“I am too tired…”
“Maybe another time.”
“Leave me alone.”
“Your mom and I are talking…”
“I have to work late…”
These are typical answers that we dad’s are famous for using when their children ask them to spend some time with them.
Read me a book dad. “I’m busy.”
Play with me dad. “I am too tired…”
Teach me to ride a bike dad… “Not now.”
Play a game with me dad. “Tomorrow.”
Push me on the swing dad. “Maybe another time.”
Can I tell you about school dad? “Leave me alone.”
Can you help me with my homework? “Go ask your mom.”
I am excited for our date on Friday dad. “I have to work late.”
I get it, trust me. I do it too. Sometimes I just want to crash on the couch and tell my girls to get out of the room. But do you know what your child hears when you never say “OK?” When you rarely show affection? When you rarely give them the time of day?
“You are not worth my time.”
“You are bothering me.”
“You are a pest.”
If Daddy is always doing something and if he can’t ever be interrupted, that sends a very clear message to the child. Perhaps we do not mean it…but whether daddy means it or not, the child will perceive it as, “I don’t have time for you, I don’t love you.”
When we are always out of town on business, or always working late, or so tired when we get home that we are unable to partake in the lives our children…what kind of message do you think that sends? Mom can say, “Daddy loves you very much,” as much as she wants, and she should…but the kids will only believe her for so long. Our kids need us for more than to simply make money, fix things, and engage in our own pursuit of leisure.
The Bible tells us not to provoke our children in a number of ways. In Ephesians 6:1-4 the Apostle Paul tells us:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
When we ignore our children we provoke them.
A child who desires affection and attention from dad but only gets belittled by dad, or gets dad’s “leftovers” or his “I am too tired’s” or nothing at all… that child will eventually seek that attention elsewhere. Perhaps they will act out as teens, perhaps they won’t. But I am not going to take the chance of my girls having “Daddy Issues” when they become young women.
Guys, the criteria for elders and deacons is not just for the elders and deacons; it is for all of us. One of the criterion for elders and deacons is that he must manage his own household well – this is not just about making money and disciplining your kids when they misbehave. It is not just about making sure everyone gets up on time for church on Sunday morning. It is not about making sure everyone is quiet during the worship service. It is not about making a show of how well behaved your kids are to the rest of the congregation. On top of providing financially and spiritually, what it means is that you take care to lovingly discipline, show affection, to engage your wife and your kids at their level, be there for them no matter what.
We’ll always have times where we just don’t want to engage them. When we are burnt out. There will be times when work is busy, when work takes us out of town, but when we are home, we should be home…not on our iPhones, or fixing things in our garages, or ignoring our kids.
I love my kids, I assume you love yours as well. There is an old cliche that says, “Actions speak louder than words.”
I want my kids to know that I love them, so I have to show them.