155 | Peter Haas on Maximizing Intentional Parenting During the “Golden Window” (Part 1 of 3)

155 | Peter Haas on Maximizing Intentional Parenting During the “Golden Window” (Part 1 of 3)

dadAWESOME ep155 - Peter Haas


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Peter Haas

Pastor Peter Haas came to know the Lord while working as an EDM rave DJ in a nightclub. Since that day, he has traveled the world, sharing his radical conversion story and calling others to experience the same joy and power. He and his wife, Carolyn, planted Substance Church in 2004 and they serve on the Lead Team of the ARC (the Association of Related Churches). He is passionate about music, film, and comedy. Peter and Carolyn live in the Twin Cities with their 3 children, Lijah, True, and Eden.

Conversation Notes:

  • Substance Church
  • 5:20 – Sharing about dropping his daughter off in a new state for college last year
  • 6:15 – “There are certain things you can’t protect your kids from. You need to just watch them go through it.”
  • 8:11 – ” I like to think this way… parenting is a series of 2000 conversations and I say 2000, I’m making up that number, but it’s actually not just 2000 conversations. It’s 2000 conversations, demonstrations and impartations.”
  • 9:56 – “And if you think about those 2000 conversations, impartations, demonstrations, what’s weird about them is you can log a lot of those when they’re young, but intellectually, the conversations, they all kind of happen in a very, very, very tiny window.”
  • 10:40 – The “window of discipleship” is between 12 and 16.
  • 12:58 – You can’t log all of the conversations, but what you can do is give them principles like Psalm 92: “Planted in the house of the Lord, you will flourish.”
  • 18:56 – “You can’t export what you haven’t first imported.”
  • 20:15 – Begin with the end in mind.
  • 21:14 – Choosing priorities and avoiding regrets by paying attention to the juggling metaphor
  • 23:57 – How being a part of church helps provide multiple mentors
  • 26:48 – Sacred family rituals
  • 28:20 – “Logging as many hours as we possibly can in that golden window is the definition of good parenting. And if they have to not be exposed to as many opportunities on purpose, and my kids don’t regret it, it’s not like my kids sit and think, well, I didn’t get as many piano and dance lessons and as many sports opportunities. They never sit around and talk about that. They talk about how many hours we logged doing a common hobby together…”

Conversation Links:


[Full Podcast Transcript]

Peter Haas (00:03:09):

Yeah, well, coming up in a week or two, I’m going on my 25th wedding anniversary, I don’t feel that old. I still feel, I still feel like I’m 30, you know, but a 25th wedding anniversary. And then, my oldest daughter is turning 20, my middle daughter is turning 18 and my son is turning 15. So he’s going to be getting his driver’s permit, which really freaks me out. I know everybody be watching your backs. No, but so that’s, we pastored in Wisconsin for almost 10 years planted when we had two little girls and, Jeff Zaugg walked in at the end of it was really, uh, I think it was our first year anniversary or sometime a little after that. And, you came in with a bunch of Bethel college students and, our church was only running 102 and a until Jeff Zaugg and then all of a sudden, boom, we grew to 200 and it’s almost funny to even think of our church that small, but, you know, it’s just been quite a journey planting and having kids while planting. You know, talk about a juggling act.

Jeff Zaugg (00:04:19):

And I know, I mean, one story that’s kind of fun is you were doing premarital counseling with my wife and I, and we had to take a month break because your son was born right at that kind of like, it was like two months before our wedding, he was born. And then he came with this newborn baby was with, on our premarital counseling, the last kind of meeting or two. And so my chapter of marriage is the exact same length as Eden’s Eden’s life. So anyways, it’s just so many fun points on the journey. But speaking of the journey, I think for us, and for me personally, knowing what does it feel like to launch a child? So what does it feel like to actually drop off at college? You know, many of us it’s the college point when our child’s going to be not be at home, sleeping somewhere else, learning, understanding, you know has to make all those decisions themselves. You experienced that moment a little over a year ago with your, with your oldest daughter. I’d love for you to take us there. What were you feeling in that moment? And then what was like, man, I wish I could go back and tell myself this, because at this moment it’s becoming crystal clear what my priorities should have been or, glad that they were. So talk about that moment for a bit.

Peter Haas (00:05:20):

Well, keep in mind, we were dropping my daughter off on the other side of the United States, from Minnesota to Florida. And so she doesn’t really know anybody and, and yet, you know, I mean, she, she said her entire life she’s she’s going places, right? So, I mean, this was, it was 10 times more emotional than I ever would have,I mean, it was like an eruption of emotion, me watching her. It was honestly, it was one of the hardest moments, just watching her walk away onto the campus by herself to go to this party. I like, honestly, it just kind of, you want to protect your kids, you know what I’m saying? And some moments where you can’t and, uh, in some ways I think that’s actually one of the harder things as a parent is there’s certain things you can’t protect your kids from.

Peter Haas (00:06:16):

You need to just watch them go through it. It’s no different than when you’re, you’re when your kids are young and you want to just take away your, their pain. And yet you can’t, you know what I’m saying? It’s the same feeling of watching your kids get stitches, or, you know, you look them in the eye. The way that I could describe it, as one of my daughters got stitches on their forehead when they were a year and a half old. And when you have to look them in the eye and they’re getting these stitches and they’re like, dad, why are you not taking away this pain? And you can’t even communicate. You’re just like, I’m sorry. This is for your own good. You know? And the same thing kind of happened to me watching Lijah her name is Elijah, like Elijah without the E.

Peter Haas (00:07:04):

And she was walking onto campus and she was, she was great. Actually, she, for her, it wasn’t half as emotional, but for me it was like, Oh my Lord, okay. I have to trust you. And that’s really, in some ways, if you don’t have God, when you’re parenting, I don’t know how you can be a functional parent. Honestly, Jeff. Looking back though, I, I felt good though. Cause I had logged so many hours with her and you know, she called us every single night, you know, that first week and just gave us the report, not even for her benefit, but for our benefit because she knew that we were emotional about it. But you know, if you pour into them, they’re going to, you know, now we’re reciprocating. She calls us to counsel us. How are you doing dad?

Jeff Zaugg (00:07:48):

You’ve talked about logging thousands of conversations, and I’ve just heard you talking about that since. I mean, actually that conversation with you three years ago was one of the Genesis moments for this ministry, dadAWESOME, you were just talking about, you got to log, you got to be intentional with these conversations. You have talk about that principle of intentionality and why, when you say specific conversations, why does it matter?

Peter Haas (00:08:09):

Well, okay. So like maybe I’m just an analytical dude and I like to think this way, but parenting is a series of 2000 conversations and I say 2000, I’m making up that number, but it’s actually not just 2000 conversations. It’s 2000 conversations, demonstrations and impartations. Okay. It all rhymes. But no, it’s think about it this way. Okay, you have like 50 conversations on dating. The first, the first five are just, you know, at, at a certain level, the next five are more advanced level than then the next five are them pushing back saying, I’m not sure I agree with you. And then it’s the next five. It’s explaining why in light of their information. This is, you know, in light of the disaster, they just saw on their friend, but it’s not just conversations. It’s demonstrations. This is me forgiving someone.

Peter Haas (00:09:09):

And they actually see me or me being generous to someone, giving a car away or, helping a friend in need or tithing, it’s demonstrations of me apologizing to them. And then it’s impartation. It’s these moments of, “Oh, you failed your driver’s test a second time,” How failure is never final. It’s getting back up. It’s me encouraging you, making a moment of it. It’s me, making a moment of their first date, making a moment of their first dance, their first, you know, them getting filled with the Holy spirit, them getting, their first Bible, making a moment, impartations, and seizing those. And if you think about those 2000 conversations, impartations, demonstrations, what’s weird about them is you can log a lot of those when they’re young, but intellectually, the conversations, they all kind of happen in a very, very, very tiny window.

Peter Haas (00:10:13):

Okay. So if you think about it like this, okay, you have 18 summers with your kids for the most part. And then, 70% of the time you spend with your kids is going to be before they’re 18. If you think about it. Okay. Because actually once they get their driver’s licenses and they get their first part-time job, most of your kids are kind of like unavailable at about 16. Okay. So your window of discipleship, if I could say it this way is like, I would say 12 to 16. Okay. So if you think about it, you have about, this is what catches parents off guard is because their kids are intellectually, maybe not even capable of having deep conversations until say 11, if your, your girls might have ’em by 11, but

Peter Haas (00:11:03):

You guys are pretty much like dad, I don’t care. I’m not into video games, until like 12.

Peter Haas (00:11:09):

And so you have these four years to log an amazing amount of conversations without sounding like you’re ranting, which is, I think what actually happens is…I used to think, Hey, if you’re emotionally intelligent, you’re going to be able to mentor your kids and disciple them well, but actually most socially sharp parents they’ll have rebellious kids simply because they didn’t log enough hours in the golden window. If I could say it that way. And that golden window is that 11 to 16. And so in some ways it’s, it’s it, I think most parents who kind of their biggest regrets. And if I could go back to your first question, what’s the biggest regret. Sure. It’s I didn’t take enough time to log enough hours. I just didn’t log enough hours of the 2000 conversations. By the time my kids were 16, I, I only logged 400 and, and I may have given them the first couple conversations, but I didn’t give them the chance to push back and follow up and wrestle with some of those. This is why we tithe, this is why we date the way we date. This is why we [have] conversations about sexuality conversations about technology, conversations about credit cards, conversations about car maintenance, conversations about friends, you know,

Jeff Zaugg (00:12:33):

Super helpful. And the practicality of you talking generosity and dating and finances like so many of these areas. Can you go even a little further practical as far as what are other categories? When you think of the golden window, other categories to help the dad listening that’s like, man, where do I start? Thousands, couple thousand conversations and demonstrations and impartations. Can you go a little further, as far as the practical areas or topics of those intentional,

Peter Haas (00:12:56):

You know, you, you can’t, you can’t log all of the conversations, but what you can do is you can give them principles like this: Psalm 92 planted in the house of the Lord, you will flourish. I’ve always taught my kids, always, always, always have four to seven friends in a ministry in the church. And that doesn’t mean my kids haven’t whined about it. My kids, I don’t care how good your church is. They’re gonna whine about it. Um, they’re going to whine about going to school. They’re going to whine about brushing their teeth. There’s certain disciplines we just do. If the church is open, we go, it is not a question of, do we want to, and are we available to do it? And so the reason for that is because I won’t always be there to mentor my kids, but I want my kids to be in a church around mentors and around divine Christian friends.

Peter Haas (00:13:55):

Because your friends are always going to be rotating, your mentors are always going to be shifting. My availability, I mean, if you think about the reason why the golden window is 16 is because the moment they’re less, they’re around the house, less, my leverage decreases the moment they move out of the house. You, when you don’t have the roof over their head, you lose your leverage a little bit. And so then you have to change your parenting tactic. Parenting adult kids is totally different than when you know, when they’re little, you can just say, because I said so. And then when they’re teenagers, you have to be like, well, this is why I have to, you have to parent into the “why” all the time. And then after a while you lose all your financial leverage, it changes, you know what I’m saying?

Jeff Zaugg (00:14:46):

And I’m thinking about your son actually, because he served, you know, I got to lead our kids ministry for almost four years. And your son showed up and served. I know that it was right at that point of the golden window of, of him being told, no, this is what we do because I’m a Haas. Yep. And, then there’s helping them understand the why and the bigger picture. So he served as a volunteer in our kids ministry, which is so fun for me to see him coming in with his apron on, ready to serve these little toddlers. But talk about that point of it, both being some of the, this is just what we do, church is open, we serve. And then the infusing, the side of the why, and really understanding and getting passionate about serving.

Peter Haas (00:15:22):

At the end of the day, everybody will whine about a discipline, but they need it. They need it. And my son whined about serving in the kid’s ministry. We actually forced him at first…this is not an option. And then eventually once he, he comes enough, he gets friends and those friends are maybe strange friendships. It might be a friendship with an adult volunteer who’s serving, and then he’ll come with stories. And then after a while, he’ll find out he’s needed. And then that one parent affirms them, Hey, my kid loves coming to the kid’s ministry because you serve. And you know, when we, when we started forcing him at six, seventh grade, he didn’t understand why we were forcing him, but after awhile, he got addicted to it. What was so weird about COVID is he got out of the habit and we had to go through another whine cycle.

Peter Haas (00:16:17):

When we started kind of forcing him to get back in, we attend a service, we serve a service, attend one, serve one, and then he got addicted again. And I, you know, like even my kids, my kids would even whine about going to youth group and then they’d go and then they’d love it. And, you know, we’d have to kind of force them to get into the rhythm of three, four weeks straight of whining, and then they love it. And then, you know, they’re into a six month season. It’s kind of like this. I think parents, they get thrown when their kids whine because they think it should just kind of always work. And there’s a certain tension. Your kids will always roll their eyes when it’s time to wash the dishes. But you get better at imparting those disciplines, but once they’re addicted to church, and once they have those four to seven friends and a ministry, they have roots planted in the house of the Lord. They will flourish, they have roots. And then all of a sudden it’s, a lot of the best parenting moments. Aren’t your kids learning, the lesson themselves, it’s them having friends. And then they’ll tell you about their friends. And then you’re hearing about their friends having a dating disaster. And then you’re like, well, what would you do Eden? How would you, you know, and then you’re actually covertly discipling them through their friends’ highs and lows.

Jeff Zaugg (00:17:35):

I love it. I love it. Your story about forcing until he experienced the benefits. The interesting thing is that we as dads… And then if you go back to demonstration, some of us dads listening right now are not serving in the local church, are not serving others. So we’ve lost hope on the demonstration side, at that point. We can only force on the other side and actually in my research for this conversation, it was an excuse to go back to a Father’s Day message that you preached in 2014. It was six years ago. Now I’m sure you don’t remember it because you ‘re preaching way too many messages, but you talked about God being our Father and being fathered by God. It’s interesting. I don’t have anyone that is forcing me into a discipline that’s good for me. No one’s forcing me, that I’m going to see the benefit in the future.

Peter Haas (00:18:19):

We actually have to submit our disciplines and our agendas and our calendars to our Heavenly Father. And not as a boss, who’s saying “do this,” but a loving Father who wants to father us. And that I believe is where that cycle of us seeing the benefits and the upside and the goodness of God and being planted in the house of God like you’re talking about. But I’d love for you to expand on the concept of dads being able to demonstrate by receiving love from the Father so that our kids can see, Oh, Dad’s in this as well. And believes that these things have four to seven friends and a ministry. Elaborate on that.

Peter Haas (00:18:53):

Well, at the end of the day, you can’t export what you haven’t first imported. And I think for a lot of guys, they get so caught. They cheat to their careers because you can count it more. My climbing, the corporate ladder in my salary, it’s easier to measure. And as Andy Stanley puts it, “you cheat to the things you can count.” In parenting is just a lot harder to count because you have to measure your parenting more in three, four year windows and is the trend good? Is my kid doing good in school? Are they loving the Lord? Or, you know, it’s harder to measure. And so we always tend to cheat towards our jobs. And I think that’s, in some ways I always encourage dads…the problem with the problem with the older you get, the less you think about your vocational success and the more you think about your kids and your friends, like you talk to old people, all they want to talk about is their, their kids or their biggest problems in life are my kids aren’t following the Lord or, you know, those types of things or their marriages are struggling.

Peter Haas (00:20:13):

And so my whole thing is begin with the end in mind. It’s your kids that matter at the end. And so in your relationship with the Lord, it’s slowing your life down enough to say, okay, these are going to be my priorities. At the end of the day, nobody ever gets to the end of their life and thinks, man, I wish I would have spent more time at the office. They’re like, man, I wish I would have logged a few more hours with my kids, or on my marriage. And so for a lot of parents to, um, stop and say, Hey, experiencing God’s life, we love because he first loved us. For guys to make sure that that relationship with the Lord is first. There’s these priorities of, you gotta have your relationship with God first, then your marriage second, then your kids third, then your career fourth.

Peter Haas (00:21:11):

And when we get those, to use the juggling metaphor, if all of these things in our lives were a different ball in the juggling metaphor, your marriage is a glass ball. Your kids are a glass ball. Your career is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it’ll bounce back. Okay. You can survive a bad financial year, but when you drop, you can only drop your marriage so many times before it becomes fractured or chipped. And it permanently deforms it. And so I’m always like, Hey, let your career bounce back. I have all my regrets in life, there’s been years where I neglected the church, maybe a little too much. And, uh, you know, we lost staff members that maybe we couldn’t have, or we didn’t have to lose or, or things like that. But you know what, those are regrets I can live with. What I can’t live with is yeah. I was an absentee dad for that one year. And that, that bugs me to this day or I wasn’t on it in the golden window. And then I got behind with the conversation with my kid about this, and then they ended up incurring a few burns, so to speak, from the world. You don’t want to have those types of regrets.

Jeff Zaugg (00:22:30):

Right. Super helpful to go back around to that Father’s Day message from 2014 to ask it a little different angle. You mentioned in that message, this idea of, we potentially make the mistake of thinking of God as a master and us as a servant. So a master-servant dynamic. And I think a lot of us dads drift into, a fathering like that, that we are the master. Our kids are the servant. They do what we say. Versus the other side of that, of God being a loving Heavenly Father, we can’t earn any love from. And then we can pass that along, demonstrate that to our kids, pass that along to our kids impart that to our kids. Can you talk about the difference of approach to God and how we might even accidentally have that approach, the wrong approach for our kids?

Peter Haas (00:23:11):

Yeah, no, I get what you’re saying. I think a lot of times we view God through our earthly relationships and if our fathers were disengaged, we tend to see God as disengaged. And yet he’s madly in love with us. He wants to spend time with us. And when we don’t have that kind of relationship with God, it naturally reflects. It’s almost like, I think it’s important to really reflect on the types of relationships that we have. And, you know, our parents did the best they could. Let’s just be honest. Let’s not, let’s not rail against our parents, but at the end of the day, when I got adopted part of the reason why I’m always advocating for church is because everybody needs multiple mentors. And there was just certain people that could fill, you know, everybody has fathering wounds…

Peter Haas (00:24:12):

And there are certain people who taught me what the love of the Father feels like, and really mentored me, that adopted me. And after, you know, like even, even just yesterday, one of my mentors called my daughter up just to coach her and encourage her and just random, you know? And I kept thinking if we knew that God was that interested in us on a daily basis, it would change the way we relate to our own kids. And so ultimately, experiencing God’s love even just through daily devotions is going to be so critical. Otherwise we’re not even, we’re not asking God for help. It’s kinda like my son just called me up, yesterday and wanted me just to pray for him. I’m feeling a lot of emotion on this. Would you just pray for me, reset me?

Peter Haas (00:25:11):

And I prayed for him. And I thought the fact that he even knew to call me was related to the fact that he’s in those moments where I would even just whenever I needed God, I actually would go in and I would ask him, Hey, would you pray with me for this, we’d exchange prayer requests? Even when he was in fifth grade, which, his prayers were not deep at all. But he knew that, Hey, dad asked me to pray for his fill in the blank. And he knew, this is what we do. We go to the Heavenly Father every night. So I’d always make sure that we’d have a good bedtime ritual every night, the hour before their bedtimes, I would spend it with their kids flopping on their bed for 15 minutes and just demonstrate prayer.

Peter Haas (00:26:01):

It sounds so silly, but that little ritual was how I wanted to model how to relate to God. And I think they caught it. And, but it was also a pattern of, Hey, my dad is always available to me before bed. And so kind of making that time sacred, in those busy seasons, they got to see my relationship with my Father. And then they also got to see that my earthly father is equally available to have those conversations. Hey dad, I had this problem at school and then we diagnose it.

Jeff Zaugg (00:26:35):

I love that. And I love it. It’s right before sleep, they get that was one of the last moments is that moment with them. Talk about whether daily, weekly, monthly, any other just reoccurring, Hey, I made time, I carved in time for this because it mattered.

Peter Haas (00:26:48):

Yeah. For our family, there were certain things that were sacred. Family dinners were sacred. We always wanted to make sure that we spent time together at dinner and then we’d all clean up together. And then we’d all hang out. And if that was like video game time with dad, for a half hour, and then it was this long bedtime ritual, be it me reading a Bible story with my son or me flopping on my daughter’s bed, watching, baby seal videos on YouTube or whatever it is, you know, so the evenings were always devoted to my kids. I have to say that, anything that impedes upon time with my kids…so we had to get really picky about sports after school and all that kind of stuff, after school stuff is, is chaos.

Peter Haas (00:27:45):

So we had to say, okay, dinner and bedtime is sacred when they’re little. And that gets increasingly complex when they get older. So, you know, again, it’s that golden window, most parents are always thinking about their kids in terms of, two metrics, are my kids getting good grades and am I exposing them to as many opportunities as possible? That’s how the world thinks. We realized exposing our kids to as many opportunities is not our definition. It is logging as many hours as we possibly can in that golden window is the definition of good parenting. And if they have to not be exposed to as many opportunities on purpose, and my kids don’t regret it, it’s not like my kids sit and think, well, I didn’t get as many piano and dance lessons and as many sports opportunities. They never sit around and talk about that. They talk about how many hours we logged doing a common hobby together is what they talk about.

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