Life is all about balance. Whether in the midst of adversity, or when things are going well ...our goal is "balance". I have learned this lesson with our children. It is clear, to my wife and I, that their contentment, their happiness, is not dependant on us "giving" them stuff, or whether we do not. Furthermore, it is really not dependant on what we "do" with them; though it is important that we "do" things with them. But if we merely "do" ..without a purpose, without showing that we care, that "we" are interested ....then we have only "done".
I DO believe that it IS about how much time we spend with them; how much quality time we spend .....how much we show that what is important to them is, also, important to us. Skateboarding and drums for my middle son, music and "thinking / discussion" for my oldest, and just plain ole' having "FUN" with our youngest ....though his world is beginning to change as well ...so we need to adjust with it. His now "simple" contentment will soon change to ceaseless curiosity and likely dis-contentment with the same ole'. He'll want to test boundaries, and see what is out there.
BUT, and there is always a "but" ..because that is, in part, where the "balance" comes from. There are / must be some non-negotiables. My wife and I must decide what values and practices we hold dear. We'll need to be firm on those, but at the same time flexible where / when it is warranted. Not wishy-washy ....but flexible. There is a difference. Sometimes the line between the two is rather "thin" ..but there is a huge "effective" difference. We must be ply-able enough and discernable enough, as parents, to know when to make those judgment calls.
More than anything ...my wife and I must keep on keepin' on. I honestly believe this is, hands-down, the MOST IMPORTANT thing in the world for our children. We must decide the "right" things to do, the "right" directions to go ....and we must pursue them accordingly ...and make clear, by our own actions and lifestyle, that the non-negotiables WILL be accomplished ...with or without the active (impassive) participation of our children, as they so choose. They must continue to see, into adult-hood, what is important to us. They are going to be "grown" soon enough, themselves. They'll have their own adulthood and own realities to live with, make decisions for, and wrestle through.
I want them to see their mom and dad, even when they are adults themselves, still pushing toward the goal of the non-negotiables ...all while being "gracefully" flexible and compassionate toward theirs, and others, needs.
That is all really easy to "say" ...and much more difficult to live out..... to "balance". But if we don't first say it and make a decision as to what we willl do ...then we will most certainly never actually do it.
This is my challenge to "us", as parents. This is a challenge my wife and I present to ourselves. Our relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ, and His will, is priority #1. I'm not talking merely about the church building and the attendance thereof. I'm talking about Christ-like-ness and following His will. My youngest is involved in Scouting. And his "mom" is his den leader... his Akela! This is a great teacher! This shows a commitment to our son, and the other boys in his den, and it teaches them such good values ...simple values ..which will endear them the rest of their lives.
It would be reasonable to say that we must be almost robotic, without discounting the compassion only a human can have, in our endeavor to be consistent ...to do what we do because it is what Jesus Christ would have us do. We need to live like we can't imagine another way ...as if, internally, we have no choice ...even though we have been given the opportunity and literal act of just that ...."choice".
Our kids will notice ..and sooner or later they'll "get it". And if they do not, later, get it ....then it is not because mom and dad failed to demonstrate it. They, too, will continue to have "choices" to make.