A Question Every Parent Should Ask

What Do My Children Need Me to Change?

Shortly after moving to Connecticut, Haylee (my daughter) and I were going to make a follow-up visit for a new family in our church. On the way, we decided to have a quick dinner at Panera Bread. Our family had been pretty busy, and I was (and still am) asking God for wisdom in how to stay in touch with her heart.

As we talked, I couldn’t help but be taken back by the young lady she has so quickly become. And at the same time I worry about how the devil targets her—and how I might have a blind spot. I think that’s my biggest fear as a parent—blind spots. I feel so dependent upon the Lord, other Christian friends, and my wife to help me see what I can’t.

And then the Lord laid on my heart to ask her a question. It happened to be after the brief (but all too frequent) interruption of the cell phone.

“Haylee… how can I be a better dad?”

She shrugged the question off and said, “I don’t know…” She was politely dismissive.

“Yes, you do,” I challenged, “You just don’t want to say it. Please, tell me one thing I can do to be a better dad for you…”

She shrugged it off again.

“Haylee, come on,” I gently prodded, “If you could change anything about me, what would it be?”

“I would take your phone away,” she said with a gentle but wry smile. By the way, we were both cordial through this whole exchange—it wasn’t tense.

Man, was I busted, big time—and I knew it. That was convicting.

“Haylee, I’m sorry.”

And she said, “No, it’s really ok, I’m not upset at you or anything…”

“Yeah, but I know I need to be more thoughtful and careful about it.”

With that, we began to talk about how I could become less of a loser-father, practically speaking. We came up with a simple solution for the phone thing. And we enjoyed more conversation—until she received a text message on her phone. Then we both laughed, as we remembered it goes both ways in the twenty-first century family.

So here’s a quick challenge for you, parent. Sometime soon, sit down in a cordial moment and ask your child this simple but oh so risky and scary question:

“If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?”

And then, don’t defend or excuse yourself. Don’t get discouraged and kick yourself. After all, we’re all losers in some ways.

Just seriously ask God to help you work on that one thing.

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