Busyness can be the undoing of a family. If we’re not prepared, our schedules can create a division in our household that puts each member at war with one another. But, with a little work and a lot of communication, a hectic calendar can be a friend of the family. Each event, even the ones we didn’t plan for, can be a reminder of what matters most.
I had to take my son to the hospital on Tuesday.
Nothing was wrong with him. It was just a crazy week for my family. Tuesday was my son’s day to play associate pastor. That meant that he had to go with me to visit someone in the hospital. And watch me prepare a sermon. And help me deliver cookies to a widow.
Our schedule was full but at least it was our schedule and not mine. We were together. But it can’t always be like that. Sometimes we have to leave our kids behind. Sometimes we just can’t be there for them.
Growing up, I was determined to always be there for my kids. Once I had kids, I quickly realized that such a goal was impossible to reach. Thankfully, I later realized that this wasn’t such a bad thing. If I’m always there for my kids, I’m most likely doing more harm than good.
Busyness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But if it is to be a friend of the family, a lot of communication is required. There are things that the children of busy parents must hear.
It’s time for you to leave for work. In your daughter’s mind, it’s time for you to sit down and drink invisible tea. Something has to give. You decide to make a date. You promise to drink invisible tea with her after you get home from work. She isn’t exactly thrilled. You feel like the worst parent on the planet.
Relax. You’re not the worst parent on the planet. Just go to a dollar store when school gets out or watch your late local news and you’ll start to feel better about your parenting.
“Later”, as long as it isn’t used too often and assuming that you follow through with your promise, is a good word for your kids to hear. It reminds them of the importance of work. It demonstrates the value of making commitments and keeping those commitments. Perhaps most importantly, it reminds them that they are not God.
Although your kids aren’t God, they still need to be reminded that they are important. And no matter how important your job is, your kids need to be shown that they are more important than your job.
This means taking them to work with you if you can. It means laying down in the floor to wrestle or change a doll’s diapers when you probably should have left 15 minutes ago. Obviously, this can’t happen all the time. But when it does, it teaches your kids a very important lesson. They matter to you. And that’s one of those lessons that is best taught by demonstration rather than lecture.
Your job sure would be easier if you didn’t have a 6-year-old sitting next to you all day asking questions. And think of all of the work you could get done if you didn’t have to drop your daughter off at school by 8 or have your son at practice at 4:30. Go ahead, think about it. Stew over it. Dream about how easy life would be if your kids were grown and out on their own. And then just let the bitterness take over. Before too long, you just might get your wish. Just remember, that’s one of those non-refundable wishes.
There is a better way. Be happy. Tell your kids that you’re glad that you get to take them to school. Instead of showing them how busy you are and what a sacrifice you’re making by waiting in a car line, show them how much fun you have when you are with them.
Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on childhood self-esteem. We design buildings, write books and even preach sermons to tell kids that they matter. The results have been less than stellar. Maybe that’s because, despite all of our spending and talking, our kids still feel like they’re in our way.
If you really care about how your kid feels about himself, show him and let him know that you enjoy being around him.
Most of us have been on the wrong end of broken promises. We know that pain. We vow to never hurt our kids the way that we were hurt. But again, that can sometimes be a vow that is impossible to keep.
All parents, no matter what they tell you in their Facebook statuses, are sinners. We all mess up. We make promises and we break them, leaving us feeling guilty and our kids devastated. That’s when the damage control starts. We blame our schedule. We even blame our kids.
This cycle never works. It only leaves us feeling a little less guilty about our devastated and emotionally scarred children. Rather than healing, we simply conceal the wound with our excuses.
Real healing happens with repentance. It happens when we confess to our kids and to God that we blew it. Not only does this repair any wounds we helped to create, it also gives our children a guide to follow as they deal with their own sins. Taking their sins to their heavenly Father will be much easier for them when they see their earthly mother and father doing the same thing.
Your children know that you’re not perfect. Stop trying to convince them otherwise. Get a grip on the real condition of your heart and just say that you’re sorry.
At the end of every day, there will always be jobs left undone. Loving and guiding our children should never be one of them.