If you want to spend more time with your kids, as we said recently, the important thing is that you don’t drive them away. Yet that’s what so many of us do, isn’t it?
Because we worry, because we care, because we can’t quite strike the right balance, our efforts end up backfiring. Think of John O’Connor’s mom whose smothering tendencies drove her son to move from California to Arizona just to get some distance. There’s no way she wanted that to happen, but she made it happen all the same. Think of Tim Hardaway Sr., whose drive to make his son a great basketball player, nearly made Tim Hardaway Jr. quit the sport altogether. As so many of us do to our kids in our own ways.
In the February 9 entry in The Daily Dad, we have a quote from Abraham Lincoln about how the best way to bind your kids to you is through the cord of affection and love. Not everyone’s kids flee the house at 18 never to return, not every family unit falls apart as the kids grow up and have their own lives. Sure, every relationship and living arrangement changes, but some families get closer together as time goes on, spend more time together as time goes on.
The way to hold your kids closely is not to try to grip them as hard as you can. It is to support them, to encourage them, to help them become who they are, not what we want them to be. Our job is to be a resource, a shoulder to lean on, an ancestor, not a haunting, controlling, terrifying ghost.
You say you don’t want to lose them, that you want to see them, that you want the crowded table. But what do your actions say? How are they making your kids feel? Are they making your table an inviting place they can be themselves? If not, then maybe it’s time to let things go. Admit you’re wrong. Apologize. Otherwise you will have no one to blame but yourself for your empty table.