This morning I glanced at my schedule for the coming weekend. Four baseball games dominate the landscape, along with a list of household chores and errands longer than any one man should have to face. And these are supposed to be my days off!
The Bible says that children are a reward from the Lord, and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalm 127). I have certainly found that to be true. But I’ve also found that the fuller my quiver gets (I’ve got five beautiful little arrows), the harder it is to find the time to give each child the attention they need and deserve.
Can you relate? If so, here are eight things I do to develop my relationships with my kids, in spite of a hectic schedule.
1. Take one child along on a short trip
Last year I had a speaking engagement in Kamloops, several hours away from my home, and I took my daughter Hannah with me. The time we spent together in the car that day was invaluable, and now she always asks me, “Dad, when are we going to go on a trip together again?” A one or two day trip like this is a great chance for you to connect with one of your kids.
2. Give them nicknames
Each of my kids has a nickname that no one else has. We’ve got Mouse, Bear, Bird and Monkey (a few more and we may start a zoo!). These nicknames tell them, “You know what? You’re special.”
3. Take them on dates
I try to have regular dates with each of my children. Like my wife, they deserve to have my undivided attention every once in awhile. This is more than just letting them come along as I run errands. I build the time around them, doing things they enjoy and just talking together.
4. Ask them questions
What would you do if you had a million dollars? If you could choose to have any superpower, what would you choose? Of all the sports you play, what is your favorite and why? You can learn a lot about your kids, their values and their dreams by asking questions like this.
5. Eat one meal together each day
In our home breakfast is chaos, and by lunchtime we are scattered to the four winds. But as much as possible we try to have dinner as a family. This is our time to reconnect and recharge after a busy day. It’s our chance to celebrate victories, and to help each other through the tough things.
6. Pray together at night
Every night before bed I pray with my kids in their rooms. We pray about their past, their present and their future. We thank God for sending His Son for us. We pray about their current needs and concerns. And we pray together for their future spouses, asking God to cause them to grow in faith and purity.
7. Be available
Our children need to know that they are more important to us than anything else. My kids have permission to call me on my cell phone anytime they need to. My oldest son calls regularly just to say, “Hey Dad! I love you!”
8. Put their activities into your schedule
My Palm Pilot is filled with my kids’ practices and games. I can’t always make it to all of them, but as much as possible I am there to cheer them on. I don’t want to miss their big moments!
The Bible speaks of children as arrows. I picture myself taking aim, pulling back the bow and launching them into the world. The target that they hit depends in large part on the amount that I invest in them today. Does it take effort? Yes. Are there tough choices sometimes? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely.
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