Let them roar(ish)

We need to allow our kids to learn to roar.

At eight and ten years old our oldest are flourishing in the elementary years. Half of their existence is in the pretend world of video games, fantasy books, and made-up games in the backyard. The other half is the real world where they help with the baby, dominate academically at school, and run the shipping department for The Youth Cartel store.

The hard thing for Kristen and I is that they are growing up a little bit faster than we feel prepared to adapt our parenting. A year ago we woke up to the reality that we’d never left them home alone for even 5 minutes… or allowed them out of our sight on their own. So we started taking short trips to the grocery store without them or allowing them to go on walks in our neighborhood alone.

“It happens so fast.” People have told us this since the moment we found out we were pregnant with Megan. We’ve taken lots of pictures, we’ve enjoyed every step and stage. And yet it feels like it is still going so fast that we just want to hold on to each stage!

At the same time, it’s that little tendency… the desire to hold on… that we know is the difference between our kids roaring and our kids delaying maturation.

O! That we would be parents who don’t take video while our kids learn to roar, but stand behind them and encourage: Louder, you can do it!

Notre Dame parenting San Diego Living San Diego State Sports

Passing on a love of sports

My dad took me to lots of games at Notre Dame. Later in middle and high school it became more about football than the other sports. But I have lots of fond memories of spending time with my dad at Notre Dame basketball, hockey, and football games. I even remember a couple baseball and soccer games along the way.

Even though no one in my family went to Notre Dame, we lived so close and experienced so much there, that I have a pretty strong connection to the campus. My friends and I rode bikes all over campus. (Don’t tell my mom!) We played hide-n-seek near the Grotto and skateboarded the trail around St. Joeseph’s Lake. We yelled and made echoes between the giant buildings and dared one another to go into the administration building. (aka Golden Dome) I spent hundreds of hours in the library (aka Touchdown Jesus) during my senior year of high school and still have 10-15 unpaid parking tickets for parking in the basketball coaches spot when he wasn’t there.

But most of my memories of Notre Dame are from Saturday’s in the Fall. My dad had a group of friends who put on epic tailgate parties. 75-100 people would hang out and party between 3 motor homes starting before dawn and going until dark. When I was really young we went to almost every game because you could always find a ticket for free or almost free. That changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Lou Holtz had them in National Championship form year after year. But I managed to find a way in to a lot of games in those days. My stepdad had a brother who was an usher who could sneak me in. I’d get to the stadium several hours before the kickoff and sit in his usher seat during the game. When it was too cold or I’d get bored I’d climb into the scoreboard and watch the game from that little window, listening to the TV cameramen shuffle their feet above my head as they operated the endzone camera. For a couple of years my stepmom was an MBA student and we had tickets at the front of the student section. During those years I got to go to the games it was too cold for my dad and stepmom to enjoy. Cemented in my memory for a lifetime is freezing my butt off and hunting for hot chocolate during the 1992 snow bowl.

San Diego State

There’s no comparing Notre Dame to San Diego State. Pretty much everything that could be different about the two schools is different. But what isn’t different is the proximity of where we live. I grew up about a mile from Notre Dame’s campus and my kids are growing up about a mile from San Diego State’s campus. So I want my kids to experience the campus. (Um, the positive sides of campus activities!) That’s why I’m commited to taking them to football and basketball games and other fun/educational things offered on campus for kids.

I’d love for my kids to build happy memories about a place with their dad. Just like my growing up around Notre Dame… every moment isn’t memorable and not everything is going to make a lasting impression.

What are you doing to build memories with your kids? What kinds of things did you do with your parents which built lasting memories? 


To keep them young

Jackson is 8 months old. He crawls around on the floor. He pulls himself up on things to stand up. He coos, squeals, grunts, and makes endless raspberries. He’s the perfect size for Megan (10) and Paul (8) to pick up and play with. He loves to cuddle with mom and dad.

Eight months is one of those ages you wish your kids could just freeze and stay… forever.

This is the tension we live in as parents, isn’t it? We want them to slow down so we can enjoy each stage of development.

But they are in a hurry to grow up

Jackson wants to use real words to tells us exactly what he wants. He wants to not just stand up, but walk. He wants to run with his siblings. He wants to eat what we eat.

He wants to get big and we want to keep him small. 

It’s cute when they are babies. Certainly understandable and easy to justify.

But this tug to keep them young isn’t always good for them

The other day I hung out with Ryan McRae, a resident director at CSU San Marcos. He sees this same phenomenon every day with 18, 19, 20 year olds whose parents have done their best to keep their children young. Many of them are ill-equipped to live on their own. They lack basic judgment skills. Lots of them can’t even cook for themselves or do their own laundry.

Young adults who can’t take care of themselves. They can’t resolve conflict among themselves. He has to tell the parents to leave their adult-aged children alone.

I’m not a psychologist… but when I hear these things my mind wonders, “Are these young adults developmentally delayed?” Yes.

It’s cute to keep a baby young. But its not helpful to them beyond toddlerhood.

As parents we want to hold on to that cute baby who crawls around on the floor and coos. But, to be a good parent, we need to own our role in raising our children to become responsible, respectable adults. The goal of your parenting can not be to hold onto the past. It has to be to prepare your kids for the future.

Let’s explore this more. Join me in Atlanta for the Extended Adolescence Symposium on November 21st.

Christian Living youth ministry

Open Letter to My Former Students

Like all my friends in youth ministry, I have acquired a growing list of graduates that now scatter the globe. Some are freshmen in college this year, some are married and have cool jobs, and most are kind of in an in-between state. We bump into each other from time-to-time, we comment on one anothers life on Facebook, and I hope they pray for me as I have committed to praying for them. This post is for them.

Dear former students-

Dr. Seuss was right! Oh, the places you have gone and the things you have done. Some of you I’ve kept up with pretty closely while most I only get to see little snippets of when you come to town or with what you post on Facebook.

I just wanted to say to you publicly some things that you need to hear. Life has a way of transforming your dreams into a lame reality and I thought it might be valuable to get a third-party perspective on things.

Let’s take one more trip up the mountain and dream about what God wants for you.

The world is yours for the taking

Seriously, have you looked at your peer group? Life has dealt you a hand that you can easily take advantage of! It’s shocking to me that tomorrows influencers are impressed when snippets of their lives appear on the Fail Blog or Texts From Last Night.

Never confuse failure for success, no matter how popular it may seem. God has so much more for you in mind.

If you can rise above that stupidity and soak in as much education and experience as you can in the next 2-3 years you will be head and shoulders above the idiots who walked across the stage with you in high school.

IQ & money & SAT & GPA mean jack squat right now. It’s all about hard work. Outwork your peer group and you will succeed.

Tomorrows employers are watching what you are doing today. They want to know… were you one of those knuckleheads we laughed at on Fail Blog? When you explain to them that you were too busy taking care of your classes and holding down a job to pay for college… the doors of opportunity will swing open.

Take every class seriously. You are paying for it (and will pay for it for the next 10 years) so force your professors to give you their very best. If they don’t perform at their best challenge them to step it up privately. Wrestle through the temptation to blow off classes. Sit in the front 2 rows. Don’t open up your laptop. Take notes the old fashioned way. Do your reading. Turn stuff in.

Outwork everyone.

Take every job opportunity seriously. I don’t care if you are making sandwiches at Subway or whipping snot from a kids nose at daycare. Do it for the glory of God. This isn’t a great job market but that doesn’t mean you can’t do great at your job. Remember, he who is faithful with the small things…

Outwork everyone.

This stage of life isn’t about friends. It might feel like it should be, but that’s not true. People going places aren’t worried about such things. Look around at your classes today. Your job is to figure out how to rise above all of the people in that room. You don’t have to be smarter than them or get better grades than them… you just have to out position them.

No one expects anything from your generation. Rise above that and the world is yours.

Hard work, hard work, hard work. This is the path to success.

No one is going to hook you up so hook yourself up.

Grunt out this 5-6 years of your life, act like an adult as soon as possible, and you will reap the rewards for decades to come.

The church desperately needs you

I did my best to teach the Word of God to you plainly. Some of you absorbed it and took it seriously, some did not. That’s OK as you picked up more than you think you did.

Find a local church, get involved, and help them reach their community. It can be the church you grew up attending. It can be a new church. Really, just go to church.

Trust your instincts on what a healthy church is. It will feel right. It doesn’t have to be big or flashy. It doesn’t have to have a killer program you love or a hot musician. You don’t have to feel comfortable with everything they do and you don’t have to think it’s perfect. My experience is that I feel most negative about a church when I just go and am not involved or giving money. I guarantee you that if you become part of a churches ministries and give what you can, you will feel like you fit in.

Your church just has to love Jesus, love God’s Word, and have a stupid belief that the Gospel can change lives.

At the same time, I taught you to think critically about the world around you. This is the most valuable skill needed in the church today. There are enough Christians who are satisfied with reaching a small percentage of the community. Lead bravely wherever you get involved. Remind those at church what the Bible actually says. Hold them to it. The Book of Acts is possible today!

I pray that you keep believing that every person in your area needs to know Jesus and not to accept 10% as the best you can do. I hope you see things that need to be fixed in this world and step into the responsibility to right wrongs.

Don’t just be consumers of the Word of God. Be doers.

Move out as soon as possible

There is something about your parents generation that wants to hold onto you and baby you as long as possible. Resist that temptation.

I know it’s nice to have someone take care of you. And I know that its nice to have someone do your laundry.

Get out. It’s not helping.

The fastest way to grow up is to leave the nest. I’m not saying you need to hate your parents or that you aren’t supposed to ever see them again. But I am saying that if you are over 18 the best biggest step you can make to being accepted as a “real adult” is to get out.

The fastest way for you to get dependent is to stop taking their money. Find some people and share an apartment. Pay your own bills. Eat your own Ramen if you have to. You aren’t going to starve… you’re going to get hungry to grow up!

I’m still here for you

If you need someone to talk to, I am now and hope to always be here to listen and offer advice. At the very least, know that I continue to pray for you.

I expect great things from you. As I said when you were in middle and high school– I have a fundamental belief in your generation.

Be better than my generation. Now. Now. Now.

— adam