This past month, my son completed the first Phase of "The Legacy Dad Process." While I believe it was successful, I also learned a few things and tweaked the process a bit to improve the overall experience. For those of you unfamiliar with my process, Phase I started when my son turned 12 and kicked off with a special event, a special gift and me explaining to my son that I was going to be guiding and mentoring him through a coming of age process while also mentoring and preparing him for life.
Over the course of 2 years, my son read age appropriate books on Faith, Courage, Leadership, Money and Character Traits. These books reinforced the morals and values my wife and I modeled in our home, careers and community. We also sought impromptu lessons during day to day life to reinforce and instill these lessons and traits in our son. We also loosened the "parental reins" more on our son and gave him greater personal responsibilities and freedom. Some of the highlights included:
- Personal responsibility and ownership of his grades, activities, friends and the natural (and parental) consequences of making mistakes in these areas
- Managing a checking account, budget and debit card to include giving to charity and setting aside money for investing.
- Giving to charity and helping those in need
- Dealing with social and peer pressure while adhering to biblical principles - In the World but not of it
- Relational Ministry, peer evangelism and leadership
- Playing on a team, sportsmanship, and discipline
- Dating - meeting his dates father, excepting responsibility/care for his date, general chivalry and gentlemanly behavior
We also had numerous outings and adventures ranging from camping to paintball to Summer Camps and many others.
This all culminated in a weekend event during his 14th Birthday in which my son was challenged with overcoming one of his biggest fears by trusting in God.
My son's biggest fear was that of Ghosts and the Supernatural. *Disclaimer: Now, I know this is not a Christian area and there are many Christian view points on this topic. The Bible references ghosts and the supernatural and after some research on the topic, I've found that traditional Christians usually views this topic as either solely evil and demonic or on the other hand that there is a conscious disembodied state of existence without people going to either heaven or hell. I'm also further confused by the writings in Revelations ala levels of Heaven, dead rising, etc. So please understand that I'm not advocating ouija boards, seances or even messing with anything in the supernatural world as this is not Christian in any way. This was simply my son's fear so I had to find a Christian worldview way of dealing with this issue. Dealing with the world but not being of the world. The bottom line is that this adventure was meant to be a bounding event that gave evidence to my son that God is present and that putting your trust in God can help you overcome your greatest fears and as Romans says "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Okay, I hope I hammered this point home.
So my son and I went to Gettysburg, PA to visit the battlefields and among other things to stay in a purported haunted Bed and Breakfast. The B&B, The Cashtown Inn, was featured in one of the episodes of Ghost Hunters and my son and I spent two nights in the exact room the Ghost Hunter guys did. While there was certainly some strange events, noises, etc. that took place during our two night stay there, the whole weekend was meant to serve as a metaphor for dealing with our fears and dragons in life by putting our trust in God. My son and I talked a lot about fears and how this particular fear was of ghosts and the supernatural but sometimes in life our fears have to do with trusting God to lead us. I think as humans we often struggle to give God the reigns and let him guide and lead us, I know I do? My son and I talked about praying for guidance on schools, careers, and basically all decisions in life. We talked about reflecting our decisions with what is biblical and what God wants us to do with our lives. We also talked about times when it will feel like God is not present; you pray, fast, go to church but it seems as if God is not answering. I assured my son that God is always there even if we cannot hear him. I also talked about times in life that God may have us experience pain, suffering and tragedy and although we don't understand it, God has a purpose and reason for everything. We also talked about how God may put us through some trials or tests in life before opening up doors to greater opportunity.
By all accounts, this weekend was a success. My son was really scared at times (middle of the night, banging and knocking outside our door with no one physically present) and we both prayed and my son learned that by trusting in God, he can deal with any of his fears and dragons in life. At the end of the weekend, my son and I went up to Little Round Top and we talked about the weekend and how there will be times in life when we have to slay our dragons with God's help. I then presented my son with a Knights Templar sword to symbolize for him the weekend and how his was now prepared to slay his dragons with God's help. I waited a month to post this because I wanted to see the evidence of this weekend and if it helped my son. By what I can tell and from talks my son and I have had since then, it worked. My son now has a greater confidence in prayer, overcoming his fears and trusting in God. His prayer life has become deeper and more personal. By my account this weekend, although unorthodox, was successful.
One of the other changes that this weekend brought about was talking with my son about his progress and the Legacy Dad Journey. Up until this point, my main tools for teaching my children was reading books, modeling the example to our children and experiencing it through church and other family events. During this weekend, my son admitted that reading the books was his least favorite part and that this style of learning was not the most effective way to convey information to not only my son's personal learning style but his generation on a whole. This led to me modifying my Legacy Dad Life Map Model to minimize the amount of book reading and maximize the amount of audio/video learning, web-based teaching, social media and add even more experiential learning events. Less head teaching, more hands on.
What this translates into is a few books to read, weekly video based teen bible studies focusing on key topics for their age group (biblical worldview, peer pressure, sex and dating, money, etc.) and more real world service projects and missions. I also actually discovered a great tool called RightNow Media which allows you to stream (Netflix style) the best bible studies from names like Chan, Kimmel, Chandler, Stanley, Driscoll, Ramsey from your iPhone, computer, etc. This can be used anywhere you have a connection or wifi to lead small groups or in your home as an additional teaching tool for your own children. There is also marriage and men's studies available. If you are interested in this tool further, see our Partner With Us area.
So overall the past two years have had some ups and downs and other learning points but ultimately the Legacy Dad Journey is paying dividends in our children's lives and we are modifying our current approach to yield even greater spiritual returns as we move them forward towards Spiritual Champions for Christ. I want to thank Jack and the entire staff at the Cashtown Inn for our wonderful and hospitable weekend as well as Kerrie and the girls and all the other guests/friends we made that weekend. We shared our whole story with them and they were so impressed with my son. Thank you everyone!