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Time, your most valuable commodity

Posted: July 31, 2014 12:23 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Family. You hear a lot about the importance of family, but do you really put that into practice? Think about your own household. I don’t know what goes on at your house, but I do know that people are really busy these days, trying to fit everything they can into their lives. Unfortunately, something they may forget to include in their lives is each other.

I say “they” and “their” because having a family within my home no longer applies to me. I have but one child and he has been grown and gone for years and has a family and household of his own. We stay in touch, for sure, but we don’t talk or interact on a daily basis at all.

But, in many families that still have children at home, of any age, life has become so hectic and rushed that the most important thing of all is too easily overlooked. The kids have sports and music and dance lessons. Mom and dad are working extra hours to provide these extras, not to mention the basic expense of having the necessities of life for the family plus, hopefully, having some recreational pursuits of their own. It’s often said “there’s just not enough hours in the day.” The irony is, the day has just as many hours now as it always did. The difference is the way we try to cram just as much activity into those hours as we can.

When I was a younger father, I thought the best thing I could do for my family was work as much as I could to be able to provide for them. That’s what good husbands and fathers do, right? Yes, to a degree. Like I already said, life can be expensive just to keep a roof over your head and food in the fridge. But I later realized I was remiss in not giving my family the things they really needed most … my time and attention.

In those days, we didn’t have all the distractions that modern gadgetry now provides. Now, even when some families, and I stress the word some, actually get together, they’re still very disconnected. The kids have their earbuds in or are busy texting with their friends, or both, and the parents just allow it. I know some families in which the parents insist the kids turn their devices off and aren’t allowed to bring them to the dinner table. Yes, the dinner table. What a concept, actually sitting down together to have a real meal and real conversation with real people.

Parents, most of you want to give your children every possible advantage you can. That’s admirable in a way. The more sports or music or dance training they receive, the better they will be at those things, naturally increasing their chances for success. We all want our children to succeed. But don’t forget to give them what they really need most. What children have needed from their parents since the dawn of time. What even most babies and youngsters in the animal kingdom need from their parents.

Give them yourself as often as you can. Give them the other things, too, but keep it all in balance and perspective as much as you possibly can. That way you won’t have reasons to be regretful when your kids go off to college or out into the world to forge a life of their own.

Feel like having a good cry? Give a listen to the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.


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