“HOW IMPORTANT AM I TO YOU, DAD?”

“Dad, let’s go back to Hong Kong!”

My daughter who was about 6 year old told me when we were looking at pictures from our trip. I asked her what about Hong Kong she enjoyed. I thought, maybe it’s our time in Ocean Park. Or was it the train ride from station to station? Or it might have been buying her tea set in the night market of Mongkok.

Her reply to my question surprised me. She said that it was when we played “Hook” in our tiny room in Shamrock Hotel. I tried to remember what the game was. It was when we were in the room and she was acting like Wendy from the movie Peter Pan. Her brother Nathan was Peter Pan and you would probably be able to guess who’s the bad guy (Hook) in the game. That would be me.

What I realized was that it wasn’t because of the shopping, nor the amusement park that she wanted to go back to Hong Kong. It was simply because of the time spent together.

When we are available for our children, it gives them a sense of importance. They feel that they are prioritized and loved. To them, love is spelled as T.I.M.E. And this would include ballet recitals, athletic events, meal times, graduation from summer workshops.

On the flip side, when we don’t make ourselves available, we communicate that yes, they are important but other things still come ahead of them. Thus, conveying that they are not THAT important.

That’s the funny thing about the discussion about quality and quantity time. I can’t tell my kids, “Alright, daddy has 15 minutes with you here in Mcdonald’s play place. Let’s make sure this is quality time. C’mon, let’s make this memorable.” It will sound conjured, manufactured and artificial. But quality time springs from quantity time. And I realize this is such a precious commodity these days.

A quick practical application to help us gauge our time with our kids is to ask them straight. “How can I be a better dad? What are things you enjoy? What do you consider fun?” Take notes and do it! There’s really no other way.

I love what Barbara Johnson said,

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow,
you have to be in their lives today.”

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NOTE: This is part 4 of a 4 week series on Capturing Your Child’s Heart.
To read week 1, click here. (Affirmation)
To read week 2, click here. (Acceptance)
To read week 3, click here. (Affection)

This article, week 3 is on Affection.

PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edwardmusiak/

CAPTURING YOUR CHILD’S HEART

 

 

 

This is the first of a 4 week parenting series on the topic of capturing our children’s hearts.

The 4 topics are AFFIRMATION, ACCEPTANCE, AFFECTION and AVAILABILITY.

Let’s start with affirmation.

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I didn’t grow up in a family where we were affirmed. It didn’t help that I grew up in a single parent home. My mom and dad separated when I was 11 months old, right before my first birthday.

Because that was the case, I grew up very insecure , trying to obtain a sense of significance through different means – athletics, friends, academic achievements. I wasn’t very successful in most of them but when I do squeak right in the achievement zone, it was a HUGE thing. And I mean HUGE. At least for me.

This led me to trying to get affirmation from whoever would give me a pat on the back. I became a people pleaser and while I looked humble on the outside, I was very prideful on the inside, trying to celebrate the win quietly. That ugly head of arrogance shows up every so often like that mole in the Whack-A-Mole game in the amusement park.

When I became a Christian, I realized that I was affirmed, loved and rescued not because of what I can do but because of what He has done for me when He sacrificed Himself on the cross. Realizing this truth, after I became a parent, I endeavored to mirror what my Heavenly Father showed me. He affirmed me in spite of me. That’s just who He is, a God of love.

Parenting is never easy but God’s grace is indeed available. It is so easy to catch our kids doing the wrong thing. It actually takes a deliberate effort at times to catch them doing the right thing. On a white wall, it is easy to focus on the small splotch of dirt than appreciate the whole white wall.

We can be specific with our words of affirmation.

“I appreciate you because…”
“I was pleased to see you…”
“Thank you for…”

This may be quite a challenge at the beginning for the uninitiated, but you’ll get used to it in time.

And you can never over encourage your children. I have yet to hear a toddler say, “Daddy, I already too encouraged by your words. Please stop because I don’t need encouragement anymore.” Believe me, go for it. They need to hear it from you.

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: https://www.flickr.com/photos/113543666@N05/13921668330

WHEN A RELATIONSHIP BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE

My wife, Jenn, was reading a book by Leslie Vernick, entitled The Emotionally Destructive Relationship.

Leslie Vernick is a licensed clinical social worker with a private counseling practice. She received her master’s degree at the University of Illinois and has completed postgraduate work in biblical counseling and cognitive therapy.

She shared with me a few thoughts and I thought of sharing it with you.

When we believe we always need a particular someone, we put that person in God’s position in our lives. Replacing God with a person will destroy us. It is possible to put others in God’s position by giving them the power to determine your worth and value. – Leslie Vernick