A link to a blog post from Nathan Bingham was recently posted on our church’s Facebook page. Mindful that some may not have used the opportunity immediately to benefit from reading it (and you know how it is: If you don’t go there immediately, you just never get around to it!), I reproduce it here simply because it is so pertinent, stimulating and useful in our ongoing discussion at BBC regarding parenting.
There’s a crime wave going on in your neighborhood—possibly even in your own home. It’s a crime wave that won’t make it to the nightly news, but not because it isn’t serious, for it scars generations and teaches them to commit the same crime.
Who are the criminals? Absent fathers.
I’m not talking about full-time absent fathers, those never home at all. I hope that’s a rarity. I’m talking about your average dad, the one who commits this crime most mornings, during dinner, and especially during the hour before little ones go to bed.
It’s a crime wave, and I’ve been an offender. You might be one too.
You’re guilty when you skip breakfast with the family to prepare for that early morning meeting [of whatever description], when you’re distant at the dinner table because you’re resolving an issue at work in a long email conversation on your smartphone, and when you forfeit a healthy family night-time ritual because you’ve got something important to do—like write a blog post.
I’ve succumbed. Have you?
I Don’t Have Time! Yes You Do.
Time management is a difficult task for the best of us. It can often seem impossible to give our children and wives the time they deserve. Douglas Wilson, writing to wannabe writers in his book Wordsmithy, offers a healthy reality check to the objection of having no time:
When an extra load develops, try to have it land on you and not on the family. If it has to get done now, then get up at five, and nobody else pays. So if you need to, get up at five, but always try to go home at five. Think of it this way. A 60-hour work week is an honest job and a significant load, but a lot of the problems that come to people who work this much happen because of where those 60 hours are placed. Apportion 40 hours to your regular job, the calling which pays the bills, and then 20 hours for your half-time job of getting a writing career started. It is possible to work those 60 hours and still have lots of time left over for family. A week has a total of 168 hours in it. Sixty hours of work leaves 108, and 8 hours of sleep a night take away another 56 hours, leaving you with 52 hours a week to play tag in the backyard with the kids.
Maybe you have more time than you think? If not, maybe you need to cut back on some of your commitments?
If you’re aware of this sin in your life, repent. It doesn’t please God. After you repent, believe the gospel. Know that Christ was diligent in all His duties where we fail daily. Know that Christ suffered for every scar you’ve left on the hearts of your children. Forgiveness is available. Rejoice in this grace and parent like a forgiven sinner.
#1 Tip to Regularly Give Time to Your Children
Walking by the grace of God, it will now be a daily battle to break this culture-enforced habit. Here’s my #1 tip for you to begin giving time back to your children: Be intentional.
To succeed you’ll need to be intentional. Commit to giving time to your children. Seriously.
Write it in your schedule: Breakfast time? Theirs. Dinner time? Theirs. The hour before bed? Theirs. And if it is their time, then turn off work and the social media world. How? Put your smartphone in airplane mode so you’ll not get notifications from Twitter or emails from the boss. Ban smartphones and iPads from the dinner table.
Remember, the world won’t collapse during this time. Be present in body and in your mind. Stop thinking about work.
If you’re not intentional about keeping boundaries, you’ll likely fail. I fail. Be ruthless in your boundaries, and desperately ask for God’s help to enforce them.
I’m thankful God is a better Father than I’ll ever be. This blog post is what I desperately needed to hear months ago. I’ve written this so I won’t forget. The Lord used a variety of means recently to bring to my attention the severity of my “minor,” but regular, offenses. Please don’t receive this post as a burden to carry. Pray about it. Repent of any failures. Thank your Heavenly Father for Jesus. Then leave work on time tonight rejoicing and ready to give attention to your children who need it.
Nathan W. Bingham is a Christian, technology and social media enthusiast (geek), seminary graduate, and blogger. He serves as Internet Outreach Manager for Ligonier Ministries and is passionate about the relationship between faith, technology, and life.