After listening to Ray sit and talk with one of our kids for literally a couple of hours…just talking, talking, talking…I ran across his Father’s Day post from June, and seeing that we have almost doubled our fans since then, decided to run it again as a sort of “back to school” inspirational for dads.
Moms and Dads both have the possibility of influencing our children tremendously. Ray discusses three of these ways (three A’s!) below….I pray that you will find help in it and that you will send it on to other dads who can benefit from learning the power of availability, awareness, and activity with their children.
There are three A’s that I have found in raising seven children ages 11 through 27 over the past two decades—three A’s that can lead to being an A+ dad for your children. (Pardon the “schoolish” expression; I’m not kidding when I say that everything becomes school around the Reishes!)
1. Available—so many of the statistics above point to this factor. Dads, we just need to be available. We need to say no to the good in order to do the best. We need to look at our children’s at home years for what they are—eighteen years or so in which other things must be put on the back burner (if needed) in order to be available for our kids. Here are some ways that I have found to make myself more available for my wife and kids:
a. For little ones—large amounts of time are not needed here—just short snatches and a lot of them—a few minutes after work; stories and kisses at bedtime; start traditions with your children that cause them to realize that you are available for them.
b. Middlers—you be the driver whenever possible and talk, talk, talk. Let them know that you are driving them to their event because the few minutes that you would have in the car with them is worth more to you than something else. (If you started talking when they were “little ones,” talking with you will become second nature to them.)
c. Olders—shooting hoops in the driveway most nights when my son was sixteen to eighteen gave us an opportunity to talk that might otherwise have not been found; make time for these older kids. When my older kids were little, I had a few minutes with each one before bed that we called our “Malachi time”---based on Malachi 4:6 in which the hearts of the father are turned to the children and vice versa. Establishing “Malachi time” twenty years ago has given me relationships with my young adult daughters that I quite possibly would not have had if I hadn’t sought them out when they were toddlers—and continued to be available to them throughout their growing up years.
2. Aware—we fathers need to be much more aware of what is going on in our children’s lives than we do. My wife can read our children like a book. She will often say, “We need to talk to ____ about how he is feeling about ___. I can tell something is a little bit off there and I think he is hurting.” How does she know these things? I have purposed to become a student of my children, so to speak. To be aware of their feelings, their friends, their interests, their influences, their needs, their spiritual condition, and much more. Awareness begins with questions. Asking questions about those areas in which you need to be more aware can lead to many insights that you might otherwise miss. (Also, ask your wife—she’ll know for sure!)
3. Activity—our kids make choices everyday to hang with peers, go to certain events, etc. or spend time with their families. Oftentimes, we have not made ourselves available, so our kids pick friends and outsiders by default. However, we have found that if we want our kids to want to be with us and want to stay home more (thus, affording us more opportunities to influence them in godly ways), we need to provide activities for them that are fun, healthy, family-oriented, and more. In the past ten years, when our older children and middlers were teens, we have purposely spent more money on “activity” with them than we did on other things that many of our peers enjoy. We might not have the nicest vehicles in the neighborhood, and we have a small, extremely modest home; however, our kids know that being with us is the “happening” place. That we will “do” things with them—go to movies, play basketball, swim, attend plays, visit museums, go out for dinner, take walks, and more. As we partake of activities with our children, we have more and more opportunities to see into their hearts and influence it for good.
Obviously, there are many more factors that bring about the A+ father—but some of those do not start with A! And this is a “short,” daily blog (at least that is what I keep telling my wife, the primary author of it!). However, if we would get up tomorrow and purpose to apply these three A’s to our fatherhood, I think we would all reap a harvest of closeness, opportunities for spiritual training, mentoring, and more.
Tomorrow—mega cooking resource reviews and introductions. Thanks for joining us!