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A few years ago I read a version of this story and was convicted about the importance of not giving my family my leftovers.

A man who works in a faith-based organization that helps kids and teenagers was talking to 2 daughters of men who work in his field while at a youth conference.

This man struck up a trusted relationship with the girls in his attempt to reach out to them each time he passed them smoking cigarettes.

In one of the interactions he asked, “I’m in a very similar job situation as your dads, and I have three daughters. What advice would you give me for being a good dad and helping my daughters live meaningful lives?”

One of the girls responded, “I hope you spend more time with your kids than my dad did with me. You see, he saved lots of kids, but he didn’t save me.”

Will your kids feel like you gave your all to everyone else, but didn’t take the time to invest in them?

Parenting lessons to takeaway from this story:

Time tells them they matter

Our children need us to spend time with them! They need us to make them part of our balancing act and to not take their presence for granted.

Make them a high priority

I know it’s hard each day to give to everything that “MUST” be done. It’s important to put spending more time with your kids on your list with the same amount of urgency as everything else.

Avoid regrets

There’s always work to be done. Work. Laundry. Cleaning. Chores. When you look back will you regret not keeping a clean enough house? Or are you more likely to regret not spending enough quality time with your kids?

Your family is your number one ministry

Being active in ministry pulls me and my husband in many directions at once. It’s important for us to be intentional with our primary ministry…our family. It wouldn’t be okay if we spent all our time pouring into others and aiding them in their spiritual growth, but didn’t do the same in our home. We practice what we preach.

Our most significant relationships deserve the “first course” and the best parts of us. Why give our best selves to people who don’t really matter as much in our lives?

As a therapist I spend countless hours listening and helping people live their best lives. Even after a long day of listening and helping others, it wouldn’t be fair for me to give my family less. They deserve better than leftovers!

* The story is adapted from Jim Burns’ book, Confident Parenting.