Every summer as a child I had the luxury of spending family time at our lake house in the Pocono mountains. I loved experiencing swimming, fishing, waterskiing and roasting marshmallows. Most memorable was witnessing fireworks at midnight on a boat with my entire family on the Fourth of July. Those were special moments that will live in my heart forever. But even more memorable was my dad. He was an entrepreneur who owned and ran a very successful business. With over 500 employees he could’ve worked around the clock and had an excuse to do so. But being the type of man and father he is, he made sure our family travels never suffered. Instead he was always a part of the action.
If you met my dad you would immediately feel his kindness and love. Most of my friends would joke that he was in the CIA since he was always dressed in a dark suite and had glasses that transitioned when he entered daylight. While he obviously had his faults his love for family and support was never a characteristic that could be challenged. He made sure to put family first. As busy and successful a man that he was even when we took those trips to the lake he would manage to balance work with family time. Back in the 80’s we did not have the luxury of cell phones. But my dad was smart and figured out a way to be available to us and his job. I can still see him walking down the pebbled pathway in his bathing suit with a rotary phone in hand. Yes a rotary phone. He had a line installed near the shore so if an issue arose that needed his attention he could be reached. But it wasn’t like today’s cellphone interruptions. His office knew his family came first. While my mom often remarked the phone is going to give him a cauliflower ear, I never felt his work was a distraction.
Today’s parents have much more accessibility to work and social life via cellphones, emails and the many social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. It’s not uncommon walking down the streets of New York, LA or wherever you may live and witness heads buried in the latest version of an iPhone or android. Sadly it feels like the advances in technology (as amazing as they are) have a downside we need to pay attention too especially when it comes to our role as parents.
As a business owner myself I understand the responsibilities and pressures my dad experienced. Not only are you responsible for your family you have those you employee who have become extended family members as well. Managing that balance and maintaining that connection to both is not easy. But it can be done.
Now is a good time to reflect on your parents and how their parenting influenced who you are today. I often catch myself saying internally “Oh my God I’m becoming my dad.” While that’s not such a bad thing since he is a great man but there are those topics on which we certainly disagree. Sometimes we learn from our parent’s mistakes. Or we simply see things in a different light. Interestingly I’m the fifth of six kids and while all my siblings maintain the same religious and political views as my parents I have formed my own opinions through opportunities I experienced living on my own both at college and after. I am grateful for the gift they gave me of supporting my desire to live in New York City and eventually Los Angeles. But becoming the person I am today involved experiencing life on my own. But their influence while raising me cannot be disregarded.
As parents we want to guide and protect our children. We need to provide and teach our children. We need to do the best job we can by being a living example to them. While it’s virtually impossible to be a perfect parent the intention to act out of the best interest of our children and partner is possible and should be our main intention. Meditate on what type of parent you want to be. Your own child will someday be in a position reflecting back on how they were raised. I don’t know about you but if I learn they want to be just like their dad then I know I can be proud of the job I’ve done and even more so be proud of the child they have become.