Things Are Never as Complicated as They Seem

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that parents spend much of their time in chaotic storms. They have the right knowledge—the right heart for their children—but they lose their way. There is so much coming at  us, and from time to time, we get stuck in a challenge with our children and our marriages that we don’t seem to be able to find our way out.

Everything seems so complicated!

My inspiration at this moment after looking back at 45 plus events and meeting thousands upon thousands of homeschool families is that things are never as complicated as they seem. The solution is most likely very simple.

Complication is not sourced with our Savior Jesus Christ and God our Father. God is not the author of confusion. However, that thought seems counter-intuitive to us. The reason for that is that we often confuse complicated with power. We think our ability to understand reduces the power of something.

But, most often the solution is simple– so simple that often we struggle to believe that the solution is effective.

I don’t mean this to minimize the severity of the issue or pain that is out there. When I say that something is simple, I don’t mean that it is easy.

Here’s what I’m getting at…

Time is the solution to so many of the problems we have with our children—and really our marriages as well.

More than anything, our children want their parents. They want time with their parents. Yes, even teenagers want time with their parents.

Even when our children yell at us. Tell us they hate us. They seem to want to get away from us at all costs. They want time.

They want our attention.

When they misbehave, destroy the advantages we provide them with; and even go and hide from us; they really want time with us.

This is how they were created. God put something in them to want us. They have this innate desire to please us. They cannot help themselves. Therefore, we should be generous with our time and praise to our children. If God created them this way, we should not withhold.

This is something that Leslie and I have believed since we were young parents.

Literally, we would discuss the behavior of the kids at night and gauge who was next for a date with mommy or daddy based on how they behaved. When we started to have more issues than normal with one of them, we would say, “It’s time for so-and-so to have a date.”

Then we would take them out. Nothing too special! We didn’t spend money on elaborate dates or schemes. Sometimes it just involved a drive. The point was time. It was opportunity to just be together. We would laugh and talk about all kinds of stuff.

Sometimes we would bring up difficult subjects with them on these dates but that was not the agenda. The agenda was time and attention. We would spend time together and ask questions:

How was it going?

What do you think about this class?

What about the new coach of that NBA team?

Have you thought about college?

What about that job?

These dates were regular occurrences—no matter what was happening. Not just when they misbehaved.

I can tell you confidently that these dates seemed to be the “secret-sauce” to our strong relationships with our kids today. Over the years, I have realized that there are few problems that cannot be solved—or at least made better—with more attention and time from those we love.

Whether it’s a prodigal, or physical pain, or anger, or depression, or addiction, or anxiety, or anything else, there are very few issues that will not improve with more attention and time from you.

Whether by birth or by choice, you are the mom and dad. Your child’s entire life experience is shaped by you. They have a heart wired for you, and they are their healthiest, mentally and physically, when they have you.

They have a heart for you that was given to them at birth by God. And, whether they admit it or not, they want you. They are their healthiest, mentally and physically, when they have you.

So, let’s return to this idea of simplicity…

We have so much stuff built up in our life. Sometimes it is hard to determine what to do next.

So, how do we simplify? Life gets cluttered, and figuring out what matters most can be tough

The answer to this quandary is to determine the things that are worth pushing everything out of the way to make sure they happen. This is one of those things.

It is worth pushing everything out of the way (whether it is cell phones, businesses, or a ministry) to make sure that you spend time with each one of your children in which they are the center of your attention. Not to spoil them but to listen to them.  When I say this, understand that I mean the individual, not all the children together.

Whether you have one child or 12, you need to intentionally orchestrate regular time with each of them in which they have your undivided attention. There is nothing you can do that will provide a better return on your relationship with them or prepare them better for launching into a hostile world than undivided attention from you.

And, I can say with experience after raising 4 of my own and organizing events for thousands of families every year that there are almost no issues with your children that solid, regular time with them will not solve or at least substantially impact positively.

They need “dates” with mom and dad—one on one, with no distraction. Even when they are older and have families of their own, they will want time with you—undivided and focused.

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