Beyond Work-Life Balance: Bedtime Stories
The other night I met Kevin. Kevin is a late forty-something career consultant; for all but a few years of his career, he spent his work-weeks in various cities away from his wife and son.
Yet he and his son are very close. Kevin consciously developed rituals for the two of them and faithfully followed them.
For years, Kevin read books to his son. Every night. Long distance. As he put it:
Every book I’d buy, I’d buy two copies. We went through all the Harry Potter series together, and a ton more.
We had a standing routine. Every night at 7:30PM his time, I’d call him, we’d each open up our copies of the book, and I’d read.
If I was in a hotel, no problem. If I was driving, I’d pull over. If I was driving with a colleague, I’d ask the colleague to drive for half an hour while I read to my son.
It was great. It was a regular thing, a routine; I knew I had his attention, and he had mine. I really enjoyed that time.
How did that work out? Kevin says he has a rich, warm relationship with his son, now 17. I look at the glow in his eyes and his smile when he tells me about it, and I believe him.
what a refreshing contrast from “wazzup son?” “lov ya,” and “cu Friday.” Good for them! …not holding “the relationship” in one hand and an electronic device in the other…wow! actual, single-focused, mindful, intentional communication!
“…consciously developed rituals and faithfully followed them…” all the relationship experts say this is one of the “secret sauce” ingredients for creating and maintaining healthy, alive, juicy and “fresh” relationships long-term.
your caption reads “stories last forever.”…real stories, not the made-up ones some use to excuse, rationalize and justify why they’re too busy to connect…especially those who say “family is the most important thing in my life” hmmm
Your comments about rituals really resonated with me, although until now I hadn’t quite appreciated them as the “secret sauce.”
My mom stayed home with us – her 5 kids – but bedtime stories were a nightly ritual for us too. Baths and clean PJs, picking out books, and all piling on the couch to hear her lovely voice reading us stories. It’s a treasured memory.
Becareful with the subject matter of what we read to our children. Whatever is pure, think on these things
Thanks for sharing, Charles. That story reminds me of the TV commercial where the man is getting up while his son is going to bed and they share oreos and milk via webcam. With my kids, (thankfully I was home) we started cup and quiet time before the first was one year old where we all gathered on one couch and read a story before bed. I’m convinced it has made an impact on our family dynamic and this offers a wonderful solution for those not able to be physically present every day.
I agree with Peter regarding his excitement over “actual, single-focused, mindful, intentional communication!” In a world where electronic devices are stunting the ability to communicate and de-personalizing relationships (my opinion), it is great to see these devices used in a way that actually enables a deeper relationship.
Jen, you brought back a few memories for me too!