As I climbed into bed one Saturday night my wife leaned over to me and said softly, “Could I talk to you about something?” I already had a slight idea of what she was going to say because of the twinge of guilt I had personally inflicted on myself that evening.
I nodded my head without any words. She was gentle but serious as she continued. She said, “I asked Cuylar how his day went today and he said, ‘It was fine, but Dad just typed on his computer all day. Then he ate dinner for like two minutes and then just went back to typing, we hardly got to see him.’ Cuylar was expecting to spend the day with you and instead felt cheated out of that time. I just thought you would like to know. ”
At first I wanted to be defensive and say, “I have to get my writing done some time.” But then I thought about the subject I was writing about and the whole point of my blog. I managed to keep my mouth shut long enough to learn something I thought I already knew.
Cuylar understands, and isn’t disappointed, by the fact that Dad has to go to work throughout the week. In fact, he is very grateful and thanks me for working hard to provide for our family. However Cuylar wants to spend time with me and looks forward to moments, like Saturday, bedtime, or meals, when we can be together. The amazing thing is that he is willing to wait for crossroads moments when our lives overlap and intersect. It is when those crossroads are not honored, that there is a feeling of neglect.
I learned that although I can’t always be with my children and provide constant attention to them, I can honor the crossroads in our lives and give my undivided attention at those times. Being there during the crossroads means the world to our children and can provide opportunities for teaching, relationship growth and just plain fun!
We are all busy. If you are involved in anything outside your own home, you know the feeling of being pulled in several equally demanding directions. It is easy to forget which of these directions is most important and impactful. Both parents and children become involved in multiple extracurricular activities. As a result, the quantity of time together can be significantly diminished. Are we taking the time and opportunities we do have?
Because of the demands placed on our time and energies we have to pay special attention to the times when our paths cross our children’s. If you have ever been to a train yard you have seen the crossroads where two sets of train tracks intersect. With the flick of a switch a train can be put on a very different track than it had previously been on. A simple shift of inches of the track can determine whether the train ends up in Los Angeles or New York City.
We are not always with our children and yet parents are generally the keepers of the crossroads. When parents recognize and tend carefully to the crossroads in children’s lives, our children have increased direction in navigating to their desired destination in life, and we have greater influence in navigating the direction of our relationship with our child.
5 Crossroads parents can carefully guard
1. Morning: Which direction are we going to send our children out the door in the morning? Does each morning start with a smile and “I love you” or do we let hurried carelessness dictate sour words and grimaces? Try starting each day with a thought, devotional or prayer. Plan your mornings and let kind words flow.
2. Meal time: Food brings people together. It’s a time to talk, to listen and to learn. We fill our bellies and our hearts when we eat together at least one meal each day.
3. Events/activities: As children grow they will generally participate in extracurricular activities. These are opportunities to show your support. Attend their sporting events and don’t yell at the referee. Attend their music concert and tell them how much you love to watch them perform.
4. Bedtime: This is a time like no other. This is one of the only times that have no other distractions. Bedtime is a parent’s time to connect and enjoy their child without the world pressing in.
5. Make Time: Simplify! If you have too much going on in the family. Say “no” to something. Take some time back. When we simplify our lives and schedules we create more “crossroads” for course corrections and to just better enjoy the ride.
Paying particular attention to these crossroads can strengthen our relationships with kids and our positive impact in their lives.
After my discussion about my neglect of my Saturday crossroads with my son, the next morning I sat next to them at breakfast and told them I was sorry for not spending time with them the previous day. They were all gracious and forgiving. They all looked at me, smiled and said, “It’s OK Dad, we can play Legos today.” I smiled and stated, “Deal!”
Question: What have been some of the most important “crossroads” in your life or the lives of your children? How did your parents, or how are you taking full advantage of the “crossroads” moments?
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