Has your child ever stopped you to make you notice something trivial that you would not normally stop to notice? It’s easy to let the burden of parenthood steal our appreciation for God’s amazing creation. Yet Scripture says that “He has caused his wonders to be remembered” (Psalm 111:4). We will remember—and discover a more spiritual perspective on the mundane side of life—if we only take the time to look. Sometimes our kids will be the ones to lead us there.
Historian David McCullough writes the following:
There is a story that goes with the painting of Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent that hangs in the White House. Sargent, it is said, had been waiting about the mansion for several days, hoping for a chance to see the President and talk to him about doing his portrait, when one morning the two met unexpectedly as Roosevelt was descending the stairway.
When might there be a convenient time for the President to pose for him, Sargent asked.
“Now!” said the President.
So there he is in the painting, standing at the foot of the stairs, his hands on the newel post. It is a great portrait, capturing more of the subtleties of the Roosevelt personality than any ever done of him. And it’s a good story. Moments come and go, the President was telling the painter. Here is the time, seize it, do your best.
What great inspiration for us parents. Now is the time. Seize it. Do your best for your kids.
When John Maxwell had the opportunity to meet with legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who had won 10 national championships while at UCLA, he asked him what he missed most about coaching.
“Practice,” Wooden said. “What you do in practice is going to determine your level of success. I used to tell my players, ‘You have to give 100% everyday. Whatever you don’t give, you can’t make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75% today, you can’t give 125% tomorrow to make up for it.'”
Maybe most of you what you and I do today could fall into the category of ‘practice,’ though we would be more likely to call it preparation: preparing for a meeting, or preparing next Sunday’s message, or preparing for the next big ministry event. Wooden’s words remind us that we don’t have the luxury of coasting through “non-game days” with our kids… each day we must give 100%, even when the day consists only of preparation for tomorrow. [Adapted from Today Matters by John Maxwell.]
Bioengineering expert John Medina had just given a lecture to the National Governor’s Association, and a recognized lawmaker had a pressing question. “What can I do as a parent to help ensure that when my child grows up, recruiters from America’s elite institutions will line up at my door?”
Dr. Medina, a specialist in early brain development fixed his gaze on the man. “Do you want to know, do you really want to know?”
The politician’s eyes showed he could hardly wait for the scientifically informed answer.
“Okay, go home and love your wife.”
Cutting edge brain research increasingly leads us to that conclusion, says Medina, the founding director of Seattle’s Talaris Research Institute. Medina’s new venture teams up scientists and educators in an attempt to transform discoveries about the brain of children into practical tools for parents and teachers.
But does it really matter to a child’s brain if mom and dad are in a loving, married relationship?
“The best evidence we have suggests that one of the best predictors of cognitive success is a really odd thing,” Medina says. “It’s not buying your baby a mobile; it’s not even getting them to speak French by the age of one and a half. It actually has to do with the emotional stability of the home environment.”
How can you focus more on your family? Here are five suggestions:
1. Mom and Dad have a consistent date night alone together at least once a month.
2. Dad has scheduled one-on-one time with each of his children at least once a month.
3. Entire family gathers for dinner at least 3 times a week.
4. Dad texts, e-mails, or calls each of his children at least once a day.
5. A monthly family board game night.
What would you add?
The one constant among all successful parents is time invested. That being said, working second shift when you come home should be every bit as important as your income earning job. Scratch that. Even more important. This is the time you really need to shine and lead with a purpose. As working parents, we work hard both at the office and at home. Do these jobs well, and the payday for both will be well worth it.
There are lots of qualities that matter: character, integrity, stability. But here’s something else to consider and teach your children: look for someone who encourages you and has a positive outlook. It’s hard to have a happy marriage when your partner constantly criticizes you or makes you feel inadequate. Your spouse should be trying to build you up, not tear you down. And, it’s easier to have a happy marriage when you’re with someone who finds hope in situations instead of always seeing the glass half empty. So, look for someone who has a positive attitude about working through the tough spots in your relationship.