Author Scott Behson shares an excerpt from his new book “The Working Dad’s Survival Guide,” in which he discusses how fathers should wish to be remembered by their children.
The following is an excerpt from Scott Behson’s new book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home, which provides encouragement and advice for dads trying to succeed in their careers while also being the loving, involved dads they always wanted to be—that their families need them to be. Behson is a long-time GMP contributor and his book goes on sale today:
Here’s one dad, in his own words:
When I was in law school, the competition for grades was fierce. The best exam scores after first year get you in Law Review and the inside track for the best clerkships. Leading up to exams, I was part of a study group. We met a few times a week, but I always skipped Fridays to take my son to the Natural History Museum. The group thought I was crazy.
The week before exams, I begged off a study session. I told them that instead, I’d be watching the tigers with my boy at the Bronx Zoo. Things were getting really intense and busy, and I hadn’t seen my son as much as I wanted. The group stared at me as if I had two heads – they couldn’t believe it.
I suppose I could have scored a point or two better had I studied that day, but I have zero regrets. I did well enough on the exams, and, years later, have a great career. In the long run, studying a little less didn’t really matter. The day at the Bronx Zoo with my son did. It’s a day that is forever etched in my memory, and one my son and I still talk about.
In my line of work, I ask a lot of dads how they want their kids to look back on their childhoods with them. How do they want to be remembered? Almost universally, their answers gravitate to a single theme:
I want them to remember that I was a constant, involved loving presence in their lives.
It’s a seemingly straightforward answer, but there’s actually a lot going on in that sentence. First, it means that we need to be present, that is, spend enough time with our kids so that they know we are a constant, foundational part of their lives. This is sometimes really hard, given our careers, the pressure to provide, and other extenuating circumstances.
That’s why the dad in the quote above leaves me in awe. He’s facing an unbelievably difficult and important work-related challenge. Most lawyers consider their first-year exams second only to the bar exam in terms of the long-term consequences on their lifetime earnings and career trajectories. His study partners sure saw things that way. But this dad made sure that he remained a constant presence in his son’s life, even through the crucible of law school exam preparation.
The second part of our common aspiration is not just to be present, but also to be remembered as an involved, loving presence in our kids’ lives. Law school dad could have been physically present at home with his nose in a book or distracted by studying, with his son sitting at the other end of the room. That is, in one sense, being present. But it wouldn’t be presence. Instead, he carved out time chunks for memorable days at the Bronx Zoo and Natural History Museum. That’ll get you remembered.
Taken together, this means, beyond providing for our families through work, or task is to be present and to be present. We need to ensure we spend enough time with our families, and then make great use of that time. …
The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home is available at Amazon or wherever books are sold.