We put our family first. That’s what we believe. That’s what we say. That’s the first commandment in the Daily Stoic Parenting Challenge. That’s the advice we give other parents. That’s effectively what we tell our kids too: You’re the most important thing in the world to me.
And then almost every single day, in countless ways, we fail to live up to those words.
We get up from the Legos to take a phone call that could easily be taken later. We take our eyes off them so we can glue ourselves to the last two minutes of the game. We take the later flight back from our business trip because we wanted to go out with friends the night before. We take time off work to be with our kids…but what ends up taking up most of that time? We express concerns about how orderly the house is, enforce rules about where stuff goes, taking away the happiness of our house.
If they’re the most important thing in the world to us, why the hell are we putting so many things in front of them? Why are we saying, as we quote Queen Elizabeth II as saying in The Daily Dad, “No, not you dear”? Why are we choosing these things that don’t matter?
Your priorities as they exist in your head are meaningless. What matters is how they are expressed in practice. Putting your family first is not a state of mind, it’s a statement you make with your actions, day-to-day, minute to minute. If something or someone is actually the ‘most important thing in the world’ it should be pretty obvious, it should be demonstrated by the evidence.