The end of the year brings holidays - a time for renewal with friends and family loved ones. When I worked in a large firm, I used to remind other lawyers "don't get lost in your work; spend more time with your kids."
It's easy to get lost in your work, especially when it is demanding work, the stakes are high, and there's a client who really needs you to come through for them. I've seen lawyers who barely spent any time with their family, who hardly knew their children, and who labored long hours to satisfy clients. They told themselves it was necessary, but their families paid the toll in missed events, interrupted vacations and holidays, and simply a lack of proper attention to family members.
As I would tell others, "if you die tomorrow, your kids will miss you every day of their life from now on. Your clients may miss you, but they will get over it. Your kids won't. Don't let their memory of you be a guy who was always on the phone with his clients or too busy to come to their school events."
It's good to keep that notion in perspective. No matter how much a client may love you or your work, it will never come close to matching the love your child has for you. If you're squeezing out your child to satisfy your customers or your boss, you're probably leaving your child dangling too often.
It's an easy trap to fall into. Your work benefits the family and benefits your child. Economic survival and advancement depend on good performance. Many of us are driven to excel at whatever work we choose. We like to be dedicated to our purpose, and there is honor in that life. But not if it means we become strangers to those who love us.
Many times when children feel ignored in favor of jobs, careers, business interests, or friends, they engage in behaviors to gain attention - even negative attention. When they're little, they're more obviously disruptive. When my son was young and he felt I was burying my head in the newspaper too long, he'd simply crash through the paper and into my lap. As time passes, a child's methods evolve into more subtle forms of disruption and attention seeking.
Rebuke for getting into trouble is one approach, and sometimes that is necessary and the proper response. Other times, it's good to look at ourselves and realize "hey, I need to put this down and pay some attention to my child."
We only have so much time, and the demands of work and parenting weigh heavily upon us. But all work and no play makes John and Jane dull. And it makes kids feel their place may not be important enough. Sometimes you have to set the work aside, focus on the kids, and pick the work back up when everyone has gone to bed.
Merry Christmas, everybody. Give your kids the gift of your time. It's the thing they want most.
Copyright 2017, Jim "Pappy" Moore, all rights reserved.