Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Father-Son Not Equal To Father-Sons

As any parent will tell you, parenting is hard work. And if you don't think so, then you just might not be parenting hard enough.

I say that last part with a bit of self-accusation, because in the last few weeks I have started to see that I was missing out on a fundamental part of parenting. That would be alone time.

No, no. Not me having alone time (although, now that I mention it, I certainly would love more alone time), but me having alone time with one of my sons (well, or daughter).

As we have told our kids, there are positives and negatives to having a relatively large family (and by "relatively", I mean we have four kids, which by today's standards seems large, but historically speaking is quite small). One of the positives, of course, is always having a sibling or sibling to do things with. A built-in friend, so to speak.

The downside is that we have a lot of laundry. And dishes. And just generally, not enough room. But even more than that is the time factor...the opportunities for Dad (that's me) to spend time with each of his kids individually.

For quite a while now, we've had "Boys' Nights", where my wife goes out with a friend I get to spend supposed "quality time" with my boys doing the kind of things boys like to do.

But, as it turns out, a father spending time with his sons is very different from a father spending time with his son. My oldest son had made this increasingly clear with some rather pointed statements (nicely disguised under his keen sense of humor), and requests to do something alone, like playing a game of chess.

So, I sat down with my wife, as we often do when something is nagging us about the state of our parenting, and discussed the issue. I love to talk to my wife about these things. She is absolutely the greatest mother on the face of the planet. She just has this sixth-sense about how our kids feel. Me? Well...I'm ashamed of the times I've dismissed their feelings just because I wanted them to get the playroom straightened up.

Anyhow, my wife helped me determine what was missing in my fatherhood, and then we worked out a game to have more father-son time on a regular basis. Fitting it into an already tight schedule is difficult, but I consider the effort worth it.

And so, this week began the one-on-one time. While I enjoyed the ability to connect with my boys on an individual basis, the true joy came in just seeing their faces, their excitement, just to be with Dad. And I'm looking forward to getting to know my own kids at a whole new level, carrying forward, hopefully, into adulthood. Because I don't want my boys to grow up one day and wish they had known their father better, or that I had listened to them more. Time to start, today.

1 comment:

Devon Ellington said...

That's a really beautiful entry, Ryan. I remember the summer I had all ten godchildren at once and handled them as a single godmother -- making the time to spend time with each individually so that no one felt lost in the shuffle was an even bigger challenge than getting the daily necessities done.

Those are the moments that stay with them forever. The one-on-one time.

How terrific that you recongize this, and, even more important, did something about it!