Is your family a burden or a blessing?
I want to tell you about two things that happened to me recently. They were totally unrelated until I stopped to think about them.
One Saturday I was going to tackle a minor door repair in our house. I’m no handyman, but this was simple enough that I knew I could handle it. So I went to get my tools.
You know where this is going? That’s right, the tools weren’t where they should have been.
My tools aren’t precious to me or anything, but it’s nice to know where they are when you need them. And it’s frustrating when your kids “borrow” tools and then don’t put them back. Maybe you’ve been there.
Well, it sure was annoying for me, and I was on a mission to find my teenage son. “Hey, Chance! Where’d you leave my tool kit?!”
I admit that I was not using all the patience and calmness that I often encourage dads to show. And when I couldn’t find my son right away, my frustration only grew.
About then my bride Melanie appeared with a sheepish smile. “Sweetheart,” she said. “I used the tools. It’s my fault. I’m sorry.”
There I was, geared up for teaching my son a lesson—and probably giving him a good lecture on being more responsible—and then Melanie really caught me off guard. I told her, “It’s OK,” but I know I was more gruff with her than I should have been.
A few minutes later, I was convicted; I needed to change my attitude—toward my son and my bride.
Just a day or two later, I had a conversation with my good friend Tim. He grew up in very rough circumstances—poor, broken family, and many related disadvantages. But he has overcome that, and today he’s a strong, committed man, husband and father.
Tim was telling me that, in his neighborhood growing up, getting married wasn’t something anyone wanted to do. Sometimes people got in situations where they felt like they had to—but it was more like a burden. And kids? That only added to the burden. Why would you ever do that?
Tim and his wife have been together more than twenty years now, and he told me, “I never thought I’d be married this long. Where I’m from, it just didn’t happen like this.” Best of all, Tim said he is so grateful today for all the blessings that have come his way because of his wife and his three children.
It’s all a matter of perspective. And Tim’s was much better than mine during that missing tool episode.
My ongoing challenge for each of us is, Which outlook do we usually carry around with us as fathers? I’m definitely not proud about how often I talk to my wife and son like they make my life more difficult, instead of treating them like the treasures that they are.
I hope this hits you like it hit me: Dad, don’t take your family for granted—not in the grind of daily life or even when things are difficult. When you take a moment to consider the big picture, they really are worth a little trouble here and there.
Give them your heart, your attention, and your very best efforts as a husband and father. Cut them some slack when they make mistakes or act selfishly, or just when it seems like they’re making your life more difficult.
Like Tim said, they are blessings.
What happens in your family where maybe you could use a bit more patience and understanding? Share your thoughts and experiences with other dads on our Facebook page.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
– Recruit your child’s help for a home fix-it project. Try to teach him/her a skill or two, and make sure it doesn’t take too long.
– Before correcting or lecturing your child about something, check your motivation. Ask yourself, “What’s most important here?”
– Ask for feedback from your wife or someone else who knows you well. How do you come across to people when things aren’t going just right?
– When you’ve messed up, set the right example by going to your family member and saying, “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
– How were marriage and fatherhood viewed in your home growing up? How has it changed through the years? Talk about this with your kids, if they’re old enough to understand.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. We encourage you to help us change the culture of fathering in America by joining the Championship Fathering Team. You can also sign up for Carey’s weekly email tips by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.