Parenting Military Kids...
Like most military families, ours has dealt with a number of deployments. My wife has run the roost in my absence and taken care of all of the important family things that non-military dads should have a role in. I missed out on Christmas and birthdays, school plays and concerts, hospital visits and celebrations. There is no doubt in my mind that all of these things have an effect on the development with our children and how they will respond to our love and our correction as the years go by.
In an effort to try to help military members reintegrate with their families, counselors have decided that the most important aspect of the military member’s interaction with their kids is the quality. It is definitely hard to argue that quality time with your kids is best for their development and for relationship building. It is also easy to see that many kids whose parents are not military are missing out on quality time with a parent.
The reality is that your kids, after they hit school age, are not spending much time with their parents anyway. They are not getting guidance throughout the day that is exactly what you desire in the home. They are exposed to things in school that are counter to the ideals and morals that you have decided that you want your children raised with. Then with sports, music and other after school activities, the intimate time with your kids has drifted away. Quality time is definitely important for all parents, not just those who wear the uniform and spend time away from home.
First, let’s establish what God thinks of our kids. “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed
when they speak with their enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5) It is important to remember that even in the times when raising our kids isn’t easy, they are gifts from God. It is our blessing to pour our love into and share our faith with our children.
Next, let’s define quality time. Dictionary.com defines quality time as, “time devoted exclusively to nurturing a cherished person or activity.” This definition is important out of the many out there because it does not simply describe quality time as attention spent, it uses the word nurturing. Proverbs 22:6 gives us a good reason to nurture out children, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” To nurture means that we are to develop our children. When we bring them up in the Word of God it will grow inside of them and become a part of their lives. Read it to them! Understand it and help them understand. Understanding the Word of God helps our children gain, “the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Time spent sharing the hope of the salvation Christ brings is truly quality time.
I am no childhood psychology expert, but it does not take a PhD to realize that how things are done in front of kids are most often more important that what is done. By this, I mean that the details of the time spent are not as important as how your kids see you interact with others. Bowling, fishing, building models, movies, church, shooting or whatever, model for them a Christ-like persona. Let them see you be kind and generous to people in your life. Let them see you love their mother. Let them experience your patience with them as they navigate a life that is different from all of their peers.
Many men have become hardened warriors. Hardening one’s combat skills and knowledge does not mean that the heart needs to harden as well. A very wise and Godly pastor shared some sage advice with me once while dealing with my daughter. “Use this as an opportunity to show her that you love her.” His words touched me in a way that I will never forget. In a moment of correction or love or in life in general, I am given opportunities to show my kids that I love them. You see, great warriors leave legacies. As warriors we read about all of the great military leaders and fighters to learn about their tactics, their courage and their wisdom. They have left a legacy. “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.” (Psalm 103:17) Lead them, love them, leave a legacy…