From time to time, at my full time day job, I have to work a shift that necessitates that I work until 8pm. Obviously, no one would consider this to be an ideal shift, but I have found that there are some benefits to working these hours. When I work this time span, I start at 11am. This means that, in theory, I could sleep in and enjoy a longer morning before heading into my workload for the day. I have kids, though. So, this naturally lends itself to chaos and an early wake time regardless.
Last week, I had a late day and had the opportunity to spend time with my daughter. My son was at school and my wife decided to go on a walk with her friend. I asked her what she wanted to do, and she chose to play with baby dolls and make shadow puppets. We had a great time, and there was a lot of laughter and smiles from both of us. It was so fun, and she led the play time as if she had been planning exactly what she would do if she had alone time with Daddy. Everything was calculated, and the game rules she made were well thought out. I could tell she was in her girly element.
At the end of this play time, Mommy came home and it was time for me to go to work. My little girl hugged my neck and kissed me goodbye. It was a tender moment and I loved the look in her eyes as she focused her attention on me.
To understand the reason why this day was significant, it is important to understand how my daughter has behaved lately. She has experienced behavioral issues and general disobedience. Part of the problem is the fact that she is 3, but there were times that it went beyond a typical 3 year old general disobedience. There has been something missing, and my wife and I have been frustrated because of it.
Before you make assumptions, I want to clear the air and say that I regularly play with my kids, and make it a point to show them a great time (I also discipline them as needed). I can probably admit that I tend to spend a larger quantity of time with my son because of his age and certain things that we do together, but not so much that there is favoritism shown.
This impromptu playdate with my girl brought about a realization in me that I had been hypothesizing for a little while. Her behavior was kind, sweet, and loving for most of the day after I left for work. She obeyed more, and even kept her focus (for the most part).
I realized that she needed me to “fill her tank” from time to time. The times when I have taken her on dates, or focused my attention on her alone has always made a significant difference in her day. Often, she runs on empty, and I have the power and the spiritual obligation to fill her with life and call out the girl she was made to be. I am her closest male connection to God here on Earth. I know that sounds extreme, but I take personal responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of my family, and I am the leader when it comes to helping my kids understand God and His faithfulness in their lives. I don’t take that lightly.
So, it has come to my attention that I need to take more time to fill the spiritual and emotional tanks of my children (also my wife, but that is another blog post for another day). I thank God that I did not wait until they were older to find this out.
My daughter needs me, and I need her. God is growing me through loving her in her own unique way. Her behavior is not perfect, but I can see glimpses of change from time to time.
My princess needs her king.
Bedtime seems to be a place of interesting conversations with my children. On one hand, I love that they enjoy talking with me, on the other hand, sometimes I just want to clock out for the day from being a parent (let’s be honest) so I am ready to tell the story, pray the prayer, and get out. There are times with my son, though, I stick around longer to field any questions he has stored up throughout the day. Often they are whimsical, and other times they are pretty deep. One day, he had questions that I couldn’t easily answer without introducing him to a world that didn’t exist for him as of yet.
This day was one that we had driven a lot around downtown Indianapolis. We had our fun, ate our meals, and came home to pour ourselves into bed. Children, as you know, don’t always feel that sleep is as urgent as we do. My son started the “question machine” and by the nature of the questions, I could tell that I was going to be there a while. The inquiries ranged from the intricacies of the Power Rangers storyline to ones deeper, and more theological in nature. The last question led to an explanation I wanted to avoid.
“Dad, today when we were out, why were people sleeping on the sidewalk”. I wasn’t really understanding what he meant until I thought about our day. He was speaking about the homeless people that we passed. I had the uncomfortable conversation about how there are some people who do not have homes, enough food, or even a family. For my son, this conversation ended in tears, and his heart visibly broke for these people. I felt convicted, because I had been so desensitized to the sight that I didn’t realize he noticed.
At first, I felt horrible that I had never exposed my children to this concept. Then, I realized what happened because I didn’t. My son, was so heartbroken by the sight that he wanted to do something about it. Granted, there could have been a better and more deliberate way I presented the concept to him before this, but the fact that he was sheltered from it caused him to see that there was something not right. I also realized we need to speak about this more in our home.
The same can be said about so many other areas of life. Cursing, sexuality, graphic violence, and addictions…the list could go on. I shelter my children from these things for 2 main reasons. First, because I want to guard their hearts from pollution, and secondly because I want them to enter a world in which they are so thrown off by sin and pain that they recognize that it is not normal or “okay”…thus desiring to make the world better. I want them to be emotionally shattered by injustice so that they develop a holy anger to make things right. Also, I want to be the one (along with my wife) that helps them navigate their feelings in a healthy way when they do encounter the unknown. That way, we can also shelter them from hating those who are different or looking down on those who they don’t understand.
Why have we decided, as a nation, that is is now okay to slowly poison our children’s souls so they are immune to the “real world” when they enter it? Why have we decided it is okay to steal our children’s innocence by forcing them into a life of pain from nearly day one?
Now, I want you to understand my heart. In no way am I judging the methods by which other parents raise their children, because judgement involves condemnation and sentencing. What I am saying is…I want people to know my strategy and passion, so that they can either embrace or disregard based on their own views.
So, my kids are the ones that have never said or heard course language, watched that one show, and who call adults Mr. and Mrs. I understand you are concerned that they may rebel due to strictness, but I will pray on how to handle that if it happens. I have a great support system with my church, family, and friends that will come in handy during this time. Plus, they have free will and their own individual life purposes, but I want to show them it is possible to be a Godly person in private and in public. Parenting is so much more than simply keeping our kids alive until they leave home. It is a process in which we pour ourselves into them and invest in the future of humanity.
That’s my take on it. Take it or leave it.
Love you all.
Tonight, I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. It was so much fun, and while we played we laughed and got to bond in a special way. As I was playing with them, I reflected on my greatest nightmare. Yes…that’s right…..my greatest nightmare. I know that sounds somewhat odd, but to be honest if you have followed this blog for any amount of time you already know I sometimes reflect on things that are unusual. So…my greatest nightmare? Allow me to explain.
8 years ago, a movie came 0ut that I could only watch a couple times. Some considered it somewhat of a dramatic comedy, but when I watch it this film scares me. The movie is called “Click”.
The premise of the story revolves around Adam Sandler’s character, Michael, who discovers a magic remote that controls his surrounding environment. He has the ability to pause, and fast forward time. When he is impatient he simply fast forwards time to a more desirable event. The problem is, this remote saves his preferences and begins to predict when he will use its powers. So, when it senses conflict it will automatically skip “scenes”. In the story, Michael, overuses this feature and finds himself snapping out of a trance nearly 20 years in the future. Michael had been on autopilot this whole time and, as a result, his marriage was over, and he doesn’t recall the childhood of his own kids.
I had a dream a few weeks ago that I woke up and my children were adults. I didn’t recognize them and they were indifferent toward me. It was a nightmare. It took me a long time to fall back asleep.
I desire to soak up this time as much as possible.
You have a lot to do on a regular basis. You have to go to work, finish your degree, save for retirement, and navigate life’s conflicts. If you are not careful…you may skip the most important things that life has to offer. Our desire is to be serious enough to gain credibility and work hard enough to eventually retire, but when can we slow down and be available for those around us? Pray hard that this nightmare doesn’t become your reality.
So…tonight I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. Not only because it was fun…..but I can’t afford to let Satan win.
Here is the deal. I am no parenting expert, and I do not have enough experience to teach a parenting class. This is simply in response to the questions I keep hearing about my philosophy. I seem to get a lot of comments about my son and his behavior that are very positive. This is not meant to shame anyone, but to give you all encouragement and perhaps some new ideas. Ultimately, God gave us our children to lead and to help to equip them to be who He created them to be. So, here are a few things I have observed concerning the behavior of my toddler….using my son as an example.
Over stimulation breeds tantrums
Through a process of elimination, we noticed that the more television our son watches, the worse his behavior. For a while, we would turn the TV on every time he asked to watch a movie and for different shows we knew he liked. When I got home from work, my wife would inform me that he was not listening, throwing things, and yelling a lot. When we strictly limited TV…his behavior got much better. We have also seen this in other instances…when he is over stimulated with so many activities, sounds, and visual input this type of result occurs.
Diet can be a contributing factor to behavior
For my son, we were able to find a link between irritability and gluten. Also, as every parent knows, when a child ingests too much sugar things can get interesting. Too much sugar for a young child can make them unable to concentrate and make them angry.
Quality time improves behavior
This one is hard for me to talk about without getting a little teary-eyed. The fact is…when I put more emphasis on my work, meetings, and time away from home than my time with my kids…behavior worsens. Quality and quantity are important. Enough said here…I am feeling too convicted.
Physical touch can neutralize
Hugs. Wrestling. Etc. Sometimes my son just wants me to embrace him. Sometimes sweaty boy play time cures a lot of issues.
Talk to your child…not in their vicinity.
I read a statistic the other day that said the average parent only spends 9 minutes or seconds (can’t remember which one) a day talking to their child directly with eye contact. There needs to be more of this in my opinion.
Say no….and mean it.
Sometimes I say no just because I like seeing my son whimper…JUST KIDDING. But I do think it is important to say NO, and be consistent with the consequences and follow up. It is a respect issue.
From time to time…make a fool of yourself
I love playing with my toddler…like a toddler would play. With silly thoughts…imagination and made up settings. It is therapeutic for me, and during play time, my son gets to be leader and invite me into his world.
I love being a Daddy.