When Bill attended a funeral for a friend’s mother and two of his good friends were terminally ill,  the word “legacy” came to mind. We don’t often think about what we will leave behind—what our own personal legacy is—until we are confronted by our own mortality.

Remember that Tim McGraw song where the character receives a terminal diagnosis? When asked, “How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news? Man, whatcha do?”  

He replies, “Someday, I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dyin’.”

We Ask Questions Never Asked

We get hit upside the head by the reality of death within our family or circle of cherished friends. It jolts us.

It also causes us to ask ourselves the difficult questions: Are we the man, the husband, the father and the friend we long to be? Are we modeling appropriate standards to which others might aspire? How are we fulfilling and even reaching beyond our potential and, as a result, laying a solid, durable and lasting foundation? What is our legacy?

 We Reshuffle Our Priorities

If you have someone close to you facing a terminal illness, you know what we mean. It stops you in your tracks. Your priorities get scrambled. Things you took for granted aren’t so easy to ignore. Missed opportunities come back into focus. Friendships become more important. Those long-held grudges or barriers suddenly shrink in significance. Life—and the dynamics that make life lively and colorful—become more precious.

The end of someone else’s life impacts our own in profound and unforeseen ways. It causes us to take a harder, closer look at our own lives.

No Need to Wait

Dad, there’s no need to wait to begin examining your relationship with your family. We often just go through the motions and parenting becomes taxi service, clock-watching, jury duty, errand-running, and traffic control. We get so caught up in the mechanics of parenting that we might be overlooking how we’re living our lives—how we are behaving. Is your example one of caressing life … or just coping with life?

Dad, try this exercise. Think about your family … without you. What is your legacy to your children? What impact did you make? How would you describe it? Measure it? Did you leave footprints to follow—big shoes to fill? If you’re not sure, it’s not too late to start shaping your legacy.

As Tim McGraw sings,

“I was finally the husband,

That most the time I wasn’t.

And I became a friend a friend would like to have.

And all of a sudden goin’ fishin’,

Wasn’t such an imposition,

And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.

Well, I finally read the Good Book,

And I took a good long hard look,

At what I’d do if I could do it all again.”


By dads2dads

More News Than You Can Use

News. It’s everywhere, all the time. When we grew up, news was local … or national only if it was a major story on the world stage. It made a difference in our lives. It came either through the morning newspaper, at a specific time on the radio or television, or in a more reflective manner in magazine features.

The 24-hour news cycle has changed all that. It has opened the floodgates in news feeds on any subject—good, bad, sleazy or bloody–anytime, anywhere. We seem to have replaced significance and pertinence with constancy. What exactly is “breaking news”? Everything! That’s not necessarily good because it provides a skewed view of the world. Any anti-social, embarrassing, violent, disruptive, or otherwise negative event can be in our consciousness in a moment’s notice, regardless of its origin. The avalanche of news can desensitize us to its impact, and the reach and volume of stories and photos can overwhelm us.

Some helpful resources

How do we help our teens deal with such a plethora of information? The answer is not to disconnect. Rather, one response is to turn the news into a learning opportunity, helping teens sort the information, select and interpret the important stories and form an educated opinion.  Two programs might help.

The PBS NewsHour Extra helps high school students comprehend events and gain insight into why they should care. The program offers background to news stories and lesson plans. It provides opportunities for students to publish essays, or produce audio or video recordings about news events.

The “Newspapers in Education” program provides access to electronic newspapers from 40 cities across the United States to K-12 classrooms. Studies show that students whose teachers use newspapers in their classrooms score better on standardized tests, demonstrate better reading, writing, and comprehension skills, are more politically aware and exhibit stronger feelings of civic responsibility

Making sense of the news

It is important that we teach our teens to sort out the substantive issues from the sensationalized trash disguised as news. Thomas Jefferson said, “…wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government…” He was, of course, referring to the major issues in our society.

Your job, dad, is to guide your teen through the fluff, the sensational, the fictitious and the sleaze and help focus on major issues that make a difference.

Look for an opportunity to discuss news stories. Ask your teen what he or she considers the most important news story of the week and why. Pose a few questions that will cause your son or daughter to consider the impact of relationships, attitudes and shifts reflected in the news — questions that will place him or her in the circumstance described. This helps connect teens to the world and develops their skills to think for themselves.


By dads2dads

Th Independent Teen

This month we celebrate independence. It’s what was called for in July 1776 by 56 representatives in the General Congress. It’s what our teens strive for today. They clamor for more freedom. They plead for bigger responsibilities. They make a lot of noise about having more say-so over their own lives. Is it any wonder we celebrate Independence Day with fireworks?!

Those rebellious rebels

We live in a society founded on the principle of independence. In fact, it is our child’s job to exercise freedom from us. It is not an easy task. Many teens feel trapped, burdened and controlled. Many parents feel surprised, resentful, angry and disregarded. This road can be marked by restlessness, rebellion and rejection. Teens can move quickly between a need to be part of the family and a rejection of its values. Sometimes, it seems their whole purpose is to be confusing, unpredictable and difficult.

Guideposts for the journey

Ultimately, we want our kids to be independent, to be able to thrive on their own, to grow up and be successful. We can help this transformation along by remembering the following:

Responsible behavior gets you increased responsibility. Many teens (and adults!) have not learned this.

Work, get paid; don’t work, don’t get paid. You may have heard radio host Dave Ramsey say this and it’s true. You get rewards for honest, hard work. You don’t get rewarded very often for laziness and substandard contributions.

Make expectations and consequences clear. Allow your teen to participate in creating rules — for staying out, going on dates, balancing study and social activities, using the family car and driving responsibly, among others. These need to be discussed and determined together. While teens can’t set all their own rules and consequences, they do tend to follow rules a little better when they’ve been involved in establishing them.

Teach your kids how to make decisions by considering options and thinking about how their actions will reflect on them and impact others.

Your teen is still an important part of the family and must work within the construct of the family. While resistance is normal, cooperation is essential. Excessive disregard of family members tears at the family fabric.

Be consistent yet flexible in sticking to the rules and the consequences for not following them.

Expect some rebellion. Decide what to curtail and what to tolerate. Excessively strict monitoring of your teen’s actions is nearly as damaging as tolerance of all “independence behavior.”

Building a bridge

Understanding the rules, having a say in their creation, and recognizing the impact their actions have on the family and others helps teens become successful members of a broader society. You can begin to build this transition to independence by the actions you take now and the respectful environment you build together.


By dads2dads