Daddy (OMG) Can I Have The Keys To The Car Please?

In June 2000 I wrote an article, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”

I was giving thanks for my little girl and wondering if I would be smart enough to be there for her important milestones or will I as a Type A workaholic be all consumed.

Abba, can I have a check please for $350? Sure sweetie what is it for?
Abba, it’s for the Drivers Ed course.
But sweetie you’re only 15.
I’m going to be 16 next month and I’d like to take it with my friends. Please!

I did what any intelligent mortified father would do.
I told my daughter ask your mother.
My daughter of course had discussed this with my wife who said to her, ask your father.

In 2000 I discussed the raging bull expanding economy. People worked long hours to take advantage of opportunities in the stock market and real estate and many businesses and organizations were in an expansion mode. Many people were not spending enough time with their kids rationalizing they were saving up to put away for their kids future.

The economy has now been in a deep recession for more than four years. 
People are working harder and longer hours. It is common for a person to have two jobs or two working parents just to keep up.
The emotional toll experienced by many people from this turmoil often impinges on their ability to relax and enjoy time with family. The ever present interruptions from technology has consumed our remaining precious little time. We hang in the balance -work or when to spend quality time with our kids.

If we held our sons or daughters as much as we hold our iPhone/iPad/iTunes that would truly be quality time. We know teens prefer to spend time with friends but thankfully there’s still lots of room for parents. It would be great to map our kids in our iOS6 to be with us all the time.

Two lessons are clear.
In expanding economies in 2000 and recessions in 2012 people are busy working hard providing for their family.
Many don’t get wiser in changing economies only older.

Second, and this is important, listen to what songwriter Harry Chapin said in 1974 in Cats In The Cradle (excerpted).

My child arrived just the other day…
He learned to talk while I was away…

When you coming home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then…

Well, he came home from college just the other day, So much like a man I just had to say.
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
“What I’d really like dad is to borrow the car keys, see you later Dad can I have them please?”

When we’re too busy and don’t have time for our kids when they’re young, they’re likely not to have much time for us when we wish it were so.

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York