My daughter is amazing!
I was thinking about her last evening. She loves children. My daughter, Emilee, has been working as a nanny for three years now. She has served the child care needs of five families; several of them with origins from other cultures. Prior to that and continuing still, she has a vast amount of experience baby-sitting for a score or more families. The families she has worked for love her and ask her back to watch their children.
I know the majority of these families and I know they are very conservative and careful about the care of their children. It speaks volumes to me that they trust my daughter with the little people whom are their most precious people.
Emilee is not just a “monitor” or “guardian”. She is deeply involved with the kids she cares for. She plays with them, she teaches them, she does activities and events with them. But most of all, she genuinely loves them. Children are not easily fooled about the feelings of adults – they can sense when someone really cares about them and the children under my daughter’s care know that she loves and cares about them.
My daughter struggled with a career choice after she graduated from high school. This prompted her to wait a little while before entering college. She had to explore career choices, shadow workers to eliminate options she did not care for, and finally make the hard but ultimately obvious choice: She would continue to work with children as an ESL teacher. What a perfect choice she made!
I am so proud of my daughter, not only for the beautiful young woman she has become, but for the unlimited size of her heart for people and particularly for children. I know that God will use her in great ways for His kingdom!
How much time do you spend with each of your children? Do you ever take inventory of the hours you have dedicated to each child of yours? It can be a convicting activity and if you are like most dads or more specifically if you are like me, it will result in some feelings of guilt. Each one of your children deserve more time than you give them and no one realizes that impact more than you do.
Developing a Plan
Should the guilty feelings lead to paralysis? Should we succumb to the notion that we are too busy and there is nothing we can do about it? Not if we want to be the dad that our heart want us to be. The first step to take is to make a plan. Not a grand plan but a plan that we can succeed with. Begin by picking a simple and fun activity that you can do at home or close to home with each child. Maybe it is taking a son to a batting cage or mini-golf. Maybe it is a simple “date” with your daughter to her favorite fast-food restaurant. Perhaps it is picking out a book that both you and your child will enjoy and taking 10 to 15 minutes every night before there bedtime and reading aloud to them.
Those are some of my ideas, but your own ideas will be the most effective. The important thing is to commit to move from passivity to activity – and you don’t have to be super dad to do that.
Overcoming Our Incorrect Perceptions
I often feel that I have to achieve some lofty goal that my mind has pre-determined I must accomplish in order to be a successful dad. Frankly, that is wrong and will only serve to lead me to a passive outcome of doing nothing. Consistent little things are of great value. They don’t take much of our time, they don’t require much planning and perhaps even less execution, and they make a big impact – especially over time. I don’t discount the occasional “bigger event” planning like a vacation, a ball game out of town, a camping or hiking trip or the like. Kids need to have event milestones in their memories and “big events” are great for that. However, your children will also remember the faithful dad who took time regularly out of his schedule to give of himself to his kids: homework, doing chores together, a simple hug, a short walk, telling jokes, etc. You can add a lot of your own great ideas to the list.
Make a Commitment
Now the idea is planted in your head and heart, great! But it is time for both committment and execution. Do something very simple today and build momentum that will help you continue on and might even pleasantly surprise you child. Don’t let yourself beat yourself up for the past. Make a pledge to yourself and your children to give them your greatest resource – you!
Most dads who care about this sort of thing will agree that being consistent as a Father is a remarkably challenging thing to do. Sprinkle in the fact that grace should always be the mitigating factor, sometimes a dad feels like a yo-yo when dealing with his children. “Sometimes it’s a ‘yes’ and sometimes it’s a ‘no’ ” and to a child it may appear that it all depends upon what mood Dad is in. Unfortunately, mood sometimes plays a part, but even the most even-keeled dad may feel it challenging to make the right decision every time.
Taking a moment to weigh the request from my children for me is an effective way to reduce inconsistency in my response. In addition, removing prejudice to the best of my ability prevents coloring my decision because it came from Child A rather than from Child B. Don’t misunderstand, a child’s history and character, plays a part in the decision, however, a grace-filled response requires me to think carefully about all factors – not just past behavior.
Nevertheless, most dads will stumble at times with consistency. Don’t “beat yourself up”! Get up and keep trying – your children are worth all of your effort, and more!