We’ve been looking at the father-thing for a while, taken surveys, reviewed stacks of stats, and held interviews, and there are two consistent findings:
- Most men want to be better dads.
- Their most common obstacle is time.
“I want to be a better dad, but I just can’t get everything done!” “I don’t have enough time.” I hear these sentiments often, and I think most men, who are trying to be responsible at the job, with family, and faith can relate. Though fatigue is real and time is limited, being a better dad is not as out of reach as imagined.
Jesus’ coma-like nap in the middle of the lake-storm expose his exhaustion. Rising VERY early in the morning and working into the night reveal a full schedule. Jesus kept a full calendar. But we never hear him say, “I don’t have time or I am too tired.” Instead, He said, “I have accomplished all that you gave me and I haven’t failed on with any person.” Jesus wasn’t a dad, but he found time for his work and his followers. What can we learn?
Jesus exposed us to the secret to his and his father’s success when he said, “What I hear my Father say, I say. What I see my Father do, I do.” In the context of time together, Jesus picked up all he needed to succeed at his mission.
Jesus and His father were close because they were together.
There is a notion that it takes big slices of time to make a difference in a child, or that a $150 night at the ballgame satisfies a kid’s dad-need, but it doesn’t. Earth-shattering events are icing on the cake, not the cake. We should rethink this and opt for more of the mundane rather than the momentous. Our best option is for consistent time together rather than occasional lengthy times. Parent-child relationships benefit more from a consistent twenty-minutes after work each day than from a week of vacation once a year.
Plan A– A simple change that makes a big difference scheduling time for your kids. Like anything else that is important, you must plan for it. Those first twenty minutes after work are your best first-option. Start with a hug. Toss the phones, take the kids aside, or join them where they are. If they are small, take them in hour lap and ask, “What have you done today?” If older, both of you take a comfortable seat somewhere and start with, “Tell me about your day.” Then, listen. Just listen. Ask for clarity if needed. Show interest, and listen.
Plan B- What about those days when you have dinner guests coming or a scheduled school event presses too closely against your Plan-A? The answer is “Plan-B.” For younger children, “Plan-B” happens just before bedtime. Reading or storytelling are great options at an hour when your brain is probably fried and creativity is difficult. Tucking them in, an “I love you,” and a prayer end the day beautifully …. and memorably. For older kids, it means a quick check-in before you crash. “Hey, sorry I missed our time this afternoon, but catch me up, what was the biggest thing in your day today?” Undivided attention and listening open your child’s heart and are the difference between “wishing upon a star” to being one! Parents can create Disney-moments out of Legos-on-the-floor by simply being intentional.
Yes, vacations and the epic journey-type events are awesome, but it is the impromptu conversation and unplanned interaction that become the greatest moments in a child’s life. Sure, kids remember Disneyland’s enchanted phantasy world, but they are shaped by your undivided attention to them on the floor building block castles with Legos, because Disneyland is about the wonder of Disney; time with your child is about the wonder of them. Just as your Father in Heaven impacted his son, you influence your child by what you say and do together every day. You have the time. You can be a better dad. Plan on it.