As my youngest son entered kindergarten, the realization hit me that I was going to miss out on a lot. At the time, I was working a second shift job that provided in great ways for my family’s needs. I remember weeping (like the really ugly kind of crying) when I realized the last day of summer was over because I knew it meant our freedom was gone. My family would be at home while I was at work. I’d be at home while my sons were at school.
Growing up, my dad was absent, not just kind of distant, like really absent. He had a separate family he lived with. As I grew up, I knew I wanted to become the best father possible. I wanted to be at all of my sons’ sporting events and very involved in their lives. I wanted to my own version of Dr. Cliff Huxtable. (What a tragedy the reality of his actions and lifestyle have turned out to be years later). Yes, I watched on The Cosby Show. I expected to be that kind of a dad when I became a father. Well, this just wasn’t the case. I felt so ashamed of it. Because of my schedule, Heather, my amazing wife, functioned as a single mom. That piled on the shame, but our bills were paid. We bought a house, purchased new cars and paid off debt. That part was great, but our family unit was not as strong as it could be"....
Working a second shift job, I had to find creative ways to make sure I was a part of their lives. I would have lunch with our sons at school. On Fridays, I would stop by McDonald's and pick up ice cream and apple pies and wake my boys up and we’d watch TV and eat our desserts. It just felt like it wasn’t enough. I missed out on plenty of soccer games, after-school fun and school events themselves.
So, I made a decision that I was going to do whatever it took to get on 1st shift. It finally happened in 2011. I accepted a position to transfer within the same company in a different department on 1st shift. I didn’t care about its reputation or the reputation of the people I was going to work with. I just knew that for my family’s sake I needed to be on 1st shift.
Later that fall, I started my new position with my schedule. It felt like a whole new life. Heather and I actually got to spend time with our boys as a family. We got our family time and our bills were paid for. I would show up to dinner with my cell phone and answer text messages and phone calls during dinner responding to work-related issues. I would actually be present, but not really there in person.
Heather and I had a come to Jesus conversation shortly after that. I realized how much I was stealing from my family with that kind of lifestyle. I wanted and still want my sons to succeed in life. I want them to enjoy the life they live. I want them to really have a great life that will set them up for success in their adulthood years.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this desire. I think all parents want similar things for their kids. So I had to do some soul-searching and make the decision I was going to do whatever it took to succeed in that desire. I was amazed at what I found. This discovery was shockingly simple, almost too good to be true. I didn’t believe it at first but after the research was explained, I couldn't deny it. So I decided to try it myself.
The one important decision we made was to make our dinner time the most important hour possible. We came up with The Ulrich Family Dinner Rules. We still live by these rules years later.
Parents, this might have been one of the most important decisions I made as a father. Taking time to work on how we lead our families is crucial. It’s easy to allow the days to turn into weeks and the weeks to turn into years. Before we know it our kids are graduating from high school and we have missed some opportunities to set them up for success.
Studies have shown that the best way parents can set up their kids for success had little to do with the school they attend or what sports they participate in. The number one factor according to several studies is eating meals together on a regular basis around the family dinner table.
A Google search will show you the results for yourself. Click here for the results of "studies about eating a meal together as a family and success"
In this blog mini-series, we are going to lay out our suggested strategy for parents to set up their children for success by making the decision to make their own dinner time the most important part of their week.
WHy a blog?
RE.THINK Church values being a church that is casual. Casual Church goes far beyond the way we dress, it's more about we expect people to take this journey at their own pace. We are here to journey with everyone. So we've created a blog so people can check us out before they show up for a service.