My five kids are all grown up now, doing well thanks, and as I look back on things related to parenting I think I’ve discovered something worth sharing. It’s about dad time with young kids.
Our oldest was born in 1972 and our youngest in 1987, and in our case, during those 15 years a lot of things changed.
With the younger ones I was a lot more involved in the gritty details, like giving them bottles in the middle of the night, and changing diapers.
With the older ones, in contrast, I just wasn’t there that much. We lived in Mexico City, I worked much longer hours, there were no computers for productivity, and I’d leave home at 7 a.m. and get back at 8 p.m. My wife had more help too, because her family is from Mexico City.
We moved back to the United States from Mexico in 1979. I discovered computers and modems and worked much more at home. And my wife needed a lot more help because she was alone with multiple children. So I discovered babies and toddlers and diapers and all that from a radically different point of view.
What happened was that those kid chores, diapers and bottles and all, that nobody thinks they want to do? Dads who do that win big. My older adult children and I get along fine, thanks, so that’s not the real difference. What I regret, simply put, is what I lost out on by not spending more time with my older ones too, when they were babies and toddlers.
Social norms have changed, I’m happy to see, so the involved dads are much more common now than they were 40 years ago. My own son and my son-in-law are both very involved fathers giving a lot of quantity time. So maybe this is just old news. But I’m saying that I learned the hard way that you dads who don’t do this are missing out. You’re not winning your way out of chores; you’re losing their way out of a really great part of your own life.
(Image: Reggie Fun/FlickrCC)