Hearts at Home Workshop-On-The-Go: The Dad Connection

Dr. Todd Cartmell is a favorite Hearts at Home workshop speaker.  He’s the author of several books, including Project DadRespectful Kids, and Keep the Siblings-Lose the Rivalry.  Currently practicing in Wheaton, Illinois, Dr. Cartmell and his wife, Lora, have two sons.  For more parenting encouragement, you can find Dr. Todd on his website and on Facebook, too!
With Father’s Day just around the corner, today’s Workshop-On-The-Go is for dads.  In fact, Dr. Cartmell’s new book Project Dad, just might make a great Father’s Day gift.  I’m giving away two copies of the book today in a random drawing from those who participate in our conversation!

The Dad Connection

Madison was sitting across from me on the big blue couch in my office.  Her eyes were filled with tears as she described a damaged relationship with her father.

“He always yells at me, even when it’s just about something little,” she said in a soft voice.  “I know I should listen better, I just wish he didn’t have to yell.”

This was not the first time I had witnessed the breakdown of a relationship between a father and a child.  I have listened to both boys and girls with tears streaming down their cheeks as they told me about a distant or damaged relationship with their father.

Madison’s tears were not tears of anger.  They were tears of hurt and sadness, longing for the close relationship she desperately desired with the most important man in her life.

Her dad.

Your Relationship Bridge

Almost every day, I see boys in my office whose pockets are filled with little LEGO Star Wars figures, typically Jedi knights, clone troopers, or something of the sort.  Building things just seems to be part of their DNA, much like a natural aversion to Dancing with the Stars is part of mine.

Perhaps this is God’s way of preparing us dads for one of the most important building projects we’ll ever undertake: Building a strong relationship bridge with our kids.  Just as every project has its steps, here are four steps for building a relationship bridge (and protecting it) that your kids will love.

Build the Bridge

Step One: Connect with touch. I know of few things that are more powerful than physical touch in creating a strong relationship connection with your kids.  When a child receives a warm hug, kiss, or gentle squeeze on the shoulders or arms from their dad, they are unmistakably reminded of one powerful message: their dad loves them.

Step Two: Connect with time. In the busy world of the modern dad, there are many important things that demand him to selflessly sacrifice his time, such as work, rubbing his wife’s feet, and of course, checking on his fantasy baseball team twenty-four hours a day.

In the midst of all this, however, there are three simple things that dads can do to get connected and stay connected with their kids:

-Regularly ask them about school, friends, and activities

-Invite them to play a game or go on an outing

-Pray with them at bedtime

Protect the Bridge

Step Three: Pause and take a deep breath. As it was for Madison’s father, discipline situations are often where our relationship bridges get damaged.  One of the best ways to protect your relationship bridge from your own anger is to pause for a second BEFORE you enter a discipline situation.

In that second, take a deep breath and ask God to help you be the kind of coach he wants you to be—one that teaches the right lessons with a warm and loving style that strengthens the bridge, rather than damages it.

Step Four: Be firm, but always self-controlled and respectful. As a dad, you will most certainly need to be firm at times, such as when anyone comes within 100 yards of the television remote control.

However, you can be firm, self-controlled, and respectful all at the same time.  These are not opposite concepts (e.g., “Which should I be today, firm or self-controlled and respectful?  Ohhh, I just can’t decide.  Oops, it’s time to check on my fantasy baseball team again!”).

When you teach your kids important lessons in a self-controlled and respectful way, two wonderful things happen: your kids’ defensiveness decreases and their openness to the lessons they need to learn increases.

A Bridge Repaired

I’m happy to report that when Madison’s dad realized how his angry style was damaging his relationship bridge, he immediately apologized to Madison and began building his bridge instead of tearing it down when he needed to correct her.  He’s been continuing to build it ever since.

Here’s the good news: God made every dad to be a great dad.  Not perfect, but great. And a great dad will build a strong relationship bridge with his kids and keep it strong.  Then, he’ll get to work on his fantasy football team.

Would you like to enter to win a copy of Dr. Cartmell’s Project Dad book?  Simply share this: What are your plans to celebrate Father’s Day? I’ll announce the winner on Saturday!


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21 thoughts on “Hearts at Home Workshop-On-The-Go: The Dad Connection

  1. Hi

    For Fathers Day we are going to have a nice picnic at a park where we can go on a hike. My husband loves being out on trails and just driving around seeing where we end up. Sometimes we find the neatest places you didn’t even know were only 15 minutes away.

  2. We just like to spend the day with extra attention for Dad. Church, lunch, time spent with family, maybe some homemade ice cream shared with Papa (our grandfather), too!

  3. We usually spend Fathers Day doing whatever it is Dad wants to do, whether watch NASCAR, go for a bike ride, in the pool or just hanging out. It’s his day and the boys have learned to respect that and shower him with love and appreciation. But we always start with Dad’s favorite breakfast and end the day with his favorite dessert!

  4. We will have a day filled with all of dad’s favorite things! We will definately take a family bike ride and have a picnic. Celebrate what a great husband and father my husband is (it is also our anniversary weekend!).

  5. For Fathers Day I am going to have our BBQ cleaned and prepared for use and the morning of I will place the new BBQ tools and a picture of all the meat that I have purchased that is in the freezer (steaks, ground beef patties, hot dogs, chicken etc) next to the BBQ with a big sign saying Happy Fathers Day right above it.. so when he gets up in the morning he will see it when he comes out in the living room!

    a latte of blessings & giggles,

  6. This Father’s Day the three of us are packing up a picnic lunch and going canoeing at a local lake. Hoping for calm waters and some beautiful sunshine!

  7. I plan to have all of the fathers in my life over for a cookout. It will be my husband, his father, my father, my stepfather, my two stepsons and my step son in law – of course with all of the mothers, daughter, daughter in laws and children and grandchildren too. A day that I am really looking forward to. May God bless all of the fathers in your life. 🙂

  8. We will go to church that morning, spend the afternoon relaxing outside with some of the neighbors and then either cookout or go to a steakhouse for dinner (depending on if hubby wants to cook or not).

  9. Every year our village has a festival on Father’s Day weekend. We will watch the parade, and have fun with the family on all the free carnival rides, music and horse-drawn wagon. The carnival is concluded on Saturday night with fireworks. Happy Father’s Day!

  10. I hope my husband will be home and not working on Father’s Day, if he is home we will head to church for special Father’s Day service and out to eat at his favorite cafe. My daughter will make him a picture and I put some ID washer with the children’s names on them for him to keep with him always. My husband sure could use a book like this considering his dad was one of those that worked and had a drinking problem when my husband was being raised. My husband wants to do the opposite of how he was raised and be there for his children, but I know it isn’t easy when you don’t have that role model, so this book would be beneficial for him.

  11. After church we will be attending a baseball game with my family, my sisters family & my dad.

    This book looks great – thank for the give away!

  12. Our teens went together and bought Dad a certain tv series on DVD they all like to watch together. Our two smaller children also picked out a gift for Dad and already are trying to get Dad to open his gifts first thing Father’s Day–who knows maybe at 5 am too! We will give him a day of rest from chores and just celebrate together as a family doing what he picks out. Each child will also do a card for Dad to personalize.

  13. For Father’s Day this year, I’m having our children all make Dad a father’s day card and then I’m going to make a yummy breakfast for my husband. My oldest (4) and I are going to make “I love you” pancakes. We’re just going to relax the rest of the day and spoil dad! The afternoon will probably include his favorite.. meatloaf and potatoes! We just want him to know how much we appreciate him and how important he is in our lives!

  14. It will be Daddy’s choice….but I will suggest picnic and the Zoo after church…as long as the weather cooperates.

  15. We always do breakfast in bed to start out the day! After church, we will celebrate with my side of the family and “let” the guys do the grilling! (That’s what they prefer!) He will get A LOT of handmade cards and goodies from the kids! This year we were able to get a GREAT deal on a new guitar for him! My husband is such an awesome dad to our 7 kiddos! I love to celebrate this day with him and show him how much we love and appreciate everything he does for us!

    I am super excited about Todd Cartmell’s new book! some of my favorite HAH workshops were the ones that he taught! (I would love to see him come back to HAH!) I learned so much from him and have enjoyed all his books! Keep the siblings, lose the rivalry is one that gets pulled out quite often!

  16. We don’t have plans yet. But I think I will celebrate with a blog post about how great my husband is at being a dad.

  17. The kids will make breakfast in bed for their dad and we’ll surprise him with some crafts that we’ve made. We’ll head to church where they do a special service for fathers and then we will be going to my father in laws for dinner in the evening. I’m trying to figure out how to do some fun silhouettes of the kids to surprise him with!

  18. We will BBQ with the grandparents and my kids have some little gifts to give daddy. It’s always fun to celebrate my husband, he’s a wonderful father!
    Dana K.

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