If You Are Too Busy To Play With Your Kids, Find Another Job!

“It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we don’t do what we know”

* I had originally published this on Sep 24, 2014 on Linkedin Articles

I used to work 100 hours a week in a game company a few years ago. I used to sleep under the table at the office, some times my nose was bleeding with all the stress I suppose. Then one day I came home to have dinner and planned to head back to work after dinner. My then 3 year old daughter asked me “Why did you come home, why didn’t you stay back at work?”. It hit me in the head like a thunderbolt! I decided to spend more time with her, whatever time I could make by cutting out TV or cutting out playing cricket with friends or whatever it takes.


Do you know your kid’s favorite color? How about his favorite dish? Do you know what she does when she is sad and down? Can you tell how often he talks about something he loves, a game, a book, a sport, a car, a movie whatever? When was the last time you went on a date with your daughter, just you and her and the nature. No hustle bustle, simple noise of the chatter between you and her. Do you know what her marks were in the most recent Math Assessment? How about her favorite song? Do you have a clue when she wakes up and when she goes to bed? Did you try to play with him? When was the last time you both had a misunderstanding and you made it up by being the Dad or the Mom? 


We should try not to take things for granted and spend time away in meaningless activities while the kids are ignored to boredom or worse yet to bad influence in some random daycare centers or to a nanny. Spend the time with the kids, it’s a simple fact that “We get what we put in”, Garbage in Garbage out, have you ever heard of that term? We shouldn’t expect children to be all affectionate and understanding if we don’t spend the time to be affectionate and understanding in the first place.

Many parents are clueless, they don’t know exactly why they have children? Some even behave as if they are products of a random act of inebriety or carelessness. If you wanted children so badly, why do you plan on putting them away at their Grandma’s house for months together? If you love your children how come you have no clue what they love? If you love your children how come they don’t have your consistent attention when they need it the most, between 0 – 5 years!

Many friends have given me wonderful explanations to why they put their children away in a far off country at the Gramps house, or stash them away in a cubby at a random daycare center for hours on while they are busy helping the world with its problems! 


I am sure you know my position on this one by now, sorry to be blunt but that’s the way I was taught to spend time with my daughter. I am sure most of you don’t need to be rudely awakened like I was!

Mother, If Not For You I Wouldn’t Be

“I profess the religion of love, 
Love is my religion and my faith. 
My mother is love 
My father is love 
My prophet is love 
My God is love 
I am a child of love 
I have come only to speak of love.”
__Rumi

Unselfish and unconditional love can be found only in one’s mother. One cannot find this feeling anywhere else on this planet. It took me a long time to understand this truth and the terrible part is, I did not realize this while she was still around on this planet in that beautiful form. It’s not that I mistreated or disrespected her in anyway, in fact, I am very happy to have been a good son and have loved and respected her sacrifices in bringing me up to be an independent, self-confident and useful human being. I don’t have regrets that way but the world around us could teach us to realize that this beauty is so near to you, that it won’t last for ever and to recognize it and cherish that gift to the fullest possible extent while it lasts.

T.S. Eliot puts it beautifully in the following poem, mother is like the garden where all love ends.

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.
” __T.S. Eliot

One may not believe or know what God means but everyone has a mother and everyone can experience that pure unsullied love from her, that to me is nothing but God. God is neither distant nor distinct from the mother who is full of such love.

Mother’s day is coming up in a few days but we all know very well every day is mother’s day, because, if not for her I wouldn’t be here today, if not for her sacrifices I wouldn’t be where I am today, if not for her inspiration I wouldn’t be who I am today, if not for her discipline I wouldn’t be what I am today, if not for her I wouldn’t be.

Stranger Parents?

“To show your children unfeigned love”

I find it strange when parents ask someone else to counsel their own children. They say “my son doesn’t listen to me, can you talk to him?”. Can a parent be any more stranger than asking someone else to counsel their own child? If the child doesn’t speak to me or vice-versa, first, I need to realize that there is a problem and find out what that problem is, because parent and child can and should have the first line of communication. Always. I don’t believe there are any exceptions, if you can have a baby, then you can connect with her.

“To show your teachers ungrudging respect (the Domitius and Athenodotus story), and your children unfeigned love.”

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

If she is not communicating with me, I need to fix it, not someone else. The problem could lie in 3 places, within me, within her or in the communication between us. It’s not very helpful to say “why are you not talking to me?” or “what’s wrong with you?”. Instead, look within, am I being closed? what can I do to be more open? Many a time, we are not patient enough to listen; just be a listener, don’t jump to explanations and advice. Be patient and listen to what they have to say.

“How have you behaved to the gods, to your parents, to your siblings, to your wife, to your children, to your teachers, to your nurses, to your friends, to your relatives, to your slaves? Have they all had from you nothing “wrong and
unworthy, either word or deed”?

Consider all that you’ve gone through, all that you’ve survived. And that the story of your life is done, your assignment complete. How many good things have you seen? How much pain and pleasure have you resisted? How many honors have you declined? How many unkind people have you been kind to?”

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Being kind to unkind people is hard but necessary to living a good life. If I must be kind even to unkind people, can’t I be kind to my own child? After all, I brought her into existence. Being kind will not solve all problems but being unkind is a sure way to break communication.

Are there situations where a third person might be a better option to help her than me? Certainly, when it comes to career planning, addiction or health issues there are experts who can do a better job. When it comes to personal or psychological issues, it’s always better for parent and child to work them out first. More than anything, let the children express and think through things for themselves. Treat them as individuals. Assuming that I know all the answers and believing that I have been there and done that, is presumptuous and borderline stupid.

Be patient with her, like tending to growing flowers in the garden. Figure out a way to be useful, not helpful, just useful. Trying to help comes next, trying to be helpful is subjective, what one might consider help might in fact be annoyance. Trying to be useful is more straightforward.

“be tolerant with others and strict with yourself”

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Unfeigned love towards the child is the only way that I know can bring about the change I need to communicate with her. What is that unfeigned love, how can I practice it. It’s being open, listening, trying to be useful to them, not trying to be helpful, it’s being patient, it’s being kind in thought, word and action.