Saturday, December 18, 2010

Downtime is Family Time!

The weekend’s here! Typically I don’t do lengthy, profound posts on Saturdays and Sundays because people are typically in a different mode – more family time and less computer time. But it’s good to chime in briefly and share a few thoughts.
Today, our family had plans to go to the beach. I know that for many of you, going to the beach in mid-December is the last thing on your “wintery” agenda. But I live in South Florida so, though it does get cold at times, it’s normally in the mid 70s and 80s at this time. We had our beach plans but then came the dark clouds and then came the rain. So our plans have changed. Now, we’ll likely just play board games or watch movies or something - which isn’t bad actually. I mean, Chutes and Ladders is an all-time classic!
During the week, things become so intense at times that it’s easy to see each other in passing – on the way to school, or to work, or to a meeting. Then at the end of the day, when everyone’s exhausted, that’s the time for quality time. That’s not really ideal but in a sense it’s par for the course – each household member has a normal routine which requires balance. All work is no good. Family time is good but then we also have to make a living. Balance is the key to it all.
In our family, I think we’ve created a good system of work/school week productivity and weekend family time. We try to set aside a special time on the weekends – normally Friday nights – where we turn of f the cell phones and really connect with each other. That time is so precious. It’s the time that we grow together and get to know each other more. Activities such as playing games at home or going to the park or the beach are what we like to do. Going fishing or to the local zoo or children’s museum or seeing athletic events are pretty special as well.
By engaging in these activities, we create memorable moments that our kids will never forget. Our daughter is 12 and our son is 1/3 (as in 4 months old!). They’re soaking up every minute that we do something together. It doesn’t have to be a costly exercise for it to be special – some of the best things in life are free. The love that we share is invaluable – yet it’s free. Isn’t it great when we can just relax and take it easy, spending quality time and building relationships with the ones we love?
As I type this, the weather outside is frightful (there’s a thunderstorm). But in the home it’s so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go, let love show, let it show, let it show!
(If these couple of sentences sound odd to you, they’re just a play on words from a Christmas song.)

Have fun this weekend. And make some special time for your loved ones. If you’re shopping, then shop away and have a ball. If it’s some other activity, enjoy it. Whatever you do, try to make some special holiday memories with the ones you love. Such memories are simply priceless.
Enjoy your day!
The Upbeat Dad

Welcome New Countries!! December 18, 2010

We'd like to welcome the following countries who have joined our growing list of readers in the past week: Israel, Chile, Laos, Greece, Iran.
Check out The Story Behind The Upbeat Dad to find out what we're all about! Also, check out our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. You'll enjoy and share our excitement about fatherhood. Dads, moms and children are always welcome!

Come back often. And get engaged in our conversation! There's always something new!

Have an excellent day!

The Upbeat Dad

Friday, December 17, 2010

Upbeat Dad of the Week: Edward Rapier

Edward and his sons
Today’s Upbeat Dad of the Week is someone who in many ways has helped to make me who I am today. No, it’s not my dad – he was our inaugural Upbeat Dad of the Week. This man, I’ve known since 1988 when we were freshmen at the University of Texas at Austin. He was my roommate my sophomore year and he and I have been nothing less than brothers since. I’ve always known him as a friend.

But over the past several years, I’ve come to respect him in a new way – as I’ve observed him become a loving husband and a father. So it is my honor to say that the Upbeat Dad of the Week is Edward Charles Rapier.
Edward is one of my two best friends. He and another friend of mine have been my brothers in arms since our university studies and for me it’s an honor to have such friends. Let’s now look at Edward the family man.
I was privileged to have served as Edward’s best man at his wedding in Austin, Texas in October 1996 to his college sweetheart. Theirs is a union that has made a profound impact on me. Today they are parents of 2 wonderful boys – a 6 year old and a 4 year old. If you knew nothing further, you might just run into Edward and his wife and kids and not know the long journey they took to become a happy family of 4. The marriage has always been and continues to be strong. However, not very long ago, there was real doubt as to whether or not they would have children of their own. As the great Paul Harvey might say, here’s the rest of the story:

One day in early 2001, I received a phone call from Edward with the exciting news that he and his wife were expecting a baby. I shared in their excitement, much like they shared with me when our daughter was expected. And we looked forward to the joy of adding another member to our family. 

The pregnancy progressed as pretty much any normal pregnancy does. Doctors' visits and proper dieting were their new routine. The due date got closer and we anticipated the birth of a wonderful, healthy baby. Late in the third trimester of the pregnancy, a routine visit to the doctor revealed that there was some cause for concern. The doctors noted that the baby’s development was severely abnormal. They initiated a number of tests but were baffled as to what the problem could be. After much research, they concluded that the baby had a rare genetic defect – so rare, in fact, that there are only a handful of similar cases known worldwide. It is so uncommon that there isn’t even a medical name for the condition.

None of the doctors had ever seen such a case in all their years of practice. They said that in the general population, the likelihood of the defect presenting itself is less than one in a million. It so happened that both Edward and his wife carry a recessive form of this rare genetic trait. Because they both carry this trait, one in a million became one in four.
Imagine hearing this news after preparing the baby’s room, having baby showers and receiving gifts for the baby. In only a matter of days, they lost the child. All that hope and expectation resulted in a child that didn’t make it. Edward and his wife were devastated. That was a bitter pill to swallow.
Throughout all of this, their marriage strengthened. He and his wife were a source of strength and comfort for each other. Ironically, at this same time, my then marriage began falling apart and soon ended in divorce. It was somewhat interesting to see that while I was heart-broken for them, they were heart-broken for me for a totally different reason.
Still they dreamed of having children so they wanted to learn more about this rare condition that caused the complication that shook them to the core. They consulted with different doctors but also began doing their own research. Since the condition was so rare, they figured that they might as well find out as much as they could. The medical professionals with whom they consulted were still learning about the condition so, though neither he nor his wife is trained in the field of medicine, they figured that their research could help with the assessment.
Together Edward and his wife made the decision that they wanted to try to have a child again. He says, “Decisions regarding your family are for you and your wife to make - and she has veto power over decisions about pregnancy.  Other people will have opinions - parents, doctors, friends - but the final decision is yours, and once you make it, they should support you.“ 

They live in Austin, Texas but they contacted doctors as far away as Europe to learn about the condition and how they could minimize the likelihood of it occurring again. What they found was that there are so few such cases in the world, that only a handful of doctors had any level of experience with the condition. The conclusion was that there was nothing medically that could be done to prevent the condition from arising. There was always a 25% chance of the same issue arising in any pregnancy they had. The best that the doctors could do was to monitor any pregnancy and conduct tests to see if the fetus displayed symptoms of having that condition.

In 2002, she became pregnant again and they were excited. However, that excitement was short-lived because 6 weeks into the pregnancy, she had a miscarriage. In 2003, she again became pregnant. Because of the few disappointments, along with the knowledge that they could potentially lose a child, they told relatively few people. Because I’m practically a family member, they told me and very privately, I prayed for them and spoke with them. Their doctors were involved every step of the way and conducted their regular tests to ensure the pregnancy was going well.

Everything was fine but then in the middle of the second trimester, their worst fears were realized. The condition was revealed again and that child was lost. At this point I was at a loss for words. I wondered just how much disappointment one couple could take. I didn’t even know this before interviewing Edward for this article but their very first pregnancy was a first trimester miscarriage. So at that point they were 7 years into their marriage and they had 4 pregnancies, all ending in losses, two of which occurred literally within a few weeks of delivery.
Disappointed and devastated again they really had to do some deep thinking about their route to parenthood. Certainly they wanted children of their own but it had gotten to the point where they had to consider if the emotional turmoil of going through pregnancies that have a 25% likelihood of ending in a miscarriage was worth it. The doctors were concerned about his wife’s physical wellbeing and the mental toll that the losses were having on them. 
Again in 2004, she got pregnant. And as before, they had to proceed with caution. They had many doctors’ visits, each time wondering if they would hear bad news. This time, after 8 years of marriage and 4 disappointing pregnancies, they were finally, finally, finally able to have a child of their own – a healthy, wonderful baby boy! After all they had been through, they were finally proud parents. I feel so fortunate that they asked me to be his godfather. What an honor to serve in this capacity for a child that it took a miracle for them to have!
Two years later, in 2006, again they conceived and had another successful pregnancy. That year, another healthy baby boy was welcomed into the family. That made the Rapier family whole and complete.
Throughout the entire process, I have seen Edward grow into the consummate family man. In a world where half the marriages end in divorce and where fathers seem to be more often absent than present, it is refreshing to see how dedicated he and his wife have been to each other and to their boys. In one of my poems I wrote, “Don’t be fooled by the smile that I wear, for each smile you see has cost me a tear.” I think that can be said of Edward. He is an enthusiastic, involved ‘upbeat’ dad in every imaginable way. He knows of the pain and disappointment that it took for his family of 4 to come together. So he treasures each moment that they share.
Children’s story books often end with the line, “…and they lived happily ever after.” After observing their challenging journey and being a friend and brother to them throughout the process, I wish that they do live happily ever. They deserve every moment of happiness because they’ve really paid the price that it took to be at this point.
I hope that you’ve been encouraged and inspired by learning of Edward’s story. And if you’re a parent, just know that for some, the path to parenthood is not quite so simple. I trust that reading this story would make you that much more appreciative of your families. His is a story with a happy ending but it didn’t have to be. Love and devotion have guided his family to this point. If you learn nothing else from reading this story, just know that kids are precious gifts and those of us fortunate enough to have them, should treasure them immensely.
If you would like to nominate someone for our Upbeat Dad of the Week feature, please leave a comment on this post, on our Facebook page or send an email to: We love to feature stories like Edward’s that encourage others to embrace the gift of fatherhood.
Edward's second son in his hands
Have a great day! And hug your kids and let them know how precious they are.
The Upbeat Dad

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Generational Wisdom: A Tribute to Grandparents

For some reason, this morning I was thinking about my 4 grandparents and the lives that they lived. They’ve all passed away for several years now but occasionally, I reflect on them and how they still impact me today. As you may know, I grew up in Jamaica. Our family would be classified as middle class but in the rural part of Jamaica in the early ‘70s, that meant we grew up without modern conveniences of electricity, telephone and in some cases indoor plumbing. I still remember the day in the late ‘70s when we got electricity. It was like Christmas came in July!
We grew up embracing some very simple principles. Each of my grandparents was involved in some type of farming. They raised livestock, planted and reaped their own crops and just lived the simple life. Yet, the simple life that they lived has been so instrumental in teaching the principles that guide me and those of my generation today. They didn’t have much money but what they had was love. And that love was given to my parents and their siblings. And now, a couple of generations later, the love is being passed on to our kids.
I decided to pay tribute to all grandparents today because they’re unique in many ways. They raised the people who are parents and guided them along in life. They taught them discipline and gave them the tools to succeed in life. Then they released them into the world to make successes of themselves.
As grandparents, their job is typically easier. They’re not quite as involved – particularly in the area of discipline.  Now they just impart the wisdom that they have gained throughout their lives and share with their grandchildren. You may have heard people say, “If I knew grandchildren were so much fun I would’ve had them first.” That’s a humorous way of looking at their roles - all the glory and none of the pain that comes with parenting.
I recall that during childhood, each holiday we would visit my grandparents' homes and get to learn from their years of wisdom. They always had some profound proverb to teach us - proverbs such as, “Children live what they learn,” and “Train up a child in the way he should grow so that when he is old he will not depart from it.”
When my daughter was two years old, our family went to visit my parents in Texas for the holidays. As we were leaving to return to Florida, my daughter was hugging my parents and saying her goodbyes. As I witnessed that, tears came to my eyes. I really got emotional as I witnessed that interaction.
It was not until I was on the flight back that I realized what I just witnessed. You see, as a child, I was the one who would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And after having a ball with them, I’d hug them and say goodbye. Now, one generation later, my grandparents have passed from this life and everybody’s moved up a step – my parents are now grandparents and I was the child and now I’m the parent. It’s simply amazing to me how the process works.
I’m so fortunate and blessed that my parents are alive and well and have seen my siblings and me become parents. And the wisdom that they impart in our children is invaluable. Essentially, the lessons taught to us by our grandparents, our parents are now teaching to our kids.
The following poem from my book Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self-Motivation tells of the generational wisdom that grandparents share. I hope as you read it you can reflect on this invaluable transfer of knowledge and understanding that goes from generation to generation:
A Child in Their Eyes

His mom and dad sat amazed and surprised;
he was only a boy, a child in their eyes.
They wondered how he was young but yet so wise.
They asked how he learned the secret to life.

“Remember that summer before Grandpa died?
How I went to his houseand we played outside?
He taught me a lesson that serves as my guide,
and that’s why I speak of him with such great pride.

“He said that I only have one life to live,
so I must learn to love and forgive.
He said that my actions will always outlive
the words that I say and the excuses I give.

“He told me the secret of true success:
‘Prosperity, peace, and happiness
are not in all of the things we possess,
but in the lives that we touch and the love we express.’

“I promised him that I would strive to be
a young man of high integrity—
to shine my light for the world to see,
and do unto others as I want done to me.

“So that’s why I choose to live this way;
my actions speak more than the words I say.
Tomorrow’s not promised, so I vow every day
to shine like the stars in their perfect array.”

As dads and moms, for those of us whose parents are still alive, we should embrace the valuable life lessons that grandparents can give our kids. During the holiday season, multiple generations of families throughout the world get together and have a great time. Let’s ensure that our children really get to connect with the great men and women who their parents call mom and dad.

I hope that you have an excellent and productive day.
The Upbeat Dad

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congrats on Making the Honor Roll!!

Rodrick and daughter
 This morning I was as proud as I could be as a father. Our family was invited to our 12 year old daughter’s school as she was recognized, along with several others in her school for being on the Honor Roll. For many parents, that recognition is something that they take for granted because it’s so routine. But for me, this moment is very special and I will not forget it anytime soon.
Our daughter is in the 7th grade. She’s very intelligent and quite articulate. Still, there are times when she loses focus and her grades don’t reflect her true capabilities. As this school year started I challenged her to make the Honor Roll each grading period this year. And if she does, there’s a special item that she wants that I’ll get for her.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on this blog entitled Your Kids Are Not Stupid. On that post, I encouraged parents to use words to build up their kids and not tear them down. So when they bring home grades that are really unacceptable, rather than saying, “What? Are you stupid?” or “You’ll never amount to anything,” try using words to encourage them. How about saying words such as, “You’re a straight A student. I know you are,” or “Let’s work to get those grades to where they need to be because I know you’re better than that.”
Last year as our daughter struggled, my wife and I met with her teachers to try to figure out why there was so much inconsistency in her grades. She was on the Honor Roll for most of her time in elementary school so we had to analyze why she struggled. I confess I got upset with her a few times because I just felt that she was not performing up to her capabilities. But I tried to be conscious of the words that I used to try to get her grades moving in the right direction. I used phrases such as, “Where’s my straight A student?” and “There’s no one in your class who’s smarter than you. You’re the very best.” These were words to build her self-confidence.
We met with her teachers and before long we realized what the problem was. In each grade in elementary school, she had 1 teacher. She went to class and for most of the day, she was in that classroom. She learned the teacher’s teaching style and the teacher learned her learning style. So after a few weeks, they had a good system to facilitate the learning process.
In her new school however, she has 6 classes and 6 different teachers. Each has his/her own teaching style. And now she has to carry her textbooks and notebooks between the different classes. It may not seem like much but for an 11 year old, it can be overwhelming. In the past, her teacher would figuratively hold her hand and guide her along. Now she was somewhat on her own. So if she forgot to write down an assignment or that she has a test coming up, she would go to school unprepared.
We established an accountability system that’s filled with rewards as well as consequences. Television and cell phone privileges had to be earned, not just given as we had previously done. We’ve just changed our overall approach and I’m so pleased to see that our collective efforts are paying off.
Let me also add briefly here that our kids’ grades are our responsibility first. The schools should simply be partners in our children’s education but they are our responsibility first. From a practical standpoint, our children attend a particular school for a finite time. And if they’re successful, they graduate and move on. The school is no longer responsible for their education. But once a parent, always a parent. Our children are always ours so their education is our responsibility primarily.
I encourage you dads and moms to see the very best in your kids. If you don’t, then who will? Just last week I learned that United States is #14 in the world in terms of students’ academic performance. The results were based on a standardized test taken in students’ early teenage years. This is the worst ranking in several years. Based on the analysis that I saw on NBC News, the poor performance is due to a variety of factors including teacher qualifications and pay, education funding and overall prioritization of formal education in each nation.
As the parent of a 12 year old daughter and a newborn son living in the United States, those statistics concern me. At the same time, I know that whether we have high performing schools or low performing schools, I want my children to get the best education possible. So I’m willing to do what’s necessary to provide them with the best resources so that they can be competitive in our changing, advancing world.
If your kids aren’t performing at a high standard, do encourage them to be their very best. And speak words of encouragement to them. Believe me, sooner than later, you will begin to see the positive results that you look for. Let’s build up our kids and not tear them down. As a child in school in Jamaica, I was taught the very simple saying, “The boys and girls of today will be the men and women of tomorrow.”  And guess what? Today is tomorrow. And now I’m a man. And the lessons I learned then still guide me today.
I’ll close this post with another saying that I learned as a child. This one is powerful. I encourage you to share it with your kids. It will reap great rewards for years to come: “Labor for learning before you grow old. For learning is better than silver and gold. Silver and gold will vanish away. But a good education will never decay.”
Have an excellent `upbeat’ day.
Rodrick and family

The Upbeat Dad


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When Good Fathers Go Bad

Today's post is a bit provocative and somewhat controversial. But for the sake of kids across the world, I also believe it's necessary that we address the issue. I know that in sharing this post, at a minimum, we can initiate dialogue that can result in a positive outcome for families, especially our children.
Last week I was at a networking event. I was there representing my accounting firm (I'm a Certified Public Accountant - CPA). I was sitting at a table speaking with a group of people. And somehow we began discussing our families and our interests outside of our daily professions. After listening to others share their stories I took the opportunity to mention The Upbeat Dad and my vision for the organization. I was just meeting these people for the first time so I really had no idea about their lives and life experiences.
There was one lady who stood out above the others. She was more attentive and engaged than the rest. She even mentioned to me afterwards that she was tired from a long workday and was about to leave.  But when I began speaking, as she listened, she was captivated by what I was saying. The thought that a man started an organization to encourage fathers to be involved in their kids' lives was just fascinating to her.
She shared with me that she was married for 17 years but divorced about 5 years ago. Her marriage produced 2 children - a boy and a girl, both of whom are now teenagers. During the marriage, the kids and her former husband were close. He was involved in their daily activities - school, sports and other social activities.
As is often the case when marriages fall apart, the divorce was not a pleasant experience for that family. After the divorce became final, her former husband relocated and thus began a new chapter in their lives. According to her, her former husband became so cold and indifferent towards her and the kids that it's almost painful for her to talk about. He rarely ever contacts the kids for any reason. He's not involved at all in their lives other than the occasional phone call every month or so. He's become indifferent to them in just about every area.
When it comes to child support, that's lacking as well. According to her, even though she has the legal right to pursue him for the funds needed to help support the kids, she won't do so because it shouldn't have to take a court to force him to take care of his children. One of the most disturbing things she mentioned was that her son had a medical emergency and had to be hospitalized. She called her former husband to notify him. She left him a few voice mails with no response. It wasn't until a month later that he called to see how his son was.
In essence, this father has become a deadbeat dad. For some reason, based on his actions, when the marriage dissolved, in his mind, his role as a father also dissolved. No marriage, no wife, no children.
Before I go further let me say that I only heard her side of the story. Perhaps he would paint a different picture. I do know, however, that this story is not unique. It's not an isolated incident. Many fathers "divorce" their children simply because marriages and other relationships are over.
On this blog, I have shared different aspects of my personal experience. I strongly believe that the family court system is anti-family and is quite often anti-male. I even wrote a post with the title The Great Oxymoron: Family Law.
So I can say, based on my experience, I do understand why some men become bitter and walk away. They feel they have no rights in a system that functions against them. So they simply try to walk away, neglecting their responsibilities and obligations to their children. I don't share their sentiments but I do understand why they've become bitter, cold and indifferent. The unfortunate reality is that they handle their frustration with the system by essentially punishing the most innocent parties - the kids.
Fathers, I urge you, no matter what should occur in your relationships, to stand up for your children. You could feel cheated by the legal system. You could feel that you got a raw deal. But that has nothing to do with your obligation to your kids. They need your love and support and particularly when relationships fall apart, they need to be assured of your never ending love and devotion.
Child support is a part of the equation but there's so much more than that. The lady who I referred to earlier in this post said to me, "I don't even want him to send any money. I just want him to call the kids every now and then to say hello." That's a bad testimony about a father who, at some point, was close to his kids.
Collectively as fathers, let's do better. Let's create more upbeats and less deadbeats. We owe it to our kids and their mothers. We also owe it to ourselves. The following stanza from my poem Parenthood is Forever is so appropriate here:
Parenthood lasts a lifetime;
this truth you cannot doubt.
It's an unbreakable love-line;
once in you're never out.

Remember this: once a dad, always a dad. Let's keep this in mind and do what's right for our kids.

Have an excellent day.
The Upbeat Dad


Monday, December 13, 2010

Cats in the Cradle: A Life Lesson for Working Parents!

As we get back to work this week, I thought I’d do a post that puts into perspective our need to balance work with our family time. For many of us parents, especially fathers, the holiday season is the only time throughout the year that we spend quality time with our kids. And unfortunately for others of us, not even during the holiday season do we spend quality time with our kids. We may be loving parents but because life requires so much from us, including our time, quality time seems as elusive as the almighty dollar that we perpetually chase.
As I thought of writing this post, one song came to mind – Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. If you haven’t heard it before, here are the lyrics:
By Harry Chapin

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Do you get the point of this song? I first heard it during my college days and I sang along but I never really got the message embedded in the lyrics. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when I heard a US Congressman giving his retirement speech that I really understood the message the song was sending. I don’t remember the Congressman’s name or the entirety of his speech. But what I do recall is that he said that he wanted to spend more time with his family. His kids were growing up without him while he was working for the American people.
Then he said something to this effect, “I hear the lyrics of the song ‘Cats in the Cradle’ and I think about my own children and tears come to my eyes.” That’s not the exact quote but I hope you understand the point. I then took the time to listen to the song and realized the painful story that it told. The father loved his son but he also loved his work. So he was always working to achieve more and accumulate more.

But in the process, he prioritized these ideals over spending quality time with his son. And in the end, the boy became a man and though he loved his dad, he didn’t make time for him either. The line "He'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me," tells us that this cycle was generational - the father's father didn't make quality time for him either. So he became just like his dad. He repeated the cycle. Then the son learned the same thing and became just like his father and grandfather. Isn't this heartbreaking?
Why do I share this today? Well, for starters, today’s Monday – the first day of the work week. Secondly, in this time of economic crisis, I know many of us are conscious of keeping our jobs and working to make the most money possible. And this is commendable. Yet, in the process, we need to learn to strike a balance.
When my daughter was 2 years old, I traveled quite a bit for work. I’d be home on the weekends but typically on Sunday afternoons, I’d fly out to conduct seminars and not return home until the weekend. One week I was doing a local seminar in Miami. As I was leaving home one morning, I said, “I’m going to work now sweetheart. See you when I get home.” She replied, “Daddy, you’re going to the airport?” That really shook me up and almost broke my heart. She got to the point where she equated me going to work with me going to the airport.

That experience had such an effect on me that within a couple of months, I resigned from my position and took a local job – one that I didn’t enjoy quite as much but it allowed me to spend daily quality time with her while I pursued my professional goals.
Perhaps you can relate to this lesson today. It’s one that I think every working parent should learn. I realize that we need to work to provide for our families. And our work often entails that we travel or otherwise spend much time away from our families. Still, as parents, we need to make the necessary time for our children.
I don’t get into politics on this blog but you might appreciate this brief political reference. I recently heard President Barack Obama say that, when he’s in Washington D.C, provided that he has no evening functions to attend, he’s always home for dinner with his family. He typically gets back to work after dinner but that quality time around the dinner table is special, as it allows him to maintain that daily bond with his daughters. Whether or not you agree with his politics, I hope you appreciate this gesture by him as a parent.
No matter what may be going on in our lives, let’s try to structure our activities so that our children know that they’re essential parts of our lives. If they live with us, let’s carve out that quality time daily and on the weekends. If they live away from us, let’s ensure that we call, text, email or otherwise contact them daily so that they know they’re always on our minds.
The word ‘love’ is a noun but it’s also a verb; a verb suggests action. So let’s put our love for our kids into action. If we do this, then the song, “Cats in the Cradle” will simply be entertainment for us, rather than our personal testimonies as parents.
Have a great day.
The Upbeat Dad