I’m convicted by the following observations from someone history has proven to have been an excellent father:
How many parents there are … who are readier to provide playthings for their children than to share the delights of their children with those playthings; readier to set their children to knowledge-seeking, than to have a part in their children’s surprises and enjoyments of knowledge-attaining; readier to make good, as far as they can, all losses to their children, than to grieve with their children over those losses. And what a loss of power to those parents as parents, is this lack of sympathy with their children as children.
Henry Clay Trumbull, Hints on Child Training (1890). Mr. Trumbull was Elisabeth Elliott’s great-grandfather. (Ms. Elliot was the wife of the martyr Jim Elliot, returned as a missionary to the tribe that murdered her husband, and authored numerous excellent books, to include Through Gates of Splendor. )
I have found it odd that while our children are young, impressionable, and living with us and looking up to us, it is so easy to focus on our careers, with a thought of how if we work hard, our senior years might be easier to enjoy. But isn’t that backwards? Shouldn’t we try to experience and enjoy the most while our children are with us (and while we’re still younger)? Mark Twain’s advice seems relevant to this point:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.