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Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Good Parenting Usually Isn’t Efficient

  • Jim Daly
    Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Nov 13
  • Comments

Does this routine sound familiar? Fold the laundry, change the diaper, buy the things for that science fair project, make dinner, walk the dog. It never seems to end!

When you’re in the middle of a long to-do list it’s easy to fall into the temptation of measuring a day’s success by how many of those items you manage to cross off. That’s why in this post, I’m not going to share tips with you on how to get it all done.

Instead, my encouragement for you today is … don’t.

I’ll illustrate my point with a story:

Back during President Lincoln’s administration, Charles Francis Adams was the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. He spent one day fishing with Brooks, his 8-year-old son. Brooks had such a good time that he later wrote in his diary, “Went fishing with my father – the most glorious day in my life.” 

Heartwarming, right? But there’s a sad plot twist to this story.

Years later, Brooks found an entry in his father’s diary that documented the same fishing trip.  His father had written, “Went fishing with my son – a day wasted.”

Can you imagine how his father’s assessment of the day must have pierced Brooks’ heart?

 Maybe Ambassador Adams was having a bad day, or maybe he just didn’t get it. Checking off tasks as “done” isn’t the best way to gauge a day’s success because, more often than not, good parenting isn’t about efficiency. 

It’s not that to-do lists aren’t important or useful. It’s that sometimes the best thing to do is to take the time to truly connect with our children.

The best moms are those who sometimes take a step back from all those items begging to be completed to spend time reading with their kids. The best dads are those who understand they have to stop looking down at their smartphone and start looking into their kids’ eyes.

Those special moments of togetherness are what kids will remember and cherish.  It’s the times of carefree laughter, learning and affection that will stay with them and let them know they’re valued.

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