The economist Russ Roberts is a guy who understands how the world works. He knows about the laws of the economy and government. He knows about philosophy and he knows about history. He lives his life by a number of rules and rituals. He keeps Shabbat, for instance, and he commits to regularly tithing a portion of his income. He has another rule, specifically for dads, that is worth thinking about today:
If your child offers you a hand to hold, take it
The preciousness of childhood, the preciousness of this day, today, this moment when your child wants your hand for comfort can be hard to appreciate in the moment. You might be tired. Or just tired of holding your child’s hand. Take it anyway. As they get older, they assert their independence. That’s good. But in the meanwhile, hold their hand, take care of them with an open heart. And when they ask to hear Curious George for the nth time, read it again as if it were the first.
Life and relationships are an endless dance of reaching out and pulling away. You reach out to your kids, they pull away—they’re busy, they’re in front of their friends, they’re mad at you. You try to help them and they don’t want it. You want what’s best for them but they don’t understand.
We can’t control that. It’s going to hurt sometimes. Signals will get crossed. It’s heartbreaking but it’s part of growing up. What we can control is that whenever they reach out—whenever they offer us a hand to hold—that we take that opportunity. When they want to lay in our bed with us, we can let them. When they call on the phone, we can answer—even if we’re in a meeting. When they ask to talk about something, we can listen, whatever it’s about. We can hold them tight every chance we have.
We need to make a rule of it.