Recently I found myself engrossed in some “life changing” television program (probably some sporting event like the Superbowl) when all of a sudden…out of nowhere…my 4 year old daughter came running into the room…FULL VOLUME! I didn’t make out much of what she was saying, but I thought I heard a “daddy” in their somewhere.
She was LOUD! (As youngsters usually are)…I found myself tempted to tune her out. (and before you turn your nose up at me…be honest…You know you’ve been tempted too!)
I caught myself however in a moment of “self awareness.” Instead of demanding she lower her volume I grabbed my remote and muted the show I was watching so I could hear what she was trying to say. (And, no I don’t have Tivo.)
She looked a little shocked at first and asked me,
“Daddy, why did you turn off the sound?”
to which I simply replied,
“I want to hear what you have to say sweetheart…You are important to me.”
Football or Family? Which order are your Priorities in?
As a Marriage and Family Counselor I sit in my office on a weekly basis listening to hurting people who feel they’ve come in 2nd place to their partner’s job or hobbies. Their kids feel the same way. Of course they’ll usually insist that PRIORITY #1 is their family, but It hardly takes a trained therapist to spot the rolling eyes of their loved ones.
They aren’t buying it!
Often it’s fathers who find themselves in trouble here (though not always).
And I get it… He usually tells me He’s been working hard for the family…and he has been. Growing up he was told that his primary role was that of “financial provider.” (He’s excelled in that role!) Understandably though, He’s frustrated with the fact that he isn’t getting a little more respect and understanding from his family! “Why won’t they give me a break? Why can’t I just enjoy my television? Why can’t I just get a little peace?” he asks.
The issue however is that his kids and family members don’t “feel” like they are 1st place in his life. That’s what they want though! And often that has a lot to do with the fact that when he is around, he isn’t “present.” Sure,he’s there physically, but emotionally and mentally he’s engaged in the big game…or thinking of the next project at work. We all (myself included) need to learn to be more “present” with those around us.
What do I mean by “present” you ask?
Have you ever hopped in your car, drove across town, arrived, and realized that you remembered none of the drive? Maybe you’ve read through a page in a book only to realize you remembered nothing of which you just read? Why is that? We’ve all experienced it. The reason is that we weren’t present in the moment. Sure, we read each word, and we made it across town without wrecking the car…but our minds were engaged elsewhere.
What can I do?
- Try “checking In” with yourself this week by asking, “How present am I in this moment?“
- Try turning off the TV and take your wife or children on a “Date”
- Turn off your cell phone for a while and enjoy the people in front of you.
- Let me know how it goes! I would love to hear your comments.
Let’s see if our partners and children notice the difference. They deserve to be #1 in our lives!
You know, as I think back on that evening with my daughter, I can not for the life of me remember what I was watching on the TV.
I sure do remember the look on my daughter’s face though!
If I can help you and your family in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free phone consultation!