As we prepare to usher in a new year, I look at it as an opportunity to raise the bar in my quest to be the best dad I can be for my kids. I’m also reminded that my time to pour into my kids is limited to a few precious decades. Not to say I can’t still build into my older children. However, it’s the first two decades that lay the foundation for life. By God’s grace, if we can help influence and shape these formative years–our children will have a great launching point as they prepare to build their own lives and families apart from us.
Here are 7 Ways I want to be more intentional with my kids this year…7 Ways to say “I love you” in a manner that will make a difference in their lives:
1. Spend time in God’s Word together.
In a world filled with lies, it’s imperative that our children put on this critical piece of God’s armor. It truly is a lamp for their feet and a light for their path. As a father, anchoring my kids to God’s truth is only second to knowing their Savior, Jesus Christ.
My goal this year is to share one verse during our family meals–I’ll likely start in the book of Romans. I’m choosing only one verse to afford some time to ask questions and to hear from my kids. In order to lead them well, I need to know where their hearts are.
2. Show my kids what it means to be a man of God.
Our children will likely follow where we’ve been and head in the direction we’re going. Our kids are watching us and learning with every word we speak and action we take. What’s your life teaching them?
This year I especially want to spend some one-on-one time with my sons and daughters. I want my daughters to know how a man of God should treat them, and I want my sons to know, without question, how a man should behave toward a woman. A day seldom goes by that we don’t hear about another man and his mistreatment toward women. As a man of God, I need to help set the standard for my sons and daughters.
My goal this year is to have a monthly “date with dad” that shows them what a man of God looks like–by word and action.
3. Speak words of affirmation.
Our children desperately need to hear our words of affirmation, i.e. praising them for who God made them and their efforts when they do their best. This is not to say, we shower our admiration when it’s not deserved. Yet, when our kids are working hard and doing their best, they need to know that we are proud of them. Even the business world knows this truth...from a Harvard Business Review article, “Only positive feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they’re doing well, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity” (The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio, hbr.org).
If my child is doing his or her best, I need to make sure they’re hearing from me–“Way to go…That’s awesome…I’m so proud of you!”
4. Enjoy each of their unique gifts and passions.
God created each of our children with unique gifts and passions. As a dad, one of my top jobs is to help cultivate those God-given gifts in each of my children. Too often, I can get caught up in treating all my kids as if they’re exactly the same.
My goal this year is to pay more attention to their God-given uniqueness and do my best to let them shine as God designed.
5. Devote one night a week to a “Family Fun Night.”
Life will be tough at times, and our kids need to have some God-glorifying fun every so often. Whether it’s a game night or spending some downtime with another family, I want my children to know the joy of spending time together with family and friends.
6. Spend more dedicated time praying for them.
I’m humbled when I read about prayer warriors, like the Dobsons. I know that Dr. Dobson and Shirley spent literally years of their lives on their knees for their kids. How often do you pray for your kids? As a dad, I want to commit to praying more for my children.
My personal goal is to devote a block of time each day for my kids. I also want to be intentional with my prayers. This means I need to be engaging their hearts and minds daily.
7. Love their mother.
This one seems to always make my list when it comes to being a better dad. There’s a reason for this. I’ve seen first-hand the countless families that are torn apart due to the waywardness of one man. While God’s healing grace can help mend the brokenness, there will always be scars.
As a married man of God, it’s my highest calling to love my wife as Christ loved His church. I know that my pursuit of this goal will be imperfect. Yet, if my eyes are on Christ–my eyes will also stay focused on my wife, and this is where they need to be.
With the new year, comes an opportunity for every man of God: To re-commit our lives to Christ, to our wives and to our children.