PARENTING IN THE CITY #8 | Giving kids TIME as a busy Dad
This is a guest post by Dave McDowell, as part of our Parenting in the City series.
‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’ Ephesians 6:4
One of the things I remember RT Kendall saying repeatedly during his time in the pulpit at Westminster Chapel is, “children spell love -T.I.M.E.” I can honestly say that I have sought to apply this teaching and be there for our girls as much as possible.
When I was a child I was born into a pretty poor working class family. By the time my dad reached 25, he was the father of three boys and was bringing in little money. However, my dad had a knack for business which saw him take a gamble, set up in business and launch out into the unknown: a brave and bold move! Within five years we lived in a large house in Suffolk having come from a council house in North London.
My Dad was a success in business but there was an unforeseen cost to that.
I remember in the late 1970’s, my Dad leaving the house before we got up and getting in at six or 7pm at night. He would eat his dinner and then get on the phone (no such thing as email then) until late into the evening. His drive to succeed was awesome and I am proud of him for making something from not very much.
But, we got to see very little of him. Although he was physically present, he didn’t have the time with his children that he would have liked. It’s one thing to “put steam on the table” as Londoners used to say, but that’s not enough for nurturing kids. They need as much input from their parents as the tired, worn out oldies can give! Don’t imagine we didn’t have fun though, we did; we are McDowell’s after all!
Taking a keen interest in what your children like doing, giving them opportunities to try new things and spending quality time as a family really matters. Also emotional contact is crucial as well as physical. On top of that, as Christians, there is the vertical connection to God that should underpin the whole shebang; when I am not busy trying to do it all in my own strength that is!
The prospective parent may have to hang up certain ambitions, set aside certain goals and desires, whether work or recreational, in order to facilitate time with your kids. But the result may well be a rounded, secure and happier child than you would have produced otherwise. I say “may” as there are no guarantees and we are talking about humans here, and humans are sinners at heart. Even my children are human…
My Dad provided excellent opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. He had the best intentions and for the most part was and is a good Dad. You may have good intentions when thinking about embarking on a new venture or even building your own empire but ask yourself this question; “am I doing this for them or for me?”
So that’s why I am driven to be “all there” for my family. I make no apologies for it. I am not making amends for the past, I am hopefully learning from the past. I have seen my older brother be all there for his children and he’s done a great job. If you’d have known either of us prior to our conversion you would have laughed at the notion of us being parents. But I guess God brings order from chaos!
I certainly make mistakes, believe me. I have at times, been very foolish and my girls have seen the glaringly obvious faults that are mine alone. But God is still God and He is always faithful.