As a parent, I am careful to be mindful of my children’s responses to my actions/attitude/words on a daily basis.
One thing that I try and pay close attention to is the hearts of my children. Not the bleeding one, but the fragile, emotional one that parents tend to forget about. The one that is ripped and torn when we raise our voice too often. The one that is bruised when a parent cuts a child down or embarrasses them in front of others. The one that gets kicked a little harder every time we say “not this time buddy” or “I know I said that we would do that, but I just can’t right now.”
I’m guilty of that last one a little to often lately. It took my son saying “you always promise and we never do it” for me to catch my mistake and change course.
I caught myself doing damage to my 10 year old’s heart recently. I had been casually saying “sure buddy, we’ll do that” and then not actually scheduling the time to do the activities he so desperately wanted to do. It could be camping, fishing, playing Wii, reading a book; anything. I was letting him down and I finally saw it in his eyes. He didn’t have to say anything. He just looked at me and said, “ok Daddy.” But what his eyes said was, “you let me down.”
His heart was crushed. My heart was crushed. This cannot happen again.
I have to fix this. I have to make restitution for my crime against my son’s heart. I have to make good on my promises and not promise anything I’m not willing to follow through on. This requires commitment, efficiency and consistency. I’ll have to make time in the now to say “YES” and play that board game or go outside and watch him do that awesome trick on his ripstick. I have to plan out that camping trip for just the two of us. I need to be prepared to stop and live in the moments I have with him.
I have to.
Or he won’t ask anymore because he will expect to be let down. The trust will be gone. If that happens, how does he trust me to teach him anything? How does he believe me when I tell him about the important things in life; like Jesus, women, friendship, and manhood?
I must maintain the trust of my son (all of my children) so that I can be an example of faithfulness and trustworthiness. In turn, he will be faithful and trustworthy.
I’ve been setting time aside each week to spend time just with my son. To follow through on the activites and time that are important to him. Either I have planned a time or I take advantage of a moment when he is excited about an activity. This is working well so far. Keep in mind that I have 6 children that I have to give the same personal attention to, so I’m constantly finding moments when I can say “Yes” and give my time to my children.
How is your follow through? Are you saying “Yes” more than you say “No”? Do something this week to set an expectation with your kid(s) and follow through on it. Build trust. Earn trust.