We do so much for our kids:

work late to ensure we keep climbing the ladder

enroll our kids in lessons and activities so they have every opportunity

drive them all over town and beyond so they can keep an active social life

buy them things they don’t really need so they can have every ‘advantage’

But did you ever think that what you do with your kids is as important than what you do for your kids? It’s an important distinction. Because often the things we do for our kids takes us away from the time we would could have spent with our kids. While this tension exists in every home, the more affluent you are, the more you will struggle with this.

One of the things I treasured most as a kid was the time I spent with my grandparents. Until I was ten years old, we were neighbors with them, and I saw them almost every day. They were a like a second set of parents to me.

My grandparents were immigrants who worked hard to make it in a new country. Although by the time I came along, they had a house and a car, they didn’t have a lot of money. What they did have was time. We did so many things together. Though we sometimes went on field trips and a few outings, those weren’t necessarily my favorite moments. My favorites were those spent with them in the every day, ordinary course of life. Some of my fondest memories include:

helping my grandfather build things in his garage

eating my grandmother’s cooking, and helping my grandparents clean up the meal

sitting in the backyard in the shade on a hot summer’s day

helping them paint and clean up around the yard

seeing my grandparents read the Bible at meal times

What they did with me was so powerful. I didn’t care that they couldn’t do much for me. They couldn’t get me into the right school, help me with my homework, get me a good job or enroll me in sports. They just hung out. But in doing so, they made a lasting contribution to my life. Ironically, by doing so much with me, they did an immeasurable amount for me.

I know as a parent, I have been tempted to justify my hard work, long hours or constant enrolment of my kids in ‘programs’  as a justification that I’m doing something good for my kids. But in the end, one of the best investments I can make as a parent is what I do with my kids.

What are you doing with your kids these days? And to what extent does what you’re doing for your kids compete with the time you could spend being with your kids?