Spend Time With God
I was at a birthday party last week of a friend with teenage kids. At this particular party, friends and family were given the opportunity to stand and share how this man had impacted their lives. It was pretty cool. The thing that impacted me the most was when two of his teenage kids stood and spoke about their dad. They spoke separately, but said the same thing and it went something like this. ‘Dad, I love that you spend time with the Lord. I love to hear you worship and pray and it encourages us to spend time with the Lord. I know we have gone through many trials, but I know you are trusting in God to lead us.’ They both went on to say, ‘Dad, I know the most important thing to you is that all of us walk with God.’
This family is marked by the joy of the Lord, and I think I now know why. It is not because they have not faced difficulty, but because they get their joy from consistent time with God. As a dad, the best thing that you can do for your family is to have a living vibrant relationship with God. I think it is important that our leadership in the home starts here and we lead by making time with God a priority.
Ask For Forgiveness
This is pretty simple, but often much harder to do in practice. But here it is, when you mess up with one of your kids, ask for forgiveness. A couple of weeks ago, we were leaving town and I overreacted with one of my teenage sons about taking care of the lawn while we were gone. I was over the top and out of line with the way I communicated with him. After this incident, I went to him and asked for forgiveness. I have had to ask for forgiveness for both big and small things… but the cool thing is, this has become a great practice in my life and has helped me tremendously in my relationship with my kids.
Truthfully, I try to be an awesome dad and not blow it, but when I do, I know it is important that I humble myself and ask for forgiveness. For me, this started young- I remember asking my toddlers to forgive me when I wronged them. It is never too early to start this life-giving practice that will greatly impact your family culture.
I watched a video recently that said love is spelled ‘TIME’. Honestly, I have to agree with that. I used to be one of those dads/husbands that would say that I don’t get to spend quantity of time, but I do give them quality time. Truthfully, I was deceived. What I thought was quality was not near as good as it could have been. What I found was the quantity of time-spent lead to lots of incredible quality moments.
A few years ago, I made life adjustments so I could spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. I have not regretted that decision for a minute! In fact, it has been a game changer for our family… although we have less money because of my choices to spend more time with family, our lives are much, much richer in all the right ways.
I think most fathers believe that they are approachable to their kids. But in a survey by a teen magazine called ‘Seventeen’, they found that only 4.1% of teen girls in America felt like they could approach their fathers to discuss a serious problem. This is sad statistic and we as Dads need to do something about it. (I have much to say on this topic, but for the sake of space I am going to be very concise.)
An approachable father listens. Let me take this a step further, an approachable father listens without overreacting and listens with love and not judgment. Control yourself not to correct everything you don’t 100% agree with. Work on building an awesome relationship with them by asking lots of questions, being a great listener and give them words of encouragement. Start when they are toddlers and get on their level often and talk with them. Dad’s-always remember James 1:19- ‘Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry.’
An approachable father understands. Steve Farrar (author of Point Man) says it like this, “Let me put this on the table. Kids who feel consistently misunderstood by their fathers are not going to approach their fathers. They are going to find someone else to talk to.” A Dad who understands or tries to understand will draw their kids in.
Give A Lot Of Encouragement
In life, we need lots of encouragement! The Bible is full of encouragement for us and it directs us to encourage others. When it comes to our kids, we should be FULL of encouragement!
I recently read an article called ‘Why Encouragement Works Better Than Criticism According To Science’. It was a fascinating article on how we do better in life when being encouraged instead of criticized. What happens in the brain when someone is encouraged moves him or her towards greater outcomes while criticism in most cases moved them to more negative outcomes. Surprised? Me neither.
We should be our kid’s #1 encouragers. Often what happens as parents is that we get stuck in a place of criticism, instruction and we overwhelm our kids with a list of to do’s. When our kids are nailing it, we don’t really encourage them because we expect them to nail it. On the other hand, when our kids are not doing so well, we apply the pressure in a negative way hoping to get a better-desired outcome for them. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut… we are not encouraged and therefore, out of the overflow of our heart comes discouragement towards our kids. We need to watch that.
Find ways to encourage you kids. Here are some ideas:
- Look them in the eye today and tell them areas where you see them doing well.
- Thank them for things they have been doing that you may have taken for granted.
- Write them an encouraging note and leave it somewhere they will find it.
- Share with them something that they do that inspires you.
- Take them out for a meal and take time to encourage them.
Make it a daily habit to search for opportunities to encourage your kids. Try to give each of them at least one word of encouragement per day… you will never regret it.