I think there is one universal regret that people have on their bed, regardless of gender, class, race, culture, and faith.
No one really ever lies on their death bed thinking “I wish I made more money” or “I wish I was more famous” or “I wish I did catch ’em all”
But I think (or like to think) that people lie on their death bed with “I wish I spent more time with my kids” or “I wish I was a better husband/wife/mother/daughter/brother/sister/uncle/aunt/grandparent/father/son/friend/person.” I think people end up regretting their relationships, or the lack of with a loved one.
So, when someone asks me “if you could name one thing that is essential to a marriage (or any relationship” I think my answer would be time. Time spent with the love one. Perhaps at first, it won’t be such quality time. Perhaps at first, it’ll be quantity over quality. But, after a while, the time spent with the loved one would be quality time.
I say this, because I talked to a teacher in the Hart District, and we talked about some of the things kids struggle with and the rampant drug problem that is in our schools. Funny things happen in Suburbia. In a youth ministry class in seminary, we watched a documentary about a small city in Georgia called Rockdale. In 1996, there was a huge outbreak of syphilis that affected about 200 teens. In the documentary, the parents had no idea. These weren’t poor kids, many of them were from affluent families. Parents in the documentary said that they had to work all the time to sustain this lifestyle for their children and family. So, their kids would be left unsupervised. Many of the kids felt they lacked family closeness and supervision. In fact, after learning all this information, some parents refused to believe it. One woman swore that her daughter was a virgin and could not be involved in any of this, though a counselor had to gently inform her that her daughter was pregnant.
The conversation I had with the teacher in our school district said that a lot of times, parents just give their kids money and let them be on their own, while the parents go off to work. And with all that time unsupervised and all that money to spend, both of us weren’t surprised that a lot of drugs would be consumed.
I am not at all saying that providing for your family is bad. I’m not pointing out any faults to anyone’s parenting. I have no right to do so, especially since I don’t have a kid and don’t know anything about parenting. But I do know that time spent in/with love will triumph over money. Because not many people (if any) lie on their death bed thinking “I wish I made one more million…”
Our teenagers today may disagree with the idea that spending time with their family is important. But when they grow up and look back on their childhood, most likely, they’ll remember how you, as parents, were there for them: how you kissed their booboos away, how you helped them do homework, how you helped them through relationship crisis, your cooking, how you embarrassed them with your overwhelming love; they’ll remember those times spent together more than the things you bought them. And they’ll want to give that kind of love and attention to their children.
So kids, when the idea of spending time with your family comes up… don’t complain (too much). Instead, be thankful that you have family that want to spend time with you (and actually want to spend time with you). It’s okay to have fun with your parents even though they are weird and just seem to exist to embarrass the heck out of you. But trust me on this, when you get older, you’ll appreciate all the times that you spent with your family. And when you have kids of your own, you’ll see that you’re just as weird as your parents were.
Love always wins.