What Your Kids Want Most
Do you know what your kids really want? If they could have anything at all, do you know what they would choose? Depending on your child’s age, various things may have just come to mind—Hot Wheels, a new bike, roller blades, Legos, a doll house, a video game, or a new car (for all those parents of sixteen-year olds). However, none of those are the correct answer.
So, what is it that they really want? The answer can’t be purchased at a store or online at Amazon or eBay!
What do they really want? Your time!
I once heard a preacher say,
For children, you spell ‘love’ like this: T-I-M-E.
I believe he was absolutely right.
This truth was brought home to me this past week. We were leaving the Sunday evening service of our church, and my wife told me that our oldest son, Titus, had been invited to a birthday party of one of his good buddies and classmates in the second grade. This is a good boy in our church and school who Titus enjoys playing with. She asked him if he would like to go, expecting him to jump at the chance. However, he responded that he didn’t want to go. My wife was surprised and asked him why. He said, “Because it’s Thursday, and I want to be with Daddy.” As she relayed this story to me, my heart soared. I filled with pride and joy. No sweeter words could have been spoken. My son was choosing time with Dad over time with his friends. I was also shocked, but it caused me to realize how much he values and treasures the time we spend together. He was passing up water balloons, cupcakes, ice cream, party favors, and a jump house for a day with Dad.
Thursday is my “day off” each week. Sometimes, throughout the year, ministry will get busy, and I am not able to take an entire Thursday off. We may be preparing for a conference, the high school basketball team I coach might have practices and games, and other events will come up throughout the year. However, during the summer, I do my very best to protect these Thursdays and make each one a special day of family fun together. We go on bike rides, play at the park, run errands, feed the ducks, enjoy a family barbecue, go swimming, go to our favorite donut shop, go out to a special restaurant, grab an ice cream cone, and enjoy other fun, summer activities (By the way, we don’t do all of these things every Thursday. That would be a really action-packed Thursday!). It made me feel good to know that the investment of time that I have made and the weekly tradition we have created was noticed by my son and meant something to him.
That Thursday, the day of the party that Titus did not attend, we spent the entire day together, going on a bike ride, eating corn dogs, and enjoying our “backyard” resort with an inflatable waterslide and little pool. It was one of our last Thursdays of the summer, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I had planned to attend a seminar with a couple of other men on our staff that evening. This had been planned for awhile. When my daughter found out I would be leaving, she said, “Awe, why do you have to go? This doesn’t seem like a real Thursday. You’re not going to be with us the whole day.” Titus asked, “Why couldn’t you go to that seminar on Wednesday or Friday, instead?” He wanted me to handle my Thursday schedule just like he had done with his friend’s party. And, before my youngest son, T.J., went to bed, he began to cry. Tiffany asked him what was wrong. He said, “I wanted to spend the whole day with Daddy.” All three of my children expressed it differently, but all three of them were communicating the same heartfelt need—their desire to spend time with “Daddy.” They were expressing how much they love our family time together.
These interactions with my children reaffirmed my belief that my children really do need quality AND quantity time with me. It refocused my determination to carve that family time out of my sometimes-hectic schedule. It caused me to rededicate myself to being the best father I can be, never neglecting the most important gifts I have been given.
If God has given you children in your home, may I encourage you with these thoughts?
They will be gone before you realize it.
Very often, people at church will tell me, “Enjoy your children. They’ll be gone before you know it!” You know who usually says that? People who have already completed their child-rearing journey. They have wisdom that I don’t have, and they are trying to let me know how important it is that I spend time with my children while I have them. They realize that these days pass too quickly and time spent with family is never time wasted.
The work you don’t finish today will be waiting for you tomorrow (and the world probably won’t end because you didn’t finish it).
I am not encouraging you to be a lazy employee who can’t be counted on to finish important tasks. However, if you’re like most people, there will always be more work to do than time in the day to do it. At some point, you need to shut down the computer, turn off the office light, and head home to play with your kids! No matter what you do for a living, there is nothing more important than the nurturing and training of the eternal souls that God has entrusted to your care. Don’t lose focus on the true priorities of life.
The way life usually works: When your kids are young and want to spend time with you, you are busy trying to build a career and don’t have time for them. Then, when you are a little older, wiser, and more established, you want to spend time with them, but they have found other interests and don’t have time for you. Take time for your child TODAY!
Determine to give your children time EVERY day and EVERY week.
Unless you are traveling on business, you should be sure to spend time with your children every single day. Then, as you plan each week, plan a large block of one day or an entire day where your family gets your undivided attention–no conference calls, no e-mails to answer, no distractions—just hours of time with the most important people in your life. This is probably the most important appointment on your calendar each week.
Make family time fun!
As Christians, sometimes I think we convince ourselves that the more serious we are, the more spiritual we are. If we are having fun, we must be doing something wrong. A Christian home should be a happy, joyful place. There is nothing wrong with fun, laughter, and creating lifelong memories together. If you were a child, would you want to live in your home? Make home a place that your children love–a haven where they long to be with people that they love to be with. That is God’s plan for the family. Your immediate family should be your best friends on earth.
When it’s all said and done, your kids don’t really care how much money you spend on them. They care how much time you spend with them.
They can do without a whole lot of “things” that they may think they need or want. However, they can’t do without one thing—a deep relationship with you built through countless hours together.
So, what do your children want most? Your time.
Well, it’s 7:20 p.m., and I haven’t seen my family all day. Time to stop typing and go practice what I’m preaching.
A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, or how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.