Okay parents, this one’s for you. If you have children or aspirations of parenting we need to talk. As I’ve grown up I’ve experienced fatherhood from two angles. As a child and now as a dad myself. When I became old enough to think about what I’d be like as a father, I started to make certain deals with myself and rules for future behavior. Once I had my own child, I realized that it was a lot harder than I thought it was. I made some severe mistakes and toyed with breaking the promises to myself on what parenthood in my life would be. In stepped Jesus and resurrected my parenthood, husbanding, and personhood all together.
However, even when intentions were set on leading a family with integrity there are certain lies that we as parents sometimes tell ourselves and sell to others that often take us into plans of darkness rather than God honoring family life. The difficulty in these lies that the enemy gets us to agree with is that they often have truth in them.
From mistakes made against me, mistakes ive made and a few successes I’ve had in my short experiences, here are some of the lies that I’ve told myself, come across when talking to Other parents, or that we’re told to me as a child.
Lie #1. I’m working late for them.
This lie is a big one. It is one that many will probably dispute me on. However, I still believe it is one of the most damaging. The truth is as parents we work to put on the table. We will break our backs to provide, as we should. However, many of us who are out there “working late for them” are really working late to get to a higher level. Ambition is the driver and not family welfare. Even when we have often convinced ourselves that it is for the best, we really are looking to provide “the best” this world has to offer. The horrible fact is in denying them time with their parent in order to take better vacations or to give each child their own room, they are gaining this world’s riches and losing heavenly riches. You are denying them yourself. You were selected and ordained as a minister to your family and you’ve chosen to minister to your office instead. I wonder if you asked them what they’d prefer what they would say? I wonder if you’d be humble enough to ask them? I wonder if you’d be wise enough to listen?
Lie #2. This is just a busy time
The truth at the heart of this lie is that at the onset of this situation of busyness it could very well be for just a season. There will be times when you will be busier than ever. That is just how life rolls sometimes. However, if you are not developing or acting out a plan for a return to an acceptable life schedule, then your statement, “this is just a busy time,” is a flat out lie. You are essentially saying that I’m ok with this level of business. Are you? Is your family?
Lie #3. They know I love them, I don’t need to tell them all the time
The truth in this statement is for a time they will know or often simply assume that you love them, because they know you are supposed to, almost as your job. Well. BINGO. It IS your job. And while another truth is definitely that your actions, presence, and concern for them SHOW them that you love them, your words have power. Telling them that they mean more to them than anything is HUGE. Giving them the literal affirmation of their value in your life when aligned with your actions can really be difference makers and are often the words of encouragement that spring them into action when they find themselves astray. Think of the way God’s words of love toward you have made the difference on so many occasions. We serve a show AND tell God. Be that kind of parent.
Lie #4. I’ll have time later
This seems true to a point. Sometimes things can’t be done at the moment that you want. Some things must be planned for later. However, the lie is that the time you spend with your children should rarely be one of those. When you have a choice to spend quality fun or intimate time with your kids, or to spend another hour on that project or another 20 minutes on the phone with a client, understand that the next hour or the next 20 minutes after those activities are not guaranteed. The current age of your child is not a permanent state either. There are no moments in life that can be replayed, except for in regret filled memories. Build memories of joyous times. Trust me when in the presence of their loving smiles, you won’t regret telling the client that you’d need to talk at a better time.
Lie #5. I’ll be there when they need me.
The final one has truth in the fact that you should be there when they need you. Unfortunately, if you find yourself not there often now, then it is a bold faced lie. Why? They need you NOW. As we see in lie #4, there is no guaranteed later. Their needs, the moments of their lives are always now. They live not in the past, nor future but in the present. Do you live in THEIR present?
The bottom line is that despite our desires to provide and accomplish great things, if we are not home we can not provide what they ultimately need more than anything: a parent. We cannot accomplish anything greater in life as a parent than, raising a God-honoring child the best we know how. I am sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard any of this, but now you can be absolutely sure not use that excuse. Why?
Because now you KNOW HOW.
Just BE THERE!
I’m not sure how to exactly word this as a lie we tell ourselves, but as parents, we act as though our children are not allowed to call us out on something. We do need to be more humble as parents. Grace-based parenting. We make mistakes. When we hurt our child’s feelings by our overreacting and the child calls us out, we need to check ourselves, not our child.
That is such a valuable parenting truth. It isn’t a lie and that is appropriate here as well. It is so important for us to model the humility of Christ to our children. Thanks for that reminder!