Everyone no matter where you come from, how much you make or where you live, you have the same thing in common, we all have twenty-four hours in each day. No more no less. The difference comes in where you chose to invest those 1440 minutes. There are so many things that take up our time that are important and much needed. If we were all honest, there are many things that we invest our precious moments on that are a complete waste of time.
Over the past few years, I have done several funerals what I find fascinating is how people invested their lives. There are some who worked their whole lives others invested in hobbies, and still others family was everything. Every time I do a funeral or attend one I ask myself if I am investing my life in what matters most. When talking with people at the end of their lives, I often ask what they regret most; some have no regrets. Of those who have regrets, almost all of them is not spending enough time with family. I think our generation does spend more time with family, but often I find in talking with parents it’s not concentrated devoted time. It’s on the go time; it’s hurried time. There is nothing wrong with on the go time it’s still time, but I find that unhurried time is where life happened, and big questions get asked. It’s in the cracks of near boredom that we dig deep and find the space to discuss what matters most.
If you are a parent and are looking to invest your time where it matters most to get the most bang for your buck, I would urge you to consider the three things I have listed below. These things make a huge difference quickly but more importantly they make a huge difference in the long run. I would like to offer a disclaimer that I am working on these myself. Our family does dinner almost every night mostly because of my amazing wife. We just started doing family worship and we aren’t as consistent as I would like. As far as the cell phone goes, I am trying to disconnect but it’s not easy.
Do you want to be a better parent overnight?
- Eat Dinner Together three times a week – If you read anything from both secular and Christian sources they all agree the single greatest thing you can do to help your kids succeed in life is have dinner around a table as a family on regular basis. The benefits are huge. From increased comprehension, to lower rates of pregnancy and childhood obesity to reduced risk of eating disorders and depression. Kids who eat dinner with their parents are more likely to talk to their parents about things that matter to them. Anne Fishel writhing for The Washington Times says
“This daily mealtime connection is like a seat belt for traveling the potholed road of childhood and adolescence and all its possible risky behaviors.”
Eat dinner with your kids even if you don’t have time to cook. Order in healthy food and share it over a table with conversation.
- Family worship for 15 minutes 4 times a week – I recently read a couple of really short but helpful books: Family Worship by Donald Whitney
and A Neglected Grace by Jason Helopulos
As a kids pastor for nearly 20 years I don’t think there is anything that is as important as families Reading God’s Word, Praying and Singing together. Our format for family worship is simple we aim for 15 min. I read one chapter in the Bible (We are going through Acts right now) then sing one song for the whole month to a Spotify or YouTube video, then close in a prayer of either petition, intercession or thanksgiving. We are just getting started and it much less intimidating than I thought. Getting started is the hardest part.
- Put away your cell phone when you come home from work. – This one I struggle with the most as I am a recovering multitasker. I work hard to be present where I am. I don’t think there is better advice you can give to a parent or a pastor than to be where you are. I want my kids to learn how to talk to people. I want them to know how to address adults. I want my kids to learn how to make eye contact. If you want your kids to succeed in life, teach them how to have a conversation with a human and learn how to read cues from body language and respond appropriately. I know that if I raise kids who are socially intelligent they will excel beyond kids and eventually co-workers who may even be smarter than they are. Give your kids the gift of conversation put away your phone. I’m trying this one is tough but if you need the kick in the pants read Sherry Turkle’s new book Reclaiming Conversation. I just finished it. She focuses on how kids need to recover the lost art of communication that is found through moments where you are alone with yourself. It’s in the ability to communicate face to face that we can be empathetic and truly human. One of my favorite quotes in her book she says “If we don’t teach our kids how to be alone they will only know what it’s like to be lonely” So powerful.
Doing those three things may not make you the parent you wish you where overnight, but it will make you a better parent than you were the day before. To instill the gospel in the heart of your kids, you don’t have to be perfect you don’t have to be a theologian you just have to make the effort to do the small things over time. Is it easy? No. You will have to say no to good things but if you want to look back with no regrets you have to start carving out unhurried time where you focus on one thing. The gospel matters too much, and your kids are to important. Start today.
4 comments On Three Actions to be a Better Parent Overnight.
“It’s in the cracks of near boredom that we dig deep and find the space to discuss what matters most.” What a powerful insight. We think boredom is something to avoid at all costs (and feel guilty for being bored) when can actually be a gateway for meaning.
I am working on helping my kids be bored more often, it’s not as easy as you would think with the all you can eat buffet of entertainment our culture offers us and our kids.
We’re doing good with #1, but #2 and 3. Ouch. My wife just mentioned that we don’t worship together as a family as consistently as we used to, so double ouch. #3 is the worst. Good stuff Sam. Thanks.
I’m with you Joe. Parenting is hard work but the best work.