On the heels of the last two Great Dad Tips regarding children who spell LOVE as T-I-M-E, take some time this week to put on your calendar dates with each of your children. One-on-one time is priceless, and it doesn’t have to be something special you do, or expensive, it’s the time together that matters most to your kids.
Richard Halverson was a U.S. Senator from 1981 to 1995. Before that, he was a pastor of a large Presbyterian Church. He once shared that the main regret in his life was not spending enough time at home with his children when they were young. He publicly acknowledged, “I’ll never forget the words of my five-year-old daughter: ‘Daddy, how come you’re hardly ever home with us?’”
One young girl wrote, “My father is a millionaire. He gets paid 100 dollars an hour. If I had a 100 dollars, I would buy an hour of his time.”
I was stunned when I first read Billy Graham’s honest admission in his autobiography, Just As I Am, reflecting on his fathering experience. Graham is an internationally known and respected Christian evangelist. He is credited with the conversion of millions of people to Christianity worldwide. His international speaking ministry took him away from his family on a regular basis, sometimes for long periods of time. Yet among his loyal Christian followers, there is likely a general sense that all sacrificed for this worthy, eternal purpose was worth it. However, Billy Graham vulnerably disclosed:
“This [fathering] is a difficult subject for me to write about, but over the years, the BGEA [Billy Graham Evangelistic Association] and the Team became my second family without my realizing it. Ruth says those of us who were off traveling missed the best part of our lives—enjoying the children as they grew. She is probably right. I was too busy preaching all over the world. Only Ruth and the children can tell what those extended times of separation meant to them. For myself, as I look back, I now know that I came through those years much the poorer both psychologically and emotionally. I missed so much by not being home to see the children grow and develop. The children must carry scars of those separations too.” [i]
I’ve not yet met a man who later in his life said, “I wish I had spent less time with my kids when they were at home and more time at work.” You likely know several, if not many, who have expressed just the opposite regret: “I wish I had spent more time with my children.” We ought to think deeply and honestly about how much time we really do spend with our kids. Perhaps doing so could lead us to make some tough choices so we don’t ever have to make that sad confession.
Schedule dates with your kids. Actually write the dates into your calendar. Remember, great dads shape great kids. Be a great dads today.
[i] From JUST AS I AM: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (San Francisco: HarperCollins Worldwide, 1997) 702.
By the way, one more thing. I recently had an email exchange with a good man who attended one of my workshops. This particular workshop was held at a church. Understandably, several of the men who attended expected more Christian language, Scripture, and encouragement than I gave, given my commitment to reach all fathers, not just religious ones.
Read the blog at this link. Please share your thoughts about this as we all learn together.
To read more from Keith, take a look at his book: