Right around 5-years ago I became a dad. The nurse handed me this precious little baby girl and I knew that it would all be different from that day forward. My life had changed and all the sudden I felt the pressure to not to drop the ball.
Now She is almost 5-years-old and smarter than I ever imagined a 5-year-old being. She knows me well. To be honest, sometimes its uncomfortable. She doesn’t come with a filter. In fact that’s what a lot of parenting is… introducing a filter.
Just being gut level honest… It’s not easy to introduce a filter and help your kids process life. Most of the time the easy thing to do is to go cut the grass (because its over due and you wonder what your neighbors are thinking about your un-kept yard), or read a book (because you need some quiet time after they have tugged on our arm and said, “Dad” a million times in a row just to get you to look at their newest drawing and act like its the best thing since Michael Angelo), or Watch TV while your kid takes an hour long bath and shrivels up like a prune (because you’ve had a long day dealing with other peoples problems… not to mention your own). Its actually quite easy to just show up, give out a hug, maybe play a token game or two with your kid, talk to your wife, go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow without ever really parenting.
To be completely honest. I don’t always succeed at taking advantage of all the “dad” moments that I could. But I know I need to. I know that I love my kids (no matter how many times they say “dad” in a row while I’m trying to figure out the algebra problems I’ve created in the check book). I know that they need me. I know that I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now living with regrets on how I wasted these formable years because someone else said, “that’s normal” or “that really never messed up my kid.” (After all they aren’t accountable for how I raise my kids).
So we have set some things in place in my family in order to capitalize on these younger years with my daughter. I tuck her in bed most nights and read 1 or 2 stories to her from her Jesus Story Book Bible . We also pray together.
On some Sunday afternoons we are more intentional. We have this 105 picture set of pictures describing events in the Bible. She picks out several pictures and I walk her through the story and how it relates to Jesus and obedience to God. She looks forward to our time on Sundays and its often in this context that we process how the stories tell us about who God is and how we can relate to Him through our decisions.
My favorite part of the week is taking her out for breakfast once a week before school, we call it a Father-Daughter date. The regular scheduled time gives me a solid hour of quality time with her. We do everything from eating pancakes, talking about our her week, sharing ideas on how to color a picture, reading books, to picking up a small gift or surprise for my wife and her mom. Its often in the context of this date that I get opportunities to share about Jesus with folks we meet there.
Its the date days that I really think my daughter gets to see the fullest picture of her dad. There is no topic off limits and she often brings up some great questions. We process life together and I intentionally help unmask the world around her through the lens of scripture. Sometimes we talk to people, sometimes we pray with people, and sometimes we just enjoy pancakes and a good story.
You see, here is what I know. My daughter reads my actions better than my intentions. So it makes sense that I would be intentional about my actions. I say that church is a family event, yet when we get there I am pulled a million different places (as I should be) because I’m on staff at the church. So we arrive together and leave together on purpose (even though it would be more convenient not to). I say I love her, so I am intentional about spending quality and quantity one-on-one time despite having a hectic and busy schedule. I say I love Jesus, so I intentionally help her process her world through the lens of scripture.
I want her to know me. I want her to know that I love her. I want her to know that I am proud of her. I want her to know that as a father I will do what is best for her. Its really not about my good intentions, its about intentionally being a dad. I hope one day she looks back on her childhood and treasures the times we talked over pancakes as much as I do.
What about you? What are some of the things that you are intentional about with your children?