One of the main reasons why it is often so difficult to engage our children is that intentional engagement takes time. There are no shortcuts. There is no outsourcing. You can only engage your children if you spend time with them.
It’s so easy to make excuses and point to our busy schedules. You probably are busy—but probably not as busy as the President of the United States.
Here’s what he said in an essay on balancing work and family:
Even with our jam-packed days, Michelle and I work hard to carve out certain blocks of family time that are sacrosanct. For example, at 6:30 p.m., no matter how busy I am, I leave work to go upstairs and have dinner with my family. That’s inviolable. My staff knows that it pretty much takes a national emergency to keep me away from that dinner table. . .
So for an hour or so at dinner, my focus is not on my day, but on theirs . . . The highlight of my day is just listening to their thoughts about the world and seeing what smart, funny, kind young women they’ve become. That hour recharges me and gives me perspective. . .
And like many parents of high school juniors who are excitedly touring college campuses, I’m already dreading that empty seat at the table when Malia goes off to school next fall. I can feel myself lingering at the table a little longer, trying to stave off the passage of time. But for as long as possible, I’m going to enjoy every minute of finally having us all together under one roof.
These are the words of a father who is engaged in the lives of his two daughters.
Despite the fact that he has the busiest and most demanding schedule on the planet and despite the fact that he himself grew up without a father, President Obama has decided to prioritize time with children.