A few weeks back, my mom and I were discussing issues regarding business ownership and how my dad has almost always run his own businesses. At one point I told her — having made this realization at that very moment — that I had very few memories of my father outside the pizzeria he when we lived in Puerto Rico.
She replied, “You know, that’s the thing your father regrets the most: that he wasn’t able to spend more time with you when you were kids.”
My father used to own a pizzeria when we lived in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, it was a one shot deal: he didn’t franchise it. As such, like all other small businesses, where the owner is employee number one, he spent a good chunk of time there, from open to close and back again. Between us getting to school at 7am and him getting home after midnight, it’s no wonder we never really saw at home. Unlike a job, however, since he owned the business, we would go visit him on a regular basis. (Try that at your office.) In fact, I spent more time in a pizzeria when I was a kid than most families do during their entire lifetimes.
This weekend I was at a business workshop listening to a speaker when he said which reminded me of this. Most of what parents do with their kids is the bare minimum when it comes to relationship. They sometimes are so focused on the job and career, and side things that, really, they don’t get to spend much time with their kids. While it’s true, often time there’s just no other choice, way too many times there are, and the parents are simply more concerned with themselves and the trappings of success — in name of their family, of course — than they are with actually spending a large quantity of time with their kids.
“Oh, but we spend quality time with out kids,” some say. Problem is most parents don’t realize that quantity time begets quality time. Again, while there are times when parental absence is necessary — such as when building a company or a part-time business which will allow you more time with them in the future — most people do it all through their kids’ childhoods — worrying about jobs, promotions, and investments — and never really notice they’re doing it until their kids have already grown up.
“If it’s all about us,” the speaker said, “then our kids will make it all about them.”
If you have kids — or are planning to have kids — think about this: Are you willing to have your kids’ memories of you take place only on weekends?
Think about it:
- Days in a childhood (ages 0 – 12): approx. 4380.
- Days in a childhood consisting only of weekends: approx. 1248.
Ask yourself — and be brutally honest — why do you give up that time with them? Will it get better in the future? If not, why not? Is it worth it? Hillary Clinton once said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” She’s right. Problem is our villages have very few adults at home these days for a large part of the day.
Here’s a story I found interesting:
A man and his wife were one day celebrating the birth of their new child. A few months later, the wife had to go back to work, so they found a local childcare center and left their kid there. A month after that, the man got a brand new luxury car. Over the weeks, he made sure to take care of this thing like his baby.
Or did he?
The man garaged his car, waxed it, gave it premium fuel — the best treatment. One day, a neighbor friend he knew well asked “hey, nice car. Mind if I take it for a spin around the block to see how it drives.” The man indignantly replied, “What, are you crazy? No!”
Now, let’s think about this: this man would give his kid — so precious to him and his wife, and the future of his family — every day to someone who can’t possibly love his child as much as he and his wife do, yet he wouldn’t let someone he knew drive his car — something he’ll likely replace in a few years anyway — around the neighborhood.
My question for you is how is this any different than what you do?
You may be wondering why am I talking about this. Frankly, because it struck me. Because I realize that I have a much stronger bond with my mom than I do with my dad, in very large part because my mom was a stay-at-home mom, while my dad — while I appreciate everything he ever did for us kids — wasn’t. Mind you this didn’t lead to a bad childhood. In fact, I had a pretty great childhood, and having my mom at home made a huge difference in my life, playing a huge part in who I became. Still, it would have made an ever bigger difference if my dad had been there, too. This is one of the reasons my wife and I have already decided that when we have kids, she’s staying home, and that somehow, soonthereafter, I’ll join her.
So, dear reader, ask yourself, if you’re not in a position to do this today — men, to take your wife out of work to raise your kids — what can you change to make that reality happen? Better yet, how could you come home to be with your kids, too?
Think about this for a little while. I’d love to read some of your honest responses.