The Way of the Wild Heart: A Map for the Masculine Journey is a fantastic book. It’s written by John Eldredge who is a Christian author, but I would say that this book is not necessarily a Christian book. Yes, it has the undertone, but the bigger picture is the meat of the book. That is, raising boys.
I just read something in it this morning that really resonated with me. What I read was this. “Take the boy out, but take one rod or bat, only one set of clubs. For he is the point”. Wow! Thinking back on all the times I’ve tried to be that present dad and took my kids to do something I realize that I was, in a way, competing against them. I’d try to catch the most fish, win the go-cart race, run the fastest, etc., etc. Instead of the attention being on them and taking that time to be a mentoring time.
As I was sitting here thinking about this, I thought about all the parents who put their kids in sports. I was guilty of it for years myself and we had chosen not to do it with our youngest. I guess I thought that what I was doing by putting them in sports was helping their athletic, active and social life. Fast forward many of those kids’ lives and we see how disconnected they are from their parents, or father in particular. The time spent on the weekends carting them around all over God’s creation only to sit there all day long and watch them. How much could’ve been gained if the same time, money and effort was invested in one-on-one time? What if instead of doing the day long quadruple header at the ball field, you took your son on a hiking/camping trip and did a bit of fishing? Your dad never taught you to fish? What if you and your son learned how, together?
Actions speak louder than words. We’ve all heard people say that, but have we really meditated on it’s meaning? There’s a quote I like that has become a big part of my life. I have to work hard to remember and practice it. “Your actions speak so loudly I can not hear what you are saying”, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Let that one sit for a minute and marinade. In this fast-paced life we are all fighting to keep up with, are we being intentional with our time spent with the children we are responsible for? Our sons and daughters need us, as fathers, to teach, guide, counsel and mentor them. We are the ones who should be teaching them about how to do life. Not their peers or some other animal in the jungle of life. We have to choose and make it a priority. I am guilty of this as well.
Last night my 9-year old comes to me as I’m working on my computer and says, “Dad, you wanna come outside with me”? As usual I said, “Hang on, buddy. I’m trying to get some work done”. Then, BLAMMO!!! It hit me! “Bryan, this is an opportunity to spend quality time with your son. He is screaming for your attention”. So, I stopped what I was doing and went outside with him. He wanted me to watch him pop wheelies on his bicycle. When I saw this I thought, “I’ve never taught him how to pop a GOOD wheelie”. So, I told him to come over and we discussed the dynamics of a good wheelie. I demonstrated a few on another bicycle sitting in the garage. After I “looped one out” (flipped it backwards) I told him that he got the point and it’s time for him to practice. Mainly cause my wrist and hip were killing me after the fall!! After about 5 minutes that kids was rippin’ some good ones! He even ended up loopin’ one out of his own. All that aside, imagine the memory he is going to have of that 30 minutes spent together. We have to stop and choose to be intentional with our kids.
All boys go through the cowboy stage of life when they experience the toughening up and adventure seeking. Honestly, I don’t think it ever stops. As fathers, we need to be there for them and guide them through those phases. They need us. I spent years away from my older 3 kids traveling the world doing what I wanted to do to “make ends meet”. Money comes and goes. Time only goes. Be intentional and commit to prioritizing time with your kids. Sure, you can continue to do the weekend traveling nomad sports parent, but I ask you, what will they remember as far as the one-on-one time with you? Are they receiving the mentoring they need from you or their peers and coaches?
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