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4 (more) New Year’s resolutions for a better family

My youngest son was born six months ago this month. During that time he has learned to hold his head up, grab toys, roll over, and—my favorite —smile.

It’s been an incredible short journey, but it certainly doesn’t seem like he was born six months ago. In fact, it seems more like five minutes.

A friend warned me years ago that when you have children, time accelerates. It’s as if “Back to the Future’s” Marty McFly and Doc Brown are in charge of your life, driving you from year to year in their magical DeLorean—all with the power of that much-needed flux capacitor.

But we don’t need to depend on Hollywood movies to understand and appreciate the brevity of time. God warned us long ago that our lives are like a “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The Bible’s point isn’t to depress us but to give us a sense of urgency—to encourage us to treat each day as if it could be our last. Life, after all, is a gift, and we should live with a spotlight on eternity (Hebrews 13:14).

But with so many distractions in our day-to-day lives, how do we stay focused? Here’s one way: Make meaningful New Year’s resolutions. Last year I listed five resolutions in Refreshed: Each day vow to read the Bible with your child; get home from work earlier; say more positive words around your child; spend less time on your smartphone and love your spouse more in front of your children). This year, I’m listing a few more—for me and perhaps for you, too.

If you’re looking for a few resolutions for 2016, consider these:

1. Pray for your kids. I’m not referencing the weekly or monthly “dear-God-please bless-my-child” prayer. I’m talking about pleading with God each day—and even throughout the day—for your kids. Yes, pray for their health, their grades and their relationships, but also pray for their future. Do you want them to have a great career? Marry a godly spouse? Give you wonderful grandchildren? Then pray for it. The Bible says there are blessings from God we don’t receive because we don’t ask (James 4:3). That’s convicting, isn’t it?

2. Pray with your kids. It’s not enough that I am praying for my children. They need to see me pray. If this intimidates you, then begin by reciting the Lord’s Prayer each night with your kids. They will catch on. A few nights ago my 4-year-old son woke up with a stomach bug and—over the span of an hour—lost all of his supper in the toilet. He knew he needed help, and he knew the help ultimately wasn’t coming from me. “Daddy,” he pleaded, “pray for me!”

3. Give with your kids. Our goal should be to raise children who see a need in others and meet it—that is, to raise children who live selflessly. Of course, your life as a parent is full of sacrificing for your kids, but, sadly, those lessons often go unnoticed. Here’s what children do notice: Mommy and Daddy and the entire family giving their time to others. Such as visiting someone in the hospital. Or taking baked goods to the elderly woman across the street. Or volunteering at the homeless shelter. Your kids may complain for a short while, but it will change them for the better. And they won’t ever forget it.

4. Get in your kids’ world. My oldest son’s favorite three things in life are these: animals, animals, and animals. Animals aren’t very high on my list, but if I am going to relate to my son as he matures into a man, then animals better be somewhere up there. Too often when he’s reading to me his latest “amazing animal fact,” my mind is elsewhere—on work, on church, even on the latest ballgame. He usually senses this and complains: “Dad, you’re not even listening.” He’s right—but I will do better this year. I must.

That’s because a few years from now, my son will be off to college and I will be at home, wondering how 18 years passed by in about, well, five minutes. By then, I will have all the time in the world to think about work or the latest ballgame or even to watch “Back to the Future” a dozen times. But I’ll probably be wishing my son was back home, on the couch, talking a mile a minute—and reading me all of those animal facts.

Michael Foust

— by Michael Foust

Foust is the father of four small children and blogs about parenting at michaelfoust.com.

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