Category Archives: Family

Just because I wasn’t there doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile!

I have guilty parent syndrome.

The challenge of fitting 4 weeks annual leave into 16 weeks of school holidays every year leaves me thinking that my boys have missed out; that their holiday experiences have not been worthwhile.

It’s not that my wife or myself do not spend time with our boys during the school breaks, it’s just we simply cannot spend ALL the time with them. We tend to assume to role of holiday program coordinator for when we’re not available – arranging incredible people to hang with them and for visits to friends. This often includes park trips, movies, swimming, sleepovers, theme parks, sport and for one of our boys this recent holiday, even a speed boat adventure!

So on the face of it, I reckon our boys thoroughly enjoy their holidays. And they enthusiastically (well, mostly…) proclaim they do.

It’s just that if I’m not there, I tend to think it wasn’t worthwhile… guilty parent syndrome.

Whilst my presence changes the dynamic and is certainly important, my absence does NOT equate to a lack of value. And this is something that seeps into other areas of my life. It’s almost as if I’m suggesting that without my direct involvement, something isn’t as worthwhile for all the other participants. This is more about my insecurity than anything else.

I need to have confidence in the plans I have developed, the people I have engaged  and allow them to create an experience with their touch. This then allows for those times when I am directly involved, for experiences to be flavoured by me, a genuine point of difference!

Whether it be family or work or anywhere else, we need to ascertain when we can be directly engaged and those times when we can’t, or perhaps, even shouldn’t. Empowering others should make an activity more worthwhile, not less.

Let’s create an experience-rich environment for our families and colleagues, with and without us!

LET HOPE RISE.

A beautiful mayhem

A television ad caught my attention recently when it described family life as ‘beautiful mayhem’. Across my 16 years as a parent I have sometimes used ‘organised chaos’ to describe the mundane activity of family but never beautiful mayhem.

Family epitomises something which can be in equal measure beautiful and chaotic. Frustration for parents arises when we expect it to be solely one or the other.

Parents (I’m looking at myself right now!) can set the bar too high, expecting that family life is meant to be some form of beautiful simplicity; smooth-sailing with compliant children, parents managing outcomes as they navigate the parenthood path. The converse is also true – an expectation that family life equals pure mayhem, chaos following disaster with parents resigned to a lack of control and influence. The reality is somewhere in between – this ‘beautiful mayhem’.

A challenge I’m all too aware of is seeing the beauty amidst the mayhem and calling that out. We can routinely allow cherished moments to pass by without bringing them to the surface, archiving them as lost in the mayhem. Our kids then recall only the chaos, the challenge, the confusion.

As parents we need to train our eyes and our hearts to create, identify and reinforce the beauty of each situation. This will equip our kids with an instinct for finding the beauty which then positions them to bring encouragement and life.

In the midst of chaos, we can feel overwhelmed, weighted down by the challenge. As parents we have to decide that we will do things differently, view situations with a fresh set of eyes. This starts with how we view our role as a parent.

Are we there to simply ensure our kids survive until adulthood when they’re on their own? Or are we called to equip our kids with the tools (attitudes, beliefs and practical skills) for them to be life-bringers? By adjusting how we see our critical role as a mum or dad, we will not only impact how we parent but also the destination to where our parenting guides our family.

Amidst the mayhem, what are you doing to call out the whimsical, the fun, the ridiculous, the beauty?

LET HOPE RISE

Oiling when there is no noise…

We’ve all heard the saying ‘the noisy wheel gets the oil’ (or a version thereof!), but what about the wheel from which no squeak emanates; the wheel that just seems to be working? What do we do about that?

Place this in the context of relationships – be it within the family, the workplace, a team. Much leadership effort can be consumed by the ‘noisy wheel’ – the person requiring emotional support, the team member with the knowledge gap, the child regularly ‘in trouble’. And whilst investing energy and resources into the individual is required, we must ensure it’s not at the expense of others. Just because there’s no noise, doesn’t mean oil is not required!

We need to be deliberate in how we invest into people. We need to manage our own capacity to ensure we have sufficient in reserve to extinguish bush fires that flare whilst consistently checking on the health and well-being of those not so noisy. Each of us benefits from acknowledgement of a job well done, encouragement in the face of adversity, opportunities to learn and grow, but it may not be as obvious in some of us.

Make a decision today to look around your world – your workplace, your family, your team – the person not making noise could be the one needing the oil.

LET HOPE RISE

Spend or Invest?

How often do you talk about ‘spending’ time with someone?

Spend, by definition, is about expenditure, paying out. The word ‘invest’, on the other hand, talks about expenditure in the context of a return.

This might be semantic (or even pedantic!) to many, but I believe our use of words frames the outcomes we expect, consciously or otherwise. My thinking is if we start with the end in mind, then whatever we do is likely to be more fruitful. This would seem to entirely relevant to practical activities such as building Ikea furniture or going on a road-trip where we have a sense of what the end should look like, of what the return will be.

Let’s place this in the context of time with your wife or husband, or maybe your kids… if we think about this interaction time as an investment, are we likely to use it differently? Maybe a return on investment enables us to be more strategic with some of our interactions, turning them into genuine connections. Perhaps we may be more intentional about communicating or doing something towards a shared goal?

I’m not saying a change of words will revolutionise your relationships, but if you think a relationship could be enhanced, then try investing rather than spending!

LET HOPE RISE

DO or WITH – which is more important?

My wife and I often wonder what we did with all that spare time we must have had before the kids came along. Not that we’re longing for the ‘good old days’, but rather understanding that we probably didn’t place as much value on our time back then.

The more full life becomes, the greater the value you place on your time. Simple law of economics really: scarce resource + high demand = increased value! As a dad, it’s easy for me to consistently place my interests or my (perceived J) needs ahead of my boys’. And sometimes, this is entirely appropriate. Other times, not necessarily so…

A key I’ve learned parenting over the past 16 years is that I don’t necessarily have to enjoy the stuff I do with my kids. The enjoyment should come in the fact I’m doing it with my boys, shoulder-to-shoulder. Be it playing soccer, going for an early morning swim, helping them with homework, watching Minions for the 10th time, or guiding them in the finer points of Monopoly… Don’t get me wrong, I often DO enjoy these things, but not always!

The focus of enjoyment should be our kids, not the thing we’re doing. I find that if I remember this very simple point the time I invest with my boys is likely to be much more enjoyable for everyone involved!

LET HOPE RISE

Preparing for what can’t be prepared for…

A friend ran his first half-marathon last year. He set himself this goal and duly went about preparing for it. He monitored his diet, built his fitness and began strategically running with them aim of being able to complete a half marathon first in training. When my boys decided that soccer would be their chosen sport, we prepared by kicking the ball in the backyard, learning the basics of trapping and passing.  There are some things, though, for which we cannot prepare.

My dad was diagnosed with a form of leukaemia a few years back. The prognosis for an older patient is somewhat worse than for a younger person. Suffice to say, this was bringing the end of his life nearer. It is one thing to know something, it is another altogether to be ready for it.

People, myself included, have over the years offered the profound advice “at least you know and you can prepare for it”.  This is fine when the event is your first half-marathon, but when it relates to the passing of a friend or family member, it is entirely irrelevant. Some things, we simply cannot adequately prepare for. Some things need to be experienced to understand the emotion.

As much as I am an advocate for planning and preparation, I have come to realise that we cannot prepare ourselves for all things. It is at those times, the love and support of family and friends is key. As too, is faith.

My personal faith journey has held me strong in those situations for which I was not our could not be prepared. Rather than seeking to understand ‘why’ something was happening, my faith continues to enable me to focus more on ‘how’ I can help.

Accept that some events will leave us confused, upset and even angry. And that’s okay. We cannot adequately prepare for all things that will happen in our lives but we do need to accept what has happened and then decide to deal with it.

LET HOPE RISE