This week, as we continue our series here on the blog about Jesus-Centered Parenting, I want to talk about a very simple concept that (for some people) is difficult to turn into reality: giving time to your child.
(To all of my non-parent friends – I hope you can still learn something from this post, even if you aren’t a parent yet. But I also want to let you know that we only have one more post in this series. Beginning in November, we’ll shift to the topic of Forgiveness.)
Giving Time in a Time-Sucking Society
Life is SO incredibly busy, especially during the child-rearing days. It seems that the schedule is packed from the moment your child makes his or her appearance from the womb until the day you leave them in a dorm room for their freshman year of college.
So the idea of giving your children more time when life is already so full can seem overwhelming. But let’s consider something…
First, what’s your primary goal in parenting? I hope it isn’t…
- to have your kids like you
- to entertain them everyday
- to make super popular in the neighborhood
- or to push them to be the best student or athlete in the school.
Rather, I believe your aim should be to see godly character developed within your kid, recognizing their unique personality in the process. This will help produce productive citizens who love Jesus deeply. But part of that process of character development is for your kids to see YOUR character development.But in order for them to see God’s work in you, you have to give them time. This means they need to be around you to see you fail and succeed. They need to see you your best moments and mundane moments. And they need to hear you talk about the ways you have grown as a person so they don’t make the same mistakes you made growing up.
All of this takes time. To give this time to your child, you need to do two things:
1. Make time.
You need to let your child know they are a priority in your life. Yes, you have a job, and responsibilities, and even personal moments that will take you away from them. (Making your child a priority doesn’t mean they get your attention 24/7. In fact, giving TOO much time can be just as big of a problem as not giving your child any time.) But they do need to know they occupy a key spot in your affections.
And for that to be vividly portrayed and felt, they need your time. So make the time. Schedule time with them (I actually put it in my calendar) and don’t let anything (other than a family emergency) interrupt that time. Those times could include:
- A weekly “family night” of games, play, and just being together.
- Parent/Child one-on-one dates once a month.
- Reading the Bible or a bedtime story at least 5 days a week.
- Enjoying a meal together at least 4 times a week.
- Taking 30 minutes to play with your child in the activity of their choice.
Anytime you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Let me encourage you to not let your child be the primary recipient of your No. Find ways to let them experience a Yes from you as you say no to everything else.
2. Include them in your time.
Sometimes, you may not be able to say no to something else to give focused time to your kiddos. (That bathroom remodel project isn’t going to finish itself!) But perhaps you could include them in what you are already doing.
- Have them help you with the household chores.
- Let them watch the game on TV with you (just keep the remote handy for inappropriate commercials!)
- Grab one of your kids and have them go shopping with you.
- Let them “workout” with you if possible.
- Bring them along with you when you volunteer somewhere.
Giving time to your kids doesn’t have to mean continually altering your schedule around them. Sometimes, its bringing them into whatever activity you are giving your attention.
God as a Model
I think those two points (Making Time and Including them in your time) are what Father God has done for us through Jesus. The Father made time for us by sending God the Son to be with humanity. And yet, Jesus had a mission, which he invites us into. He both makes the time for us and includes us in what He is already doing.
May you do the same with your kids, no matter what age or stage they are. Make some time for them, and include them in what you are already doing with your time.