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Would your child run away?

L.L. Morgan

I ran away from home because I thought Daddy didn’t care."

Runaway! Twelve years old and she had run away. Fear for her life settled like soot over family and friends. Where could she be? Why would she do such a thing? Seconds seemed like hours while not knowing where she was or with whom she might be in her flight.

Police found her stepping off a Greyhound bus in a neighboring state and took her into custody. She waited in juvenile hall for her parents. Police and social workers wondered why she had run away from a good home.

"You must both agree to get counseling before we can release her to your custody," the juvenile officer told the parents. His statement jolted them.

During counseling sessions, however, a child’s aching heart for Daddy’s time and attention came to light.

"I thought Daddy didn’t care," she confided.

Daddy always seemed to have time for everybody but his family. Quality and quantity time were spent on his ministry for the Lord. In the girl’s mind it added up to "Daddy doesn’t care about us because he’s never home."

His disappearing act had wiped out family time like magic. The heretofore invisible man and his wife set up a plan of action to prove he did care. If their family did not succeed, all the pastoral successes would be meaningless.

Put family time on calendar at work and at home.

Birthdays, anniversaries, school and church events, holidays, and vacations took top priority on their new calendar. If a birthday fell on a busy evening, a breakfast celebration appeared. Presents were opened, but cake and ice cream might wait until later in the day.

One day a week became "family day." Fishing, swimming, or playing table games were on their schedule. Museums and area tourist attractions became mini-vacations.

Saved vacation days brought grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to life. Photographs don’t hug and tease like the real thing. Bonding happened among the whole family when relationships came first.

Breakfast at the coffee shop or a snack in the car by himself were no longer acceptable actions. Mealtimes were definite hours with all family members present–a time for fun and laughter. Sharing became a must for everyone around the table. Learning to talk together had become a lost art, but it revived and flourished.

At one meal they read and discussed the Bible. Heads bowed in prayer to ask the Lord’s guidance on their lives. Passing on the gospel message and great Bible truths was no longer left to chance.

With a busy evening schedule much of the time, the dad began picking up the children after school. He spent time with them in play or helping with homework until he had to leave for appointments.

As the children reached driving age, learner permits allowed them to drive Dad around town. Besides gaining supervised driving experience, the youth had time for a one-on-one talk with Dad.

Planning will head off the possibility of your child’s saying, "I ran away from home because I thought Daddy didn’t care." By the grace of God and positive action, it won’t happen to your family.