Do you remember the song Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin? It tells the story of a father who is too busy to spend time with his son and when his son gets older he becomes just like his dad. He becomes too busy to spend time with his father.
I was reminded of that song while I was at the movies with Emily and James on the weekend. We went to see Monsters vs Aliens. A great animated flick.
A guy with a son aged around 6 or 7 sat next to us. While it was nice to see that he was taking him to the movies on a Saturday morning it was disheartening to see that he was on the phone at least three times during the movie. Admittedly he kept his voice very low and wasn’t really disturbing those around him but it made me so sad to think that he couldn’t switch his phone off for just a couple of hours to totally enter into spending time with his boy.
I wonder what kind of message that was giving the boy. Dad’s willing to take him to the movies but he’s not really interested in the things that interest his son. Dad will sit next to his son but he’d rather be talking to someone else.
The shocking truth is that I’m not the perfect parent. In fact I’m nowhere near being the perfect parent but some things are fairly obvious. If we want our children to feel loved and accepted we need to spend time with them. We need to give them our undivided attention. We need them to know that they are vitally important to us and that there are few things that are more important than spending time focussed on building relationship.
Just as in the song, a day will come when we want to know that we’re important to our children. When that day comes they’re likely to treat us as we’ve treated them. That’s either a frightening or comforting thought depending on the messages we give our children when they’re young.
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