This past weekend, our pastor was talking about being a leader, but also about what really breaks your heart, and what can you do about it. This really got me thinking, What really bothers me, what can I do to make a change, in my world/city/office….. Then it finally hit me, as I was on the road again for work, Why is it that as parents, mainly us dads, worry so much about being successful and getting ahead that our kids suffer. It should never be this way.
Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14 NLT)
As parents what are we doing to continually pour into the lives of our kids, not pouring money, but pouring love, encouragement, life lessons, into our children. Today kids are growing up so fast, we are all becoming accustomed to an instant gratification life style. We have smart phones on 24/7, device after device, on our person, in our cars, OnDemand TV, everything is at our beckon call. Many of the generation behind me, the 24 and under crowd, at least many of the ones I have been around, have had life handed to them. Now I’m not saying that I had a rough childhood, but something that was instilled in me by both of my parents, and also my grandparents, was that if you want something, you sure will be working for it. Things were not just handed to you, you did your chores, got your allowance, saved and got those things that you wanted.
Again this trait was mainly pushed on me by my father, and the other male influences in my life. My parents, my in laws, my grandparents are and were very hard workers; that being said, they were always at home for dinner, at every basketball, soccer, baseball game, every school event. Today we see too many parents that say, Oh I will just go to the next one, there is only one first performance, only one first goal…..
Now granted there are times, that a parent cannot be present for these things and I understand that, and I’m not talking about one offs. I’m talking about, working to the point that your kids see you twice a week for an hour when they are going to bed, and in that time you are on your phone/computer/whatever. Pay attention to your kids and family. At the end of the day, another job will come along, but family is forever.
Take a listen to this song from Kirk Franklin
Those that have read my post before know my posts have as much ADD as I do, so back to my original point on this. I have come up with a few should’s and should nots:
Being a working Father Should:
1. Help instill the value of hard work into our children.
2. Provide for our families.
3. Cause us to thank God everyday for all that he provides.
Being a working Father should not:
1. Cause us to miss out on our children’s lives
2. Cause our wives to live as single mothers
3. Stop us from always being present.
4. Make us feel that our family is an obligation.
I want to draw attention to should not #2 for a second. Many people have jobs that take them on the road for days/weeks/months at a time, I was recently on a project that had me away from home 3 days a week for 3 months practically. During this time my wife had a lot of additional responsibility, and it killed me that she was having to tackle our crazy, sweet but crazy, 4 yr old by her self. I did what what I could while I was in town, but it was only a fraction of what needed done. Another great point of this, is an interview I heard about with Jeremy Camp, the Christian musician. In the interview he was asked if it was easier on his wife when he was out on tour, to this he replied that he hoped not. If this was so he was not doing his job well enough when he was home. As dads we need to be co-captains of our team with our wives. We all have shared responsibility, not in the it takes a village sense, but in the it takes a daddy kind of way. Our kids need and deserve to have a dad around, not just present, but truly present and attentive.
Also family, is not an obligation. I’m drawn back to the Tim Allen movie, Jungle 2 Jungle, and the lesson he gives his son about obligations and then later calls his son an obligation. How would you feel if your kids felt obligated to spend time with you? Don’t spend time with your kids and wife just because you have too, get your priorities inline and make sure that your family is the most important thing in your life.
Spend good quality time with your loved ones, don’t be absent in your presence. Your kids should feel comfortable coming to you, knowing that you are listening to them, playing hard with them, cleaning the house with your spouse.
So my challenge to all the other working dads out there: The remainder of January, turn off your cell at 6:30; have family dinner at the dinning room table without distractions at least 2 nights a week; make your kid pee their pants(not really, but play and laugh to the point that they might have to run to the bathroom.); get someone to watch the kids and take your wife out on a date just once before the end of the month; and at least 3 times a week pray and get into God’s word as a family.
Try these things, and leave comments and let me know if it has strengthened your relationships. I also welcome any and all suggestions and criticisms.