In my last blog, I spoke about a man’s desire for his house to be a “haven” and a wife’s desire for her husband to be a good father to her children.
This issue of fathering has a profound impact on the marital relationship for two powerful reasons. First, the well-being of your children plays a key role in reducing the stress on your relationship. The healthier the kids, the less problems the couple will need to solve.
Fathers, let me ask you some questions. How emotionally healthy are your kids? Do your kids feel emotionally connected to you? Especially your daughters, do they feel as though you not only love them, but that you “like them” too? Would they say that they have enough “daddy time” to fill their emotional tanks? Do you know what their top three prayer requests are in their life right at this moment?
Long before I read Harley’s book (His Needs, Her Needs) and his suggestion that fathers spend 15 hours per week with their children, I undertook to find out how much my children needed me in order to fill their emotional tanks. For about 1 month, I watched their behavior when I spent a certain amount of time with them and when I didn’t spend that time. And, I concluded that my three children needed 45 minutes per day per child in order for them to have their love tanks filled up. Interesting, because that works out to 15.75 hours per week (I guess I am just a tad crazier than Harley with his recommendations!).
When I spend time with the kids these days (and mine are older, 15, 13, & 9), I seek to do three things every day: Play with them, understand their emotional needs (by asking them daily), and seek God’s wisdom in how I can best help them face the giants they are facing every day in their lives.
I know, I hear you fathers — it means I don’t get to play myself as much — no men’s softball league, little Flyers and Phillies, no more golf, no bowling leagues, etc. But, I get a much greater reward – emotionally healthy kids, less stress in my marriage, and an amazing sense of accomplishment. As the Midas commercial says, “you can pay me now, or pay me later”. You can either put the time in now, do it right, and reap the rewards….or, skimp on your time now, and pay the penalty later with emotionally unhealthy children making unhealthy life choices.
My time spent as a father to the kids also has a second profound impact on the marriage — it truly blesses my wife. You see, for a couple hours each day, my wife doesn’t need to focus on the kids. She can focus on other things on her own “to do list”, which in the end gives her more energy for me and for her.
As I write this, a tear is flowing down my cheek. Because, you see, unlike SO MANY kids growing up, I had the honor and privilege of being loved by a dad who spent quality time with me. He was all over my life in those day, and now, his imprint is all over my life. He showed what it meant to humble yourself so that others might be blessed (and so that you might blessed in return). And, if you have reaped any benefit from any of my blogs or my ministry, then part of your thanks needs to go to my dad because God only knows where I’d be without his quality time in my life.
If you are looking for ideas on how to find more time for your kids or how to spend the time you have with them more productively, give me a shout. I’ve been there, and doing that!
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