How to Hang Out with Your Kids (so they want you around!)

Baseball 280x200Question:  How do you know someone or something is a priority?

Answer:  By looking at how we spend our time, money, and energy.

When I applied this to my kids I realized how intentional I’d need to be to make them a priority in my life. Busyness quickly eats my time, money, and energy; so I decided to apply Phil 2:4 “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

Here is how I applied that verse practically through each stage with my kids.

When they were young:

  • I found that they loved games so I played with them. I did not grow up in a games’ family so this took more effort for me. I know you games people don’t get that, but I spent my childhood playing hockey and football so to sit and play games took some adjusting.  I adjusted.
  • Because they loved stories, I read to them. My wife and I would search for really intriguing books that reflected our values; I became the reader, “You can’t stop now Dad. One more chapter!” were the words I loved to hear.

As they got older:

  • I found they loved certain activities so I got involved. When they got interested in softball I wanted to be there so I started coaching them. No, I did not know a lot about the rules nor how to coach but my desire to be close to my daughters fueled my learning. We went to hockey games, band concerts, movies, whatever they found to be fun. I also became their driving instructor. Was it fun? Not the “almost driving off the road” part. I found that the activity was not always my idea of fun, but the time together was great.
  • I found they loved their friends so we got to know them and their parents. Not just hanging out at our place but taking an interest in these families. This one my daughter just mentioned to me this morning. To her this was very important and she loved it.

Now as adults, plus a son-in-law:

  • I found I needed to be reminded, now that the noisy reminders of youth are gone, so I put them in my ‘to do’s’: every week they ‘pop up’ automatically. When they ‘pop up’ I pray for them, text them, or with our younger daughter who is close by try to include her in what I am working on. I want her input but also want to invest into her life as an adult.
  • I found that ‘bribery’ always worked so I ‘bought’ their time! One Christmas when asked what I wanted I came up with what I felt was creatively selfish. I didn’t need stuff but I wanted time with them; so I made a list and let them select the activities for us to do together one on one. They picked – I paid. It was well worth the price to get them to hang out with their dad. I loved it!

Fatherhood isn’t easy. I make a lot of mistakes and believe me asking their forgiveness is a blow to my ego, but fatherhood sure is rewarding! I love my three kids. I love to have them ask for my input or to tell me their ideas and plans. Talking for over an hour on the phone regarding an upcoming presentation, having my daughter work alongside me for an upcoming event or playing hockey with my son-in-law are all rewards of having amazing kids that I love hanging out with.

So, here is my Phil 2:4 challenge:  Based on what your kids are interested in how will you get involved?  How will you spend your time, money, and energy?

Written by Neal Black

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