Emotional Health•Family•Parenting • 4 minutes to read
One of the greatest detriments caused by my pornography addiction is it taught me to chase the high. Always pursue the bigger wave. Never settle for a “so-so” experience.
I had no idea this would impact the way I parent my sons. But it does.
Like most dads (I’m assuming), I want a good relationship with my sons. But also like most dads (I know), I have brokenness that gets in my way. One way this brokenness manifests in my life is, you guessed it, chasing “bigger wave” experiences with my sons.
Let me explain.
I really want my sons to look up to me and admire me. I want to be a good dad, but I also want a friendship with them. And because of this “chase the high” perspective, I have approached my relationship with my sons this way. I look for big moments, things we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Things like: going out on dates, attending big events, having life-altering conversations, doing deep dives into our emotions (my oldest is only 4…really, Trevor?), or watching life-changing movies (yes, they exist).
Here’s the problem with this: these types of moments don’t come around every day, week, or year. So, if I’m chasing after these moments and they don’t happen or come to fruition, what do I do? Nothing. I check out on my phone, or with a book or TV. I bail on my sons.
Why do I do this? Because I’m setting myself up for failure. I’m looking for big moments with my sons, and when I don’t get them, I feel like a failure. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to enjoy failure all that much. So instead, I run from it.
Chasing “big wave” moments with my sons isn’t working. Everyone loses when I chase the big moments.
Another subtle way this “big wave” mentality manifests is by me not even engaging with my sons. Because, if I engage, there’s always the chance I will fail. What if I can’t make this big moment happen? What if my son doesn’t remember my powerful words during this conversation (remember…he’s only 4)? What if what we’re doing doesn’t matter? These questions can paralyze me as a dad.
This. Is. Bad. So what do I do about it?
Well, there are two choices. First, I can continue doing what I’m doing and just pray my son gets a really great counselor who can help him work through all the neglect and lack of presence from his father. Or, secondly (and better-ly), I can change my approach.
Seeing how I’m an adult and my 4-year-old is 4 years old, it’s got to start with me.
I have the privilege of getting my Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional certification through IITAP. We just did the four-day training of module 1. The whole thing was incredible and I learned so much. But there’s one primary truth I walked away with.
On day one of the training, our teacher, Dr. Adrian Hickman (who’s incredible by the way!), told a story about taking his boys on these special trips every year. He talked about his approach to these trips and how he chased “big wave moments.” Sadly, over the 70 trips he took with his boys, there are only two “big wave moments” any of them can remember.
As a dad, I know I’d be disappointed if this were true of my trips with my sons.
Adrian didn’t seem disappointed, however. It was odd. Well, he went on to explain that the other 68 non-big wave moment trips are exactly what made those two big wave moments so meaningful.
He then said something amazing. He said, “Quantity time is foundational and vital for the development of intimate relationships.”
This was a dagger into the heart of what pornography had taught me.
Developing deep and intimate relationships with my boys is not about the quality of time as much as it is about the quantity of time. In Dr. Hickman’s words, quantity time is the “ultimate ‘I love you.’”
That night, I went home changed. Seriously.
I realized my approach to parenting was all wrong. In my attempt to be an amazing dad, I was crippling myself from being even a “so-so” dad. I saw how important it was to just be with my sons. Not running after big wave moments or life-changing experiences. This is not what my sons will remember. What they’ll remember is if their dad was around. They’ll remember the small, seemingly meaningless experiences we did together.
Here are some examples of the things I’m trying to do to create quantity time:
- Bringing my 4-year-old with me to take the garbage bin to the end of our driveway (it’s a long driveway)
- Going outside to just shoot baskets
- Read comic books together (and allow him to ask ALL the questions)
- Watching Dude Perfect YouTube videos (even though I’ve seen each of them at least four times)
- Just going outside to play (without an agenda or to-do list)
I don’t want to be a quality time dad, I want to be a quantity time dad. I want my boys to know I like spending (quantity) time with them. I want them to know I love them, not what we do together. I want them to know I love just being with them.