My five kids are all grown up now, doing well thanks, and as I look back on things related to parenting I think I’ve discovered something worth sharing. It’s about dad time with young kids.
Our oldest was born in 1972 and our youngest in 1987, and in our case, during those 15 years a lot of things changed.
With the younger ones I was a lot more involved in the gritty details, like giving them bottles in the middle of the night, and changing diapers.
With the older ones, in contrast, I just wasn’t there that much. We lived in Mexico City, I worked much longer hours, there were no computers for productivity, and I’d leave home at 7 a.m. and get back at 8 p.m. My wife had more help too, because her family is from Mexico City.
We moved back to the United States from Mexico in 1979. I discovered computers and modems and worked much more at home. And my wife needed a lot more help because she was alone with multiple children. So I discovered babies and toddlers and diapers and all that from a radically different point of view.
What happened was that those kid chores, diapers and bottles and all, that nobody thinks they want to do? Dads who do that win big. My older adult children and I get along fine, thanks, so that’s not the real difference. What I regret, simply put, is what I lost out on by not spending more time with my older ones too, when they were babies and toddlers.
Social norms have changed, I’m happy to see, so the involved dads are much more common now than they were 40 years ago. My own son and my son-in-law are both very involved fathers giving a lot of quantity time. So maybe this is just old news. But I’m saying that I learned the hard way that you dads who don’t do this are missing out. You’re not winning your way out of chores; you’re losing their way out of a really great part of your own life.
(Image: Reggie Fun/FlickrCC)
True here as well. Both of my kids are grown and now my own father’s words echo in my mind. He used to say that he’d give absolutely anything to go back for just 1 day when I was 3 yrs old. I was in my early 20’s and couldn’t relate, He wasn’t the only older father I’d heard say that. But I had NO idea it would feel like it does.
Take heed, young fathers. Take time to be 100% in the moment with your kids. There is always time to read them a story. They’ll NEVER turn you down. You’re Dad. 🙂 And when you read to them, clear away all other things in life at that moment, and be 100% in that moment with them. You’ll find holes in your heart, later in life, if you don’t do this. And those holes can be chasms. The man that wrote the song/lyrics “…the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blu and the man in the moon…” wrote a song that mirrors the feelings of every father. That song used to be haunting and surreal BEFORE I had kids. Now, in my 40’s, it can be unbearable if I ponder it for too long. So get in the moment young Dad! Those lyrics are NOT a right of passage into 40+ fatherhood. You’ll be oh so glad that you did.
Thanks for the advice…. It helps give reassurance at the right time that this the way it should be done… Talking as being a new Dad for first child
As a father of two young kids, I can’t agree more. I have worked, for their entier lives, as a private school teacher. For all of the life of one (he’s 6) and all but the first year of the life of the other (she’s 9), I worked at a boarding school with 60-80 hour work weeks. I missed out on a lot of quality time with them, especially when we were moved into off-campus housing by the school 3 years ago, and I had to start driving to work. At least when I lived on campus, I could run home and spend time with my family when I had a planning or prep period, and I could do a lot of my grading and other work from home.
Now, I am starting my own Educational Services business tutoring Special Needs students (I taught kids on the Autism Spectrum for the past 8 years at the boarding school), and I still get to spend time doing what I love (teaching), working with a wonderful group of kids (I can’t imagine teaching any other kids), and I now have time for my family in between. It is definitely the best thing to happen to me!