Thursday, June 24, 2010

Let's Make a Deal

If someone offered you the opportunity to stay the same age, and never grow older, you’d take it, right? No strings attached, no selling your soul to the devil, no caveat. Just accept this offer, and no more. I would!

But, for some reason, my kids won’t accept this deal. Every so often, Amy and I will say the following to our now 10 and 6-year old sons: “No getting bigger or older, OK? Just stay this size and age forever. Is that a deal?”

They don’t even consider it. They immediately shoot this idea down! They’re in a hurry to grow up, while we (adults) are desperately swimming upstream against the painfully swift current of time.

Father’s Day has just passed, and as I think about being a dad, I am overjoyed. I never knew exactly how fulfilling a role that Fatherhood would play in my life. And, I never knew how quickly the days, weeks, and years would fly by. It’s moments like these when I have to take a big breath and try not to think about what life will be like without my boys in the house every day. Deep breath.

I understand that my kids are “only” 10 and 6, and that I have several years to go before they are out of the house. But, that is little consolation when I can already see so much in the rearview mirror. After next year, one of them will be in middle school. Yikes!

There’s a laundry list of things I get to do with my kids that will vanish in the years to come: reading bedtime stories, kneeling and saying prayers together before turning out the light, practices and games at the ballpark, homework and school projects, shooting hoops in the driveway, playing on the playground, hearing that lovable “kid laughter” throughout the house when they are playing nice together, Disney World vacations (OK, maybe not Disney – we’ll never outgrow that!).

And, with each day that passes that list grows longer, and my time with them becomes even briefer. So, what can I do about it? How can I preserve this time and squeeze out every last drop? Simple: I continue being their dad.

What I mean is this: instead of lamenting the fact that they are growing up too fast, I continue to do what I have been doing. Some parents get to a point where they cease being their kids’ parents and try too hard to become their “friends.” They ease off the brakes and allow their kids to hit the accelerator. “I don’t want my kids to grow up hating me,” some parents say to themselves. So, they do the very thing that will result in their kids losing respect for them – they stop parenting.

I remember hearing some sage advice several years ago from a guy at our church. His sons and daughter are now in their late 20’s and early 30’s, but as he reflected back on his life, he made this comment: “I made the decision to be their parent and to make tough choices and to discipline them when they were young, so I could be their friend when they got older.”

So, that is what I will do. I will cherish these precious moments, but I will be relentless in my role as “Dad” to disciple them, lead them, encourage them, correct them, and love them.

And, in the end, I believe God will honor this, and will bless my boys and me with an incredible friendship for decades to come.

Now, THAT is a deal I can’t pass up!

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