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Monday, September 5, 2011

Parenting 101: every now and then you do something right

I have been in the UK for the last couple of weeks, now back in New York. While I was on the train going to Brighton, my daughter called with a business question. She was submitting a proposal and wanted to get the numbers right. When she needs advice she usually calls.

I mentioned this to my dinner companions that night and they reacted as if a grown child asking for advice, much less listening to it, was very weird.

Parents may not actually want their kids to be calling, but I do. So this is how I made that happen:

One day at Yale there was one of those pink while you were out slips that said my daughter had called. She was seven at the time and had never called before. I asked my secretary why she hadn't put the call through and she said I was busy with a graduate student at the time. I told my secretary that if I was busy with the President of U.S. and my daughter called, she was to put it through. My children always came first.

I then told my daughter that she was never to let anyone tell her that I was busy. She said she didn't want to disturb me and said she could disturb me any time she liked.

It was just a knee jerk reaction. I hadn't thought out what I wanted to say. My advice to parents is that you will get what you ask for from your children, so be sure when you ask. As for me, I have never regretted that initial reaction I had to that phone message.


Anonymous said...

My father was a physician. One of my best memories about my dad is that he, like you, always put his children first. He told all his secretaries that no matter what he was doing, what patients he was seeing, what meeting he was in, if one of us called, they better come get him. I remember calling during college, and they told me he was with a patient. I tried to tell them it was ok, I would call back, but they had been schooled - they were like "no way- we don't want to be the one to tell Dr. B that you called and we didn't come get him." To this day, I think that is one of the most special things about him. He made it clear that we were important. So, yes, I think that this thing you did, is right. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

I loved this memory, how special for your child knowing they come first no matter what. To know you are important in the eyes of your parents really does matter, and telling your child this, matters too. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Being the adult child myself (I'm 32) I look at asking my parents' advice this way: Is my mother/father the one who is most likely to have an answer to my question? Or, the answer-on-the-way (as in, where would I find thus-and-such piece of information)? If so, then I ask her/him. If someone else is, then I ask that other someone. Even though that may still mean a reference call to my parents, to ask for someone's contact info!