The Intentions of a Family Man
If you're not careful, your intentions of providing for your family can cause them to resent the hard work you do.
Becoming the husband of my wife 5½ years ago was one of most honoring feelings in the world for me.
Not in a possessive kind of a way, but more like, I have the privilege of making her happy for the rest of my life.
And when Rooney was born, I was quickly reminded of that honor as a first-time parent.
I have the privilege and honor of being her father. I get to teach her about life, watch her grow, watch her stumble and teach her about how to get back on the proverbial horse when she falls off.
If husband and father are two of my primary roles in life, what am I doing to ensure that I perform at my best in those roles?
Well, we should be doing things for our family, right? Get out there, work hard and bring home the bacon. And not just the microwave-ready bacon that's pre-cooked. Bring home the really good stuff, the premium thick cut bacon.
Only the best for my family!
The trade-off here is that, for most of us, bringing home the best bacon means a sacrifice of time away from the family. We want to feel as though we are accomplishing something, so we assume the role of the doer.
Groceries? I'll pick them up on my way home from work.
Dishes? I'll do them while you feed the baby.
We do things to do things, and, before we know it, we are feeling on top of the world. After all, getting things done is what it's all about! Or is it?
I'm all for being intentional with my time, and being productive and efficient satisfies my soul. But does it satisfy my family? Not always.
Most of the time they don't see the hard work we put in to get all these things done. They just see an empty chair at the dinner table.
This revelation didn't come easily. It took a good two months of my wife asking me to slow down, let the to-do list wait, enjoy our time together as a family.
Sadly, I ignored her for the first month. I was ignorant in thinking that it was her emotions getting the best of her. I so desperately wanted to get back into my routine and feel productive that I didn't adapt to the situation very well. I was hung up on getting things done. But, she was right. The things I thought I was providing for my family could have waited. It was my time that they craved.
They had everything they needed, except my presence.
I've learned a valuable lesson through this experience, and it's brought some clarity to what it means to be the man of the house and how to really be an intentional family man.
4 Ways to Be Intentional With Your Family
- Work hard. You must work to provide, so work harder and smarter when you are away from your family. In that first week I went back to work, I had a new focus. Get as much done in 8 hours so I could get home to be with my family (that is, when I didn't have something on my after-work to-do list).
- Be flexible. Before the baby, our routine was pretty established. But a baby changes everything, and that includes your routine. Decide which parts of your routine are most important. It's not that you can't do them, it's that you might have to get smart and change the time you do them. Our daughter goes to bed around 7 p.m. every evening. That leaves ample time to check things off the list after she goes to bed. I also used to exercise in the evening after work, but decided to sacrifice even more sleep and instead run in the morning, before my wife and daughter are awake.
- Be aware. Pay attention to the needs of your family. As the man, you are more important than you may think or know. When your wife needs you to be home to spend time with the family, do it.
- Be patient. Having a child is a MAJOR life transition. It will take time for things to settle down, and be assured that life will never be the same. It's not bad, it's just different. Accept the challenge with an open mind.
This list is as much for me as it is for you. We must choose to lead our families in a way that reflects what's important to us. And spending time with them is the most tangible way to show the love we have for them.
In what ways are you intentional with your family? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.