You Can Have More Time If You Do It Right

It’s a good reminder, one that we can zip past too easily because we’re busy, because we have so much on our plate: You only get 18 years with your kids. It’s a reminder not just to soak in the time you have with them, but to make sure you’re really parenting in those 18 years. Because soon enough they’ll be gone, they’ll be living with someone else, listening to someone else.

And yes, time is fleeting. Yes, it speeds up. Yes, there are ends to every era, to every phase of childhood. But you know what? There is one way to give yourself more time with them, and it’s pretty easy: It’s called not being an asshole.

It’s possible to have a house, have a life, have a relationship that doesn’t prime your kids to feel like Bruce Springsteen in the lyrics to “Born To Run”

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap

We gotta get out while we’re young

‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

This doesn’t mean you spoil your kids, only tell them what they want to hear, never challenge them or hold them accountable. It’s just a reminder: If you want to spend time with them when they’re older, the best way to do that is to be sure that the time you spend with them when they’re younger is pleasant. That it’s not filled with endless criticism and pointless arguments. That you don’t saddle them with your demons (as Bruce discusses poignantly with his ancestor/ghost dichotomy in his autobiography Born to Run). That you don’t ride them too hard, put too much pressure on them. That you focus on what’s actually important, that you support them and love them and connect with them.

Be accepting. Be fun. Be a fan. Be a resource. Because the thing you’ll want more than anything in the world–especially when they’re older–is more time with them. So don’t ruin the time you have with them now either…and definitely don’t use it to drive them away.

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