You have probably heard it said, “You can accomplish a lot in life by just showing up.” Now this isn’t an excuse for mediocrity once you arrive, but it does contain an element of truth. Especially when it comes to parenting.
The number one rule for creating the home that you have always wanted is “being there.” It starts right here and is just that simple. When that first bundle of joy arrived, you couldn’t think of ever not being there. But life changes. A temporary busy stretch at work becomes semi-permanent. Your child’s strong will, a natural bent he was born with, feels like a reflection of your parenting quality and you lose confidence. Selfish ambition begins to compete with your at home responsibilities. Soon your lofty parenting goals are being swallowed up by fatigue and time pressure. What are Mom and Dad to do?
Checking out, which unfortunately is not that uncommon of a reaction, is not an option. Did you hear me? Not an option. So if we are going to see this parenting task through to completion, where do we begin? First, if the downward path described above is your current experience, start by sticking your foot out and slow down the merry-go-round. Remember that rotating playground apparatus we pushed each other around on as kids; hoping to go fast enough that our compatriots lost their grip while we held on for dear life? If you picture your life spinning out of control, as ours has been from time to time, then you can see the need to put your foot in the dirt and slow it down just like we did on the playground.
Don’t know if you have what it takes to slow it down? I know you do. Because you are a parent. You are in charge. You are driving the bus and I am confident that you have what it takes to throw it into a lower gear if you are serious about the task at hand. Always beware of allowing what started as a temporary time of busyness or stress to become a permanent situation.
If you have somehow let the “being there” in your kid’s lives get away from you, it is never too late to get it back. Commit as a couple to a child focus in your home while the children are young. Other things may have to just wait for another stage of life. I did not say “child-centered.” There is an important difference. But “child-focused” is altogether appropriate while your kids are still at home. My friend, Greg Despres, likes to remind parents, “Children of all ages spell love: T-I-M-E.” I wholeheartedly agree. Being there. It’s step one. You can’t parent from the bottom of the stairs.