I was reminded recently of my experience as a child with model rockets. I recall that the preparation to launch was the most boring part of the process. Trying to get the parachute stuffed into the tube so that it would deploy correctly was tedious as well. The excitement of launching the rocket and watching it go up into the sky was the best part! In a moment of clarity, I saw the parallels between launching a rocket and my role as a father. My goal is to prepare the launchpad from which my children can rocket into their future.
My oldest son turned 14 earlier this year. It is difficult to believe the years have passed so quickly. In many ways, it seems like we just brought him home from the hospital yesterday. In a few short years, we will be launching him out on his own. This is a scary proposition! Will he be ready? What can I do to try and make sure he is prepared? These are among the many questions that lurk in my mind.
Raising children is difficult and challenging. With six children of my own and a seventh on the way, it is a responsibility that weighs on my heart. I would contend that, in a majority of cases, most of the heavy lifting in parenting is done by around age 12. By that age, the foundation for who my child is and my relationship with that child have been established. After this age my wife and I aim to provide course corrections for our children.
As a father I focus on preparing the foundation for a solid launchpad. Here are three tips that come from my own experience:
- Each child is different – so different! God has created each child with a unique personality. It is amazing to see the diversity! This requires that I tune in to how each child is wired. By relating to them in a manner that shows them love, I help strengthen the bond that ties us together.
- It is easy to relate to those who are like me. I will admit that this is an area where I struggle. It doesn’t take much effort for me to connect with the children who share my interests. We naturally enjoy participating in events that bring mutual satisfaction. It takes concerted effort to find areas of common ground with children who are different from me. One key for me is to maintain open and honest lines of communication. This can provide insight into the child’s emotional state.
- Don’t miss the little moments. Children are always clamoring for attention. A few minutes focusing on the object of their affection can go a long way in building a relationship with a child. For me this happens in a few minutes of wrestling or tickling. It might mean I throw around a ball for 10 minutes. Little moments add up over a lifetime. Pass them up now, and I risk never having the opportunity to get them back.
Eventually, all children will be launched into a world that they must confront on their own. Establishing a firm foundation for their launching pad is critical for success.
Question: For those of you who are parents, what tips do you have for me? If you are not a parent, what did you learn from your own upbringing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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