Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day - What My Kids Have Taught Me

Over the years, I've realized that my four children (now almost all grown and out of the house) have taught me more than I ever could have taught them!

I know, I know...they can't help but learn from their parents - a very scary fact! And I'm sure I've taught them lots of things that I didn't intend to.  I hope that by God's grace and their own "smarts" they will overcome the shortcomings of my example (and forgive me!).

I also hope they "caught" some of the important stuff from Kathy Jo and me: faith in God, self-reliance and hard work, respect for others, a healthy patriotism that knows the limits of goverment, and the importance of helping others through giving back when a need arises.

So here's ten things my kids have taught me personally. (I'm sure there are more, and I'm sure you would mention some different stuff!)

1. I've learned that I'm not always right in an argument with my kids. And when I've "won" an argument by simply being the parent, I may later have to apologize. I've learned how to say "I'm sorry" because of this fact.

2. Sometimes "because I said so" is the only answer they need, but other times I need to patiently (that means rationally, in a calm voice) explain why the answer is "no" or "not right now" or whatever.

3. The world will not end because their toys are all over the living room! And they will be all over the living room again tomorrow, no matter how many times they're picked up! Just learn to step over them. (Later this applies to their stuff all over the bathrooms, then in the garage!)

4. They will all be different from each other (having four kids, I have at least good anecdotal evidence for this!). Measure them all by their own strengths, gifts, dreams and opportunities. Be thankful for each one's uniqueness; comparison is a dead-end for you and them.

5. They need a parent, not another friend. They will always have friends - they don't have anyone else who will step up and do the thankless job of being their parents. When their friends let them down, they still need you to be their parents.

6. They will mirror perfectly what you say and do. So be careful.

7. They will call you on your hypocrisy (in word or deed). Again, be careful.

8. They value you and your time, not the stuff you give them. The best times I've ever spent with my kids were not on expensive vacations (don't know if we ever actually went on one of those), but those times when we could all simply be together, whether at home, or in a borrowed pop-up camper (in the rain!) or at Grandpa and Grandma's house. (Those are their best memories, too, according to what they themselves have told me.)

9. They grow up fast. I never believed it when the older folks said that. Now I'm one of the older folks.

10. There's no better "school" than raising kids to help you personally understand the love and grace of God. If you love your kids, and forgive them over and over and over, how much more does the infinite God who created you, them, and this thing called "family" - how much more does God love each one of us? Let that sink into your mind and heart, and you'll be a better parent, and a better person.

I'm sure there's lots more...and I invite you to leave a comment and add to the list!

And have a great Father's Day - just being together!

Stay connected,

Pastor Mike

(This post is dedicated to my four awesome kids, Ann Kathryn, David Robert, Nathan Mark and Jill Kristin. Thank you all for being such great kids. I love you.)