I have learned a number of lessons in 2014. As we close out the year here on 2thesource over the next couple weeks, I’d like to share some of them with you.
Lesson #1: Kids Need Time
I have 4 kids. I only know what 3 of them look like outside the womb, because our 4th baby girl won’t be born for another 9 weeks. Life as a Dad is eventful, to say the least. My girls: Olivia (7), Sophia (5), and Amelia (2) (Viola, coming soon) are a combination of unbridled energy, optimistic fervor, and beautifully animated preciousness.
There is a line of thinking in our world that as a parent quality time is more important that quantity time. I haven’t found this to be true. I have come to believe that in the time department both quality and quantity matter. But quality is a slave to quantity. The more time I spend with my girls, the more present I am in their lives, the stronger our relationship becomes, and the “quality” of our time together grows. When I am less present, spend less time talking, snuggling, laughing, playing, or just being with them, the Daddy-time-tank gets empty in their lives, and it shows.
Here are four (of many) types of time kids need:
1) They need prayer time.
We have tried to build a culture of prayer in our home. We pray with our girls constantly. One of the first coherent words Amelia was able to articulate was “Amen.” She still enunciates it with great care, “Ayyeeee-mennnn.” We pray before school, we pray when someone gets hurt (physically or feelings–which is often), we pray during discipline times, we pray when they are reconciling with each other, we pray at meals, we pray before bed, and sometimes we just pray as we’re doing life. Intentional or unintentional, the goal is to build a culture of prayer where thanking God, talking to God, praising God, and being aware of God’s presence is as regular as anything else.
2) They need meal time.
Yes, children need human food. But they also need meal time. For us, “meal time” is breakfast and dinner. These are meals where we sit down at the kitchen table and eat together. As crazy and unpredictable as it can be with so many little ones, we try to eat together a couple times a day. This helps start and end the day with a quality family time of conversation, and it also helps in the training of manners and building of the intentional culture we want to foster in our home.
3) They need fun time.
Whether it’s a spontaneous dance-party (pretty much a daily occurrence), a “girls night” (when Daddy has an elder meeting) with a movie and popcorn, a project we do together (from Legos to art to working on the house), reading, baking, or walks; times of unstructured fun together are vital. Our girls love things that animate life–something as simple as taking a car ride to look at Christmas lights can cause a wide-eyed, jump up-and-down giggle explosion. It doesn’t take much to make a regular moment a fun moment. I owe Carissa a lot of credit in this area.
4) Most of all, they need you time.
Being present and engaging in quantity time is one of the most important things any parent can do. I think the emphasis on “quality” in our culture has made us miss this. Our kids need us. They need time. They need attention. They need engagement. They need intentionality. They need access. They need you.