We’ve all heard the words to the iconic 1974 song “Cats in the Cradle,” by Harry Chapin. It’s one of those songs that sticks with you after listening to it. The reason? Because it’s true.
Just to refresh your memory on the theme of the song, it starts with a dad talking about his son coming into the world in the usual way, but soon enough the busyness of life creeps in and dad’s work schedule takes priority over his relationship with his little guy. Though his son keeps asking for time, begging over and over for connection, he repeatedly hears that it’s not convenient. The implied message is that everything else is more important than him.
The line in the song that reaches right in and plays on the heart strings is the one where the son longingly asks, “When you comin’ home dad?” And if that isn’t enough, through all of dads repeated rejections his son still declares, “Dad, I’m gonna be just like you.”
We all know where the song shifts. It’s when dad is retired and finally has time to connect with his son. But this time the tables are turned and it’s too late. Now the son doesn’t have time for good old dad. The pattern of putting their relationship last is passed to the next generation.
Dad says it best in the power line of the song, “And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me; my boy was just like me.”
The reality is that more is caught than taught. Simply stated, your kids make choices based more from what they “catch” you as parents doing than what you tell them.
Your life story is being read by your children day in and day out.
Dads, in keeping with the theme of this song, I want to speak heart to heart with you.
Your kids need you more than you know.
Your kids need more of your time.
Your kids need more of your heart.
There is a reason that this song is written about dads and not moms. I think it’s because there is universal relatability to dads being too busy and too distracted to really invest in their kids.
Here’s the challenge: Change the tide now. Be a dialed in dad. Choose today to invest in your kids like never before. If you have a daughter or a son with an eating disorder, the best gift you can give is the gift of your time and attention.
You, Dad, are their gift. Be the gift you know your kids need and deserve.