, and wonder at what God was going to do in and through this little girl. Katelyn was an incredible joy to parent. Our optimism may have been fueled by our experiences throughout Lynn’s pregnancy, God’s deep work within our hearts, and/or our refusal to consider Katelyn a ‘hindrance’ to our lives. Rather we decided to include her in our lives so she could experience life as we do.

Katelyn’s first ‘rock concert’ was experienced when she was just 2 weeks old. Lynn and I sat closer to the back of course, and watched as Katelyn’ quietly slept through all the ‘noise.’ Her first camping trip took place when she was 9 weeks of age. This was no simple feat for a nursing mother, let alone the fact that we also included 20+ teenagers on this outing. She survived and so did we. Frankly, the youth we worked with loved the fact we included Katelyn on our outings.  Her first major car ride followed shortly thereafter when we traveled from Ontario to Nova Scotia by car. Again, no simple feat, but we recognize the benefits these experiences had on Katelyn because we included her and did not regard her as an inconvenience.

The first 5 months of parenting were an absolute joy for me. I loved having this little girl within our lives. The joy, excitement, and love I felt for Katelyn seemed to grow daily. It was a love I had not experienced before.   A love that I didn’t even know I was capable of having or expressing. Simply put, I was content being a Dad, and loved the fact I was given the privilege of shaping a life that was entrusted to our care.

In my mind things couldn’t be better.  I loved the new community we were living in, our new ministry seemed to be going well, loved the young people and parents we were connecting with, and absolutely loved being Dad.

It seemed nothing could shake me.  That is until one evening I noticed something ‘slightly off’ with Lynn.   Her eyes always betray her and that look told me she had to say something but didn’t quite know how to bring it up.

“What’s up?” I asked. “It’s nothing,” she replied. Both you and I know when a woman says it’s nothing, it’s never ‘nothing!’ So I pressed her, “Come on. I know something is going on inside that pretty little head of yours. Tell me.”

What she proceeded to share rocked me to the core.  Fear gripped my heart quickly and I immediately felt panic and a sense of disorientation I can’t even put into words.

“What do you mean . . .”

Join me for our next installment when I share my journey into fear and what I discovered about myself as a Dad.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and The Legacy Centre

Redefining Failure Pt 4 by Gregory Bland

fear failure gregory blandMost of us have learned early in life that failure is ‘bad,’ and to some extent maybe even shameful.”

As a result we learn to hide our failures, make excuses for them, or ignore them altogether. Worse yet, we begin to stop taking risks; we become more ‘cautious’ in order to avoid even the possibility of failing. We begin limiting our choices to only those actions that have a high probability of success. And so our choices become limited, and our field of play becomes smaller. It doesn’t have to be that way. *

In our effort to redefine failure, I ponder the question, “What would it take for me to embrace failure and see it in a different light?”

Until next time,
Pondering failure with you
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

* Excerpt adapted from Celebrating Failure p93 of Co-Active Coaching