Look for small moments to share with your kids

Q: I’ve read that, as parents, we should “engage our children” to stay connected. As a dad, I really do want to make my kids a priority. But I just don’t have time! What can I do?

Jim: I’ve heard many parents talk about how hard it is to find time to engage with their kids. I get that: Life is busy, and it’s difficult to balance work, home and the kids’ activities. But I think the opportunity to engage is often right in front of us if we’ll just watch for it.

I was an assistant coach for my son’s football team when he was in eighth grade. It was during a time of year when several sports were in action. So every time we pulled into the park where practice was held, there were a lot of kids and a lot of cars. But I noticed something. As Troy and I walked to the practice field, we passed car after car with a parent sitting inside. They were talking on their phone, looking at social media or playing a game to pass the time. Occasionally, I even saw a dad taking a nap.

I felt like those parents were missing a golden opportunity. They could have been cheering their kids from the sidelines. So what if it’s not an actual game? Even when the activity is something we might consider “insignificant,” it’s not insignificant to our children. And most importantly, it’s a chance to be engaged in their world.

Sports practice is one of those areas, but there are others as well. Spend 10 minutes reading to younger kids before bed. If they’re older, maybe grab a few minutes with them at breakfast before you rush out the door. Find what works for you; the key is to look for small moments that might otherwise go to waste and choose to spend time with your children.

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Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.