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"Daddy, I’m going to marry you.”
I looked at my six-year-old girl and said, “Really? What do you think Mom’s going to say about that?”
“Oh, we can share you,” she replied, and went off to play.
That was three years ago. Cute, huh? Yet, I was stunned to hear her tell me the results of her recent “MASH” game (where kids pick their favorite things and mix them up to create a pretend “life story”) just the other day. She lived in a mansion, drove a red convertible and was married to me—again. This time my wife was in the room when she said it. After my daughter explained that she still wanted to marry me, my wife interjected, “No way, you have to go get your own. He’s mine.” Apparently, there are slim pickins out there.
I love that my kids still love me. I’m not going to assume the same when they become teenagers—although my 12-year-old is still hanging in there—but wow, what a huge responsibility we have with our kids! I think about how much my wife and I shape their world: We’re power players in the design of their reality. They’ll look at the world partly through our lenses, and I hope they see the good stuff. I wonder sometimes what they will remember and what they will accept as fact. Will it be the faith stuff or the character stuff? Will it be the quirks and idiosyncrasies? Will it be the traditions we set?
I ran into the last one when I first got married. I grew up in a home where we’d get fast food, come home and scatter. My wife, on the other hand, did not. She grew up in a “dinner at the table” home. When we first got married, I would get dinner from the kitchen and head off into the TV room. She asked me more than once, “Where do you think you’re going?” You’d assume it would’ve sunk in faster, but honestly I was still thinking “scatter” when our first child was born. It was at that time my wife laid down the law about family dinners. Thank goodness she did, because our children have grown up knowing the majority of meals are “family meals,” where we sit down at the table and talk about our days. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a few nights where we split up and eat wherever, and sometimes we all gather in the living room to watch Duck Dynasty—but “Hey, listen here Jack,” is OK too.
It’s my hope that all of us take the world we’re designing for our kids both intentionally and unintentionally. I think it’s our responsibility to create a world of fun and laughter, responsibility, goodness and love. And I certainly hope that when our kids grow up to have kids of their own, they’ll be able to say, “Popcorn in bed? That’s always how my family did it!”
Lance Hahn is senior pastor at Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.