Want quality kids? Give quality time.

Fathering that produces quality kids demands quality time. There's no "McFathering," no quick fix, no shortcuts. We can't e-mail or fax ourselves. We have to be there for our kids!

For fathers living in the fast lane of life, it isn't easy to make parenting a priority. I should know; as a busy general surgeon for more than 24 years, I had plenty of opportunities for missed opportunities. But I started a regular habit that helped me to put my family ahead of work: "Dad Dates."

Every Monday evening after office hours, no matter how late it was, I took one of my kids to dinner. Looking forward to these dad dates perked me up all day.

Those nights, we covered the gamut of their lives: friends, exams, the courses they enjoyed more, careers they were considering and how their gifts seemed to fit. More than once I arrived at our Monday meetings with my fathering gun loaded, but as we talked I discerned that they needed to share. So I slipped my agenda back into its holster and listened instead.

Some of my finest hours as a parent were spent simply sharing a meal with my children, watching them slowly bloom into Christian adults.