I remember hearing the news. I was 100% excited and 100% freaked out at the same time. Amber was pregnant. We were going to have a child which meant I was going to be a dad.
Before we had kids it was so easy to have opinions about what other people did or didn’t do with their kids. Having three children close together (when our third was born, our oldest was still three – having three kids three and under is not for the faint of heart), we learned quickly that it was going to take intentionality for us to accomplish what we wanted for our family.
Soon, we started to develop practices – things that we would consistently do – to move us toward all that we had in our hearts for our family. If you are a parent, I want to remind you that things will happen either by design or default in your parenting. I would encourage you to consider putting in to place some purposeful practices.
Here are seven that Amber and I would recommend:
Every week at the Sollie home we do our family party. For us this tends to be Friday (my day off), we make pizza, watch a movie or play some games. It is a night where we focus on being together. We fight to keep this night sacred.
No Phone Zone
As much as technology has been a blessing, it can also be one of the greatest thieves of purposeful parenting. To be honest, this is an area that Amber and I continue to work on and grow in. I don’t want my children’s primary memory etched in their mind to be their dad scrolling through Instagram and missing out on their life. We will try and create intentional moments that are phone free. Dinner time is a big one for us.
Man-Venture / Daughter Dates
When our kids were little, we decided to do consistent dates with them. We wanted to model what health looks like. So about once a month I take my boys on what we call “ManVenture” (take the words man and adventure and slap it together…). Once a month I will take Faith on our Daddy Daughter Date (this usually includes a stop at a donut shop). I want her to hear from me how special and beautiful she is, so that when some punk teenage boy tries to tell her that some day, she will look at him and say, “I know, my daddy has been telling me that for years!” Find a way to spend quality time with your kids.
Bring them in
Amber and I decided early on that ministry and life would not be in competition. Instead, we would bring our kids in to what we do. We wanted to create an awareness that this is what Jesus entrusted our family to do. So I often will bring a kid or two with me to a hospital visit, or join me if I am traveling and speaking. Instead of ministry being something that “takes daddy away”, we bring them in to what we do.
Spiritual Conversations and Practices
One of our values is that we believe we are called to be the primary disciple makers of our home. I can’t delegate this to anyone else. Even though we have worked in the local church for almost 20 years now, I’ve always operated with the belief that I can’t delegate what my kids grow to believe to someone else. Because of this, Amber and I have tried to engage in spiritual conversations with our kids. We think that should be normal, not awkward.
In addition to this is having some spiritual practices that we do as a family. When our kids were little we would read a chapter in their children’s bible each night. With sports schedules and life schedules this has become much more difficult to do. One practice that we have recently added is celebrating communion together as a family on our family party night.
Someone is going to teach your kids about money. I would recommend it to be you, not the credit card company their freshman year of college. Nothing will impact their future like understanding how to use money the right way. When our kids were young we taught them the three key principles: GIVE, SAVE, SPEND. From the time they started helping with chores we would have them set aside some money to GIVE, then some to SAVE and after that they are free to SPEND. We teach our kids to give 10% to God (called tithing), save 10% for the future and the rest of the 80% they can use however they want.
Lay your hand on them and pray for them everyday
This final practice is vital. I would encourage every parent to place a hand on your child or children and pray for them everyday. Let them hear you. Let them feel that touch on their shoulder, their head or their heart. We have no idea the difference we are making when we show them that we trust Jesus with their future and their lives. I’ve heard it said that we can tell how little we believe in the power of prayer by how little time we give to it. Be intentional with praying for your kids.
What other purposeful practices would you add? Share your thoughts below!