BUSY, BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! Although the word presents itself as something we don’t inherently strive for, it is nevertheless nowadays used as something we gauge our success by. Imagine the scenario, bumping into a friend during the week the question is posed “How ya doing?” Forgetting the possibility that it’s not really a question but actually a greeting in disguise and in spite of the fact that the person posing the question probably doesn’t really care for an in-depth answer, you dig deep and muster the words “Wow I’m really busy”.
I have become really uncomfortable with these words. We’ve made them to mean more than an indication of how cluttered our lives are and instead use them as a new version of “Mines bigger than yours!”. We seem to have bought into the lie that busier is better. Busyness, for some, has become the yard stick against which success is measured. What may have been forgotten, is that in order for us to achieve a stage of busyness, something has to be traded. What are the trade offs to the busyness we “aspire” to, or more importantly, who are the trade off’s?
In my experience, the obvious trade offs are kids, yours and mine. In an attempt to do what needs to be done to provide, to create a space where they have all they “need”, something goes wrong, even though intentions can be solid and genuine. I know many parents with hearts of gold, who love their children, who’d do anything for them but who end up trading their presence for their intentions.
The greatest gift you could ever give your child is the gift of a present and purposeful parent.
While following the goal to provide for our children, we become aware that we cannot be in 2 places at once. In an attempt to resolve this we resort to the skilled art of outsourcing. The reality parents find themselves in is that their work commitments, hours, functions and responsibilities prevent them from being present for their kids. Our response to this challenge is seldom a new job, lower pay, forgoing the promotion, downgrading lifestyles or going without certain luxuries. Instead, many have bought into the lie that if I can’t be present and purposeful, the next best thing would be to outsource the function to people or activities that can be.
I’m not against success, striving for personal goals, climbing the ladder etc. In fact, these are good lessons to teach our kids, but what has become clear to me is that many people place these above the need for presence and purpose. Too often I hear of parents taking the position that they “can’t” change things. I wager that if we were truly honest with ourselves, very few things fall into the “can’t” list, and most fall into the “won’t” list. The price is too great, or is it?
Let’s take this hot topic for instance. Not specifically looking at approaches to discipline but rather the purpose, we will see that the route word has to do with making a disciple, teaching and training. So much of our discipline has been outsourced to schools, pastors, teachers, nannies and the reality is that none of them have the vested interest of a parent. They do not have the long-term investment in mind because they are not the ones who will have to deal with the long-term yield, you will!
Sitting at a restaurant, I often see families, disconnected, focussing on just their food or what’s happening around them. We have created a world where we are so disconnected from each other that things like conversations are so uncomfortable and foreign that we opt out when faced with the opportunity. People are more comfortable interacting via social media than face to face. Some times, when out at a restaurant, I’ve seen every person at the table next to us on either a phone or a tablet of some sort.
Many parents have tried to correct their not being present by providing every known source of entertainment to make up for their absence.
A contentious area for some, whether pro-mainstream school or home school, the fact cannot be ignored that the responsibility for educating your children cannot lie at the feet of the school. This is an area where so much of the outsourcing occurs. Parents find the best school possible, work themselves to the bone to be able to afford the tuition but at the end of the day, the kids still suffer because the thing they miss the most is a mom or a dad. With the best of intentions, the parents work themselves to death to be able to give their kids the best education possible, only to find that their lack of presence may not have affected their children’s marks, but it has greatly effected their hearts. these children may have good grades, but they have poor self-esteem and self-worth, they crave to know they are loved, none of which can be better instilled than by a parent’s presence. Catch 22, I need to work to afford the school, and because I can now afford the school, I can’t afford to be the present parent. My experience has shown me that a child will be better off in a school that offers and costs less, but where the child now has a parent who can afford to be more present. There is no replacement for a present parent.
There are many other areas we could look at, but the theme that I am seeing in dealing with children on a weekly basis is that parents, for the most part, are doing their best to provide the stuff. They are doing their best! Or atleast what they have been told is the best. They work crazy hours, hire nannies, aupairs, helpers whatever and whoever they can to fill in the gaps. Moms and Dads, I have yet to hear a child say they feel too loved by their parents, but I often hear that they don’t feel it enough. I think we need a revolution, we need a paradigm shift where we honestly look at our lives and ask ourselves whether what we do is actually for the best interests of our children or for our own personal gain, disguised as for them.
Our goals and aspirations are important but they must come second to the needs of our kids. We only have them in our hands for a season, and once they are gone, the ground work done, they will be our legacy not our wealth, success or other tangible achievements. Invest in something that will truly effect generations.