This week, as we continue our blog series 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 don't have kiddos in your home right now. But I also want to let you know that we only have one more post in this series!)
Life is SO incredibly busy, especially during the child-rearing days. It seems 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…
Rather, I believe your aim should be to see godly character developed within your kid (while still recognizing their unique personality). This will help produce productive citizens who love Jesus deeply. But part of the process of character development in your kids comes through seeing YOUR character development.
In order for kiddos 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 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:
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 much of a problem as not giving your child enough time.) But they need to know they occupy a key spot in your affections.
For that affection to be vividly portrayed and felt, don't rely solely on spontaneous moments together. Schedule time with them (you may have to actually put it on the calendar) and don't let anything (other than an emergency) interrupt that time. Those times could include:
Realize that anytime you say "Yes" to something, you inevitably are saying no to something else. I encourage you to not let your child be the primary recipient of your "No." Instead, find ways to let them experience your "Yes" while you say no to everything else.
Sometimes, you may not be able to say no to something else to give focused time to your kiddos. (That bathroom remodeling project isn't going to finish itself!) But perhaps you could include them in what you are already doing.
Giving time to your kids doesn't have to mean continually altering your schedule around them. Sometimes, it is bringing them into whatever activity you are giving your attention.
I think those two points (Scheduling time and Including them in your time) are what our Heavenly Father has done for us through Jesus. The Father made time for us by sending God the Son (followed by the Holy Spirit) to be with humanity. At the same time, 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.
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