Do You Have Spirituality in Your Life?

It’s been almost two years since Daddy Brain posted its first article.

Way back when, one of my goals was to write blog posts about spirituality. But the only one that resembles a spiritual post has the word schmuck in the title, so I’m guessing there’s more to explore.

Many of the issues I’ve written about – including discipline, yelling, hitting, manifesting reality, and giving kids a voice of their own, have a spiritual component. These articles touch on treating our children, ourselves and others better and living life with integrity. And as difficult as these things may sometimes be to do, they’re even more difficult if we don’t have a spiritual connection.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and sell you on any type of religion or spiritual practice. But I do want to ask:

Do you have spirit in your life?

Notice I didn’t say religion, because religion does not automatically include a living, breathing spirituality. Do you feel a connection to Universe, God, Wakan Tanka (Native American), Buddha or some other form of spiritual practice? Have you ever?

These questions are crucial for two reasons:
(1) Being tapped into spirituality reminds us that there’s something (or someone) bigger than us to help us through our lives. In the mayhem of each day, it’s easy to forget that we’re constantly supported. It’s easy for our sprit to get buried. But spirituality helps center and ground us. And if we acknowledge and trust this support – life flows easier and goals are attained more readily.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have to do our part. A great example is the joke about the drowning man. Have you heard it?

There was an old man sitting on his porch watching the rain fall. Pretty soon the water was coming over the porch and into his house.

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue boat came by and the people on board said, “We have to evacuate, you can’t stay here!” The old man replied, “No, God will save me.” So the boat left.

A little while later, the water was up to the second floor when another rescue boat came. Again, the old man was told to evacuate and hop on board. The old man again replied, “God will save me.” So the boat left.

An hour later the water was up to the roof and a helicopter flew over the old man’s house, dropping him a ladder. The pilot yelled down, “grab on and climb up! I’ll get you out of here safely!” Again the old man refused to leave stating that, “God will save me.” The helicopter flew away to save others.

Soon after, the man drowns and goes to heaven. When he sees God he asks him, “Why didn’t you save me?”

God replied, “You dummy! I tried! I sent you two boats and helicopter — what more do you want?”

I’m sure you’ll agree the point is obvious — we simply must take action.

(2) If we do not live with spirit on a daily basis, who will teach our children to? I’ve known people who are not comfortable with formalized religion, so they forgo cultivating a true spiritual life. This was my problem for a very long time.

Living with spirit does not necessarily mean praying on one’s knees every day, going to church, or sitting in the lotus position (if you can get into it) and chanting. But these are options that work for people.

On a practical level, “living with spirit” is being kind to others, helping others, doing what’s right (not what’s convenient), living with integrity and being honest. It’s being mindful and as centered as possible (deep breaths are helpful with this).

Our children are depending on us to teach them these qualities.

And remember, you are not alone…

Little Acts of Love, by Paul Peterson

I came across a wonderful article at one of my favorite blogs, paulpetersonlive.com. I was so moved by Paul’s message, I felt it was important to share with you:

Last night our family took a friend of ours to Cracker Barrel for his 30th birthday. Our friend is from Honduras and speaks broken English (though he’s getting better all the time). My Spanish is limited to what I’ve picked up by watching Dora the Explorer with “The Ladies”. We have a good time together. I probably amuse him with my lame attempts to speak Spanish. I’m such a gringo.

While we were ordering, I slipped our waitress a slip of paper that said, “My friend had a birthday. Let’s go crazy!” They did! After dinner they brought him some peach cobbler and sang a rousing and VERY loud “Happy Birthday!”

I watched my friend. His eyes were wide with multiple emotions ranging from fear to amazement. When they were done and left he looked down at his cobbler for a long time. I saw him biting his lip. I was biting mine too. So was Sherri.

We sat with tears in our eyes. Silent. Hesitant to talk for fear we start bawling.

After a few minutes my friend looked at me and said, “No one has ever sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.” He went on to say that this year even some of his closest family has not called and wished him a “Happy Birthday.” He said, “I will remember this day for 50 or 60 years.”

I have thought much about this experience. What is it about a little thing (an evening, a dinner, a song) that can make adults cry and create a memory that will never be forgotten?

Here’s what I’m thinking, we know we are to love one another. Often we look for the BIG ways to show our love, and because we can’t find or afford the BIG ways we put our love on hold. We live with the knowledge that we should… but we don’t. Consequently we live unfulfilled Christian lives.

MAYBE we should stop waiting for the BIG and start doing the little, and in doing so we may just find that LITTLE is big.

What LITTLE thing can you do for someone today to show them you love them?

Remember this, what may seem “little” to you may be HUGE to someone else! Go for it!

And remember, you are not alone…

A Conversation of Biblical Proportions

Picture 1Join myself and Pastor Paul Peterson @ paulpetersonlive.com for our ongoing conversation about The Bible.

It’s an interesting combination of ignorance (mine) and expert-level knowledge (his) as I ask some pretty pointed questions.

Paul is a really good guy, as well as a dedicated family man and church leader. I highly recommend his blog!

And remember, you are not alone…

Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit! (Part 3)

In this final installment of my discipline and The Bible series, I’d like to ask the following question:

Could you imagine if we only did what our forefathers (and foremothers) did?

Just because our forefathers did things a certain way does not make it the best way, or the right way. If we only did what our predecessors did, we would have no plumbing, electricity, cars, TVs, cell phones, computers, indoor toilets or eye glasses. Slavery would still be legal, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, and we’d still believe the world was flat — you get the point.

There was a time when builders stuffed walls with asbestos as insulation. Then, someone discovered (I’m paraphrasing), “wait, that’s bad stuff! It’s making people sick and it could kill you!” So we stopped using it. Until the 1970’s lead was in paint, that ‘s just how it was. Then one day someone realized it was bad, especially if kids ate it, and we stopped using lead paint.

What if we’d just kept using these things? Wouldn’t that be stupid, especially once we learned they were unhealthy choices?

Then why, in the name of God (no pun intended), do some people still hit their kids when there’s so much evidence that it’s harmful? (Click here for evidence, and here, and here.)

Times change, things change. We learn and adjust.

Yet some people insist on being literal about what The Bible says concerning discipline, instead of putting it in a modern-day context.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why do these people take Proverbs’ words on discipline literally, while “overlooking” other things in the Bible they could take literally — like Solomon having 700 wives? I doubt there are many women out there that would be OK with their husbands having one extra wife, let alone 699!

So it’s OK to beat your kids, but not have 700 wives. Hmmm. Sounds like picking and choosing what’s convenient to me.

Simply heeding the word of the Bible when it comes to discipline is the easy way out. It’s time to stop the literal translation and take responsibility for our actions and our children’s future.

The last I heard, “turn the other cheek,” was not an invitation to take another whack of the paddle on the OTHER butt cheek.

If you haven’t already read them, here are links to Part 1 (quotes from The Bible, plus modern opinions) and Part 2 (which questions if the word of God is being misinterpreted). 

And remember, you are not alone…

If you like this post, Stumble It!

Related Links:
– Spare The Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 2) 
– Never Hit a Child
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide 

Spare The Rod: Don’t Hit! (Part 2)

If the Old Testament of The Bible was written 6,000 years ago, then people who take it literally may be taking the word of God out of context. The meaning of words and concepts have changed drastically over the past 60 centuries, which leaves lots of room for misinterpretation.

Shoot the Ball!
For instance, take the example of a cowboy, a gunslinger from the Wild West. Put him on a basketball court, hand him a ball and tell him, “shoot the ball, shoot the ball!” What’s he going to do? He’s going to take the ball, drop it, and shoot it with his gun.

What you’re trying to tell him is to shoot the ball at the basket.

“The what?” He says.

“The hoop,” you tell him as you point to it.

“The who?” He replies.

Obviously his interpretation of your words is very different from what you meant. As the ball deflates you wonder, will anybody notice the bullet hole in the parquet floor?

The Question
When the Bible says not to spare the rod on a child, maybe it just means, “make certain you discipline your kids.”

Or, maybe hitting was the only form of discipline they had 6,000 years ago. If this was the case, then God might have simply been speaking to his people in terms they understood at the time.

For Another Theory…
…on why the rod is such a prevalent form of discipline in Proverbs, let’s take a look at the scribe who wrote down God’s word. Maybe his only form of known discipline was hitting. If he had the CRAP beat out of him as a kid, he’s going to filter the Word of God through his own life experience. What else is he going to say? “Give your kids a time out and use positive and negative consequences as an effective tool of discipline?”

NO! He had the crap beat out of him! He’s going to tell you to beat the crap out of your kids.

More to come on this subject soon. Until then, don’t hit!

And remember, you are not alone…

If you like this post, Stumble It!

Related Links:

– Spare The Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Spare the Rod, Don’t Hit (Part 3)
– Never Hit a Child
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide

Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit!

I am far from an expert on the Bible, but over the past few weeks I’ve been learning quite a bit.

In Matthew 7:12 it says: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

The question is: how is this being accomplished when we spank a child? Does anybody really want to be spanked? Yes I know, some people like to be spanked. Hey, some people like to roll around in broken glass (like Iggy Pop), but that doesn’t mean it’s a good punishment for our kids! I know I’d rather be spoken to about a problem than beaten over it.

I got to wondering, does the Bible really say that if I love my child, I need to “rod” him when he misbehaves? Does it REALLY say this?

So I did some research, and here’s what I found in the Old Testament:

“He who spares the rod hates his son. But he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” — Proverbs, Chapter 13, Verse 24

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child. But the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” — Proverbs, Chapter 22, verse 15

“Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.” — Proverbs, Chapter 23, verse 14

“Do not withhold discipline from a child. If you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” — Proverbs, Chapter 23, verse 13

This section of the Bible could have easily been called Corporal Punishment 101.

In A.J. Jacobs fantastic book, The Year of Living Biblically, he attempts to follow the “letter of the law” in Proverbs.

Unable to convince himself to buy an actual rod or paddle to discipline his son with, the author buys a “spongy Nerf bat.” On the surface it’s a comical moment, but if you dig a little deeper it’s not funny at all.

“After dinner he (his son Jasper) grabs a handful of nickels off the dresser and chucks them across the room. So I take the Nerf bat and smack Jasper’s butt with it. I’ve never spanked him before, despite several temptations to do otherwise. When I swing my bat, even though it’s spongy and harmless, I break some sort of barrier — I have now punished my son physically.

It’s an unsettling feeling. It drives home just how lopsided the relationship is. Parents have God-like physical dominance over their kids, at least when those kids have yet to reach puberty. Jasper seems undisturbed by all this. He responds by laughing hysterically, grabbing his wiffle bat, and attempting to smack me back.

So I’m basically sanctioning violence here. The rod is a fiasco. But here’s the thing, I agree with the gist of Proverbs. I need to discipline my son more. I need to give Jasper some tough love, dispense more timeouts, or risk having him turn into a three-foot tall monster…I’ve got to get stricter…”

I agree with Jacobs. It’s not about copping out of dispensing discipline, it’s about dispensing the best kind of discipline.

Jacobs’ problem is that he’s been incapable of following through on ANY form of discipline (not good for anybody involved). This is made obvious by the way his son reacts to being “struck” by the Nerf bat.

Jasper had no fear. Why? Because he fully trusts that his father has no intention to cause him hurt or pain. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, with no effective form of discipline Jasper has no respect for his father’s word. In turn, there’s never a realistic consequence for his actions, so he does what he wants. Not good.

Now exchange the Nerf bat with an actual rod, coupled with intent to “discipline,” and suddenly fear enters the picture. In this case, Jasper will probably stop the unwanted behavior because there’s a real consequence — but what has he learned?

The truth is, kids can be reasoned with. I’ve experienced it first hand. Zig Ziglar, one of my mentors, says, “people often act as you treat them.” Treat a child like they are capable of reasoning, of understanding, and they will be — especially if you nurture that.

Nurture them to a higher place. Not to a base level of fear. Stopping an action through fear does not teach virtue or ethical lessons. It teaches kids to distrust. Is that what you want for your kids? To go through life without real trust? What kind of relationships will they have with people? Their spouse and their kids? How will they perceive themselves?

In his book, A Little Book of Parenting SkillsMark Brady, PhD., explains:
“A parent’s role fulfills a sacred trust: one intended to safely help grow the heart, mind, brain and body of a vulnerable human being. No matter what you think, or what your own parents did that made you ‘turn out alright,’ hitting children violates that sacred trust.

Modern brain imaging studies clearly show that hitting children disrupts and disorganizes the developing structures of the body and brain. The home that used to be a safe refuge, no longer is. The people who used to be the ones a child could turn to for safety, no longer are. With nowhere safe to go, and no one available to turn to for soothing and help in regulating emotional distress, the world becomes an overwhelming, confusing, unmanageable place.”

My kids are two & four. They understand plenty good when I reason with them, or speak with them about the positive and negative consequences associated with their actions. The key, and the hard part, is keeping my word and following through with whatever consequence I dish out.

In Part 2 of this series I’ll consider the possibility that, if only taken literally, the Bible may be misinterpreted because the word of God is out of context. 6000 years have passed since the Old Testament was written. The meaning of words and concepts has changed drastically over 60 centuries.

And remember, you are not alone…

If you like this post, Stumble It!

Related Links:
Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
Spare the Rod, Don’t Hit (Part 3)
Never Hit a Child
Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide

Daddy Brain Classics: Was Buddha a Schmuck?

I’ve been thinking about having a Daddy Brain Classics series for a while now.

Some of the posts I wrote way back in the beginning of Daddy Brain didn’t get too many hits, because not too many people knew the blog existed. Although I always want to provide fresh material, a few of these classic posts deserve a larger audience. So I’m finally jumping off the fence and giving this series a try.

Today I’d like to present one of my favorites a post that questions Buddha’s decision to abandon his family in order to find enlightenment…

Was Buddha a Schmuck?

And remember, you are not alone…