It’s always good to have other men in your life who can give you advice or share their experiences with you. Although I have a couple of close friends who help me through life, I recently learned an important lesson from a man who I only know casually.
Mike is a member of my church. He is very active and well-respected. I chat with him periodically, but we’ve never had a deep conversation. Things changed one night, while we were working together to plan an event. Out of the blue, Mike started talking about parenting. I could tell that he wanted to get some things off of his chest so I listened closely.
“When my kids were younger,” Mike said with some reluctance. “I worked a lot of overtime to make ends meet. I’d often come home around 11pm to find my son still awake and I’d immediately rush him off to bed. After a few years of doing this, I realized that a chasm was growing between us.”
Mike told us that he confronted his son about their souring relationship and was surprised by his son’s response.
“When you come home from work, you immediately start yelling at me about going to bed,” Mike’s son said. “You never want to spend time with me.”
Mike shook his head and stared off into the distance.
“All I was focused on was making sure that he went to bed at a decent hour and got adequate sleep. My son only wanted to stay up long enough to see his dad before he went to bed. I was rejecting his attempts to show me love and affection. I didn’t realize the damage I was doing.”
Mike turned back to the group and fixed his gaze on me.
“I’m telling you this because I don’t want you younger guys to make the same mistakes I made,” Mike said.
His comments made me examine my own actions and I discovered that I was already making the same mistake. I felt guilty and convicted. I often find myself using a firm tone when my kids are taking too long to get ready for bed or are not doing things as quickly as I expect them to. And my daughter has also told me that she feels as if I yell at her every night. At that moment, I decided to make sure that my actions are not eating away at my relationship with my children.
Before we left, Mike left us with one final message.
“No matter how good you think your relationship is with your kids, show them you love them by spending time with them and giving them a chance to speak their minds. That tiny change in your behavior will make a world of difference in your relationship with your kids.”
Question: What advice would you give about strengthening your relationship with your kids?