I have been working on a new series. We parents are always teaching, instructing, correcting, disciplining, etc. It is a lot of work. For the last eight years I have been telling my kids to say thank you or to greet adults when being addressed…for eight years I have to remind them everyday…EVERYday.
As parents who had five kids in seven years the #1 question we get as a couple is “HOW DO YOU DO IT?” Whenever they ask this question, their heads move from me and turn to my wife. This series, in part, hopes to reveal how we do it. In short, my wife and I will periodically talk about the things our kids teach us. What do we learn from the kids? This has really helped keep perspective and sanity in our home. It keeps us humble but it does more. It reminds us that parents and parenting does matter. It does have an impact. For my wife and me, it is so hard to see sometimes when we are in the eye of the storm, but seeking answers to this question (What do we learn from our kids?) has made an impact.
I know in my head that parents matter. When I look at my life, it is clear that parents have an influence (good and bad) on their kids. However, as a parent who is extremely busy starting a church and trying to manage the chaos with my wife, we lose sight of this. Below are two stories of how my kids taught and reminded me, that what I do and what I say matters.
Story 1…one day my kids are eating dinner. The girls finish and ask if they can go upstairs and play. My wife says yes. My son is eating furiously like he’s from a third world country and he is sitting in Hometown Buffet for the very first time. My wife tells him to slow down and to not eat so much or his tummy will hurt.
She looks at him and asks, “Why are you eating so much?”
He looks her right in the eyes and says, “Because I wanna be fat like Dada.”
My son worships me. I don’t get it. I am not the best father or person. But he doesn’t care. He wants to wear what I wear and do what I do. This story that my wife shared with me reminded me that they are watching and that what we say and what we do matters.
Story 2…I was having a conversation with my oldest daughter when she was six years old. She was telling me about what she wanted to do when she grew up, how she wanted to be a teacher and a mommy.
Pretending to be sad, I asked her, “Aww, are you gonna get married one day and leave me?”
She said, yes.
I followed that by asking, “What kind of man do you want to marry?”
Not having the full range of words she has today, she said, “I want to marry a daddy-boy.”
Whenever my kids say weird things, I look to my wife for a translation. My wife said, “What she is trying to say is that she wants to marry a boy like you.”
Every dad’s nightmare is that their daughters will marry some fool. Maybe if I want to avoid that I should stop being a fool. Maybe who I am as a man (not just what I teach her directly) will shape and influence who she marries more than my worrying.