Dads, spend time with your kids one-on-one.

Untitled.jpeg

If you're a husband, I’m assuming you’ve read Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard, (and if you haven’t, you should) and that you understand the need to spend quality time pursuing your spouse. In this post, I want to encourage all dads to pursue your kids too. Leading family devotions are one thing, but personal time with each of your children is equally important. By addressing men, I’m not saying that moms can’t do this as well. And if you're a single parent, these goals are still applicable. Here is what I want to make clear. Husbands and fathers have responsibility before the Lord to care for and cultivate their family (Ephesians 6:4). Here are three goals. 

Know your kids personally.

As you spend time with each of your kids, you'll get to know what they're into. As you listen to them and let them share their heart, you'll get a glimpse into their world. You'll see the way they see the world, and you'll have opportunities to help them see the world through a gospel lens.

I have twins, who probably couldn’t be more different. My daughter is very extroverted, and she loves to be around people. My son is more introverted. If I treat them the same or try to disciple them with the same methods, we'd all end up frustrated. But by spending time with them one on one, I know them personally and have a better shot at being successful with goal number two...

Lead them as individuals.

By knowing them personally, you're better prepared to lead them individually. And you show them what it means to have a personal walk with Jesus. When I spend time one-on-one with my son or daughter, I see and can anticipate where they are currently struggling or how they may struggle in the near future. Then, I can talk with them about or model what it looks like to handle that struggle in a godly way. And that leads them to goal number three... 

Show them how a life of grace works.

More of the Christian life is caught than taught to our kids. So, model spiritual disciplines for your children. Show them what it looks like for you to depend on Christ and his means of grace. In this way, you'll show your kids their own need for Jesus and the free grace he offers.

While we will not do this perfectly all the time, as we are faithful to draw near to each of our children, we can rest in hope that salvation belongs to the Lord. He's chosen to use us as his agents of salvation and for the gospel growth of our kids. Dads, it's an awesome responsibility, but I think you'll find it to be an awesome grace as well. So, ask God for help right now. Then, put some one-on-one times on your calendar. 

Magic, Gregory Porter, and Talking to My Kids about their Future Spouse

Raising kids can be a bit like sailing through a storm. You are so focused on the wind and waves you lose track of where the boat is headed. Most of my time and energy focuses on refereeing fights, making breakfast, and getting them to and from school, sports, and their other activities. It's easy to be distracted from what we're aiming for. It was meaningful to me when I was dating my wife when her dad mentioned to me how he'd been praying for me for years. Someone was praying for me who didn't even know me. So since the time my own children were babies, one question I've had in the back of my mind is what kind of person will they marry? I've been praying for my future son and daughters-in-law too. And I've tried to be proactive about talking to my children about what characteristics they should look for in a future spouse. 

One night, Josie and I were listening to music together. A song, "Rude" by the band Magic, came on the radio, and it sparked one of those conversations. Here are the lyrics:

Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?
Say yes, say yes 'cause I need to know
You say I'll never get your blessing 'til the day I die. "Tough luck, my friend, but the answer is 'No'"

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don't you know I'm human too?
Why you gotta be so rude?
I'm gonna marry her anyway

This particular song annoys me every time I hear it. I hate saying it. We should expect a non-Christian group to represent the world's values. "Rude" is a fun song. At the same time, the message is an influence of which I want my kids to be aware so they can guard their hearts.

“Well Josie, that was an interesting song," I said. "I don’t know about you, but it made me ask a few questions. What do you think is the character of the person asking to marry the girl? Is this how you would like your future boyfriend to ask me to marry you?”

“Dad, you are so weird," answered Josie, clearly embarrassed with an eyeroll added for emphasis, "I don’t know how I want a boyfriend to ask you to marry me. Um, the guy in this song doesn’t sound like he cares about others very much. It sounds like he wants to do his own thing and doesn’t care much for the father.”

"That’s okay," I said laughing, "You don’t need to know how you want someone to talk to me. But I do expect your boyfriend to talk to me first before you get married." Then, I gave her one of those dad eye looks, and I pressed, "So, Josie what do you want your future husband to be like?”

“Come on dad, I don’t know. To be handsome and funny. I want him to love Jesus. He needs to be kind. He has to like dogs!” (She has high standards, and I love it.)

“That's really good! What do you think I am looking for in a future spouse for you? Do you trust your mother and I to speak about your future spouse?”

"Knowing you and mom, the most important thing is that he loves Jesus," Josie replied. "Then, he needs to like the Cardinals.” she added with a giggle.

"Yep and yep."

"I do want you and mom to like him. I do want to know what you think of him," Josie added.

"Yeah, because he is going to need to be something special to have you as his wife. You are a pretty spectacular person." (I wanted her to hear me say that.)

Later on, I put on a song with a similar theme, "Real Good Hands" by Gregory Porter:

Well, maybe you know why I'm here. Your daughter and I have been dating for some time now, and you've always been real, real nice to me. I look at your family pictures and I realise that I want the same thing too. I almost feel like I could call you mummy and daddy.
Really that's what I'm here to talk about.

Mama don't you worry bout your daughter 'cause you're leaving her in real good hands,
I'm a real good man.

“How is the person in this song different from the one in 'Rude'?" I asked.

“He seems nicer. He wants to be part of the family.”

After conversations like these, I usually experience a lot of anxiety. I feel it, because I can't control the future or my children. I press into these conversation and then leave the future with the Lord. Here's how I pray: 

  1. I pray for wisdom in leading my kids to be attracted to a person who treasures Christ. I pray the Lord would grant them wisdom as well.

  2. I pray for my child's future spouse. I pray they would be raised to love Jesus. I pray that love would be evident in their life.

  3. Finally, I pray for my attitude and anxiety.

How about you? Are you engaging your children about who are they going to marry? Are you modeling for your children the type of spouse they should seek? Are you talking to your kids about the type of spouse they should be?