We've all had times when we're physically in one place but mentally in another. Most of the time, its not a real problem except when it comes to being a husband and father.
How to give your kids the attention they long for.
Recently, I saw a hilarious clip on one of those "funniest home video" programs. It was a wedding video shot from the back of the church looking up the aisle toward the bride and groom. Because of the camera angle, you could see several members of the congregation. Suddenly, during the vows, a man jumped up from his new and yelled, "Yes, Yes, Yes!" as he pumped his fist. Then he froze and slid down into his seat-and sheepishly took off his headphones. It turned out he had been listening to the Auburn-Alabama game, and his favourite team had just scored.
We've all had times when we're physically in one place but mentally in another. Most of the time, it's not a real problem except when it comes to being a husband and father.
Let me give you an example. Not long ago, my family and I had the privilege of going on a cruise. As I sat on the deck drinking coffee, I overheard a heartbreaking conversation between a 10-year-old boy and his mother.
"But why, Mom?" the boy asked, oblivious to those around him. Why did he even bother to come?"
I could see his mother struggle to frame her answer. "Well," she said, "he's here. And he paid for all of us to go on this trip."
"He's not here!" her son shouted. "He's been on the phone or on his computer the whole time!" And then came the shot to the heart: "Doesn't he want to be with me?"
You can't get much closer, physically, than spending seven days in a tiny cabin on a cruise ship. But what broke this boy's heart was seeing double having a dad physically present but emotionally and relationally absent.
It was to me. I'm amazed at how quickly my children are growing up. As I think back, I'm ashamed at how many times I've looked past Kari to catch a meaningless play in some game, or hurried through a bedtime story with Laura so I could get back to the computer to finish a project.
If you recognize that same tendency in yourself, I'd like to challenge you to try something that's worked for me. Take your Bible and look at the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 18:24, read how Jesus "looked at" the rich young ruler; in Luke 19:5, how he "looked up" at Zacchaeus; in Luke 20:17, how he "looked directly at" the disciples when he told them he was going to be rejected, suffer and die. Turn to Luke 21:1 where Jesus "looked up" and saw the widow giving her mite as a sacred offering, and to Luke 22:61 where he "looked straight at" Peter after Peter three times denied knowing Jesus. Jesus looked at people when he was with them really looked at them. It didn't matter if he was tired, or troubled, or busy, or happy, or sad. People didn't "see double" when they looked at the Lord.
This week, really look at your children when you get home from work. Really pay attention to them and look at them, not past them to the next interesting thing on television. Do the same with your spouse. Take her hand or nod in understanding as you talk to her.
I need to work on this focusing, listening, being there. How about you, Dad? Will you join me in working hard to truly be there with your spouse and kids? Will you, like me, try to spare them the pain of seeing double?
John Trent "Focus on Fatherhood -A Father's Heart." Encouraging Words Ministry.
Reprinted with permission of Dr. John Trent and strongfamilies.com
John Trent is President of Encouraging Words, a ministry committed to strengthening marriage and family relationships worldwide. In addition to speaking, he has authored and co-authored more than a dozen award winning and best-selling books.Copyright © 2002 John Trent
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