There…but not Present

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Resources
Tags: , , ,

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After a long day of work  full of stress, attitudes, noise, and a long commute, you want nothing more than the peace and quiet that your home is suppose to bring. You just need time to shower, get out of those stiff clothes, kick off those hard shoes so that you can sink into your recliner and relax (aaaahhhhhhhh).

Well, not long ago, I felt that way. When I got home, I just need a minute to regroup before starting my real job of being a parent. As I sat in my recliner, I could see my son out of the corner of my eye run down the hallway. I assumed he went into his room, because he came around the corner with a few small cars. I had greeted him earlier as I came through the door, as I always do, with our traditional “Incredible Hulk Hug.”   He gets a running start and jumps up into my arms and we squeeze as hard as we can. He played beside me and appeared to be content with just being close.

After a few minutes, he got up and ran back down the hallway and took a sharpe right turn at the end of the hall. A few seconds later, he emerged with new toys and plopped down right at my feet to the left of my recliner. As before, he played for a few minutes and ran back down the hall and came back with little action figures. His play intensified, but I thought nothing of it, because if you know him, you know his imagination. Alone or with 100’s of people around, when he has action figures (or a paper clip that in his mind he has now turned into Larry Boy or Spongebob).  He is in another world fighting so hard to save it!!

Then it happened…he started to cry uncontrollably. He jumped up and ran away. The squeal that he let out was so piercing that I ran behind him, not know what had happen. “What’s wrong, what’s wrong!?!?!” I worried as I chased behind him. My mind was racing…did I step on his hand, did the recliner rock back on his finger…? What happen?

I picked him up and he wrapped his little arms around my neck. His mother jump up when she heard it all. She ran in to see what was going on and she ask the same question. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” His reply is something that I will never EVER forget, “Daddy will not play with me!!”

Whoa…Now tears are about to stream down my face. “I didn’t know homie! Daddy thought you were playing by yourself!!! I didn’t know!?!??!” I exclaimed!

Needless to say, we spent the next several hours playing with every toy that he has in his room! LOL I played those moments back in my head. All day, he was probably thinking about what “we” would play when I got home. When I finally got there (cause 5 mins is like a day to a 3 year old), he tried to get my attention with the first toy…no response from me. He tried a second, then a third, nothing. He likely concluded that I did not want to play with “him.”

Our kids are always watching and taking in everything that we say or do…including what we do not say and don’t do. Parenting is intentional. Our kids will learn things from us because we intentionally teach them or they learn it by watching. We may not be intentionally trying to teach them something, but if we are not intentional about what we do NOT want them to learn, guess what…they will.

We can not wait to get home so that we can unwind, but our kids do not understand (or care for that matter) how bad our day was or how tired we are. We owe them the same attention that we have given to the rest of the world all day long…undivided (most of the time). It is our obligation to figure out how to set the right expectations and parameters so that I children (and spouses) do not feel like they are always getting the short end of the stick. We make countless sacrifices to work late, go in early, travel days at a time all so that we can look good in the eyes of someone who does not matter (when you compare to those in your home). When was the last time we told our bosses or job NO for the sake of our families, creating true balance.  #Sacrifice

Worklife balance is important. It is important to maintain a sense of self and to value what should be our #1 priority…Family.  Balance has become increasingly more difficult with the rise of smart phones. There was a day when if you responded within 30days, it was acceptable (snail mail).  With the invention of email, our expectations shifted to 24-48 hours, due to people giving you time to get back in front of your computer.  Now with the invention of smart phones and wifi, you are always on (or expected to be).  Some Skype, no answer, they text…no answer, inbox you…no answer, call 911 ’cause they assume something MUST have happened to you.

I have witnessed (and even been guilty of) families being out for dinner and the mother, father, and kids are all “plugged in” (cell, ipod, tablet, T.V.). “Relationships” are being forged with screens and with imaginary friends while we neglect the people who are sitting right in front of us who really “like” us.

Fathers (and mothers alike) boast about being “there” for their kids, but many of us are not present. Our kids require and deserve our undivided attention and not the scrapes of what we have left after a long day at work.

Recently on the Today Show, many corporate executives have shared their regrets of devoting decades to building a career and either never started a family or, now, do not have a relationship with their children, because they spent so much time away. Many of us brag about being there, but we are not really present (while living in the same household).

Take a lesson from me…you do not want to hear those words or anything like it (if you really care). Many of us think that we are doing “it” (working) to provide for our families, but ask yourself, at what cost?  I just do not want you to wake up are realize that they are 18 years old and do not want to even look at you, because you did not take the time to foster a relationship and invest the time required to not only be there, but BE PRESENT. At that point, you will realize that all of the money you worked so hard for, you would give it all, just so they would just be “there” for you.

Couple Ideas to be More Present
1. Adopt “No Technology Days” Have your entire family “Unplug” for a day, meaning use nothing that has a battery or plugs in.

2. No TV during dinner.

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Comments
  1. Wonderful blog with awesome advice!

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