It was 8:30 PM on Wednesday and I was washing the bathrooms. Yes, what else did I have to do other than wash down the bathrooms? Unfortunately, my daughter picked up both Strep and 5th Disease this week and I was washing the bathrooms…again, to prevent the spread of germs. Many children equals many germs.
As I was washing the bathroom, I began to listen in on my husband’s nighttime conversation with Lincoln. They were reading a book that tells Bible stories from a kid’s perspective. It is the same book we read with our two older sons, but their conversation seemed different.
Lincoln was asking about traditions and laws. He wanted to know who were the rulers of the land, why the Israelites thought they needed saving from Rome, and why they rejected Jesus. Philip read one paragraph and then answered three or four of Lincoln’s questions. No wonder story time lasts 30 minutes!
Amazingly, Philip took the time to answer every question. He was patient and listened to Lincoln’s mind spin. This is their routine. No wonder Lincoln doesn’t want me to read to him! I am more like, “Come on, let’s read the story.” I realized in that moment that Philip really is the better bed time person. This truth doesn’t offend me, I just like to point out to Lincoln and Philip that they are missing out by not letting me read. Secretly I am thankful because I just don’t have the patience at 8:30 at night. I am ready to be done with all parenting efforts by 8.
Parenting is not easy. I am a caretaker, a chef, a laundress, a housekeeper, a tutor, a teacher, a coach, a trainer, and a disciplinarian. I can easily get into a routine where I see the task, instead of the child. I am guilty of this so often. My “To-Do” list is a mile long and nowhere on my list does it say, “Intentionally parent and look for opportunities to invest in my relationship with my kids.”
My kids need this. They need to know I want to hear what they have to say. They also need to know how to talk to adults and it is my job to give them practice. There are two places my kids can’t escape my attention and my love…the car and the dinner table.
We try and eat dinner together at night. Tuesday and Wednesday nights are the hardest because we are all traveling at light speed to somewhere different. It seems I am just getting food down their throats before they are running out the door. I still try. We go around the table and ask, “What was the worst part of your day and the best part of your day?” No one gets a pass. I think Lincoln makes stuff up to be funny, but I guess he is just embracing his creativity. His giggles give him away.
In the car, I have a “no electronic” rule if they are riding with me alone. They have to talk. I told them a long time ago that I was not their personal chauffeur, so they needed to have conversations with me. Sometimes I’ll throw in there that their wife will want to talk in the car, so they better get used to it. I don’t ever have to invite Jennifer to talk…she is naturally gifted in this area. I did give my boys an option: If they didn’t want to talk, they can’t sit in the front seat and they have to pay me to drive them around. So of course, they talk.
It is in these moments I get to know my kids and I learn what is going on in their mind and their hearts. I find out who they think is cute, who they played with at recess, and with the older ones, what they learned at school. They have told me things from Health that make me blush, but I act casual because I want them to tell me. Some conversations I don’t ever think I will be ready for. I hang on tightly to my parenting motto of, “Fake it til’ you make it!” Seriously, try it. It goes a long way.
Philip will say, “They don’t talk to me like that.” Really, they do. They just talk to him at bedtime.
Good parenting doesn’t just happen. Good parenting is intentional and it takes work and time. It is going to cost you something because anything worthy of our investment, has the potential to cost us. Our kids are worth it. They are so worth our efforts.
We don’t do things perfectly. Sometimes we slip and make huge mistakes, but because we have invested in our relationships with our kids, they graciously forgive and move on. There isn’t a manual out there. There are millions of books on how to parent…some good and some not so good. There are many people willing to give parenting advice…some good advice and some not so good.
However you choose to raise your children, consider this; be intentional about your relationships. Create traditions and routines that create moments where you can truly get to know your children and have an opportunity to speak encouragement and direction. This takes time. Our kids are worth it.
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.