We didn’t have children till I was in my 30’s. By that time I’d seen many examples of how couples raised their children. By far the most influential example of how to raise children came from my own parents. I remember something my anthropology professor said. Something along the lines of “you will raise your kids the way you were raised”.
Lately I’ve thought about what lessons I’ve taken from my my parents. Was my anthropology professor correct? Am I raising my kids the same way I was raised?
Kim and I don’t have as well defined roles as my parents had. I go off to work each day like my father did, but I don’t work as many hours as he did. In fact, I’ll bet I work half the hours he put in during the school year. I understand why he worked as hard as he did. He enabled my mother, who was ill much of the time, to stay home to raise five children. My father worked as a teacher which didn’t give him as much scheduling flexibility as I have employed in the technology field.
The downside to my father’s choice of professions is that I didn’t know him very well until I entered high school. He was off to work most days before I was awake, and later, his coaching assignments filled many late nights away from home. I don’t recall him accompanying me on a field trip or taking time off to catch a movie with me.
The thought of my father playing hokey to hang out with us was unfathomable. As a child, I had the impression his work came before everything else. At the time I figured all fathers were gone from dawn till dusk. I don’t recall any fathers accompanying their children on grade school field trips.
The upside of my father’s profession was that I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him as my coach in high school baseball, basketball and football. He oftentimes gave me a ride to and from school. I have many fond memories of those few minutes we had together discussing sports and school. Although things worked out fine and we are close friends today, I wish I could have built a relationship with him sooner.
And that’s the one thing I wanted to improve upon when I had kids. I don’t want to wait till they are in their early teens before I get to know them well. I remember seeing my dad on the weekends but not often during the week.
It’s not easy balancing work and family. There are times when I do one well while slacking a bit at the other.
I don’t know how it will work out. In a sense, I’m betting that one day I’ll look back and be grateful I took time away from work to spend with my family. Yet I’m fully aware that doing so could cost me promotions down the road. I’ve made sure my manager understands my main priority is my family. I don’t believe that makes me a less valuable employee. But I can’t be sure I’ll always work for someone who sees it that way.
My father was more involved in the lives of his children than his father was with his own. I have no doubt my dad wants me to spend more time with my kids than he was able to spend with us.
If my children look back on how they were raised and only find one area they’d like to improve, I’ll feel like I’ve done well in raising them to be better parents than I’ve been.