The last few days, I’ve had the blessing (ok, so sometimes my face may not have said “blessing”) of taking care of our 3 kiddos (5, 3 and 1) while my wife went to the Woman’s Advance at our church (great thing to send your wife to by the way, to get refreshed and recharged – but that’s another post…). It was really nice to have some “down time” with just the kids and I. And it got me thinking.
Sometimes I think we as men, can view life day-to-day, as one big “task list” that needs to be done, in order to feel like we’ve accomplished and “conquered” the day.
What I’m afraid we also tend to do (most times not even realizing it), is put “quality time with the kids” way down at the bottom of that mental list.
We tell ourselves “I’ll get to that when I get all this more important stuff is done” – forgetting that being a DAD to our kids (even if that means just building a Lego castle with your son, or letting your daughter “do your hair” with bows and barettes) is one of the greatest callings God has given us. Spending time with them – not “left over” time, but quality, purposeful, time – is one of our most important jobs as dads.
Our sons are trying as hard as they can to win our approval, even when they mess up. They’re also trying to figure out what it means to be a “man” in today’s world. And you know what that means, they’re looking to DAD. You remember the feeling – always thinking Dad was about the coolest, strongest, best dressed guy you knew. But are we taking the time to really talk to our sons? To encourage them? To show them how to treat women respectfully and with honor? To show them the value of hard work? What it means to be a man of your word? When they show anger towards us or their siblings, do we show them anger back? Or take that chance to take a deep breath ourselves, and help them understand how to work through it, instead of blow up? If we aren’t training our sons up to be men of God, and what it looks like to be a “real man” in God’s eyes, who will?
Or how about our little daughters? You know, the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever laid eyes on? The one that goes around telling everybody she’s “daddy’s princess”. Do we even realize what an impact we have on her little sense of self-confidence? How she’s crying out to us “Dad, do you think I’m beautiful? Do you notice me when I spin around in my dress? Do I have value? Do I measure up?”. We forget the impact we have on our daughters. We need to spend that time with them just cuddling on the couch, asking her about things she’s interested in, taking her on “daddy daughter dates”, telling her she’s beautiful. And do you know why these things are so important? Because if we don’t, she’ll end up finding another boy who will.
I don’t know about you, but when my little girl gets into her teen years, I want her confident in her daddy’s love for her, in feeling valued, in knowing that she can come to me anytime for support, or just to hold her through the tough times. The more we seek to fill this God-given role for our daughters, the less likely they will be to try finding it out from another boy, until the appropriate time when God sends her the mate He’s chosen for her – to take over for me.
Don’t view time with your kids as “optional”. It should be just as important as spending time with your wife. I’m pretty sure when we get to Heaven, and God asks what we did with the children He entrusted to us, it’s not going to go over well if we say “Well, I didn’t spend much time with my kids, but you should see how much landscaping I got done, and how many contracts I closed at work!”. God didn’t call us to have an amazing yard. He called us to train up the children he’s given us.
Our kids just want to see that their dad values them. Over work. Over getting the house clean. Over his golf game or ESPN.
Sometimes it seems like we’re not “training them up” by just playing cars, or doll house, but if we could only see the impact we’re having on them, showing them they matter to us, we’d do it so much more often.
They’ll always be more “stuff” to do. Our kids are only in our care for a short time. We don’t have to be perfect, we just need to be “there”. Don’t short your kids what they desperately need from you – being their DAD.