I’m well aware that my influence over my children will drastically change when they move out. With that in mind, I’ve got 8 more years with one and 12 more with the other. I’ve known this for a while now, and have made big changes in my life as a result, but have only recently had it fully sink in.
While I was a full-time musician, I was gone an average of 150 days per year, essentially loosing 40% of the physical influence I had in my family’s life. I know there are ways to influence your family from a distance, but there is certainly no replacement for being in the same room.
Most of us would agree with the benefits of raising children in the 1950’s due to a slower pace of life and fewer distractions. I always tune in when the Andy Griffith Show comes on because it’s such a contrast to what our current situation is. It forces me to analyze my life and compare it to what I see on the screen, in spite of the fact it’s a scripted representation of a false reality.
My mother had a phrase she used when we were growing up that I have borrowed and continue to use today. It’s called “Burning up the streets”. How many times have you found yourself “burning up the streets” with a car full of kids being nothing more than a taxi service that offers drive thru pick-up for the evening meal? On the other hand, how many times have you found yourself saying how nice it is when your family is seated around the table having an uninterrupted family meal? Knowing you long for more quality family time, what can you do to change?
I think we as parents have a hard time dealing with the unknown, as we should.
Have you ever wondered:
- What will my child grow up to be?
- Am I giving them enough opportunities to develop their gifts and talents?
- Am I giving them the material things they “need” so they won’t be deprived?
- Am I helping them to be well rounded so they will grow up to be well adjusted adults?
While visiting Africa on a mission trip with World Vision I noticed most everyone we met was without the sadness so many of us were expecting. This might seem hard to believe knowing what they don’t have, but it forces us to acknowledge what they do have. They have strong relationships.
Imagine for a moment the impact you could have with your children if you would remove one extra-curricular activity per week and dedicate that time to each other. Too often we allow activities and other distractions to rob our family of what is most important. We have to continually question our motives when filling our schedule. Ask yourself why. Why are they taking dance, playing ball, participating in clubs, going to that group, etc…?
The harsh reality is most of our kids only want to casually experience the things we may want them to excel at. The percentage of kids who make it to the Olympics, the NFL, the NBA or the U.S Open is very small. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage them to develop their God given talents, but at what cost? Is it worth sacrificing the intimacy that is grown around the dinner table through countless conversations about their daily life for a few medals and trophies that will one day collect dust in the attic?
May we all live in such a way that we won’t look back with regret when our nest is empty. We’ve got one shot. Let’s make it count.