April 28, 2009

{Parents Taking Responsibility at Home: Division of Labor}

This article, posted on NewsWeek, sourced from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, has some surprising statistics on responsibility in the home from cooking and cleaning to child care and work life conflicts.

April 7, 2009

{Do You Know Your Kids? Just 3 Questions}

Many of us have moments in our lives which can either stop us in our tracks and change us forever, or that we let pass by and try to dismiss as something far more insignificant than it should have been.

My world changed one day AFTER most everyone else’s. It was the morning after the tragedy of 9/11, and I was in for the biggest shock of my life.

The day after 9/11, everyone at my company took a forced vacation day. I was at home, alternating between watching the news on TV and the news on the internet. In the middle of this anxious time, my daughter, Raka came and sat next to me. She sighed, looked at me, and said, “You don’t know me, Dad.”

I failed to understand the pain she felt as she made this statement. I felt challenged. Instead of trying to understand why she felt this way, I got defensive. “Of course I know you,” I replied.

Raka thought for a while then got out a piece of paper. She scribbled something on it, and then she gave it to me. She had written three questions. The questions were simple, and I was sure I could handle them. But I still could not believe what was happening: I was getting a surprise quiz. The three questions were:

1. Who is my best friend?
2. What is my favorite restaurant?
3. What is the best thing you and I have ever done?

To make a painful and long story short, I failed every question on my quiz. If this had been a performance appraisal at a job, the next thing I heard would have been, “You’re fired.”

The message had been delivered. It had been delivered loud and clear. I could see my future life. I would be sixty-five, have tons of money in the bank, and be retired from a very celebrated career. I would have made it onto numerous who’s-who lists, but my life would be about counting days. I would count the days until two annual phone calls from my daughter. One would come on Father’s Day, and one could come on my birthday. They would be brief calls in which she wished me happy birthday, I asked her how she was and she said “Good,” and then there would be a pause. She would say, “Dad, please take care of yourself,” and hang up. I could hear the sound of the disconnected phone call. It echoed in my ears.

That day marked the beginning of my new life. I realized that I’d had my priorities upside down, and I began a serious effort to make sure that vision of counting days to my twice-yearly phone calls from my daughter would never become reality. As I learned more about my daughter and developed our relationship, I found that she was much more capable and responsible than I had ever dreamed.