This leader showed up on Gallup’s Annual Top 10 “Most Admired” list 61 times — the most of any person ever. But this internationally-known celebrity spoke openly about one of his greatest regrets—a parenting fail he made in his own family.
Here is his failure, and three parenting gems Billy Graham shared that can help you avoid his mistake.
1. Be there for your children.
“When I look back over the schedule I kept thirty or forty years ago, I am staggered by all the things we did and the engagements we kept,” said Graham. “Were all those engagements necessary? Was I as discerning as I might have been about which ones to take and which to turn down? I doubt it.”
While few of us will ever have a schedule as demanding as Billy Graham’s, there are other things that take time away from our children, if not for days at a time, then for minutes at a time that add up to days over the years. Screen time robs our children of the attention from us they deserve. Billy Graham said it best, “Every day I was absent from my family is gone forever.” Those minutes we spend looking at our phones instead of at our children are gone forever. And, what have we missed in those minutes? We will never know.
2. Teach gratitude.
Billy Graham got to the heart of why it’s important to do something as basic as thank you notes. He encouraged parents to explain to their children that showing gratitude to others goes beyond courtesy. In his words, “It’s a way to help us look beyond ourselves and to be grateful for the love of others.”
If you’re worried that your children haven’t absorbed your gratitude lessons, take a look at these five signs you have a spoiled child.
3. Know what teens need.
Billy Graham acknowledged that the teen years can be challenging for parents. He encouraged parents to be aware of the special circumstances teenagers face—peer pressure, longing for acceptance, and navigating romantic relationships.
“Go out of your way to let them know you love them, no matter what’s going on in their lives,” he said of parenting teens. “Learn to be a good listener also, and to know when to give advice and when to keep silent.” He also cautioned to be patient and realize that teens don’t mature overnight. It’s a process.
Who is your parenting role model? What lessons did they teach you?