Tag Archives: family

Facts For the Fatherless

According to recent figures from the Census Bureau, over 27% of children (more than 1 in 4) in the U.S. lived without a father in their home in 2017.

'The epidemic of fatherlessness causes a strain on young lives and leaves many young men with the burden of trying to figure out how to be a good man without any solid examples to look at,' writes Carl Kozlowski. Click To Tweet

That is sad, but even more shocking are the ramifications.  Children without fathers are:

  • 5 times more likely to live in poverty
  • 5 times more likely to commit crimes
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

“The epidemic of fatherlessness causes a strain on young lives and leaves many young men with the burden of trying to figure out how to be a good man without any solid examples to look at,” writes Carl Kozlowski.

“Ninety-four percent of the prison population is male, 85% of which are without fathers,” cites Donald Miller.

This is a sobering reality to think about.

[To get involved, check out www.thementoringproject.org and www.bbbs.org ]

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Three Questions and a Wedding

Ten years ago, Candy and I celebrated the wedding of our daughter, Laura, to our new son, Chris. It was a wonderful day that we had been building up to with increasing anticipation and focus.

wedding1. Are you Nervous?

In the weeks and days leading up to the nuptials, I was surprised by the number of people who asked if I was nervous. It struck me as a strange question.

My part in the ceremony was minimal. With great pride and joy I would escort Laura down the aisle—with all eyes on her—and then say four words: “Her mother and I.” On a personal level, there wasn’t much for me to be nervous about. If their questions implied a deeper significance, no one bothered to clarify. Even so, most were surprised when I shook my head “no.”

2. How Do You Feel?

On the day of the festivities, I was often asked, “How do you feel?”  Granted, my emotional state isn’t apparent to most people, but that question also struck me as a bit odd. I was (and am) ecstatic for Laura and Chris’s marriage, excited about the journey they are beginning, delighted at the opportunities they have before them, and most proud of the union that has begun.

Their wedding was an affirmation to the work of their respective parents for the prior twenty plus years and a pleasant reminder that despite a few parenting deficiencies along the way, the end result is two mature adults ready to start a life of their own. For me to feel anything less is incomprehensible.A few people made remarks about 'losing a daughter' but that's not how we see it; we gained a son. Click To Tweet

3. How Did It Go?

A third question—and this one understandable—has been commonly voiced after the wedding: “How did it go?” It was wonderful. True, a few minor elements could have gone better, but all the important things transpired as planned and without a hitch. We were most pleased with the ceremony and the reception embodied simple elegance; guests made many positive comments about both.

A few people did make remarks about “losing a daughter” or Dan now being “an only child,” that time, but that’s not how we see it—our family has grown—and we couldn’t be happier.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Road Rage is Not a New Thing

Some 30 years ago, my bride and I experienced road rage. We were headed home from work, making a detour for groceries. I drove down the area’s busiest street, full of rush hour traffic, and attempted to pull into the left turn lane. Due to various reasons, I made a couple of partial forays into it, only to return to the lane for regular traffic. This infuriated the driver behind me, who began vehemently sounding his disapproval through the liberal use of his truck’s horn.Road Rage

Once we were fully into the left turn lane, he began to roar past us when my spitfire of a wife stuck out her tongue. This sent him into a full fury. He screeched to a halt in the middle of rush hour, opening his truck door hard into the side of our vehicle. He ran around our car and challenged me to a fistfight in the middle of the road. Talk about road rage. Being of sound mind, I stayed in my car. This irritated him even more. Click To Tweet

Being of sound mind, I stayed in my car. This irritated him even more. He stepped towards the driver’s door and cocked his arm. Just then, oncoming traffic cleared and I gunned the engine as he swung his fist towards my window. But due to the car’s acceleration, he ended up shattering the rear window instead, spraying glass throughout the car. He then returned to his truck to give chase.

We drove around the store’s parking lot, playing cat and mouse between the rows of cars. Eventually I was able to maneuver to the front door, letting my bride escape and summon police. She was sure she was going to become a widow. I figured I could continue playing “keep away” until the police arrived—or I ran out of gas.

Fortunately I was too cagey for him and he soon gave up the chase. One witness got this license plate number and a bored cabby followed for a while to make sure he wasn’t coming back.

The police ran the plates; the truck’s owner had a history with the police and was well known to them. They arrived at his home to find his right hand wrapped in a bloodied bandage. He confessed to the whole thing and admitted he was aiming for my head when he swung his fist. He was later found guilty and required to pay court costs and make restitution.

I’m glad he wasn’t carrying a gun, or this road rage story could have had a different outcome.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Are You a Reliable Witness?

A number of years ago my wife and I were witness to road rage—and our car was the victim. As the police officer took our statements, he asked if the assailant walked around the front of our car or the back. My bride quickly answered “the front” and just as promptly, I replied “the back.” We gave an incredulous glance to the other, with real concern over the other’s sanity.Are You a Reliable Witness?

I attributed our contradicting testimonies to the trauma of the situation and later wondered if eyewitness testimony in a court of law could really be depended upon with any degree of accuracy.

This has all been brought back to mind with our “52 Churches” journey, where we will be visiting a different Christian church each Sunday for a year. Each week as we drive home from church and later process our experiences, we all too often recall details differently. Usually these are over trivial facts, but occasionally our conflicting observations are over more substantive matters.We're focusing on making detailed and accurate observations, even to the point of taking notes—the testimony given in any hearing or trial is most certainly suspect. Click To Tweet

It will be pointless for me to suggest who is normally right—especially since my bride will be proofreading this post—so I will declare it to be 50-50.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Is it Time For a Checkup?

Is it Time For a Checkup?

In my newsletter a four years ago, I recommended we periodically check our credit reports. This is a wise move in order to correct reporting errors and catch possible identity theft. Other finance related initiatives include making an annual budget, having life insurance, establishing an emergency fund, and planning for the future.So we take control of our finances, watch our health, care for our possessions, and protect our time, all by preforming regular checkups. But what about relationships? Click To Tweet

On the health front is scheduling appointments with the doctor and dentist. In addition, some people regularly check their pulse or take their blood pressure. Even stepping on the scale is a form of a medical checkup.

Aside from health issues, we regularly have the oil in our car changed and follow recommended maintenance to keep it running great. Many take similar steps with their homes.

I also do periodic checkups on my schedule to avoid over-commitment and guard against under-involvement.

So we take control of our finances, watch our health, care for our possessions, and protect our time, all by preforming regular checkups.

But what about relationships?

I too often take relationships for granted. Either they work or they don’t. But I should be intentional about them, too. I need to do a relationship checkup. Maybe you do, too. In my checkup, I ask these questions:

  • Am I investing in the relationships that are important to me? Do I seek to make our interactions significant? Do people anticipate spending time with me?
  • Conversely, am I protecting myself from toxic relationships that demand much, give little, and drag me down?
  • Am I looking to build relationships with others?
  • Do I need to remove myself from some relationships?
  • Am I in any enabling relationships?

Even more important is my relationship with family. They, too, deserve a thorough checkup.

On the spiritual front, is God, the most important relationship of all. Maybe we should do this checkup first.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

A Restaurant Is Only As Good As Your Last Meal

Some 20 years ago, a shuttered restaurant—just down the street—was being renovated. Excited to have a nice eatery within a couple minutes of home, our family paid them a visit within weeks of their re-opening. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, the food was tasty, and entrees were not unreasonably priced.

I heard that the owner, a retired (or displaced) worker had invested his entire retirement fund into the place. I was pulling for him, hoping he could make a go of things, whereas the former proprietor could not. As the evening progressed and all guests had been served, the restaurateur emerged from the kitchen and began making the rounds, stopping by each table to greet his guests.

Methodically he navigated his way to each table in the dinning room, steadily moving towards us, the table furthest from the kitchen. I anticipated getting to meet him, encourage him in his endeavor, and wish him the best. Upon completing his schmoozing with the second to the last table, he took a half step in our direction, scrutinized us, and made a hasty U-turn, retreating to the confines of the kitchen. He did not reappear. I wonder how much fuller it might be if they welcomed families with children? Click To Tweet

Dumbfounded, my wife and I exchanged confused glances. Then I looked about the place, becoming quite self-conscience upon realizing that we were the only quests with children. Apparently kids weren’t welcome in this establishment. Now things began to make sense. The hostess seemed a bit flustered when seating us, mentioning something about a good table for children, and moved us to the far corner of the room, farthest from the door.

He did make a go of it, but we never went back, even though it’s still the closest restaurant to our home. Sometimes the parking lot looks a bit sparse. I wonder how much fuller it might be if they welcomed families with children?

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

No-Shave November

As a college freshman, my son’s dorm celebrated November by setting aside their shaving gear for the entire month. They called it “No-Shave November”; though the purpose was to raise cancer awareness, I suspect they just did it for fun.

My son embraced the challenge, relishing the comradery with his dorm mates as they tried to grow beards; his newfound girlfriend accepted his decision. Three and a half weeks later, he met her family for the first time, a scruffy-faced college student with an unruly mop on top, his appearance must have been questionable. But he won them over and shortly after graduation, became part of their family.

Most every year since, he has observed No-Shave November.

This year he asked me to join him. I surprised him by saying, “Yes!”

“Really, Dad?”

“Sure. Why not?”

This won’t be my first time with a beard. I had one before he was born. I started it in the fall, where it became a warming comfort to the assault of winter’s cold. I persisted through the summer, when it became a hot, scratchy irritant. But I kept it, looking forward to its warmth the following winter. The next spring, eighteen months after I started, I shaved it off, incrementally over the course of a week.

Today, I didn’t shave, and I plan not to for the rest of the month. As I recall, the first couple of days are itchy, but once I get past those, the rest will be easy. I don’t yet know what I’ll do on December first. I may shave, or I may wait until spring.

The more important thing is enjoying a shared experience with my son. Family is important and anything we do to bond with each other is a good thing.

Regardless of your shaving plans for November, may it be a good month, with great family moments.

Living with Family: An Awesome Opportunity

For the past two months, my wife and I have been living with our son and daughter-in-law. It’s been a great experience for us and a wonderful time of connecting with our kids in a deeper, more meaningful way. After only eight weeks, we’ve gone through three phases:

1) The Honeymoon Phase: For the first few weeks, everything went smooth, dare I say perfect. Our sharing of one house, of melding two couples used to living by themselves into one family unit, flowed forth as a dream. We shared household duties and melded our schedules with ease. Eating together, going for walks, and having deep discussions all unfolded naturally. It was bliss.

2) The Adjustment Phase: Eventually a few cracks appeared. We began to expose our quirks and saw each other’s foibles. Whereas we once only saw one another’s strengths, now weaknesses poked through. We began adjusting what we did, how we did it, and when we did it for the sake of unity. Though we all made small sacrifices for one another since the first day, now we began to realize it. Just as living as a couple requires flexibility, even more so does living as an extended family.

3) The Settling Down Phase: While we will continue to make adjustments, we are settling into a comfortable, peaceful co-existence. It’s not perfect, as in the honeymoon phase, but it is really great. A stable arrangement has emerged; this is sustainable; and it is good.

An Awesome Opportunity: My wife and I view this as a great adventure, a time to connect more deeply with our kids and learn from each other. Though we expect this to be a five month living arrangement, a friend of mine did the same thing for five years. For her, when the parents moved on, there was a great sense of loss. I expect the same emotion. Though it will be good when my wife and I move on and resume living as one couple, I wonder if what we give up will be more profound.

In today’s modern society we celebrate individualism; we value our freedom. What we lose in the process is the opportunity to truly live as an extended family, to influence each other and learn from one another, to fully connect.

Our affluence actually serves to isolate us. Living as an extended family, whether by choice or circumstance, offers the opportunity to live more fully in community. If we can embrace this opportunity, we will emerge better and stronger as a result.

Three Kinds of Capitalism

Capitalism is under fire. Pundits regularly take potshots at capitalism, decrying its evil nature and harmful outcomes. Indeed much of this criticism is warranted, as evidenced by many of the people who practice it wrongly. I call this, greedy capitalism.

Greedy capitalism is the insatiable lust for more. Profits, not for any real purpose other than to increment their money scorecard by another dollar. Monetary gains sought with no ethical compass to guide it: exploiting workers, defrauding investors, cheating on taxes, stealing from the innocent, backstabbing stakeholders, insider trading, and the list goes on. It’s no wonder practitioners of greedy capitalism receive the sneers of those who witness it.

Yet not all capitalism is greedy. There are two other kinds we don’t often hear about.

Entrepreneurial capitalism is the backbone of prosperity. It’s the driver of small business, those men and women with a vision to produce a product or provide a service. For their efforts, they dream of earning a profit to care for themselves and provide for their families. Entrepreneurial capitalism is the backbone of what made the United States great: pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, pursuing industry, raising their standard of living, and being self-sufficient.

Yet there is a risk when entrepreneurial capitalists become too successful, when profits far exceed needs. Then they place themselves at risk of becoming a greedy capitalist, but there is a third option, a higher calling.

Philanthropic capitalism is enterprise for the benefit of society. Its vision is to first provide for oneself and then to care for others: donating money to worthy causes, financially supporting others so they can help those in need, using business as a means to benefit humanity.

Capitalism is good; greed is bad. Join me in decrying greedy capitalism, while upholding the virtue of entrepreneurial capitalism and philanthropic capitalism. May we use money wisely to care for ourselves and benefit others.

Thoughts About Moving: Do You Leave Home or Take it With You?

My wife and I are selling our house. It wasn’t our plan, but things change.

We had just finished updating most of it: new roof, furnace, windows, carpet, flooring, kitchen, and bathrooms. It was a three-year effort that methodically moved from one project to the next as our budget allowed. We planned to live the rest of our lives in this house, the place where we raised our kids and the setting of many happy memories.

So, why then, are we moving? The answer is simple: family. Our son and his wife live about an hour away. It was hard not to be closer to them; the pull was strong. Then our daughter and her husband, along with our grandson, moved, ending up a few miles from her brother. The draw was inescapable.

My wife and I discussed this. Then we asked what our kids thought. They liked the idea, but one instituted a ten-mile buffer, but then reduced it to five, which eventually disappeared. Our daughter-in-law liked the idea of us living next door, where their kids could walk to grandpa and grandma’s. She grew up with that and so did I. Alas, we will not be that close, but we will be within seven miles of each of our kids’ homes.

Now, as we plan and pack, I recall the things that happened here: the happy times, the struggles we overcame, the celebrations, the milestones, and the friends who visited. But these memories do not reside in this house, they live in our minds.

The house will stay, but our home will move.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect via social media.