Your tweens want and need your time
I was running late. I had to pick up my kids at school and then head to the airport. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw those familiar, flashing blue lights. Another speeding ticket! After assuring my kindergartner that I wasn't going to be arrested, I received my ticket, apologized for the infraction, and went on, slowly. Later as I complained to my dad about the ticket as well as the one I had gotten just a few weeks before, he replied with the comment of all comments. "Well, maybe you are just going to have to drive within the speed limit now."
Those profound or not so profound words kept playing through my mind and the Lord began to prompt me to ask some powerful questions about different areas of my life in regard to boundaries that I continually break through, and how that affects me as a parent.
Speed limits on the roads are in place to protect and keep people from harm. When I choose to disregard the posted limits, there are negative consequences I may have to face. Compare that same concept to spiritual boundaries that we need in order to keep our lives within limits that will honor God.
How often are you rushing around trying to make it to everything you have committed to be involved in? What kinds of boundaries need to be put in place so that you can live a life that is pleasing to God?
Often it seems as parents that we have many people and things that demand our time. It isn't long until most of us are racing around from event to event without spending time on what's truly important. A surprising statistic from Time magazine revealed that kids between the ages of 9 to 14 state that their family and friends are more important than things that money can buy. Yes, it was taken from surveys from tweens just like the ones you are raising, who although they act like money is the key to everything, may really need more time with you.
A statistic from preteenagerstoday.com showed that the majority of parents and their preteen children spend less than six percent of their waking hours talking to each other. That is less than one hour per day.
There are only 24 hours in each day, and it's up to us as parents to choose how we will invest that time. Consider your average day or week and evaluate who or what gets the biggest chunk of your time. Are you spending valuable minutes attending meetings, chasing promotions, and bringing home extra work so that you can maybe earn a little more money and buy a little more stuff to make your family happy? Are there things you need to say "no" to so you can have a little more time with your family? Are you so "talked out" by the time you get home that you have no conversation left for those who most desperately need your guidance?
"Time" is a four-letter word that haunts most parents. There are two main categories that can help parents get a handle on time and develop habits to stay safely within the limits we need.
The goal for us should be to prayerfully evaluate those things that "steal" time or those things on which we expend too much time. Do you have to go to that civic meeting, or could you practice ball with your son or daughter? Will not bringing work home from the office cause you to lose your job? Are there some ways you can multitask so that you have more free time with your family? If you are having a difficult time seeing places in your life that you can cut, ask God for discernment. He has the master plan in sight, so He is the perfect one to direct you.
It has been said more than once by more than one person that love equals time. If that is true, then by evaluating your time allotments, it should be clear what you love. If the loves in your life don't figure prominently into your time table, then you have some changes to make. Once you have evaluated what things can be eliminated or scaled down, you have to make the commitment to change. If you have spent a lot of years racing through life, it may be more of a process by which you slowly make changes in your schedule so you can allow more time for your loved ones. Consider sharing with someone your commitment and ask them to hold you accountable to make the changes you desire.
If after reading through this article you still have a hard time choosing to step out of the rat race of the world, consider King Solomon. He was a man who had it all. Sound like anyone you know? He had the house, the prestige, the money, the possessions, the right clothes, and the fastest chariots; yet, after amassing all that wealth, he commented in Ecclesiastes that it was all meaningless: "A chasing after the wind." In the end, Solomon recognized his mistakes, and he wrote about his regret.
We can learn much from studying his life and seeing some of the same patterns in our own. The key is to recognize before it's too late and before you are smothering in regret. What kind of relationship do you want with your children? There is truth to the old saying "Time will tell," and the question is: Do you like what time is saying about you? Are you committed to chasing the things of this world? Does your time tell that you are committed to raising kids who know and love you?
If you don't like what your time is telling you — change the time you're spending.