Sky Ranch News

IT WAS HOT.

by Amanda Murray on April 24, 2014

I am not talking about sweltering Texas summer heat that melts the asphalt so that it sticks to the soles of you shoes hot.  That kind of heat was what it was like in the shade.  I am talking Florida in July, middle of a three month drought, choking on smoke from multiple area wildfires, pushing a stroller with two kids at Disneyland with a pregnant wife kind of hot.  It was a furnace.

There is a picture of my young daughter passed out in a stroller at Epcot Center completely sprawled out with exhaustion.  I look back at that picture today and wonder how our kids ever survived us.  What were we thinking dragging our kids around the Disney theme parks for a week in that heat?  I find it quite ironic that I am writing a blog about fathering when I think about my poor parenting that day and the misery I put my children though in that heat.

As I write this, I also find myself asking how in the world I ever survived all the family outings?  I am not thinking about the kids anymore, this is about what typically happened to me on those trips.  It always seemed to cost me money.  The kids rarely seemed to appreciate it.  If I only got into two little stress spats with the wife, that was a good trip.  The kids slept through half of the trip or couldn’t keep their heads out of their devices.  The lines… oh my goodness… the lines we stood in.  I can remember almost every time asking myself at some point, “Why do I put myself through this?”

I am older now.  I have the perspective of time to look back on those days.  Seasons have passed and now I am experiencing the fruits of that labor.  The two girls who passed out at Epcot are now in college.  The boy that we had just learned my wife was carrying the day before we left on that trip is now in eighth grade.  I look at them today and, while not perfect, they have all three turned out to be children that any dad could be proud of.  They do well in school.  They are respectful of others.  All three accepted Jesus as their savior and are active in their faith.  I could go on as any proud father would, but what I am basically saying is they turned out well.

As a father raising them in those early days of the Disney trip, I can honestly say I had no idea what I was doing.  I didn’t have the perspective of time to evaluate things.  I was just praying, modeling my dad, and winging it a lot.  Probably many people reading this blog with young children are in the same place I was back then.  As I look back on those trips and experiences that were so difficult for me, my new found perspective of time provides me an opportunity to share a few things that I think were key in the way my kids turned out.

What I have come to realize is that giving your children experiences is critical.  The more your child can see and experience in life, the better equipped they are to learn.  They will draw on their experiences as they learn new information and concepts in the classroom and even in Sunday school.  This will happen even into their college years.  This is how the brain works when we try to learn new things.  We learn new concepts by contrasting them against things we already know.  That blistering trip to Florida was an experience they drew from throughout their school years and will take into their careers.  The same can be said about all the other outings we took.  Give them experiences away from home.  Being away from home and the comfort of their normal surroundings also gives them a sense of independence and self-awareness.  Independence and self-awareness are foundational components of being a critical thinker.  Take them on overnight trips.  Let them stay overnight with families you can trust.  Send them to camp.  As I look back on the things we did, I can now see that that time away from home with and without us helped them learn to think for themselves.  That was critical as they became teenagers and had to deal with peer pressure.

I don’t believe there is a single magic bullet that works when it comes to being a dad.  Parenting in reality is the summation of a series of actions and decisions you make along the way.  The path is different for everyone because we all face different situations while raising our kids.  But I do think there are some general things we can do that will contribute to the odds that your kids will turn out well.

So this weekend take your kid somewhere.  It will probably cost you money.  They will probably seem unappreciative at times.  You may or may not have a “difference of opinion” with your spouse from time to time.  You most likely at some point will ask yourself, “Why do I do this?”   Just know that based on my experience, some day when you, too, have gained the perspective of time you will be able to answer that question.  I know I now can.

One reason I know this is because after writing this, I looked through every scrapbook we had looking for the picture I included in this blog of my daughter passed out in the heat of that Disney trip.  I finally found it.  It was not in a scrapbook anymore.  It was pasted in a collage of pictures she had put together for her graduation party a year ago.  All of the pictures in that collage were of things that mattered to her.  Something about that trip mattered.

Todd Witt is a dad to three and the Director of School Programs at Sky Ranch. 


Posted in Homepage Featured, SkyDads, by Amanda Murray

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