Look!!!! Parenting God's Way, Part 6. The Relationship, Part b: Stop, Look and Listen, Part ii

"And you, fathers, DO NOT PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN TO WRATH, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV)


The first and best piece of advice I can give in regards to not provoking your children to wrath is this: Stop, Look, and Listen! In last week's devotional, we learned that there's no way we can know what our kids are going through or how we can help them if we don't first "stop"! We have to put aside our own pursuits long enough to make those kids our #1 priority! Today's devotional will focus on the second piece of advice: Look!

I know a family where both parents have taken the "stopping" to heart. Both had made their children their #1 priority. However, the girls are much closer to their father than to their mother.


That's a question I used to ask myself. The lives of both of those parents revolve around the two girls, so why does dad connect better than mom?

Closer investigation revealed some interesting facts:

The girls spend a lot of time with their dad, doing things that all three of them enjoy. Dad took up cooking so that he could be in the kitchen making cookies with them if that's what they wanted to do. When the girls became avid swimmers, dad began taking swimming lessons so they could all swim together, and dad even plays house with the girls. I also watched as the girls join their dad in his baseball games. If he is playing on the town team, he always reserves them seats right at the dugout, and the three always go out for ice cream afterwards. And you never saw a more enthusiastic cheering section! When he isn't playing with the guys, dad gets out the child-sized mitts and bats and plays a miniature game with his girls. And you should have seen the three watching the world series together! Baseball caps pointed backwards, big bowls of popcorn and chips, the works! I could go on and on with examples, but the bottom line is this: Dad goes out of his way to share in his daughters' interests, and he brings his own interests down to their level so that they can share them with him.

In contrast, I saw the mom's pitiful efforts to interact with her girls. She is into scrapbooking, and though the girls have no interest in scrapbooking whatsoever, mom dutifully makes sure they are with her when she scrapbooks. The girls love their mother and want to be with her, so both of them try hard to put together a nice scrapbook. But they aren't perfectionists like mom, and every time they put in a picture, she is never happy. She always does something more to it: Cuts the edges differently or repositions it on the page . . . Something! And she often gets angry at them when the scissors slip or a spot of glue gets somewhere on the page where it shouldn't be. But if the girls don't show enthusiasm for scrapbooking with her, she becomes depressed, accusing her girls that they just "like dad better" than her.

Mom was also interested in mountain climbing, and the girls were mildly interested in this as well. Mom pushes herself to her maximum however, forcing the girls to climb without stopping until the peak is reached; and then she pushes them back down the trail without allowing them the time to enjoy the beautiful things that are to be seen at the top.

And then there is the music. All three love music. The only problem is, the girls don't particularly care for the same kind of music mom listens to. Nevertheless, mom plays her own music around them constantly, and if they complain, she only put the volume up louder, saying, "Isn't this a nice song! Just listen to it. I know you'll love it!"

What is the difference between these two parents? Both have stopped their own pursuits of happiness to make their girls their #1 priority, but here their parenting styles veer sharply from one another. Dad takes the next step: He takes the time to look! He watches his girls to see what their interests lie, and he does whatever he can to meet where they are at. And when they try to join in his interests, he brings the activities down to their level.

In contrast, mom doesn't take the time to look. She simply tries to mold the girls into a second version of herself.

Is it any wonder that the girls feel closer to dad than to mom?

But while he is "looking", dad is also aware of many things that mom doesn't see. He sees their potential problems and does what he can to prepare his children in advance. He sees what kinds of things the girls are going through and is always there to help them. He tries to see things from their point of view, a habit which will only become more vital as the girls face teenage years.

Friends, you have to stop your own pursuit of happiness, yes. This is the first step. But the second step is to look around, to see where your children are at, and to join them there! In doing so, you will open the door to establishing a wonderful relationship with them, one that will help you see potential trouble and prepare them in advance, and one that will ensure that they come to you when they go through problems!

God bless each of you abundantly as you seek to guide the build a relationship with the kids in your life!

Lyn Chaffart

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