[image by Schantzilla]

One of the things that I vividly remember from growing up was my father’s voice calling out encouragement from the sidelines of my athletic events. It didn’t matter if I was a good or bad player, or whether or not I even got in the game. My dad’s presence on the sidelines or in the stands was always there. The more I reflect on that, the more amazing it is to me, especially since my mom died when I was 11 years old and my dad was essentially left alone to raise my younger brother and I.

I probably didn’t realize it then, but I have come to see it more clearly now, especially since I’m a parent. And what I realized was that for my dad to be present at my brother and I’s events (be it school plays, sporting events, etc.), a sacrifice of time was required. There was juggling of work schedules and many other things that went into him being there.

Ultimately, the message that was being sent to my brother and I was that time with us was more important than making extra money to buy things we didn’t need; that time with us was more important than sitting in front of the television.

I don’t know how many parents get this, but I wish more did.

I have worked with thousands of kids over the last 15 years in various settings. From camp counselor, to youth pastor, to therapist. And they all wish the same thing (sometimes spoken out loud; sometimes only discerned by the look in their face).

And that is….Parent’s time with their kids translates into love. Kids know that they are loved and cared for when their parents are present.

I have never had a kid tell me, “I wish my mom had worked more so I could have had more toys.” NEVER!

I have never had a kid tell me, “I wish my dad was at home less, so he could climb the corporate ladder harder to gain more prestige.” NEVER!

I have never had a kid tell me, “I wish my parents would watch more TV at night to stay culturally informed.” NEVER!

But I have had 100’s of kids tell me with pain in their faces and expressions that their parents never came to any of their events. Some parents are too busy they tell me, though they know if it weren’t important to their parents, then they would have made the effort. Others tell me that their parents just don’t seem to make the effort or care.

Parents, I’m not saying that you can’t miss an event here and there, or that provision for your family is not important. But at the end of the day we all have to ask if we are spending time with our kids. Do they know they are loved? Are there things that we could cut out of our lives that would allow us more time together as a family?

This is just a common theme I see in the kids I work with, and I wish it weren’t so prevalent.