157 | Tech Limits, Pornography and Raising Kids Who Love Jesus (Peter Haas part 3 of 3)

157 | Tech Limits, Pornography and Raising Kids Who Love Jesus (Peter Haas part 3 of 3)

dadAWESOME episode 157 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.

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The top poled theme to talk to you about was around raising kids who love Jesus. And again, an area that I think every dad feels inadequate, every dad feels like they don’t have what they need to help their kids fall in love with Jesus. And then the second side of that question was actually around conversations our kids around a loving all-powerful God and why the world would have evil sin hurt. So maybe you can hit on both those sides. I mean, it’s a huge, massive question, but like give us some coaching in that area.

Well, first off, having a window, a nightly ritual where your kids know, they can ask you questions in this window. My kids would pose the weirdest questions to me on a regular basis. And sometimes I would over coach it and sometimes they just wanted to talk, but it was almost like them having access to me, and then we go on a journey together and I’ll give them a little nugget. We’ll read a book together. But at the end of the day, it’s like going back to the very beginning, I need them to know planted in the house of the Lord. If you have four to seven Christian friends, ministry, and really a mentor, that’s the third element is you sh sometimes my wife and I would take team like, Hey, that’s a better question for your mom.

Or she would say that too – that’s a better question for your dad. Or, you know, what we need to do is we need to go talk to this friend at church this Sunday, and we would go, and I can’t tell you how many times…like even Nate Puccini on staff here, he’ll ask me a question. And then we’ll tag team with each other’s kids where I’ll be like, Lijah you need to go ask pastor Nate that question. And then pastor Nate, will talk to them about that. We’re using all of our relationships to coach each other. It’s the old, it takes a village to raise a child. And then, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to, or I would actually have like Lijah, you’re going to do free babysitting for this couple in the church. And then you’re going to ask them this question when you do it. And I can’t tell you how many divine conversations that even if my wife and I weren’t able to have, they were able to have by living in community and our kids need to know you always live in community so that when crisis comes, you have a support network. And listen, sixth grade girls will always struggle with friends. So your, your kids will never have friends at church until they do all of a sudden. And so it’s kind of forcing them to show up until it works. All of our kids hated church, and this is in my own church and we have a great church, but it’s kind of forcing them in the midst of those awkward friendships to keep showing up and coming back. And then once they have that rootedness, then they like now my son texts all of his youth group friends, you know what I’m saying? Like, but my daughters didn’t have as many youth group friends. So, but they had more adult staff friends. And so it was like paying staff members to go out to coffee with my friend, Hey parents, if you got to bribe, if you’ve got to pay 20 bucks to have that one cool youth leader, take them out to coffee. Awesome. Do it, do it. You know, like we paid everybody to take my kids didn’t even know that we paid people to take them out. They just thought they were cool. You know,

You’re architecting their journey though, which is by placing key people along that journey, whether it’s pulling them in with a, you know, another staff, or I just think about, show me your friends, I’ll show you your future. We’re planting the agricultural metaphor, right? Like we’re planting seeds now with our friendships, as dads, the level of friends that we have as couples, other couples who actually are developing a team for our kids of safe, wise, trusted, accessible that who knows maybe some of those hobbies that I’m developing with. My daughter are an easy hand-off hobby to this friend of my wife’s or this friend of mine, or this couple to go and learn. The mentors were actually building their mentoring pipeline for them too.

I actually, on a weekly basis, I probably go up to one of my friends and say, Hey, could you text my son on, fill in the blank? He needs more accountability partners. Could you on this topic? Or could you reach out to them and just say, Hey, can we talk? And it’s funny how my kids, um, never really even thought, Oh, my dad reached out to you and they, they didn’t didn’t connect. They just think this is life. This is, oh, we just do life as a collective. Normalizing it. I even think about like, Zoe, one of our social media and worship staff took my daughter to the mall of America and they just went shopping, you know, like you’re just building their support and their mentors. And if I can’t do it, then there’s somebody who can, and if I don’t know, it there’s somebody who does know it. And so, it’s actually their ecclesiology, their model of church, to fall in love with God is to fall in love with his church. And so my daughter, we coached her when we brought her to Florida, your job, we’re going to help you find three different churches. You’re going to check them out. I’m going to hold you accountable to going. Then once you’ve checked them out, then your job is to go to their membership. Actually, you know, what’s funny is I was down in Florida speaking at a church and I wanted my daughter to come visit me because I was only an hour away. And she goes, dad, I can’t, I’m going through the membership process and I’m in week three and I need to get through it so I can join the worship band. And I’m like, shut up. You’re literally not even going to visit your dad. And yet I was secretly proud. And then she was like, I’m meeting with a staff member. And I’m like, okay, when you meet with that staff member, buy them a Starbucks card, you serve them, tell them, you’ll do anything for free. And you know, like I’m coaching her, how to get integrated in her church in Florida. And now she’s totally integrated. She, there was that first week she goes, dad, I have to go by myself. And I’m like, yeah, I’m sorry. Once you go by yourself, you’re going to find people. So befriend them, you know, like get to know other people in the church and it’s teaching them to get addicted to friendships. And then that love for God will constantly be reinforced.

Yeah. And part of this, you already answered, but to go back around to that question about pain and hurt and sin, how could a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God, just the tenderness in our kids like wrestling with this, how, outside of helping them have the friends and mentors and church to help wrestle, how would you coach us dads with processing that topic?

You know, at the end of the day, for the deep questions about God, those are some of the toughest questions you can ask about God. And they naturally will start to find the answers when they’re in loving community. I don’t, I won’t always know why, but I know God’s plan is good. And I know that God is still my best option in the midst of pain. You know, even this year, there’s a million, “why” questions? Well, at the end of the day, it’s hard to blame God when he is your source of strength. And at the end of the day you, I don’t know why evil, but I know that God has chosen, to use it and to creatively thwart it. And so my whole thing is, when you surround people with, with godly people who are generous, who are reflecting the nature of God, I think those answers, those questions naturally get answered in the process of living in community. It’s those people that are trying to answer that question with no good Christian friends and no good Christian mentors. They’ll never be able to understand God, because we cannot understand God apart from his church.

Yeah. That’s, that’s so helpful. That’s so just add the period right there, because it’s true. And we have to have it. It’s mission critical. It is. And it probably is going to go into this next question as well. So around technology, smartphones, texting screens, all of that can be used for good. Also, it can be really overwhelming for the dad who’s trying to navigate boundaries. Give us some coaching on the side of how you’ve navigated technology.

Well, first off create rules younger. If you try to create rules after the fact, it’s harder. Like our oldest daughter, we didn’t, we didn’t require to plug her phone in downstairs and, until it was too late and then it was taking something away, which is harder than not ever really allowing it to be that big in the first place. And so like, like with video games, we just put like a time rule. Like you can play this long a day and it has to be social, but if you’re independently playing, you can only do it for this long. Or if you have a phone, plug it in by 10 o’clock because we didn’t realize that until later on. And then their friends are texting them at 11:45 and sometimes it would be about homework. Well, I don’t care if it’s about homework. I don’t want you texting your friends when you’re exhausted. Or I don’t want my son on his phone late at night when he’s exhausted, because that’s when temptation sets in or talking about porn early before he even knows what it is. Well, let me actually have to define it for you. And let me talk about like, let me get involved in. And then the problem is, that you have to be in it with them. My kids never got into Facebook, but they were into Snapchat. And so then I had to learn how does Snapchat work? And then I realized how much news is marketed at them through Snapchat? Well, I don’t want to learn Snapchat. I’m lazy as a parent, but I have to. I had to go onto Snapchat and learn how to log a streak with my kids. What are the technologies they’re doing? So my kid got into Roadblocks. Well, I heard that, you know, there’s pedophilia on row. I have to learn roadblocks. I have to learn Minecraft. I have to learn. As a parent, I’m always learning the apps that my kids are watching, learning what are the possible things they could be exposed to through this app? Um, the types of friends in the chats that I, I hate to say it, but you have to, if you just tell you, if you forbid your kids, I had to learn fortnight and then I have to learn call of duty. And when is it not appropriate? What video games are appropriate, what are not appropriate? You know, you hear the rumors about Pokemon, well, let me log hours learning Pokemon. I hate to say it, but as a parent, you have to engage.

Telling people, no, they’re just going to do it behind your back. So instead of doing the denial, a lot of parents actually use rules because they’re lazy. In fact, legalism, it’s lazy parenting. I’m going to forbid my parents or my kids from doing something well, your kids are getting exposed to it secretly at school anyway. Just so my whole thing is, is engage. Like instead of being the forbid parent, be the engaged parent and just talk about it so frequently that you’re creating rules on the go and, you know, learn how to use parental [limits]. You know, you can have your, your kids apps auto shut off after so many hours, you can have their apps, their phone auto shut down at a certain time. And all of it has to be negotiated with each one of my individual kids. Some of my kids didn’t really care about tech. They naturally wanted to be outside. Others of my kids, that was all they wanted. And so, then I would use it as leverage. Well, once you finish your chores, then you can do one hour of social video game time, and only these video games and, or, FaceTiming with friends, we don’t FaceTime after 10:00 PM. And then they would FaceTime how many guys? Well, but, they would do this whole thing where they were all playing a video game with, you know, and there happened to be a girl. And then it happened to be, Oh, you’re secretly dating and you’re not calling it dating, but I know what it is. Let’s just talk about it, you know? Like, and so technology, it’s embracing the tech and then, you know, parenting.

It’s wild. I feel like, I feel like most dads who asked that question about tech thought, there’d be a simple answer. And you were like the professor that just handed a dozen books, and you’re saying, this is a work. This is a journey. This is a massive amount of homework, massive amount of learning. And we cannot be scared off. We have to press in.

Every night I have to flop on my kid’s bed and ask them, what are the top apps you’re looking at? What are the top YouTubers you’re looking at watching? And sometimes it’s none.

And none of us had this model for us, none of us, because we did not have a dad. We were at least maybe some of the younger dads had a dad who was highly engaged. But I mean, my goodness will, this will age me a little bit, but I didn’t get a smartphone until six months after I graduated from college. Okay. So it was a dorm phone, right? It’s a whole new frontier for us.

The problem is that none of these hobbies are natural or native us. Right? And so you do have to be a learner to be a leader. And so, don’t let your kids just do this on their on your own. I actually had to lay down my hobbies in order to be a dad in the golden window. And now my kids are old enough where they’re starting to take on my hobbies. They want to learn how to do music producing. And my oldest daughter wanted to learn DJing. And you know, it’s almost like once your kids are older, they’ll start taking on your hobbies. And I think it’s easier now to be a dad in this season. But back then it was me jumping into whatever new thing they’re doing.

Well, back to these questions, cause I got so many great ones. So the topic of, you know, it’s best case that maybe 10%, 20% of us dads had a dad who put his arm around us and said, let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about the birds and the bees. We are not talking about one conversation here. We are talking about entering a pathway of maybe forever dialogue around sexual purity and around I’m here for you. But coach us on the conversations around pornography, sexual purity, sex, like go a little further into that topic.

Just know that when you first started talking about it, you will feel awkward and just jump headlong into awkward. Okay. It’s like jumping into a cold swimming pool. You just, sometimes you just got to do it. My first conversation with my son was so awkward and I don’t know why I just got… I’m paid to be articulate. I have never gotten more tongue tied in my life. And even I was like, okay, son, have you ever noticed the neighbor’s dogs? I entered into the conversation. I could not have done it worse. And then even my son literally was like, Hey dad, can we just go play catch instead? He even ended the conversation in this first round and I’m like, you’re right. I actually was like, let’s kill this one I’ll approach to this later, we went and played catch. But, you just gotta have the conversation and to the point where my son would even we’d even get really awkward about it. Talking about erections, talking about masturbation, getting him comfortable, we’d call it, feeding the geese. Also known as masturbating. We’d call it. I wanted to give my son a vocabulary. I want to talk about it as often as possible, where, to the point where it got, so not awkward that any given night, my son could come and just talk to me about, Hey dad, tell me about this. Tell me about that. And, and yeah, it ended up becoming a beautiful thing, but, in my wife, I had to kind of nudge my wife to have more of the conversations with our girls and she naturally had it. And so there is a tag teaming, depending on the genders of your kids. There’s a tag team, but it’s talking about it often and reading books together, it’s, you know, like engaging….like Covenant Eyes just came out, getting protection for your child’s devices. I would regularly ask my son, son, have you ever watched, have you ever seen any pornography? And there’s a lot of hidden pornography in YouTubers, is kind of the hardest one to monitor and yet, you know, paying the money for covenant eyes, some of these accountability mechanisms… It’s worth it to protect your kids from it because kids are getting exposed to pornography earlier and earlier and earlier now. And so, just having the conversation.

And then just going back around to the foundations, building a house that metaphor of, can we create a connection, a heart connection with our kids so that they will come to us and it’s safe. And then, but not expecting that. That we’re also pursuing and asking the very directed questions – have you seen anything, etc.

Kids aren’t mature enough to seek out the healthy conversations. And so it’s more like me being intentional, like, actually whenever I’m goal setting every three months, I always have goals with my kids. What are the conversations, impartations, demonstrations I want to have. And so if I happen to know, Oh, there’s a big offering coming up at church. Well, I want to actually talk to my kids about the heart for the house offering. And a lot of times, it’s me just saying, Hey, mom and dad are going to be giving this type of money, or maybe it’s like right now, or around Christmas time, we’re going to buy a present for a foster kid. And I want you to personally sacrifice what are you going to contribute this? And then be a part of the prayer process. This is how we live generously. This is how we sacrifice to the point where like, even my kids were like, my sixth grader took all of their money and bought an iPhone for somebody. Another one of their friends who didn’t have one who had a single parent. And, I couldn’t believe that they actually were going to spend all of their money being that generous.


And, so they’re seizing those moments and having those. So I have these goals with my kids. And so, at any given, you know, right now my goal would be to mentor my daughter’s boyfriend more for one child, or for my son, it’s more just to find, a new video game, cause we lost our common interest. He doesn’t like that video game anymore. Or to find a new sport. There’s always like a new, I need another common interest. And so what am I going to do.

Say quarterly you’re setting these goals?

Absolutely. Because it evolves that fast. Cause they all of a sudden, That common interest disappeared as fast as it appeared.

So before I give you kind of final words and just sharing anything on fatherhood, the last question really came down to a bunch of dads were wondering [about] work-life balance and specifically, you know, dads who own a business, they’re building a business that will bless their family and they’re building a family. And just how to navigate, I mean, the juggling metaphor of glass ball vs rubber ball. But any more advice coaching for this dad who’s building something has the work career and that tension between building their family.

Again, we all cheat to what we can count…you want income. It’s to increase your income and increase your success. But I will say this, no amount of income or success will… you’ll never reach the top and say enough is enough. And I actually think it’s easier to actually spend less. Or just turn, I I’ll say it this way, turn your two year goals into 10 year goals when you are a parent. The window with your kids happens way faster than you think it will. Your kids grow up way faster than you think they will. And now I’m at this point where I have all sorts of extra time now that my kids are, now that I’m launching kids. My oldest is launched. My second one is working all the time.

And it’s really just me and my youngest son. And I have all this extra time to sow into my professional life. You’ll have endless hours to….don’t worry about it. So just embrace being slightly more poor. I actually just told…don’t worry. My kids grew up, my oldest grew up poor. Um, and they don’t miss it. It’s like, who cares? Who cares? Like, don’t try to provide a million opportunities for your kids, just be present. Don’t try to offer your kids the best of everything. My kids were the last to get their phones, the last to get the cool TV. You know, my kids were the poorest of their whole social clique. They don’t regret it. They don’t miss it. They don’t care.

That jumps to Mark 4:18. You shared this in one of your amazing parenting blog posts, which we’ll link in the show notes here, but you were like, Hey, don’t be like the seed among thorns. Here’s the parable of the seed and the sower. They hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke out the word, making it unfruitful.

That’s right. At the end of the day, my main vocation, when my kids are young, it’s hanging out with them from dinner until bedtime and being in church together, finding a ministry together, constantly dragging them into the church. Not because it’s my vocation. But because it’s planted in the house of the Lord will flourish. They have the rest of their lives to do hobbies and get extra stuff. So I always just want to make sure, Hey, let’s live the lifestyle of a family that loves each other right now. And now they’re just welcoming their friends into that family. And I feel like my family just keeps getting bigger. With boyfriends and friends and I’m just mentoring more and more kids and you know, they may not have always had the nicest cars, the nicest house, the nicest…they didn’t have the most opportunities of all their friends, but they definitely can say they have the most fun family. And that’s what I want my kids to be able to say. The desires for other things – there’s always going to be other things.

Yep. We’ve covered a lot of ground here. Our prayer here as a ministry, and this ministry would not exist if it wasn’t for you believing in me. So I’m very, very grateful. Our prayer right back at you is that we would be adding life to the dad life that we would be intentionally adding life to the dad life. Is there any topic we haven’t covered that you wanted to just add or add an exclamation point, around ways that we could be dads who add life to the dad life.

Find dads who are living out your dreams and get around them. Just spend time, seek them out. I think in order to be a good dad, we have to learn how to be a good son and learning sonship requires seeking out good dads on their terms. And like, getting around them, hearing how they think, because, you don’t know even the problems that you’re about to solve, cause every phase of parenting brings new problems. You don’t even know what those things are, but you have to have access to those mentors who can coach you on it. And so again, who’s living out your dreams, what are you doing to earn the right to be around those people? And so, that’s where the church can be such a networking place. And so you don’t even know what you don’t know. But good sonship requires initiative. And so always, always be initiating with somebody new and teach your kids how to initiate. Don’t be one of those people that’s like, Oh, nobody’s available and have the spirit of rejection on you. Always just seek it out because you’ll start learning something new every time you do it.

And I wonder if some of us dads don’t seek it out because we think it’s just for us. It’s just something that I need for me. And if we thought of it attached to these relationships are a blessing that multiply to our kids. I think that it could even frame the initiative being more urgency there, of like, you’ve got to take initiative.

I think community, even if you’re introverted, learn how to get out there and find those people that can be your dad and be a grandparent to your kids.

Well for continued learning, we are going to link about a half a dozen blog posts that you’ve done on. And then we’ll link back to episode 22. So that was when you joined us last time two and a half years ago. A lot of time has passed since then. So thank you for your support, your love for this ministry, launching this ministry. I mean this, again, it would not exist if it wasn’t for you believing in me and in reaching dads far beyond our own church, but also in our church. So we’re so grateful. Would you pray over all of us listening?

Absolutely. Heavenly father. You just, you just want us to be in relationship with you. And I just pray over every, dad out there, whether they feel totally isolated and alone or whether they’re super connected. I just pray that you would bring divine relationships to mind people that they need to pursue. And we want to pursue fatherhood being fathered as well as being good fathers. And I just pray that you’d give everybody, just bring people to mind or bring conversations to mind that we can, that we can take initiative on, Lord. None of us, is a natural at this. We all have to grow in this and yet Lord, if we just pursue you and pursue your plan, I just know that you have so much joy. Lord, I believe the greatest joys in life come from this topic. And I just pray that you would help us have the motivation and the initiative to truly walk this out. Lord, just favor upon every one who’s listening in Jesus’ name. We pray. Amen.


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