Connecting With Your Kids Series: #2-You Can Do It, They Can Help

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Today’s post is from another guest author, Barry Williams.  Barry is a colleague of mine at FamilyLife.  He is passionate about being a dad and communicating that passion to other dads by being an involved father.  In his day jobs, Barry has been helping ministries develop and implement technology strategies for over 15 years.  He currently serves as the Director of Information Technology at FamilyLife in Little Rock, AR.  Prior to coming to FamilyLife he was the I.T. Director at The Josh McDowell Ministry in Dallas, Texas.  Barry, along with his wife Shannon, have been involved in ministry to families for the past 20 years.  Their passion is their 8 children,  3 girls and 5 boys spanning the ages of 18 months to 18 years.  They currently serve as Small Group Coaches for their local church and lead various marriage and parenting small group studies.

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I’m quite sure that they had no idea.  How could they?  But years before the marketing gurus at The Home Depot adopted a similar phrase as their slogan; a young Daddy with his beautiful, blue eyed, two year old little girl discovered this amazing truth somewhere between the Paint and Hardware isles.

It was a Saturday morning and my lovely bride needed a well deserved break from toddler duties.  So, quite courageously, I, along with a list of ‘Honey Dos” and this eager toddler in tow, set off on our first of many daddy-daughter excursions.  It was amazing!  It happened by accident!  A discovery that would last forever! I learned that the ORDINARY things of life present EXTRAORDINARY opportunities to connect with those most precious to us.

Now, 18 years and 8 handy helpers (between the ages of 18 years and 18 months) later, it’s still a time honored rite of passage when a new little one gets to take their first solo trip with Dad to The Home Depot.  But it hasn’t stopped there…

It may be fixing a faucet or cleaning the garage.  It may be raking the leaves or washing the car. It may be mowing the lawn or Monday Night Football, but I’ve come to learn that no matter what ‘important’ thing that ‘I’ve got to do’I can do it, and they can help.

Along the way, I’m learning to ask better questions, and not just give instructions.  And in the midst of the dust and debris, we both learn a little.

How does this connection happen?  I’ve thought about this a lot over the years and I’ve come think it happens because:

I let them into my life.

They have a sense that I must love and value them if I let them into my big, important Dad world. As a dad of 8, it gets really challenging to schedule very many ‘daddy dates’.  And since I haven’t yet found a way to create any more than 24 hours a day, if connection is going to happen, it has to happen in the midst of the day to day. Perhaps the most important benefit to this is that they come to know that they can always find some time with Dad.  That he is accessible any day, any time and not just on special occasions.  Just like our heavenly Dad.

They invite me into their life.

There is a trust that is created when we share life together. When they tell me the names of their stuffed animals or share with me the details of their favorite Disney Channel stars they are inviting me into to what they hold dear.  When I treat these things with respect and care, they end up just a few short years later sharing their larger dreams, hurts, and fears. This has proven especially important as they enter their teen years. Because I let them into my life at a young age they invite me into theirs when they become teens.

We end up having ‘our thing.

As they get older, the allure of Home Depot fades a bit.  But along the way we end up finding ‘the thing’ that we both enjoy sharing.  Be it tennis, yard work, coloring, music, Starbucks, ice cream, backpacking or movies… we each look forward to getting to do ‘our thing’ together. The really awesome thing about this is that the ‘our things’ in life don’t have to stop when the parenting ends.

I’m sure they didn’t have Fatherhood in mind when they took it as their slogan, but remember Dads …“You Can Do It, They Can Help.

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