Some time ago I went on a retreat with a group of men. One of the subjects for discussion was the place of our families in our lives. Most of the men were professional, ‘middle management’, if there is such a thing. Most of us felt the intense pressure of ‘trying to keep the customer satisfied’. Many had put their careers in front of their children and their families. Others seemed to have a good balance. Discussion was frank and open, always a good sign.
One of the guys there was a friend of mine, Scott. Hi Scott! Scott reads this weekly email and is a very motivated and successful man. He has four boys aged 9, 8 and 5 years old and a beautiful baby boy, 9 months old. Scott’s theory for family survival as a father is both practical and simple.
Life is a bank balance. If you keep on withdrawing and don’t put anything back in the bank of life, you will go broke. The same goes for your family and your relationship with your wife. If you are always withdrawing love and taking from your family without giving back you will eventually run your account down.
What is taking? Well, eating a meal your wife has cooked. Wearing a shirt your wife has washed. Living in a house your wife has cleaned. Working long hours and not coming home. Making love even when your wife does have a headache, and the list goes on.
What about your children? How do you take from them? Not listening properly at the dinner table to your children’s stories when they desperately want to tell you, ‘what happened today at school’, receiving a cuddle when you didn’t ask for it, listening to “I love you Daddy” when you didn’t say anything in the first place, or just being too busy to spend time with your children.
How often have you heard the story from a bloke? “My wife left me. I didn’t know anything was wrong. Next thing I know, she’s gone!” As males, we are often so self- absorbed we don’t know what is happening to our families until it is too late. We think our families will love us just because we earn money for them. Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Money can’t buy me love’. The Beatles certainly knew it and experienced it, some of them quite tragically. Eventually the family bank balance of love will run out, often with devastating consequences.
Don’t be self absorbed. Don’t be a taker, be a giver. As Chris Miles said many years ago at the Fathering Forum in Parliament House, Canberra, “Fathers need to be the source of life for their families”. That is, love innovators, not just love takers. You have to be the major source of deposits in the bank balance of your family relationships. Now is the time to start making deposits. Why don’t you make a few extra deposits in this coming week?
Yours for healthy family bank balances