Children Teach Parents the Value of being Fully Present at Home

Parenting with intention helps this father grow

It’s 10:00 pm. My alarm is set for 4:45 am. Scrambling to wrap up last-minute work and pack my bags for an early flight, I get two text messages. My nine year old wants to read a book together. My fourteen-year-old wants me to watch Zion Williamson’s NBA debut. Exhausted and stressed-out, I pause. I realize my fortune. My children want to spend time with me.

Is balance attainable?

Work-life balance. The elusive challenge of parenting. Our desire to be a loving spouse and a supportive parent is on a perpetual collision course with our drive to run successful companies. We want to coach our kids’ soccer teams and run the next board meeting. We must pick up the daughter from ballet and write tomorrow’s PowerPoint presentation.

Often, I find myself at home, but I am not really there. My physical body is present, but my mind is elsewhere. I sit on the couch, but my thoughts are miles away processing the problems of the day. My ears listen to my family talk, but my fingers type a response to a perceived work crisis. I want to be physically and mentally home, fully present in the moment.

It should be easy.

It is not.

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

Way out in the water

See it swimmin’

Frank Black, The Pixies

Lucia, book in hand, wanders into my room. One look at her face, and I toss my to-do list aside. Her book is Ugly by Robert Hoge, a story of a boy born with a large, disfiguring tumor on the center of his face. His mother would not look at him for the first week of his life. His legs had to be amputated. Despite his challenges, he became a successful journalist and motivational speaker.

She is moved by the boy’s bravery and courage.

I am amazed by her insight and thoughtfulness.

I kiss her good night.

I walk to the living room to check on my son. He is excited about watching Zion Williamson. Overcoming an injury, tonight is Zion’s first game back. Max is inspired by his talent, work ethic, and especially his accomplishments at such a young age.

We sit together, father and son, and watch the game.

He talks.

I listen.

We connect.

My children are my priority. Their words matter. Our time together is the most important thing in the world, but there is one more email I need to send.

One more phone call to make.

One more problem to solve.

My kids are growing up too fast. In a few short years, they will go off to college. Work will still be there tomorrow. My kids are here now.
The Pixies’ song taunts me, “Where is my mind, way out in the water, see it swimming?”

Photo by Robin Schreiner on Unsplash

I must make a conscious decision to be fully present. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. Close proximity is not enough.

Do they need me or do I need them?

Relationships need nourishment to thrive. They need to be fed with love and attention. We focus on the child benefiting from us to grow and flourish. Tonight, I set all aside to be with my kids. Lucia taught me that Robert Hoge did not dwell on his shortcomings. Max showed me that Zion did not give up after his injury. All of us can overcome our imperfections. Lessons learned. In this moment, the one who evolved from being fully present was me.

Thank you to P.S. I Love You for publishing this article on Medium.

Blog By: Dr. Jeff Livingston

Blog Photo By: Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash