That Which Is Built Upon Strong FoundationApril 18, 2016
Who Can You Count On?June 17, 2016
So it has been just over a month now since our youngest son Kye and his partner Madison purchased their own apartment and therefore moved out of our family home. So when on Sunday May 8th (Mothers Day) our two sons and their families came over for dinner, I started to wonder about how our youngest might now see the family home after he had moved out?
I know this might seem like an inane question to consider, but for me connection with family is important. Both my parents have since passed away and I have no brothers or sisters. Apart from my wife and our children, my only living relatives are my mothers sister and her two children.
As you can imagine, due to the demands associated with my coaching career, I wasn’t around that much during our children’s formative years and unfortunately because of that fact and during that period, all of us to some degree missed out.
During that time my wife, Joanne and I did everything we possibly could to make sure there was connection within our family on a number of different levels and in a lot of different ways.
Was it ideal? Probably not. But in the end it was everything we had worked hard to create.
The two things I quickly came to terms with about that period were:
- I could never make up for my absence.
- I would make it better in the future.
There have been a couple of things I have done with my children over the years to try and enhance our connection. However, before we get to that, I think it is vital to point out that this need for increased connection is not out of guilt or shaped by the perception that their could be a strain in the relationship with any of our three children.
We had and still do, have an exceptional relationship. To the point where many of our children’s friends are astonished to hear the level of openness and frankness of our discussions and to witness first hand the quality of our relationships. Let’s just say we are tight as family. And I say that with a huge amount of pride.
Anyway back to some of the things I have done to develop the connection with my children.
First I should point out that although our children share the same crazy sense of humour (which is not always that easy for our daughter who lives in the USA) they are completely different in their interests and approach to life.
For me it was vitally important to spend time with each of them every week doing something they enjoyed doing. From Jae’s music, Kye surfing and Elle’s love of fashion. I would make sure we were doing something on a regular basis that allowed me to live a little and hopefully without imposing, be part of their world.
This has continued over the years and has taken on many different and interesting incarnations and presented as many, if not more, wonderful opportunities and experiences. One thing I became very mindful of was that as our children grew older there was the potential for a use by date around me spending time with them in their world?
In that regard I would quite often suggest something along the lines of…“You’ll let us know when its no longer cool to have Mum and Dad tag along?” Which was always replied to with a strange look that I soon understood to mean “Why would you even ask that?”.
Just as an example it is not unusual for our eldest some Jae to come off stage (he is professional musician, drummer) in a venue packed to the rafters of young (and some not so young) and to varying degrees, inebriated party-hard people and kiss both his mother and I.
Another ingredient in my connection strategy is that each year on January 1st I sit down to produce a hand written note to each of our children as to how I see their lives over the past year. Now this is not about me passing judgement on what they have done, but simply a father’s way of showing my pride in the person he/she has become.
So Sunday May 8th made me look at our youngest son and wonder now that he has moved out how does he see the family home?
However and more importantly, it has reminded me that although our children have grown up and have families and lives of their own, it is still vitally important for us to maintain that connection with them in a way that is important to them. Whilst in the process, give them reason as to why, they as parents, should do what they can to have that special connection with their own children.
The Journey Continues!