Well, here we go. My first blog entry, ever. First of all I would like to dedicate this first one to someone who Carol and I love dearly. For the last several years now, one of Carol’s best friends has been whispering in Carol’s ear that I should write a blog. She has told Carol countless times that she thinks that this would be an encouragement to people.
I hope that turns out to be true. I want you to know, Shari, that I have been listening all this time (and though I have been nervous about having my own blog) I have been so encouraged by your words. So, I would like to dedicate this first one to Shari Santala Erdmann and say, “Here’s hoping, Shari, that I have the courage to make this blog lasts for more than a week.” We love you.
Parenting with Purpose Facebook post March 5, 2014.
Ask your kids, “If there was one thing you could change about me, what would it be?” Then Listen and Grow. One time my daughter said, “You are perfect just the way you are!” I said, “No really, come on. Give me something to work on.” She said, “Okay. Let me go get my list.”
Carol and I were attending our first Family Life marriage conference at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s was 1998 and earlier that year we had been invited to join the Family Life speaker team. The first step in the long and thorough process of becoming a speaker team member was to attend a Weekend to Remember conference. It was an incredible experience and I learned a great deal as a husband, father, Christian and future marriage speaker. But there are two things from that weekend that had a big impact on me: First, I remember laughing so hard I could hardly breathe at one of the speakers stories and I thought, “This is good. Marriage is tough. People need to laugh while attending this event.”
Second, on Sunday morning they split up the men and women and us guys were listening to Dr. James Gorton speak on being a dad. He said to us, “Be courageous as a dad. If you have the guts, go home and ask your children to tell you one thing they would change about you if they could.” I remember thinking, “I wonder what they would say? I think I would be a little nervous to try this, but I need to do it.” So I went home and did.
The only regret I have now is that I didn’t keep a journal of their answers they gave me each time I did this through the years. That first time I remember them being a little nervous to tell me, but I told them that it would help me be a better dad. They each were honest with me and I remember it being extremely helpful. One of them told me I could do a better job listening. Another told me that they didn’t like it when I raised my voice. It was a little difficult to hear them share, but it became something I continued to do because it was so helpful for all of us. About once a year, as the kids were growing up, I would sit them down and ask them individually, “If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?” Then I would listen and learn. Thanks Dr. Gorton.