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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is George Bailey's weekly report "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch" about he and his wife's efforts to teach their kids financial freedom.
I've been thinking a great deal about the interview we released with Daniel Crosby this last week. Lots of real parenting gems there. Perhaps, the most meaningful piece of advice was that if you want your child to feel special and empowered, there is no substitute for time.
Daniel wasn't the only person to remind me that I need to spend more time with my children. Brooke (I tried my darndest to find her last name but came up empty), founder of Happy Simple Mom, just published an article titled "Raise a Happy Kid, Not a Well-Funded Kid" that was well worth the read. One of the requirements she lists is parents need to be present. For a moment, we should consider what it must feel like for children that we find more entertainment in miniature electronic boxes than we sometimes do in our own progeny.
I need these reminders frequently. I'm a busy guy who likes being busy. And I work from home, which makes things difficult when the kids enter my office and want to play. I don't mind taking a little time off every once in a while and then telling the little ones that it's time for me to get back to my projects. But I'm certain that my work gets out of hand on occasion ("Cactus plants. Mouse traps. Something was bound to go wrong." — Asclepius, the pet snake).
In any case, I'm resolving to spend just a little more time with my kids in the evening once I'm finished with the day's labors. I want to engage them. Daniel Crosby says that he tries to make everything he does with his kids into a learning activity. I enjoy actively teaching my kids and can start there.
Beyond that, I need to make sure that my children have opportunities to show me the things that they enjoy in life. It doesn't matter whether I like it. Daniel's mom didn't care for baseball, but that didn't keep her from helping him with batting practice. In other words, if my children want me to dance with them—I'm have the coordination of a bowl of oatmeal—I need to keep my mouth shut and my legs moving.
Speaking of being in the moment, Christina and I met today with a potential business partner for a project we're working with. Since our littlest didn't have preschool, we brought her along for the fun (because nothing screams "fun" for little girls like a business meeting). She broke down near the end (surprise!), so I took her outside to walk around a city fountain while Christina and our business friend talked.
As we made our rounds and stuck our hands in the water to splash about, I breathed out and let go of any work-related anxiety I was having. There was really nothing I could do at the time other than attend to her needs, so why not fully enjoy it? For the next 10 minutes, my little girl and I held hands in the sunshine. No emails or texts. No cell phone out. She needed every moment, and so did I. A small taste of that little bit of time makes me want to give at least a little more.