Lessons from my Son (and Daughter)

Wednesday was a significant day for Vonda and me. It was our son’s first day of college. Although he has not moved out of the house and into a dorm, yet, we were still melancholy this morning. (We think the dorm thing will come next spring or fall. He has to show us more maturity before we give him that much freedom. I will write more on that later, much later).

I know you have heard or read something like this before, but it seems just like yesterday we were at Forest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, celebrating his arrival. Taylor was born on a Tuesday at 3:22 PM. He was 21 inches long, and he weighed eight pounds and five ounces.

That was an incredible day for me. What his arrival did was set into motion a new and unexpected journey for me. You see, prior to his birth I had never before been a father. Sure, I knew something about being a brother, and a few things about being a son and a grandson. I also knew what it meant to be a friend. And, I had picked up a few insights into being a husband, yet prior to August 22, 1989, I knew nothing about being a father.

Since that day, my knowledge in parenting has increased exponentially. And what have I learned? Here are just a few lessons Taylor (and Kelsey) have taught me:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff, and there is plenty of small stuff. Don’t sweat it when the kids marched through the house with mud on their shoes, or when they spill their drink or when they tear their new shorts or when they draw on the wall or when they… Most stuff is small stuff, so don’t sweat it.
  • Learn what makes your child tick. Trent and Smalley call this their “love language”. Taylor’s love language is TIME. He needs time with me and with his mother. That is why we took him to lunch today after his first full day of classes. We knew he would want time with us. I could always tell when I was not spending enough time with Taylor because he would become irritable, rude or disobedient. It was at those moments Vonda would suggest, “Why don’t you spend some time with Taylor.” And when I did his attitude and behavior would improve.
  • Let your child know who is in charge. Children love to test authority. I think they test authority for two reasons. One, because they are born reprobates with a sinful behavior. The second reason is less forceful. Two, because they want someone to be in charge and they act out to see who it is. Taylor never really had a problem with me being in charge. Sure, he’d pitch a fit every now and then, but for the most part Taylor was and is a compliant child.
  • Have fun. I enjoyed a fun childhood filled with many great memories. I wanted my kids to do the same. When he was about two or three, Taylor and I started a tradition called “Daddy Day.” He thought it was a day designed just for him, and in many ways it was. What he doesn’t know was that it actually served as a day for his mother, so she could get some things done around the house. I am so glad we started those “Daddy Days.” He is not too fond of them now because he is so busy, but I think some day he will return to those days perhaps when I need him to care for me.
  • Always admit when you are wrong. There have been some times in my parenting when I was wrong. Thank goodness a friend taught me to admit to my children when I was wrong. That is not easy, but by doing so you model for your children how they should admit their faults or mistakes. In the last few years I have been amazed at how much Taylor confesses to his mother and me when he has made a mistake.
  • Pray they get caught in every sin they commit. Years ago a friend of ours saw Taylor doing something that was wrong. He was totally surprised we knew about it. When he asked how we found out, we told him we started praying he would get caught in every sin he committed. That is a great prayer to pray for your kids. It is called accountability.

Do what you can with what you have. There are times I have failed miserably as a father, and there are times I have succeeded. All I have tried to do with both my children is the best I could do with what was available to me at the time.

Some day my children will be parents. And when they are, I trust they look back on their childhood days with fond memories and practice some of what they taught me to do.


2 Responses to “Lessons from my Son (and Daughter)”

  1. 1 JenB
    August 23, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Wow! Great advice, Bro. Ryan! While most of your points I feel I’ve already put into practice with raising my 2 children, the last two points really hit home for me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2 Joey
    September 6, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Pastor Ryan, I love your blog because it allows me to take comfort in the fact that there are other like-minded Christians out there. I do have a question for you, however. My neighbor is Jewish, and I don’t have a problem with this, because it’s a choice he has made. However, I feel it is wrong for him to raise his children Jewish, because that forces them into a life without Christ. Do you have any thoughts on how I should approach him with my concerns?

    Thank you

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