crowded-table

From Daily Dad newsletter:

Right now, you’re thinking about what all the other parents are doing. What schools they’re getting their kids into. What the best strollers are. You’re thinking about how to get them to do their homework or how to keep their room clean. How to manage your life and career and staying in shape. It’s overwhelming and you’re stressed.

Every dad is.

So maybe it’s helpful to sit back and really think about what success as a parent looks like. First, of course, it’s having healthy kids who survive to adulthood—that’s obvious. But second, when you flash way forward into the future, what is it? It’s that beautiful phrase captured in The Highwomen hit—it’s having a crowded table. On Thanksgiving. On birthdays. At some summer house on the beach you all rented as a family. That is: having kids who you get to see, who you have a good relationship with, you want to spend time with...for the rest of your days.

Tiger Moms and Tiger Dads might raise Harvard grads, but will they have crowded tables? Snowplow parents might feel important for the first eighteen years of their kids life, but will those kids resent them for spoiling and sheltering them? Instead of a crowded table, might their house be crowded with kids who have failed to launch?

Some of the best lyrics in that song capture the path forward for a dad who is looking forward to those crowded table days:

If we want a garden

We're gonna have to sow the seed

Plant a little happiness

Let the roots run deep

If it's love that we give

Then it's love that we reap

If we want a garden

We're gonna have to sow the seed

If you want a crowded table, you’ll need to plant the seeds. You’ll need to make the decisions now so they’ll want to make the decision to fly from their homes to yours when they’re older and have families of their own. That means listening without judgement. That means being a fan and a supporter. That means loving unconditionally. That means managing your temper. You’ll need to set the table today to have the one you’ll want tomorrow.