This is a guest post from my friend and pastor, Ross Strader. He offers such practical wisdom for connecting with your child. If you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog, see my guest post guidlines here.

Do you have a specific plan for how you are going to connect with your child’s heart?

Every leader knows that there are things you plan for in your week and then there the things that are unplanned. I come to the end of some weeks and realize I have been gone from home (especially nights) more than I’ve been there. Meetings, counseling, unexpected hospital trips, kids’ activities, etc., can easily push out the time at home in the evenings. I have found that even when we are at home there is homework and stuff around the house that keeps us all busy until bedtime.

When my oldest daughter was three and I was a seminary student working nights and going to school during the day, I began to take her to breakfast on Tuesdays before I dropped her off at the one-day a week Mother’s Day Out. There was a donut shop around the corner from our house. Turns out, it was the perfect spot to sit in a booth and connect with her heart.

Now, eleven years later, three mornings a week I take each of my children on a breakfast date. It is a time I have devoted to each one of my children and they have my undivided attention. I rarely take early morning appointments Tuesday through Thursday because those mornings are reserved for them. It’s the best leadership decision I have ever made.

As fathers, it is important that we craft a plan of investing in our children’s hearts that is consistent and your child will look forward to.

  • Investment – Not every breakfast date is a significant or profound conversation. I always end the time together asking my child how I can pray for them. But, we often talk about nothing more than school or current events. I can say, however, that most of the significant and profound conversations I’ve had with my children have happened at our weekly breakfast date.
  • Consistency – There have been very few things in my life that I have done with sustainable consistency, but breakfast dates have been one of them. There has hardly been a week since my oldest was three that I haven’t taken her to breakfast (my other children as well). We were at breakfast when the attack of 9/11 happened. We were at breakfast the first time she ever got behind the wheel of a car. For my other children, this was the setting of their first financial transaction. The donut shop is where they walked up to the counter, ordered for themselves, paid the bill and received change for the first time. It has been the time we’ve talked about God, faith, sex, boys, girls, friends, sports, quitting, and sticking with it. We’ve prayed. We’ve sat in silence. And we’ve tried every donut, pastry, bagel and breakfast taco within a ten-mile radius of where we live.
  • Expectation – It has also created the weekly opportunity that my children actually look forward to time with me. Sure, the chocolate milk is part of it. Feeling special while the other two eat cereal or microwave pancakes at home is part of it. But there is a great anticipation every week. Every week, each of them reminds me the night before their appointed morning. They don’t like to share their time. They look forward to it. So do I.

If you ask my kids what their dad does to spend time with them or to make them feel special, they would tell you breakfast dates.

Breakfast might not work as conveniently for you as it does for me, but something will. What’s your specific plan for investing in your child’s heart?

 

My name is Ross Strader. I am a husband, father, pastor and I seek to follow Jesus as He leads me in each of those callings. I grew up in West Texas, worked for Young Life, survived Dallas Seminary and currently serve Bethel Bible Church as the pastor of teaching and vision. I drink Big Red, work on a Mac and pray desperately that God would continue to show me the unfolding greatness of His good grace in a way that spills over into the lives of people around me. Ross is married to Leslie and the father of Maggie (14), Jay (11) and Katherine (6).
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