There are seasons of parenting in life. When your kids are small you can enjoy a season of easily and freely sitting down with them to play or to talk or to read a story together. They go to bed early and you have time to do what you want or need to after.
But then they grow older and you enter a season of sacrifice. Routinely you are giving up some of your time and purposing to sit down with them to talk, to go outside and play, to give attention to whatever’s on their mind and heart.
And finally they grow up, are no longer children, and you enter a season of busyness. Schedules multiply and there’s simply no way to do the things you used to do or to do those things the way you used to do them.
So, first, recognize that seasons change, but that doesn’t mean that you’re failing as a dad.
Second, recognize that you’ll need to adapt. How can we adapt to change? It takes wisdom, patience, creativity, courage, and lots of hard work. Parenting in many ways is easy, in that we know what to do. But in other ways it’s difficult, in that it requires perseverance to do the easy things over and over again.
What things are needed and both easy and difficult to do?
1. You need to have communication with your kids. So you take advantage of the opportunities you get, like in a car or at the dinner table. Many times you will have to sacrifice your own personal time and desires to discover how they’re actually doing. Cultivate communication and openness.
2. You need to have discipline. So while things get really busy you can’t let the small things slip, like clean bedrooms and good attitudes and household/school responsibilities. Cultivate faithfulness and integrity.
3. You have to have prayer. So you pray at meals, before going to bed, when they’re afraid or discouraged, before you drop them off at school. Cultivate godliness and humility.
4. You have to have affection. So you kiss them when they go to bed and when they wake up, you hug them after school or work, you tell/show them you notice them and the cool things they do, you listen and pay attention when they want to show or tell you something they did. You cultivate relationship and commitment.
You can do all of these things in every season. But how and when you do each of them will change in every season.
Third, and finally, remember this: Being a good dad is about becoming a good dad. Becoming a good dad is about establishing good habits that will shape or form you overtime. So the habit of praying, the habit of listening, the habit of talking, the habit of waiting, the habit of serving, the habit of confessing, the habit of forgiving, the habit of persevering, the habit of loving, etc. are all practices or disciplines that will help you become the best dad you can, the very dad they need and want you to be.
Here’s the incredible thing: all of these habits (and more) are the character traits or the fruit belonging to the Holy Spirit. That is, these are the things about you that the Holy Spirit wants to produce and grow in you through every season and for every season. So, above all, before all, and after all, look to him. He is glad to make you become, to transform you into being, like Christ.