In the spirit of Reggie’s post, Looking Back, I want to reflect today on what I might do differently if I could start raising my kids all over again.  But we thought it would be fun to draw my dad, Marten, into the conversation. He was (and is) a great dad, but we both think it’s ironic that so much of the learning happens after your kids are past their formative years.

My dad is 70, and I’m 45.  So, in the interests of helping young parents who still have lots of time with their kids, here are some things my dad and I might do differently if we had the chance:

Work less.  Hurry home more.

(Both my dad and I have strong work ethics.  He was an immigrant to Canada making the sole wage for his wife and four kids…and he became very successful.  But he wishes he was home more.  I worked ridiculous hours in the first eight years of ministry.  No one asked me too, I just did.  I think I used to find my value in what I produced for Christ, not in what Christ produced in me. )

Say no to others so you can say yes to family

(You will always have more opportunities than time available.  I felt an obligation to say ‘yes’ to every request, even if it impinged on family time.  I wished I had learned to say no to others earlier so I could have said yes to my family sooner.)

Be more of a spiritual partner

{My dad wishes he had relied a little less on the church for our spiritual formation and realized his influence as a parent better.  He used to ask us if we were reading our Bibles.  I love how he puts it:  “Sometimes I would get a (sarcastic) remark like ‘Oh yeah Dad.’  That would make me back off rather than go deeper and try to gain your confidence.”   I’m sure I was the sarcastic one, but I know I always appreciated my dad’s questions.}

Value unstructured time

(I’m too task driven for my own good and loved structuring our family time.  Sometimes Toni and the boys would just want the pure joy of having nothing to do on an evening or Saturday. Wish I’d seen the value in that years ago.)

Show them how, not just what

(When I was young,my family opened a convenience store as a side business.  I wanted to help.  My dad, frustrated at my constant questions, said “here, paint this door.”  I did.  He came back and said “Carey, it’s not such a great job”.  Apparently I said “Well, you told me to do it but you never showed me how.”  Been there myself now as a dad. The joy isn’t always in getting the project, done, but in doing it together.)

Overlook the Inconvenience

(Your kids will never talk to you at a convenient time. So just value the conversation instead.)

These are just a few of the things we would change. What are you learning?  What would you change if you could start all over again?