When I worked with teenagers, I would meet with the seniors in the beginning of the year. We would talk about the opportunity the year presented. The greatest opportunity I had to have impact was during their senior year. They were the oldest and most influential kids in the school. Taking time to care for and invest in younger students would have been a meaningful way to spend their time. Unfortunately, most were tempted to check out around January, choosing instead just to count down the days to graduation. Opportunity missed.
As dads, our greatest opportunity to influence our kids is the first 15 years. The last thing we want is to be is a distracted dad and miss the chance to impact them. Knowing the potential distractions can help us stay focused. Here are 5 of the worst distractions dads deal with.
Work not only provides for our family, but it gives us a great sense of accomplishment. Kevin Kline’s character in the movie Dave said work is “about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day.” Working is good, but if it’s my sole focus, I become a distracted dad. When time with our families gets suffocated by emails, meetings, and overtime, we’ve lost perspective on what’s important. There are times when working extra hours is necessary, but when it becomes the norm, we need to refocus.
2. Sports and Sports News
I love sports, and I’ve passed on this passion to my kids. There’s nothing wrong with watching the game, but it easily can become too much. If you’re constantly checking the scores, fiddling with your fantasy team, or watching the highlights when your son, daughter, or wife is desperate to talk to you, then it’s a distraction. Another thing to check is how it affects your emotions. If your team loses, will it ruin your day, cause your to speak harshly, or affect the mood in your house? I’m guilty of that. Don’t let it happen in your house. It’s a waste of time to be affected that deeply.Put your phone down and go make some memories instead of viewing everyone else’s.
3. Social Media
Scroll, like a picture, scroll some more, like a couple more pictures. Watch some videos. Two hours later, your neck hurts and you have no idea where anyone in your house is. They’re probably in other rooms doing the same thing. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Social media isn’t all bad, but it does suck up valuable time that could be spent talking or playing together. Put your phone down and go make some memories instead of viewing everyone else’s.
4. Daily Grind
Wake up, get the kids to school, go to work, mow the lawn, pick the kids up, pay the bills, clean the house, fix dinner… We all have checklists we need to complete in a given day or week. It can lead to a “head down and go” mentality. The problem is that when we’re that focused on checking the boxes, we can miss the small moments that bring joy, like the conversations on the ride to school, the beauty and scents of freshly cut grass, seeing your kids learn something new or talk about something they’re excited about. As you run fast through your daily schedule, don’t miss the moments you may cherish forever.
James 1:4 warns us that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” It’s always tempting to give in to our selfish desires, but at a minimum, we miss the opportunity to invest our time in our kids and wife, if we’re married. At worst, it leads to a lack of maturity, discipline, and morality. All of that means that when we give into temptation, we are less sharp and less focused on the things that bring life to our families.
Sound off: What are some other things that lead to being a distracted dad?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What distracts you the most from the things you should be doing?”