Dad Advice: Act Like a Family Dog
When I get home after work at about 5pm, I have been out of the house for about 12 hours. The day is just about done, and I am tired, sometimes I am stressed with the days events. I just want to relax and unwind, and often my prayer as I open the front door is less of, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” and more of, “Please make things the way I want (calm & organized…) so I can have serenity.”
I am learning…slowly
Often, when I cross the threshold of the home, it is like entering into a swirling vortex of chaos. It is the “witching hour” after all. Dinner is cooking, the baby is crying, and the girls are running around the house like a tornado leaving a path of pink, glittery, destruction in their wake. Everyone is hungry and cranky…and sometimes it has been delegated to me to address some misbehaviour that the pink, glittery tornadoes have committed, or perhaps there is something that needs fixing, or some other thing requires my attention.
I can just imagine my wife saying, as the baby is crying, and the girls are fighting in a cloud of glitter:
“Just wait til you father gets home!”
Being tired after a long day, it is so easy to just act on impulse and yell at the kids, or discipline in anger. Or plop down on the couch and simply ignore it. But the Bible is very clear that both of those responses are wrong. Biblical discipline is, ultimately, not meant as mere behaviour modification, but as a means of showing the gospel of Jesus in action. And the Bible tells us not to do it in anger or with indifference, but with care and pointing to Christ.
Something I have learned is that when I walk in the door at 5pm, it is actually the beginning of the day, not the end. Even though I am tired, I have not been with my family all day. They have not seen me at all, and how I first engage with them in those first five minutes is going to set the tone for the whole home for the rest of the evening. So the first thing I do when I get home, before anything else, is act like a family dog.
That’s right….I act like a family dog. Not a guard dog. Not a fighting dog…a family dog…
What does a family dog do when the family arrives home? He is happy and excited to see everyone and he runs around and greets everyone.
So I run around and greet everyone.
I wag my tail.
I put on a smile.
I kiss my wife, grab my kids and toss them in the air, hug them, and then once I have expressed affection to each person…when they know that daddy is not an ogre…then I deal with the misbehaviour, or fix the broken pipe, or deal with whatever issue there is. That sets the tone for the evening. Not only is it good for the family. It is good for me as well, as it puts me in a proper frame of mind for any discipline, as well as for dinner and family devotions.
No, guys, I don’t have any biblical texts to back me up on acting like a family dog. But it does tell us to not rebuke in anger, and really, it takes a mere 5 minutes to show a little affection and greet everyone when we walk in the door.
What do you have to lose?
Feel free to try it.
It is not always easy, sometimes I forget…but it really does make a positive difference.