The “why” is more important than the “what”.

I’ve often been told this as a new and clueless parent (still am today):
“If you explain the why to your kids, then it will be easier for them to obey.”

However, based on experience, I haven’t been that successful.

When my eldest was 8 years old, my wife Jenn and I would explain to him why it was important to eat vegetables – the nutritional value and meritorious reasons of developing this habit.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t working.

So we reverted back to “just-do-as-I-say” method.

As the years came by, and as 3 more kids came, I’ve realized an important lesson.

Yes, the “why” is more important than the “what”.
But more important than the why is the relational trust the child has with the parent.

I have yet to recall a time when I gave wonderful explanations of the rules and then my children would reply,

“Oh, daddy, now we realize the critical importance of what you just explained. You’ve shed light into this matter. Because of that, from now on, we will do exactly what you say!”

That would be the dream but unfortunately it only remains to be a dream.

The problem with rules and reasons is that you can argue with them point by point and debate issue by issue.


The answers we give to their questions never carry more weight than a healthy and trusted relationship.

Listen to what Reggie Joiner has to say…

“One of the most powerful things a parent can do is to learn to communicate in a style that values the relationship.”

It actually is possible to win the argument and yet lose the relationship.

The goal is not to win the debate. The goal is to win the heart.


Every summer, one of the things I look forward to is our annual Me and My Dad Camp.

While it’s only an overnight trip, it can be one of the best moments a father can have with his son/daughter and vice versa.

While it takes a lot of effort to set up the tent, cook your own food, travel to the camping place, what that does is that you build history together as father and son.

Looks more like a science experiment than dinner…

There are things that you cannot accomplish if you are at home, especially with the distractions of iPads and TV.

Building history together includes stories at night before going to bed, cooking your meal even if they’re burnt, sweating and jumping in the pool to cool off, getting a splinter and helping your son take it out… These and many more that will add to having history together.

I remember Steve Murrell (founding pastor of Victory) telling us a story of a very successful pastor who has a congregation of thousands. This particular pastor’s son approached his dad during one of the church activities designed for families and disclosed that he couldn’t remember a time that he had fun with his dad.

Now that’s a bomb no father would ever want to hear from his son.

Dads, build history with your children. Find the opportunity to build memories. Remember, it’s something that can never be taken from them. Cars will rust. Medals can get lost. Money can get stolen. But memories? That stays for a very very very long time.

Reminder from my wife on day 2.


Before I begin, I need to say that this Mother’s Day blog entry is primarily for the men. Somebody I knew once said that the way you treat your mother today is the way you’ll end up treating your wife when you get married. I want you to let that sink in because, for the most part, I now believe it’s true. Now take note, I’m talking about when you were still single and living under your mom’s roof. How you treat your mother after you get married doesn’t count because our tendency is we develop a whole new level of respect for them when we have our wives. Living alone and raising a family all of a sudden opens up our eyes to the difficulty they encountered, and we suddenly appreciate them. But how was it when you were living under your mom’s rules and instruction? What did you think of her hard work back then? How did you react to her when she had to correct you or when she told you what to do or when she wanted to just sit and talk with you? Did you married men just make a quick comparison? Has it sunk in yet? Not married yet? Good. Now go and appreciate your mom because this is training for your future wife.

Now if you’re married with kids, then of course your wife counts as a celebrant for Mother’s day as well. What does that mean? Any responsible mother will take it upon herself to provide your offspring with the best care her physical body can give short of killing herself while trying to oversee the maintenance of the house you live in. She doesn’t get paid to do this, but it doesn’t make it any less vital to your life as a husband and father. That’s what your wife is doing as a mother. Our tendency as men is to overlook this because, in our own minds, we do our share. We go out, work hard, bring home the bacon, and make sure that the bills get paid so that makes it even right? Did you just nod? Oh I hope you didn’t. Because it’s this kind of thinking that will begin to tear a marriage apart. When one side feels that they are entitled to certain rights (like the right to be a couch potato after work) because of what they think they do, then the failure to appreciate and resentment at not receiving appreciation ensues. You eventually begin to seek that appreciation outside and if found from another source you begin to prefer that person and the marriage is jeopardized. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The bottom line is, we often fail to appreciate the work our wives do as mothers because we’re too busy making sure to fulfil our own list of duties. I’m sorry guys, but you do not get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do. The company already gives you that by paying you money. Appreciating your wife is going to take an extra step and it isn’t even a very big one so don’t whine. Sometimes it’s just a simple thank you, a bar of chocolate, a night of doing your own dishes or just several text messages saying that you love her. A little bit here and there won’t kill you. Now our wives are not going to remind us to appreciate them so it’s up to us to remember, and Mother’s Day is not the chance to make up for the other 364 days you missed. It’s a chance for everybody to appreciate all moms everywhere. You get that chance to appreciate the ones in your life every single day.


Gabe Gabriel is husband to Diane and daddy to Raph and Nate.


I got this note from my eldest son.

When I first read it, I was wondering what he meant.

I know he’s my real son.
I also know that we didn’t adopt him.
Furthermore, I’m his real dad.

I thought again and understood what he meant.

I’m glad he thinks this way.

While I want to be the best dad to him, I know I can’t be a perfect one.

I’m thankful he knows who is the Perfect Father… the One who will take care of him even if I’m no longer there.

It’s that quiet assurance knowing that God takes care the ones we care most about.