The "How Not To" of Parenting

By Alex Rodriguez

Back before I had children, I thought I knew everything there was to know about parenting. In fact, I remember getting a call from my sister and listening to her child-rearing woes. Being Mr. Fix-It, I dished out a plethora of wise counsel. It’s a good thing she took it all with a grain of salt!

About the Author

Alex Rodriguez is the Director of Evangelism and Field Services for the Voice of Prophecy.

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Here I am, four kids later, and I'm no closer to perfecting my child-raising portfolio. My oldest turned 12 a few days ago. A couple of weeks prior, as I thought about his upcoming birthday, it dawned on me that I don’t have many more years left before he’s driving. Then off to college, then married, then. . . How quickly they grow!

Tonight, he asked me if I thought I’d have more time this summer. The question took me by surprise. I have to admit, I got a bit defensive. I answered, "Son, I’ve got a lot of time. I’m gone a lot too, but I’m here quite a bit." I caught the slight look of dejection as he nodded and said, "Yeah, I guess so."

You would think at this point I'd pull him aside and like a loving, understanding, caring father, ask him to share with me what was on his mind. But, no. Too much pride in me to do that. Instead, I continued in self-preservation mode and said "Son, it’s not about having more time this summer, I have plenty of time. It's about what you are wanting to do that you'd like me to be a part of." I know, right now you're thinking I'm a pretty big jerk. And you’re right; I am. 

I pressed him for more information while holding my proud head high. After all, daddy needs to show him his line of thinking is flawed, right? Solomon mentioned this in Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." And Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:27, wrote, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty."

Sure enough, Scripture is always right. As I pressed, my son looked up and said, "Yeah, I know you're here, it's just that I don't know how to throw or catch a football and I can't shoot a basket further than four feet away. I thought maybe you could teach me this summer." That took my breath away. Especially when you factor in the fact that my undergrad degree is in physical education. 

You might be thinking, how does a 12-year-old in America not know how to throw a football or shoot a basket? Well, it's a long story. And, I'm afraid if I tried to tell it, I'd only get defensive again. Suffice it to say that I left sports years ago and have not put a huge emphasis on it. But this blog is not about sports. In fact, I still love sports. What I want to admit is my poor parenting skills. It dawns on me that what my kids really need of me is more time—quality time. It's not about being home. It's not about buying them toys. In fact, they could care less about the toys—my toy-strewn yard is a testimony to that fact. What they really want is me.

Unfortunately, I can't say that has been my strong point. Don't get me wrong, I've always provided for the family and I spend time with my kids. But, obviously, I need to do more. Sometimes I get so involved in my own little world, most of the time it's doing good things like ministry, that I forget the most important ministry of all—family. God forgive me!