• YOU are the biggest influence in your son’s life—you are almost indispensable.
• Fathers have been endowed with a huge generational power/influence to impact their children’s lives for good or evil (sometimes for hundreds of years) just by the things they do and don’t do or say or don’t say today.
• Boys learn how to be a man, a husband, and a father by observing male role models (good or bad ones).  Be their role model.
• Boys learn self-respect and respect of others by being respected by their fathers and the respect they see him give others.

• Character traits like nobility and honor are passed directly from father to son.
• Men and boys long to live lives of significance—they hunger for adventure.
• Your sons (and daughters) may be the only people in the world who want to love and respect you without your having to earn it first.
• You need to resolve any issues between you and your father, before you can grow to become the kind of father you want to be and that your children deserve.  If not, it’s very difficult to break negative generational cycles from being passed along to your son.
• The greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.
• Teach your son (or daughter) self-discipline by holding him accountable for his actions and decisions.
Find out more by purchasing Rick’s book, Better Dads—Stronger Sons: How fathers can guide boys to become men of character, by Revell Publishing.  For more information go to www.betterdads.net

from the founder of BetterDads.net: 10 TIPS FOR MOMS ON RAISING BOYS

from the founder of BetterDads.net: 10 TIPS FOR MOMS ON RAISING BOYS: • Boys need clear, CONSISTENT, unambiguous boundaries. • Boys need to be held accountable for their actions and decisions (no matter how…


• Boys need clear, CONSISTENT, unambiguous boundaries.
• Boys need to be held accountable for their actions and decisions (no matter how much you want to, do not rescue them very often).
• Boys need to learn the correlation between taking risks and success in life—let them get hurt and let him fail.  Males learn best through their failures.  They also develop healthy self-esteem by trying, failing, and persevering to success.
• Boys need to not acquire the habit of quitting early in life (quitting is an easily learned life-long habit for males—again do not rescue too often).
• Boys need (must have) positive male role models in their lives.
• Speak to your son in simple, short sound bite-sized sentences (get to the point within 30 seconds).
• If you need to discuss something in depth, take a hike, shoot hoops, or other physical activity with your son.  Males process information and emotions more easily through physical activity.
• Women have much better communication skills than a boy.  It is intimidating to sit across the table, eye to eye from someone so much more skilled in an area than he is.
• Start discussing sexuality early in your son’s life—it will be easier later on.
• If you are a single mom, don’t be discouraged–millions of good men have been raised by just their mothers.
Bonus tip—best thing a mother can do for her son?  Pray.  For.  Him.

To find out more about Rick’s bestselling book, That’s My Son—How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character, by Revell Publishing, go to www.betterdads.net .

10 Tips for Communicating with Women

   Earlier we discuss how to effectively communicate with the male species.  Here are some tips for communicating with the fairer and more complicated sex:

·         A man’s words–both verbal & written–are very powerful to his wife (and daughters).  Notes, cards, and poems (especially if they don’t rhythm) are very powerful forms of communication for women (yes they believe the words on the Hallmark cards you give them).
·         Males typically do not place as much importance on words as females do.  Be aware of the power of your words.  Use words she needs to hear every day like, “I love you” and “You are beautiful.”
·         Females often believe a man’s words even over his actions.  Let your actions speak louder than your words anyway.
·         A man’s anger is very frightening to his wife.  While men frequently blow off steam and then forget about what they said, most women take the words spoken to them very seriously.
·         Your wife craves your undivided attention.  This spells love to her.  Focus on listening to her without being pre-occupied.
·         Listen twice as much as you talk.
·         Understand that females process problems, emotions, and develop intimacy through verbal communication.  Males typically do those things through physical activity.  Listening to her shows her you love her. 
·         Resist the urge to solve her problems—she probably just wants you to listen!
·         Acknowledge her feelings—they are real to her.  Females are emotionally-based human beings.  Her emotions are her reality.  Acknowledge them as important.
·         Be a man of character.  Nothing speaks louder to a woman than a man who lives by honorable principles.

10 Tips for Communicating with Men

·         GIVE HIM SPACE–One strategy that works well with men is to tell them something you want their feedback on and then ask them to think about it for a day before answering. It takes men time to process information—especially emotions. 
·         SIMPLIFY–Learn to simplify the conversation. If you talk to your man like you do your girlfriends he will just stop listening. Men have about a 30 second attention span. If you don’t get to the point by then their mind will start looking for other problems to solve.
·         ONE TOPIC AT A TIME PLEASE–Stick to one topic at a time and let a man know when you’re changing topics. Letting a man know when you are changing topics allows him to shut off the problem solving mode and be open to the new topic.
·         BE CONSISTENT–Consistency is very important when communicating with men. Men generally cannot process more than one thing at a time.
·         LEARN HIS LANGUAGE–Men are much more literal in their conversations than women. When he asks you what is wrong and you say, “Nothing” he will likely take you at your word.
·         GIVE HIM A PROBLEM TO SOLVE–Men love to problem-solve. Rather than nagging him about an issue that’s troubling you, say something like, “Honey, I have a problem that I’d really like to get your help with.”
·         GET PHYSICAL–Since men are action-oriented, go for a walk or hiking, play a round of golf, or even drive on a deserted highway together (so he’s not distracted by traffic) when you want to talk with your man.
·         TIMING IS EVERYTHING–If you bombard him with complaints the minute he walks in the door from a hard day at work, he’s not likely to be willing to listen. Oftentimes, giving him a half-hour to change clothes and decompress will do the trick.
·         FIGHT FAIR–Men and women argue differently. You cannot take to heart much of what a man verbalizes when he is upset. He doesn’t think about what comes out of his mouth, especially in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately for men, women do.

·         SPEAK PLAINLY–Remind him often that you just need to be heard, you are not looking for a solution. Tell him that at the beginning of the discussion so that he can switch off his “problem-solving” mode.
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Mars, Venus, and Pillow Talk

Several years ago I was asked to speak at a large men’s conference. Besides speaking from the main stage I was scheduled to give two breakout sessions. One of the breakout sessions was on the topic of my book, Becoming Your Spouse’s Better Half. Upon arriving at the venue I discovered from the participant guide that the event producers had advertised this workshop as “How to get more sex in your marriage.” Needless to say, about 580 out of the 600 men in attendance showed up at the workshop. The twenty who didn’t come were the teenage boys who were forced (somewhat reluctantly) to attend the workshop on sexual purity.
Rather than discussing just the act of sex, though, I talked mostly about a woman’s needs and how best to fulfill them. I told them that understanding a woman’s need for romance would be a key factor in having an enjoyable sex life – that women are physically stimulated through romance because it meets their need to feel cherished and loved. To be romanced is to feel special and valuable. To be romanced is to be pursued. Nearly all women derive some self-esteem or sense of worth from knowing a man wants and desires her. It makes her feel loved and attractive. When her need for non-sexual affection is met she is more able to respond with physical affection.
I explained that many women are unable to separate sex from the context of their daily lives and relationships. It seemed strange to some of them that if they’d recently been arguing with their spouse or the kids were sick, they weren’t likely find their wives in the mood for sex. While men use sex to heal the problems of life, women are just the opposite. In fact many women report that if the house is messy or the dishes dirty, they are unable to relax and concentrate on having sexual relations.
I let the men know their wives need to hear them speak words such as “I love you” and “You’re beautiful” daily. When a woman hears confirmation that her man loves her and finds her beautiful, she is more likely to be sexually responsive. She needs to hear these things frequently. Most women are insecure about their appearance. They mentally magnify any imperfections or flaws they perceive in their physical appearance. I use the word perceive because what a woman perceives and what others see can be two different things. It’s a great mystery that even the world’s most beautiful women can think they are ugly or can have features they are insecure about. These negative whispers in her ear are strategies by the evil one to strike her where it hurts most and she is most vulnerable.
As I discussed the need to actually “talk” to their wives, I could see an almost pained expression come over the faces of the men. I reassured them by letting them know that sometimes it was equally important to just listen to a woman without trying to solve her problems.
Frankly, the men were pretty stoic during the presentation. I hadn’t presented this workshop before so I didn’t know what to expect. But surprisingly, many came to me afterwards, some with tears in their eyes, and expressed genuine thanks for the epiphanies they had received regarding their wives’ needs. I have since received a half-dozen emails from men at the conference commenting on how much, according to their wives, the information I shared has already improved their marriages.
I believe the average guy is sincerely confused about his wife’s needs and how to fulfill them. Women are pretty complex creatures to most men. Every man I know wants to make his wife happy, and most guys would be willing to do whatever it takes – provided they knew what to do. Rather than advice from a Lothario’s perspective (which is what most secular books in our culture promote), we need to teach men (young and old) practical, common sense advice on how to fulfill their wives’ deepest needs – to create harmony, joy, and contentment in the lives of their spouses.

And if they happen to get a more fulfilling sex life because of it – well, so be it!

To find out more about Rick’s books or speaking schedule go to:  www.betterdads.net 

The “Zone” of Marriage

Being married is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. A large body of research confirms that married couples are happier, they live longer, they are healthier, they are better off financially, and they have fewer psychological problems than people who are not married. Americans also highly value marriage—when surveyed, people consistently rate a good marriage and having a happy, healthy family as their most important goals.
So if marriage is so good for people and society, why can about half of current marriages expect to end in divorce? Why are young people increasingly reluctant to marry—they yearn for a lifelong loving relationship but are skeptical of its possibility? Why are about 40 percent of children born out of wedlock and likely will not have a marriage relationship modeled for them? These children are significantly more inclined than kids born and raised in a “traditional” family to have children out of wedlock themselves.Are we seeing the results of the disintegration of marriage in our culture today? If so, how do we erase the decline and help people understand the value of a good marriage?
Just like laying a stable and solid foundation is the key to building a house that lasts, building a solid foundation for our relationship is one of the important keys for a marriage that lasts.The structure of that foundation is a relationship based on healthy intimacy, which in turn creates an environment where couples can grow together long enough for a deep and nurturing love to take place.
The truth is that love and marriage are difficult. When Hollywood and Madison Avenue sugarcoats them and makes romance seem like a walk in the park, they do a great disservice in creating unrealistic expectations for millions of young couples.
Loving a woman is, on the one hand, very easy. On the other, it is very difficult—sometimes nearly impossible. Frequently it doesn’t take much to make a woman happy—a kind word, an unexpected expression of love, or a romantic gesture with no expectations. Other times, no matter what a man does, it is never enough. Likewise, women probably find men perplexing as well (although nowhere near as complicated).
Most men, if they are lucky, marry “up.” They value their wives as a greater “prize” than they deserve. My wife is a better wife than I am a husband. She’s certainly a better person than I am, and if I’m being honest, she’s likely a more mature Christian as well. Not only that, but she probably rates higher on most of the positive character traits than I do. She’s more compassionate, tolerant, patient, loving, kind, gentle, caring, and humble than I am. She might even be more honest, faithful, loyal, and good than I am (okay, maybe more intelligent as well).  I’m a lot stronger physically than she is, but that might be the only advantage I’ve got on her. (This works well for my main roles around the house as jar opener, garbage remover, bug killer, and heavy furniture mover.)
I’ve noticed that there are times in life when everything just seems to go right. I have experienced these phenomena in sports, in business, and in relationships. For brief periods of time nothing you do can go wrong. In sports they call it being in the “zone.” Every basket you shoot goes in, every baseball coming toward the batter’s box looks as big as a beach ball, and every pass you throw is perfect. You feel “at one” with the field or court, your teammates, and the flow of the game. In business there are usually short periods times when every decision pays off. You feel like King Midas—everything you touch turns to gold.
And there are times in a relationship when things go perfectly—when you are in the zone. When she gets and actually appreciates all my jokes (instead of getting offended), when I am able to artfully articulate exactly how I feel, when I am smooth and suave in everything I do, and when she looks at me like I am all that matters in the world. That “zone” to my wife probably looks like this: he focuses all his attention on me without being distracted, he spends time with me, he’s open and shares his innermost thoughts and feelings with me, he treats me like a queen.
Those times probably seem to be infrequent to both spouses,but they happen just often enough to encourage us to have hope. Hope that they will come again—usually when least expected. Those marriage “zones” are when my world seems best. Like the infrequent surprise sunny day in Oregon, they make all the other dreary times seem worthwhile.

Excerpted from Rick’s upcoming book, Romancing Your Better Half: Keeping intimacy alive in your marriage, by Revell Publishing, 2015.

Marriage Fraud–What’s the Character of Your Marriage?

[Marriage] is the merciless revealer, the great white searchlight turned 
on the darkest places of human nature.
—Katherine Anne Porter
Two (usually young) people start out in life together under the bliss of hormone-induced euphoria.They have well-intentioned but unrealistic ideas of what their lives together will be like.What starts out as an innocent, uncorrupted, and pure bud of love, over the years morphs into an old gnarled, scarred, and weather-beaten tree stump of friendship and devotion.And yet within this hoary old trunk beats a vibrant heart of the strongest white oak hardened by its perseverance and longevity to withstand any challenge that man, beast, or Mother Nature can throw against it.Those marriages that last for decades begin to discover the peaceful joy and contentedness that can only come from a lifetime of companionship and working together to rise above obstacles.
Many partners enter into marriage as frauds—showing only the best of themselves. But marriage has a tendency to expose the truth about two people and shine light on their true character.What was kept secretly under wraps while dating soon becomes apparent in the light of day during marriage.
When that happens, the character of the individuals either nourishes the relationship or destroys it. A healthy marriage relationship is comprised of the traits of trust, honesty, humor, faith, and commitment.Marriage in turn teaches us patience, selflessness, and humility.
Overcoming challenges is what makes us successful and grows us as human beings.Whether in a sporting event, at the workplace, or in a science lab, the person who is able to overcome the greatest difficulties is celebrated as a winner.Why should marriage be any different?When the hardships of a relationship confront us, we shouldn’t easily quit but rather give it the same effort we would any other worthwhile challenge in life.Certainly a good marriage is more important than throwing a basketball through a hoop in the larger scheme of things, yet people go to great lengths to improve themselves in sports when they won’t spend nearly as much energy trying to overcome minor obstacles in their marriage.  
Certainly marriage is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our spouse.  That’s worth fighting for.  Don’t you think?

Excerpted from Rick’s upcoming book, Romancing Your Better Half: Keeping intimacy alive in your marriage, by Revell Publishing

Do Only Men of Faith Achieve Greatness?

 I was raised in an alcoholic home with all the disadvantages that environment brings with it. I was raised to believe that religion was a crutch for weak people and that all Christians were hypocrites. By the age of forty, after attaining all that the world says should make you happy and successful, I found myself yearning for more. Something was missing. I had a hole in my soul that could not be filled by success, achievement, or materialistic acquisition. That chasm in my soul was literally destroying me.
In a desperate attempt to find inner satisfaction and peace, I studied a number of religions and belief systems. At the time (like many men) I did not have any real friends or other men I looked up to for advice, so I decided to look at the lives of men throughout history whom I admired to see what they had that made their lives significant. Interestingly, the only common denominator I discovered between all these great and admirable men was the fact that they were all Christians—men of great faith.
That epiphany was a mighty blow to the worldview I had been raised with. I personally had always been a bit contemptuous of Christianity. At the very least it just seemed inconsequential or insignificant in the bigger picture of things. I wasn’t necessarily hostile toward it; I just thought it was a misguided philosophy designed and developed by perhaps earnest but intellectually weak or even ignorant men thousands of years ago to keep uneducated and ambitionless people content with their lot in life. Sort of along the lines of Karl Marx’s quote, “Religion is the opium of the people.”

However, upon making this discovery, I began to investigate the history and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. I set out upon a yearlong study of anthropologic, geologic, and historical components of Scripture in order to disprove the validity of the Gospels. After that year I came to the conclusion that not only could I notdisprove the truth of the Gospels, but that they were in fact true. After accepting Christ as my Savior, I felt a huge sense of peace, satisfaction, contentment, and most of all forgiveness that cannot be described or proven by any scientific method I’m aware of. I just knew in my soul that this was truth in its purest form. I felt fulfilled and whole. This then propelled me into the work I do today, which has allowed me to lead a much more fulfilling life than I ever thought possible.
The study of great men throughout history was what initially led me to be interested in pursuing salvation. Was it coincidence that every historically significant man I happened to study was a Christian? Probably not. But as I have investigated and researched further, it appears to be extremely difficult to find any men throughout history who have made a positive and significant difference in the world who were not Christians or at least men of great faith. (For example, someone such as Mahatma Gandhi could probably be considered a man who made a significant, positive difference in the world and, though not a Christian, had a deep religious and moral faith.)
 “I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.”
–C.S. Lewis
With that in mind I use great men throughout history and the character traits they were most famous for to illustrate the foundations we need to instill in young men in order to develop healthy and truly life-giving masculinity. Were these men perfect? No. They were ordinary human beings like you and me—flawed, imperfect, and prone to making mistakes. But they did not allow those imperfections to keep them from changing the world for the better.
Too many men in our culture today either use the power of their masculinity to do harm or they neglect and waste it. If we are to teach boys and young men to wisely use the power God has endowed them with by virtue of their gender, we must be intentional. If we are to teach them to use that power to bless the lives of others, we must proactively develop and implement a plan, not just hope and pray for a positive outcome.

In the early nineteenth century, an idea called the Great Man Theory was developed to describe how “great men”—through their personal attributes, such as charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill—used their power to significantly influence history.
For purposes of my newest book, I chose a number of men of faith whose lives were significant and who impacted the lives of many others. All of these men led exemplary lives on some level—not perfect, but significant. Each chapter contains a short bio on the man and how he exhibited the character trait he was known for, a section on why that specific trait is important to teach your son, and finally some practical ways to intentionally instill that character trait into your son’s life. These character traits are not in any particular order of importance, although I did try to put similar traits together in the chapter order.
These traits are not the only traits our boys need to learn, but they are a good starting point to begin to intentionally develop a plan to proactively teach our sons to become leaders and good men.
We need to have the courage to raise men of great faith and character. Our culture is at a crossroads—we are seeing the effects of poor male leadership over the past several decades. We need great men to once again lead and shape our culture through strong character and divine inspiration. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that only a few of the men that I referred to in this book have been alive in the last forty years or so. We create great men by intentionally growing them from boys. As you go through this book, keep your eye on the ultimate goal—to create men who will change history. Without those great men. . . may God help us all.
QUESTION – Can you think of any men throughout history who accomplished great things who were not men of faith?

Excerpted from Rick’s newest book, A Man in the Making: Strategies to Help Your Son Succeed in Life.  Find out more at www.betterdads.net 

An Open Letter to Dads of Teen Daughters

Better Dads will host their 2nd Annual Father-Daughter Conference on Saturday, September 27, 2014, at Clark College in Vancouver, WA.  This powerful event is for fathers and daughters 12 and older.  You can register for the event here: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07e95urkdy38cda4ea&oseq=&c=&ch=


Below is an open letter from one of the dads who attended last year.


When I attended the father/daughter conference in the fall of 2013, I needed help. On the heels of several years of what felt like non-stop challenges facing my family, my relationship with my daughter had suffered greatly. To be honest, I had no clue to what extent it had suffered. But it did. 


So when my wife approached me about attending this event, I was more than ready and quite frankly desperate for an opportunity to not only spend more intentional time with my daughter, but time spent in really getting to know my daughter. 


Boy, I am sure glad I did. I thought I knew my daughter, but there was so much more to learn. And since then, as I have tried to apply all that I learned from that conference, my relationship with my daughter has blossomed into something so much more far reaching than I could have ever imagined.


My daughter and I are both excited to attend this year’s event. Building off of what we both learned about each other last year, we can’t wait to see how far our relationship grows this next year.


No matter what state your relationship is in with your daughter or even how old your daughter is, it is NEVER too late to spend time together working on it. Thanks to Rick and Better Dads, it has provided me with the tools and inspiration to keep working on it.


As a brother and fellow dad, I want to not only just invite you to attend this upcoming conference, I urge you too, as well. For me, not only did my daughter thank me for it… guess what? My wife did too.


Please join us.


Gunnar Simonsen

Husband and Dad