It’s a story so bad it has to be true. The 2nd Earl of Leicester was walking down the hallway of his enormous estate. A young nurse holding the hand of a child passes him in the corridor. “Whose child is that?” he asked her. Taken aback, it was all she could do to utter calmly, “Yours my lord.”
Needless to say, the Earl died unhappy and mostly alone.
Now, thankfully, most of us are not this aloof. No one would accept or condone that kind of absentee parenting anymore—or even just the more benign aristocratic hands-off style the British were known for and that we’ve discussed before. But still…how well do you really know your kids? And they, you?
It happens all the time. You notice your child doing something and comment on it, only to be told they’ve been doing this for months. You just never noticed. When did you cut their hair, you might ask your spouse. And then they, like the nurse, have to nicely tell you that it happened a week ago.
Have you heard the Nate Bargartze joke about his daughter’s school calling him? And he realizes he was completely the wrong person to have called? As in, he didn’t even know the name of the school? Conversely, how much of your life, of you, are you children going to be surprised to find out about one day? Because you never bothered to share, because you were closed off, because you were too distant.
This isn’t acceptable behavior. You have to be more present. You have to be more connected. You have to be aware. You have to know them…and they, you.