Most people would agree that life at its longest is brief. It seems like only a short time ago, that I could hear the patter-pitter of little feet around the house, but now both of my children are grown and married. Life is still special, because I get to enjoy my grandchildren and then send them home.
Dear parents, you only get one chance at rearing your children right, and when you look back on those child rearing years, I think you would agree with me, that those years with the children at home pass by quickly. I do not regret for a minute that when my kids were young, even though I am a busy pastor, I spent every available minute I could with them. I would get on the floor and wrestle with them, play games with them, pull them in their wagon, help them on their bikes and attend every school play and ball game that I possibly could.
I’m glad that every summer we would take a family vacation together–nothing expensive, but just time together, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. There are precious memories of my children when they were small, that will be dear to my heart forever.
I believe and have often preached, that one of the most important things you can do for your children is to give them your time and to enjoy being with them. Kids aren’t dumb–they sense when you feel like they’re a bother. They also sense when you genuinely like them and enjoy their company. You communicate your attitude toward them, in part, by little gestures: a warm smile, eye contact, a gentle nudge or hug, a shared laugh.
Just putting down what you’re doing for a minute and giving them your undivided attention says, “You are important to me and I love you, and want to hear what you have to say.” Even though what they want at the moment may not be an important issue, if you express a welcome response, it can open the way for communicating at other times on more important things, such as spiritual values and character issues.
Influence is imparted through time together, genuinely enjoying their company. I see so many parents, even in Christian families, and especially dads, who destroy their relationships with their kids by being perpetually angry. Their only communication toward them seems to be sarcastic remarks, name-calling, and put-downs. I’ve seen people in public places talk to their children in ways that wouldn’t be appropriate for correcting your dog. Then, when the kids rebel as teenagers, the parents shrug their shoulders and say weakly, “It’s just a normal phase they have to go through!”
The Bible commands us to put off such rotten speech, and instead use words that build up others. It tells us to put off anger and to be kind and tender toward one another (Eph. 4:29, 31-32). It specifically tells fathers not to provoke their children to anger, but rather to nurture them in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). In other words, we parents need to confront and deal with our own anger before God if we want to rear our children properly. The only way to do that is to repent of our sin and believe that Jesus died for us and rose again for out justification, and after you are saved, continually submit all of your thoughts, words, and deeds to His lordship (Gal. 5:15-26).
Take some time today, this week, this month, to enjoy your kids while you can. Yes, it’s important that we correct them in love when they are rebellious and misbehave, but it’s also important that we build strong relationships with them by spending time with them and by treating them with love, kindness and consideration. They’re God’s special gifts, entrusted to your care for a few short years, may God enable you to raise them well.