I remember watching the movie starring the late Richard Pryor, The Toy, where he helps a wealthy man understand that his son doesn’t need toys; he needs his dad.
I heard another story of a man who took his ten-year-old son fishing. He had carved out the day from his never-ending schedule. They caught nothing. He wrote later in his journal, “Spent the day on the lake fishing. Caught nothing. Wasted day.”
Some time later, he spotted his son’s journal beside his bedside. Out of curiosity, he opened it and began to read. He found the day of the fishing trip. It read, “Went fishing with my dad today. We didn’t catch anything. Greatest day ever.”
Parents will often judge their children based on the looks they give. An ugly face, a rolling of the eyes, a clicking of the tongue all speak to us that our kids just don’t want to be where we are. But I have found that they ultimately love the time we make for them.
The movies methodically paint this picture such as National Lampoon’s Vacation series and Robin Williams’ “RV” where the kids are up in arms at the beginning. They don’t want to leave their friends. They dread being away from their video games.
But by the end of the movie, they are laughing together and huddling up to cut through some crisis as a team. At the risk of sounding sappy, I’m a believer! I believe in this fairy tale of a reality! Call me naïve.
Tell me to take my rose-colored glasses off, but I’m sticking to my guns. I believe our kids really long to have our attention, no matter how hardcore their teen years seem to make them.
Parenting Principle #4: TIME IS THE GREATEST GIFT YOU COULD EVER GIVE.
I heard some hard-to-swallow advice from a family counselor as I was doing a little research.
A question came in to Dr. Tim Kimmel, the founder of familymatters.net, to which he gave a stern answer that rocked my world.
The question: My husband and I work very hard to provide for our family but this oftentimes leaves us very tired when we get home. It’s tough to give our children the attention they need. What can we do?
His answer started out sympathetic but then he dropped the bomb. He said that you do your best to get the sleep you need when you sleep, organize your time as best as you can, cut out the fluff that gets in the way of spending time with your kids – remove the distractions – and, ultimately, roll up your sleeves, man up/woman up, and realize that you brought this child into the world or agreed to raise him/her. It’s your responsibility. Now do the right thing.
King David, in the Bible, was pretty much a failure as a father. But late in his life, he finally got his act together and quit putting his job ahead of his kids. He really took Solomon, his son who would succeed him on the throne, under his wing and spent considerable time with him. I love this verse from David’s story.
1 Chronicles 16:43
43 Then all the people returned to their homes, and David turned and went home to bless his own family.
I encourage you to know when to unplug from work and engage your children. One of my challenges as a pastor is, when I’m with my family, to truly be present with them. My wife has had to say to me too many times, “You’re here but you’re not here.” I have talked to dads who feel that they’re giving their kids the best thing they can by working all of the overtime possible, and I know our local companies will give it. College is important. Food and clothing are important. That job is imperative. The Bible says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an infidel. But a balance is in order. What good does all that do if we lose our children in the process? Think about it.
The president of Moody Bible Institute looked up one day in his office and said, “Next.” His secretary ushered in his next appointment. He was surprised to see his 16 year-old daughter walk in and sit down. He said, “What are you doing here?” Her response was, “It’s the only way I could get any of your time.” I have decided that I will not learn this lesson the hard way. Pride yourself in being stubborn and learning lessons that way if you want, but I’m kicking stubbornness to the curb on this one. Time is precious and hard to come by, which is why it’s the most valuable gift you could ever give your family. Mom, Dad, let’s make it happen. Give the gift of time.
Kevin Herrin is the pastor at The Fellowship of Texas City. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.