Today I Saw God

The Summer Parenting Challenge

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I'd like to challenge parents to do one thing this summer with their kids. It's just one simple thing and I think every parent is capable of doing it in some way.

This summer, let's spend some time with our kids.

I know what you are thinking; "I do this every day, all year-long." I know you do. We spend the entire school year driving our kids from one activity to another so that they can experience all the great joys of sports, scouting, music, etc. I think we can agree that the school year is a busy time.

Summer is different. Summer has a pace a few beats slower than the rest of the year. There is no rush to pack the backpacks before school. No lunches to be packed. No homework nagging at you every night. The extra-curricular activities tend to take a break in the summer. In summer, we as parents have an opportunity to breath as the stress of school has temporarily halted.

What better time to grab a book and read to your child? Or what about going to get ice cream on a Tuesday night, just because? We will find ourselves on vacations with idle time in the car or on an airplane. What if we used that opportunity to tell silly stories? What if you spent the time telling your kids stories from your childhood? Tell them about that cool fort you made in the woods behind your house. Tell them about the first time you went off the diving board. Tell them how you and three of your friends practiced for days leading up to the Fourth of July in order to put on a Fourth of July themed concert and charged all the neighbors ten-cents to attend. (Just me on that last one? Don't act like your childhood is void of embarrassing stories.) Tell your child about the time you were so embarrassed you didn't think you could ever show your face outside your house again.

Instead of being the chauffeur, the cook or the homework enforcer for your child this summer, show your more relaxed side and help your child see you aren't so bad after all.

Get to know your child this summer. If your child is way into Batman, ask her what is so cool about Batman. Find out what makes one Pokemon card different from another one. If your child can barely be pulled away from his favorite electronic game, ask him to teach you how to play. Love the things they love.

With children ages seven and five, I realize that I'm in a sweet spot this summer. There won't be too many years left that they will think it's cool when I go down the water slide at the pool. Before I know it, they will be begging me NOT to go down the slide and insisting I just drop them off at the pool so they can hang out with their friends and not me.

The days of being asked to come play a board game by my son will not last forever. I won't always be greeted with cheers and smiles when I suggest a family bike ride.

Parents of young children, our children are literally begging us to spend time with them. I know that I often use housework or emails as an excuse for why I can't say yes.

I spent last week reading tributes to amazing dads in honor of Father's day. Many of them had a similar theme: "Even though my dad worked hard, he also found time to be with me."

People don't write blogs about how their mom was able to get the laundry done every week no matter what. They don't write about the amazing career their dad had. They write about their memories of spending time with their parents. They write about the helpful conversations they had with their dad when they thought their world was over. They write about the time their mom taught them how to ride a bike.

The stories your kids will remember about you are the stories about the time you spent with them.

Life is always busy. Luckily for most, summer is a little less busy. Let's use the extra time in our schedule to model to our children that families are a blessing and are something to be celebrated.

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