Posted by: fatherof11 | January 14, 2006

Cat Herding 101

Paul Lamey our beloved pastor, counselor, and friend asks in our “Go ask your father” post; “I would like to know how you get to really know each child as a parent and maintain that one on one connection when you have so many. Do you have certain times set aside for one on one, or how does that work?”

First I would say that it is a team effort. Mom and dad both are involved in the kids lives and each sees different aspects of the child’s character and personality. As an example, mom usually knows better how they FEEL where dad usually knows more about what they are THINKING. A good deal of our conversation involves talk about the kids. We occasionally have “dates” where we talk about and plan strategies regarding the kids.

Second we spend time with them. We probably watch an average of less than five hours of broadcast television a month. We do things with them and talk to them. Not always serious life changing stuff, but just hanging out kind of stuff. There is a lot of humor in our house, we joke with out kids. Laughter is very important with teenagers who generally take life too seriously anyway. We have described our household’s humor as Jakie Chan in the Brady Bunch and their Search for the Holy Grail.

Why is humor so important? It makes us accessible and real to them. We try to be transparent to our children. Letting them know that we are people just like them, with the same needs and desires. Our kids still know that we have authority over them, but that is a role God has given us, not a matter of our innate superiority or the fact that we are bigger and stronger. They must submit to us just as we submit to God.

Another big aspect is homeschooling. Homeschooling our children gives us much more time with them, allowing us to know them better. As a father I am involved in some portions of the homeschooling as teacher. I am also involved in all the planning for the school.

We also have time set aside during the evenings for Bible Study and prayer. Seeing and hearing their answers to questions give insight into what is going on in their heart. Also hearing their prayers can give clues as well.

As for scheduling time, I have never really been a schedule driven person. I do however seek them out fairly regularly to “just talk,” or to deal with a particular issue. The frequency will vary according to the child. For instance when our most recent child came, she needed a great deal of attention. I would often stay up to 12:00 or 1:00 in the morning talking to her. I probably still have late conversations one or two times a week with her or another child. Kids that are doing well can go for several weeks without having one of those kind of talks, but we still talk.

Another aspect is that we involve our kids in the keeping of the household. This does two things. First it gives us more time to spend on more meaningful activities, like interacting with the kids. Second, it gives us an opportunity to work with them, as they help with things.

Finally, we try to limit the amount of activities outside of the home. Our society is simply too busy with trivial things. “Distracted in Disneyland” as a missionary once said. Kids need parents who communicate to them the essential things in life more than they need to be able to play sports or learn a musical instrument.

I am sure that sheshe can add some things, but that is all I can think of right now. I hope that answers the question.

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