Parenting

Quantity, not quality: good parenting takes time

In The New Tolerance authors Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler share the way one parent taught his teenage son to see through the worldly messages being presented in pop music. The son was allowed to buy any album he wanted so long as Dad listened to it beforehand.

“If Dad approved not only of the language but of the more subtle messages in the music, fine; if not… Dad would always explain his decisions.”

At one point this father rejected three straight albums, which didn’t leave his son all that happy. And it wasn’t so easy on the dad either; he had to spend a long time listening to some lousy music. Now this was almost 20 years ago, so it took a lot longer than it even would today. Whereas we can read song lyrics online and preview many tracks via YouTube, back then the only way to check out an album was to go to the store, buy it on CD, and take it for a spin.

But this dad was up for it. He knew that by investing “quantity time” with his son – by spending hours slogging through, and talking through, album after album together – he’d help equip his son to know and appreciate what was praiseworthy and to see through what was shameful and unworthy.

The Bible speaks about quantity vs. quality time. Or, rather, it assumes quantity time. In Deut. 11:19 God describe our parenting task – raising up children in the ways of the Lord – as an always and ongoing activity.

“You shall teach [these words of mine] to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Raising up our children in the way they should go is going to take time. And energy too. There are going to be moments when you’ll feel downright exhausted.

But, be encouraged: this is what we supposed to be doing; it’s what we’re called to do. And sure, it can be draining, but let’s not forget how much joy there is in the process too. We get to not only listen to music together but:

  • share meals
  • teach them how to ride a bike and mow the mow the lawn
  • study God’s Word as a family
  • show them how to bake
  • play games together
  • and tell them for the hundredth time to stop picking their nose

This is what we get to do. Tired or not, there is no task more important: God has entrusted us with the care of his covenant children. When we consider we’re going to spend our hours some way or the other, what better investment is there?

Keep at it. Take the time.

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