I don’t like to ridicule other parents for their parenting styles. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share of mistakes with Max, and will continue to make mistakes along the way. As parents, we can’t always get things right 100% of the time. But what I think is important, is making the effort 100% of the time.
The type of parents I take issue with are the parents who seem to have their children almost as a status symbol, and don’t spend an adequate amount of time with them. They hand their kids off to a baby sitter or nanny every chance they can. I understand the need for personal time. I really do. I crave it, and wish I had more of it. But when it comes to Max, I try my best to spend as much time as humanly possible with him.
During the week, Rachel and I both work, and we are very lucky that we have my mother-in-law to watch Max for us. So most nights during the week, I only get to spend about 3 hours with Max before he goes to bed. And each night, I try to make time to do something fun with him. It’s not always possible. Sometimes work gets in the way and I have to work late. And some nights, I have to do something around the house, or run errands. But most nights, I take Max to the park, play with him outside, take him swimming, read him a book, play video games, or find something else to do with him that he enjoys. It’s not always something fun, there are times when I have to sit him down to work on his numbers, letters, writing etc. It’s not “fun” per se, but it’s something I’m doing with him for his benefit. The way I see it, he will only be little once, so might as well enjoy as much as it as I can. He actually likes spending time with me, so might as well take advantage of it before he becomes one of those teens who are embarrassed by his parents.
Looking back, some of my fondest memories as a kid are going to the park with my dad and helping my dad out around the house. My dad passed away when I was 11, so those memories are so very special to me. My dad used to get up at 4:30 to go to work and he was 51 years old when I was born. So he wasn’t a young man, so I now realize how nice of him it was to take me to play baseball, or throw the football around after a long, hard day at work. And those little things, like helping him replace a broken hinge, or raking up autumn leaves that we got to do together are forever in my memory. So I personally try to incorporate Max into my life as much as possible, so hopefully he will have fond memories of his time with me when he grows up. This past weekend, I had to prune the tree in the front yard. I could have done it a lot faster and a lot easier if Max wasn’t at my side. But I know he loves to help, so I let him help me best he could. It was a great bonding experience, and the smile on his face was more than enough reward for me.
I guess Facebook is what made me aware of these types of parents who hand their kids off every chance they get. People sometimes complain on Facebook about parents who post too many photos or videos of their kids. (Im definitely one of those parents) To them, I say take a look in the mirror. While you are posting photos of yourself at happy hour, or eating dinner at some trendy restaurant, I am way more proud to show a photo of me and Max fishing, or riding our bikes together. If Im doing something I enjoy with my child, you bet Im going to snap a few photos or take a video. Each day and week seems to fly by, so I’m going to try to preserve it anyway I can .
Rachel and I probably don’t make enough time to spend with each other. It’s a super rare occasion when the two of us go out for dinner where it’s just her and I. Usually reserved for our birthdays and anniversary. Last weekend, we went to a wedding, and since Rachel’s parents and siblings were going to the same wedding, we had to leave Max with a sitter (a family friend). Rachel and I realized that this was the 1st time we had left Max with someone who wasn’t a family member. And Max is almost 5. So I guess we are at the far opposite end of the spectrum.
Im not saying this to toot my own horn or to say Im a better parent than anyone else. But what I am saying is put in the effort. Why have children if you aren’t going to spend time with them? Maybe your child will grow up just fine, and maybe they will go on to an Ivy League school and be a CEO of some huge company some day. Or maybe they’ll go on to be a famous writer, artist or athlete. But if you had little to do with that success, is it really worth celebrating? It’s kind of like going out and buying a fully restored classic car, or rebuilding it yourself. The end result may be the same, but I tend to think the person who did all the work themselves is going to feel a little more proud, and feeling a little more accomplished.
I’m happy to say that most of my close friends are great, hands on parents. I’m just saddened by the few I know personally who are not. Those who make every excuse to do something that doesn’t involve their kids. Spending extra time at work so they don’t have to deal with their kids at home. Going out for drinks after work, instead of helping their child to ride a 2 wheelers, or finish their homework. It even bothers me with the ones I don’t know, but I see out and about with their kids, who seem annoyed or inconvenienced by them. Children are a blessing, and should be treated as such. Never forget that.
Sure I would like to travel, see concerts and the latest movies. But when Rachel and I decided to become parents, we knew we would have to put that on hold for a while. God willing, when Max grows up and is on his own, Rachel and I can travel then. Now, if we are going someplace, it’s for the benefit of our little angel Max.