If I take time to view my kids’ lives from their perspective, I’ll be able to lead their heart.
I am trying to see the world from my kids’ perspective, especially with my teen daughter Halley. When “helping” her with math, for example, I see a simple algebraic equation solving for X. Halley sees a bizarre string of Klingon hieroglyphics. Maybe you, too, are realizing that it is time to slow down and see things from the kids’ points of view.
Another late night diaper run stranded me in the grocery store checkout line. How could our diaper inventory drop from seventeen to none in just one day? Why is it always after 10 p.m. when we discover we have run out? I do not know, but I am thinking this is one of the things my wife understands and I never will.
As I counted cans in the next guy’s cart, the “15 items or less” sign burned in my mind as did the covers of thirty women’s magazines surrounding me. Counting is obviously NOT what the guy ahead of me was doing. He must have had at least sixteen items in his cart! I was in a hurry, so where were the grocery police?
My six-year-old son Story bravely made the expedition with me. I cannot recall exactly why he was with me, since it was long after his bedtime. Maybe I spotted the dad-son teaching moment inherent in a diaper trip, and I woke him and forced him into the SUV (sort of a “Beware my son, or this too will be your destiny” moment straight from A Christmas Carol).
“Daddy, do you see the baseball?” Story shocked me from my sixteen-item outrage.
Wearily I replied, “No, son. I’m busy trying not to look at Miss July on the cover of Cosmopolitan.” The truth was that I had already read about J-Lo’s latest husband and the impending space alien invasion from Mars. (Do they really have such big eyes?)
“Daddy, look at the baseball! Don’t you see it?” Story shouted as he pulled my hand. I turned but did not see the baseball, which is exactly what my Little League coaches would have told you about my sandlot career.
“What baseball?” I halfheartedly groaned, while scanning the floor and ceiling around a big stack of Pepsi cartons, hoping Mr. Sixteen-Items was paying with cash and not a check.
“Dad, it’s right there, in those cans!” Then I saw it. It was right in front of me in the Pepsi display.
An ingenious store clerk stacked 200 cartons so the white Pepsi labels formed a large circle and the red Pepsi logos made the curved seams of a baseball. I looked at my genius son and asked, “How did you see that?”
He calmly replied, “I don’t know, Dad. I just see things you don’t.”
A smart person told me kids see the arrow in the FedEx logo long before their parents will (look between the red E and X). My boys tell me they see angels in their room at night when we pray. But somehow they do not see their smelly socks on the floor. I do not fully understand, but someday they will probably tell me this is some kind of Mary vs. Martha spiritual issue.
Maybe my answer arrives in James’ wise words: “Be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19b) Or as Stephen Covey paraphrases, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” I, however, treat my kids as if we are on “Jeopardy!” buzzing in speedily with my final answer to everything they ask.
Maybe if I take a moment and deeply consider the question, “Daddy, can I have more ice cream?” I will learn something about my child. Maybe, just maybe, if I ask the Lord to show me the kids’ lives from their point of view, I might recapture their hearts.
It is simple; my kids see life from their perspective. I see a stack of clothes that need folding, while my sons see a sunny day and want to go outside and play. I see a dime-sized spider, while my daughters see a fifty-foot fanged fiend and certain death. Praise God that, as the kids grow, their perspective changes physically, academically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Dads, as this school year progresses, I hope you will join me in viewing your kids’ world from their perspective. Listen more and talk less, especially with your older kids. We can see life from their point of view and still be the leaders God calls us to be. Let us admit it—kids see things we do not. They feel pressures we do not. They will back away from a stranger because they discern something we cannot. They see opportunities we do not. The refrigerator box you are discarding becomes a fort in their eyes. So, buzz-in a little slower when they ask you about life. You will be their champion.
If you would like to share your thoughts on all of this or want some tips on late night diaper shopping, please contact me at ImperfectFather@Gmail.com.