Sunday, 18 March 2007

Making time for the family

One of the issues in being a counter cultural father is making time for the family. I won’t go on about how much time I save by not watching TV (though it is considerable), but rather offer some reflections I’ve gleaned along the way in my reading and in going on a couple of time management courses at work over the years, and applying them to being a father.

On one of the courses, were asked to write down the four most important things in our lives and then prioritise them. Naturally, my wife and children featured... We were then challenged to consider whether the way we spent our time reflected those priorities... That lesson has stayed with me.

So one of the things I try to do is make time each week to plan the week ahead: not just in terms of work activities and other commitments, but also thinking about Annna and the kids and considering what I most need to do to be a good husband and father over the coming week. Sometimes it is very mundane stuff: listening to their music practice, making time to help with homework; at other times it is more nebulous: making sure I find some time simply to talk with and listen to one of them if I feel we’ve not really connected in the previous week; and sometimes it is very specific: having a conversation that needs to be had.

I have a theory, based on observing some of the problems that friends have had with their teenagers, that spending time with them when they want to spend time with you is very important. If you fail to do so, there comes a time when you want to be with them and they don’t want to be with you; when you want to put them right about something and they see you as the last person in the world whose views are worth considering.

So making time for them regularly, especially for the little things and the things that are important to them, is a high priority. And so far, my teenagers are still talking to me...

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