News flash, right? If you’ve got kids, you know what I’m talking about.
But specifically, I am being reminded right now of my selfishness as we do what many parents do as their kids grow up – help them find their “thing.” The “thing” in question could be anything: baseball, dance, painting, playing the piano, academics – you name it. It’s that thing that your child is gifted at, enjoys, and takes pleasure in.
Here’s the thing, though – I think we naturally want our kids to have our “thing.” I played sports growing up. I wasn’t great, but I enjoyed it. Even today, there’s not much better to me than sitting on my couch on a Saturday afternoon watching college football. Or the World Series. I’ll even settle for the World Cup. And I’m realizing that I’ve been trying to impose my thing on Joshua, our 5-year-old.
He enjoys playing, too, but it feels like when he watches 5 minutes of a game with me he’s doing so out of the goodness of his heart. What he’d rather be doing is playing with Lego’s. Or telling stories to each other. Or setting up an elaborate Star Wars-based live action drama in the living room.
Not watching the ball game.
But my job as a dad isn’t to make him do my thing; it’s to help him discover and develop his thing and encourage him in it. It’s the encouraging part that takes the most effort I think.
Let’s say, for example, that Joshua’s thing is playing the piano. I don’t own a piano. I once learned to play “The Entertainer,” but I don’t go much beyond that. I don’t even listen to music in the car – I do my thing, which is sports talk radio. But part of my job, as entrusted to me by my Father, is not just to allow Joshua to do his thing, but for me to learn about that thing. To be able to have an intelligent conversation about the piano. To invest emotionally in it.
That means that a part of my job is to be willing to put my thing on the back burner.