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Releasing Your Child Into Adulthood

with Ed McGlasson | June 15, 2007

On today's broadcast, Ed McGlasson, a former NFL player and currently a pastor and author of the book "The Difference a Father Makes," tells Dennis Rainey about the encouragement he received from his stepfather when he was growing up and exhorts fathers everywhere to use rites of passage, similar to the Jewish bar mitzvah, as a way of launching their children into adulthood.

On today's broadcast, Ed McGlasson, a former NFL player and currently a pastor and author of the book "The Difference a Father Makes," tells Dennis Rainey about the encouragement he received from his stepfather when he was growing up and exhorts fathers everywhere to use rites of passage, similar to the Jewish bar mitzvah, as a way of launching their children into adulthood.

Releasing Your Child Into Adulthood

With Ed McGlasson
|
June 15, 2007
| Download Transcript PDF

Ed: See, what this requires from a dad is that you really do – God needs to turn your heart to your kids.  But you need to know who they are.  You can't just say, "Well, you're a man now."  It's not this magical phrase.  It's the heart of a father who is engaged, who says, "I want to make a difference," and I really believe this.  If the Lord can turn a football player into a father who makes a difference, any man listening to this program can.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 15th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  If you're a dad, intentionally or unintentionally, you are having an influence on your child's life.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  Do you think your children would look back today and say, "My dad profoundly shaped my life?"

Dennis: Well, I would hope they would.

Bob: Have they ever said that to you?  Have you ever asked them?  Have you had that conversation?

Dennis: You know, I wouldn't …

Bob: I guess you wouldn't ask – "Hey, did I profoundly shape your life," right?

Dennis: I have prompted them to share about how their mother has impacted their lives, but I think, in a number of ways, what they have said back to me as a dad has let me know that my life along with their mother's has made a profound impact on their lives.

Bob: I guess the reality, as parents, we're going to have a profound influence on the lives of our children.  It's just a question of what kind of influence it's going to be.

Dennis: That's right, and whether or not we have the right finish line, the right goal line that we're pointing them towards, and we have a friend back with us again on FamilyLife Today, Ed McGlasson, who is helping point men toward the right finish line.  Ed, welcome back.

Ed: Hey, it's great to be here.

Dennis: Ed is a former NFL player, he's a senior pastor of a church in Southern California, and along with his wife have five children.  You're in the midst of hammering it out.  How many sons and daughters do you have?

Ed: I have three sons and two daughters.

Dennis: So you've applied your principles that you have written in your book, "The Difference a Father Makes," to both your sons and your daughters.  Let's talk first about just how you've made a difference in your son's life so that maybe they might say to you one day, as Bob asked me, "Dad, you really did make an impact on my life."  How have you done that?  How have you sought to point your kids toward that right finish line?

Ed: Well, I just turned 50 here recently, and my son gave me a tribute.  As a matter of fact, they wrote it in The Denver Post here, and …

Dennis: How old is your son?

Ed: My son is 22, just graduated from CU as their number-one golfer, and just turned pro, and he's on his way to the PGA tour.

Bob: Wow.

Dennis: Cool.

Bob: Now, you told us earlier that when you were 11, your stepfather came in and said, "What do you want to be?" and you said, "I want to be in the NFL."  When your son was 11, did you go in and say, "What do you want to be?"  And he said, "I want to be a pro golfer."

Ed: Actually, it happened at thirteen and a half, and we had – right after he became a man, and he went through a rites of passage, he came to me about two weeks later and said to me, "I think God wants me to become a professional golfer."  I said, "Well, son, you don't play golf."  He said, "I know, but I feel like that's what God has called me to."  And I said, "Okay, go back and pray about it, but here's the deal.  You know I'm a pastor, son, so your way to get a scholarship to college is probably going to be athletically, and so you have to be willing to hit golf balls five days a week and do this for the next five years.  Are you willing to do that?"

Dennis: It sounded very much like a story you told earlier about how your dad walked into your bedroom at 5 a.m. with – what was it?

Bob: A bullhorn.

Dennis: A bullhorn and got you up training early.

Ed: That's right, and so he came back the next day and said, "I've got to do it."  And so he went out and got him some lessons and played golf with them, and then I shared with him the power of two-a-days, and I said, "Think about it, son.  You're starting late.  Most golfers your age have already been playing for five or six years.  But if you'd practice twice a day for the next five years, you will do 10 years' worth of training."

 And so we got up a 5 a.m. and went to the golf course and hit balls and went running and did everything that my dad did with me, and it marked him and this made him the athlete he is today.

Bob: So before school you guys were playing golf together …

Ed: That's right.

Bob: After school he was out playing golf?

Ed: That's right, with his team.

Bob: How were his studies?  Was he doing okay in school?

Ed: He did real good in school, because, I mean, he was either playing golf or studying.  He didn't have time for anything else.  But that was his dream.  I mean, part of this passage idea that I talk about in the book, it's about this permission you give your kids when they're in that adolescent resistance, you know, when they start saying, "No, I want my rules, my way."

 What we do as fathers, our assumption is that we have all the answers, and so we try to power them, but I believe that's a voice in them that God is calling out; that the Jewish believers understand in Bar Mitzvah as a day when they need to draw their children into a new relationship with God and release them from that adolescent life into manhood or womanhood.

 And, see, part of the dilemma with parents is when our kids get in this adolescent resistance, we assume that it's rebellion, and the more we power them or control them, the less of an adult that they learn to be.  Only then do we release them to go to college.  They leave high school, they go to college with no rules, they've never set their own boundaries, and one of the dilemmas today in college, many of the kids that are coming back are alcoholics because they have no boundaries that they make.

 See, I learned something about my kids – they believe – and they will follow the rules that they believe in, not necessarily the ones you believe in.

Bob: Well, that can be a little scary.

Ed: That's right.  Your trick, as a parent, is to get them to believe in the right ones, and the way you do that is the same way Jesus did with us.  He was a master at asking questions, not giving advice.  Because if someone is not hungry to learn, it's like we're sitting around, we're three men, and we're talking about an issue, and then I say, "Would you like some help with this?"  And you go, "Yeah, I sure would," there's a lot of response.

 But if I say, "Let me tell you what you need to do," it's, like, "Hey, buddy, I'm a man, too.  You shouldn't talk to me that way."  And so I started to create that environment that I actually learned, too, in the National Football League – the greatest coaches that I played with – Bill Parcells and Ray Perkins and some of those great coaches – were masters at leading without using their power and drawing you out and calling you out to being the person that you could be without shaming you and making you feel like they were the man.  Like so many coaches do, like many Little League coaches do.

Dennis: You mentioned you believe that a rite of passage can take the form of a ceremony or of a point in time where you declare a young man a man or a young lady a young lady.  Give us an illustration of how you have done this with both your son and your daughter, because I enjoyed reading about this in your book.

Ed: Well, with – let me tell you, with Edward, and I saw this in the story of Jesus when He was baptized, and the message translate, "You are my beloved son," this way – "This is my son, marked by my love, the focus of my delight."  And so I saw that, and I went is this just a voice for John the Baptist when he was baptized, or is this a picture of something greater? 

 I have a rabbi friend, Steve Berkowitz, in Seattle, Washington.  He's a Messianic rabbi, and when I gave him the manuscript, we started talking about it, and I said, "I'm trying to create a – really, a Gentile version Bar Mitzvah, but tell me how this fits in your culture and your history."  And he was weeping, and he said, "This is what Jesus came to bring us.  Do you know what the last line of Bar Mitzvah is, Ed?"  And I said, "What is that?"  He said, "This is my beloved son in whom I love."  As the father runs down the wall of honor between the men in the synagogue, hoists his son on your shoulder, and carries him into manhood, he is saying, fundamentally, "You no longer are under my power anymore.  I am releasing you to be the man that God has destined you to be."

 And he gives them now – they are principally under the authority of the Father in heaven.  And so I said, "You know, there's got to be a better way," and what I saw in the model of Jesus was this prophetic-like permission that's resonant inside of every father – that there is this moment where he says, "I'm going to bless you with a blessing." 

 And what I found in Scriptures that when those dads did that, whatever they said, God backed up.  I mean, the story in Genesis 35 when Jacob, whose name changed to Israel, comes on the wagon train on the way to Bethel.  Rachel is giving birth to her second son and without a husband there, because he's not there, she gets ready to die, pushes out this baby, and names his Benoni, which means "son of my sorrow."

 When he comes on that wagon train with his new name, he hears the name the midwife says and, in a moment, he says "No, his name shall be Benjamin."  And he changes his name to "son of my right hand."  From that day in history, that model there, a father changed the destiny of a child, and from that day nobody messed with the tribe of Benjamin, even to this day, because a father's words changed his life.  He blessed him.  That's where that picture in Scripture came out for me.

 And so I did that with my son, Edward.  I remember calling him out and saying publicly what I loved about him in front of everyone.

Dennis: Now, that was at your church.

Ed: It was at my church.

Dennis: In front of the entire congregation?

Ed: In front of the entire congregation.

Dennis: How old was he?

Ed: He was thirteen and a half, and I remember him standing at the back of the room, and I told everybody what I loved about him – and, see, what this requires from a dad is that you really do – God needs to turn your heart to your kids, but you need to know who they are.  You can't just say, "Well, you're a man now."  It's not this magical phrase.  It's the heart of a father who is engaged who says, "I want to make a difference."  And I really believe this.

 If the Lord can turn a football player into a father who makes a difference, any man listening to this program can.  If he can turn me, a hardheaded, self-focused professional athlete into what He's turned me into today, there's hope for every guy in the world.  But I remember that moment.

Dennis: You called him actually up on stage with you.

Ed: Yes.

Dennis: And then prayed over him?

Ed: I prayed over him a blessing, and I said over him in front of the whole congregation, "From this day you will no longer be a boy in my home.  You are a man."  And he leapt in my arms and hugged me and sobbed.

 And I remember turning around, and him turning around, and it was like he's walking now, he has been fundamentally changed in the spirit to a man.

Dennis: You also had a ceremony for your daughter and took her out – I believe it was an Italian restaurant?

Ed: Yes, Italian restaurant.  Yeah, I took Jessica out.  She was 16, and it was a little more confusing with Jessica because I barely understood my wife.  How many guys can relate to that?  And so I remember – and just praying through, "Now, what does a woman need?"  And it began to come to me when my daughters were little.  My wife said a couple of things to me.  She said, "A little girl's identity, if she is beautiful or not, is directly proportionate to how you treat her as a dad – how you love her, how you kiss her, how you date her."  She said, "If you'll date your daughters, Ed, when they get into high school, they will not tolerate going out with a boy.  They'll wait until they find a man."  I really like that plan as a dad, especially in Southern California.

 And so I took her to this beautiful Italian restaurant.  She had just turned 16.  I found this rose, and I hid a little diamond ring inside of this rose, and I spent the night doing what I had kind of modeled in her life, and that's telling her what I love about her.  Because when they were little, they had this little princess hat.  It had this big long streamer on it, a big cone hat, and they would run in front of my office, back and forth, to get my attention.  They'd bang on the window to see if I was looking.

 And one day I'm going, "Lord, what do they want?"  He said, "What every little girl wants."  Every woman that puts on makeup says the same thing every single day, "Do you see me?  Am I beautiful?"

 And so I spent this night speaking life into Jessica and then I came to that point, I got down on one knee, and I grabbed her, you know, marriage hand, and I said, "Jessica, are you willing to wear this ring as a token, as your covenant, of holding your body back until your wedding night?"  She said, "Yes, Daddy."  And I looked at her, and I said, "Honey, the reason I brought you here tonight is that you're going to be fundamentally different from this night on.  I am no longer going to treat you as a little girl because from this moment on, you are a woman."

 And she jumped across that table into my arms and sobbed, and we hugged.  The people in the restaurant that were close were overwhelmed because they heard what was going on, because I'm not a quiet guy, you know?  And then they all found out this is a dad who blessed his daughter.

 And we were driving away, and she was really quiet, and I looked at her, because she had seen her brother become a man, and I said, "Honey, are you okay?"  She said, "Daddy, this was the best day of my life."

 The next day she goes to school, she's got on her new ring, and her friends see the ring, and they run up, and they're going, "Oh, my gosh, you're engaged?"  She says, "No, last night my daddy took me out, and he declared that I was a woman."  And they were all sobbing.  You know, "I wish my dad would take me on a date sometime.  He's working all the time."

 And I saw the power of what that's meant in all of my children – Edward first, then Jessica, then Mary, Luke the Duke, who just became a man on his 13th birthday, and Joshua David who is in the wings waiting for that moment into this new life that God's meant for all of us.

Bob: When your son or your daughter makes that transition, and when you say to them, "From this point on there is a different relationship."  What changes?  I mean, in terms of how you parent them, how is it different in the home?

Ed: Well, what I have – and this was a big learning process in the beginning.  I had to learn to do something, and this is – one of the things I learned is to put a question mark behind every single sentence that I say to my kids.  Just think about that for a moment.

Dennis: That's kind of difficult if you're a preacher.

Ed: That's exactly right.  It's very difficult, because you want to give advice.  Let me tell you a little conversation I had with my son, Edward, a couple of years ago.  He called me up and said, "Hey, Dad, guess what?  We've got tickets to Vail, and we got a house.  One of the alums is going to set us up," and I know, you know, I kind of made a deal I'm not snowboarding anymore because I could hurt my shoulder but, you know – and he said, "I know you'll probably say no but I need some advice." 

 I said, "Well, can I ask you a couple of questions?"  I said, "Well, have you read your contract with the University of Colorado?"  "Uh, contract?"  "You know, your scholarship.  Is there a clause in there that might say you would lose your scholarship if you got hurt in intermural activity?  Just make sure.  Number two, have you asked your coach, because he's fundamentally responsible for you, and I'm your father, I trust you, you're a man, you'll make the right decision, you love God.  So you need to ask him.  And, three, I would just ask have you prayed about it?"  "Oh, yeah, yeah, I prayed about it."

 So, anyway, about 30 minutes goes by, and this phone call comes back, "Hey, Dad.  This really sucks."  I said, "What's up?"  He said, "It's in my contract."  "You're kidding.  Wow.  You've got a decision to make, son, you're a man."  "Yeah, and I called my coach.  He said if I get hurt I could lose my scholarship money. He doesn't want me to go."  I went, "Phhhew."  He says, "As a matter of fact, Dad, I really didn't pray about it.  But now that I think about it" and, all of a sudden, I heard this thing click.  "You know what, Dad, now that I think about it, that's not a wise decision.  You know, I've got a lot of career, and maybe in the future with my family, but, you know, I need to get focused on what I need to do, and you know what?  I really didn't need that much advice from you, anyway.  Thanks, anyway.  Bye."

 Right then, just in that lesson, I've learned over and over again, and I learned this from Jesus, I can't claim any originality on this.  He was a master at asking questions to help people hear themselves of where they were, and then He would offer advice when they were open.  Our biggest assumption that we made is that if we power ourselves because we have the truth …

Dennis: So difficult as a parent, so difficult.

Ed: As a Christian, we want to witness, right?  And we assume because we have the truth, we've got to blare it out.  Shouldn't we say, "Hey, by the way, would you like some help with this decision you're making?"

Dennis: Right.  Yeah, no doubt about it.  You know, Ed, I just want to thank you for being on the broadcast and for sharing your story.  It really is cool to hear how a young man who grew up without his biological father, received is Heavenly Father's approval, and has gone on not only to take that as a blessing but now passes it on to other men, and I want to make sure the men have not missed what you've said.  There are three things our kids are looking for, both our sons and our daughters.

 Number one, they're looking for our attention.  They really want our face towards them wholeheartedly watching them and looking into their lives and seeking to understand them.  Secondly, they want our hearts.  They want a relationship.  They don't want our stuff, they don't want our presents, yeah, they'd like our cars, sure, as they get older, but they want our hearts, they want a relationship with us.  Third, and I think this may be the real bonus of it all – they want our approval.  The blessing that you're talking about – and I would just challenge any man who is listening right now, if he has not blessed his sons and daughters, regardless of their age, because it's never too late.

Ed: That's true.

Dennis: You speak of blessing men who are 80 years old who no longer have a father.  I'm telling you, you will always be your son and daughters' daddy, and your words will be powerful in their lives.

Ed: Can I inject a little story?  We were at a pastor's house after a conference at his church, and the phone – his son's on the phone from Santa Barbara, and he said, "Hey, Dad, are you having a revival?"  He says, "Well, what are you talking about, son?"  "My roommate, my roommate."  "What do you mean, your roommate?"  "She's on the floor, she can't stop sobbing."  "What happened?"  "Well, her dad went to church this morning and became a man, and he called her on the phone and told her for the first time that he loved her.  And he called her out to be a woman, that he has held her back all of her life with his anger, and he repented, and she cannot stop crying.  She's waited her whole life for her dad to bless her."  It's never too late.

Dennis: It's never too late.

Bob: You know, when we think about Father's Day, we usually think about what gifts we will give our fathers, and it may be that this Father's Day, there are some dads who need to give some gifts to their children; who need to give them the gift of a blessing, and some of the men who are listening may be thinking about words that they ought to offer, things they need to say to a child, whether the child is five years old or 15 years old or 50 years old, there is something in the human heart that longs to hear the affirmation of a father.

 I want to let our listeners know, Dennis, that we've got copies of Ed's book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if any of our listeners are interested in getting a copy, I mentioned earlier this week that because Ed had a background in the National Football League, this is the kind of book you could pass along to someone who may be a football fan and who is not a Christian but any dad can benefit from reading a book like this, and, again, you can order it from us online at FamilyLife.com.

 Go to our website, and in the middle of the home page, you'll see a red button that says "Go."  If you click that button, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about the resources we have available here at FamilyLife Today. 

 Or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and request a copy of the book over the phone.  Again, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY or you can also go online at FamilyLife.com.

 And then this week we've been offering a special thank you gift to those of our listeners who are able to help with a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We'd like to send you a DVD.  This is a message given by our host, Dennis Rainey, to dads at a recent Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference about our core responsibilities as fathers.  What God has charged us to do as we raise our sons and our daughters to be young men and women who love God, who know Him, and who grow in wisdom as they grow in stature.

 It's a great message and, again, we have it on DVD.  We'd love to send it out to you as a way of saying thanks for your financial support of this ministry.  We are listener-supported, and without donations from you, FamilyLife Today could not continue on the air in this city or in other cities all across the country.  So thanks for teaming up with us and, again, if you make a donation today be sure to ask for a copy of this DVD. 

 You can donate online at FamilyLife.com, and if you do that, when you come to the keycode box just type the word "dads" in there, so we'll know to send you the DVD or call 1-800-FLTODAY and mention that you'd like the message from Dennis on DVD, and we'll be sure to send it out to you and, again, thanks for teaming up with us here at FamilyLife Today.

 Well, I hope you have a great weekend.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when we're going to be joined by two of the six Rainey children – Samuel and Rebecca are going to be here, and we're going to talk about what life was like as a young teenager in the Rainey home, and they have advice for other young teens or those who are about to become teens, about how to make it through the teen years.  I hope you can join us for what promises to be a fun week.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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