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Keeping Your Children First

October 15, 2006

In today’s fast paced lifestyle, time flies by so quickly. It seems that it was just a few years ago that I started my construction company, but when I actually sit down and do the math, I realize it’s been 10 years. Time flies by quickly for adults, but not so for children. Children are brimming with a need—a need that folks over 30 often forget ever existed. It is a need to do something; anything, really, just so long as it’s “something.” Let me explain.

When I was in my early teens, I took up every kind of sport from tennis to hunting. Looking back, I can see that my choice of friends and activities were not happenstance; everything was carefully guided. When I was 14 years old, I decided to ride my bike to my grandparents’ house—170 miles away. It seemed like a good plan at the time. Mom and Dad were going the next day, so I could come back with them. It was mid July, and after 150 miles on my 10 speed Huffy bike, in a humid 102 degrees, with nothing but a 2-liter Coke to drink, I realized it was not the greatest idea after all. My legs locked up in cramps. “Next time,” I told myself, “I should bring water.” From a physical standpoint, it was a stupid idea, as my dad already well knew, but from an eternal standpoint, there was no loss, just two sore legs. It was one of my “somethings.”

Looking back, the activities I chose were healthy activities that my parents steered me toward. As an adult, I can now see clearly that the things we choose in those precarious teenage years are building blocks for the rest of our lives. If you prevent your children from exploring the world of possibilities, or if you cloister them away from friends, preventing them from doing “something,” it will backfire when they finally get big enough to seize their freedom. They will explode into the world of possibilities with no discernment and no self-control. If you do not provide your teenagers with things to do, they will do one of three things:

They will rebel and find their own activities, be they good or bad.
In their later years (once they move out of the house, or by the time they even reach their early 20’s) they will begin experimenting with a variety of things that as a child and teenager they never had the opportunity to do.
They will become lazy and indifferent, and lose their drive and ambitions.

When they are still children or young teenagers you can guide and direct them, but once they leave your home the opportunity is gone. It’s not just our obligation as parents, but our duty to surround our children with healthy activities and friends. By creating a proper environment, we can allow our children to maintain their individuality without sacrificing their morality.

I was fortunate enough to live in an environment where I could create healthy activities. I said, “fortunate,” but that’s not really accurate; it was a very calculated, collective decision made by my parents, and at the time I didn’t even know it. We were kept busy all the time with “something.” During that time of keeping busy, all of us kids discovered what we did and didn’t want to do in the future, whether it was the kind of work we were doing or our latest hobby.

Education and financial stability are great American luxuries, but they must be kept in balance. What makes this country great can also destroy it. I can honestly say, looking back, that we children were never put on the back burner for the sake of ministry or my father’s occupation. Rather, they carefully integrated us into their work, their ministry, and their play. And for that, I will be eternally grateful. So, whether you make six thousand or six million a year, always remember to keep those kids first.

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