Dedan K. Bruner
Married 8 years
Daughter Kyle, 4 & Son Hunter, 6
Montclair, New Jersey
On school days I’m out the door an hour after my kids wake up and back through the door an hour before my kids go to sleep. In the jumble of considerations my wife and I weighed in where to live, a longer commute for me lost out to higher priorities. I do what I can to be around more during the week, leave early from work or work from home whenever possible, but part of my parenting reality is that I don’t really love the amount of time I have to spend with my kids during the week.
While my kids were very young, there wasn’t as much of a noticeable consequence, but as they get a little older I’ve begun to realize that one of the consequences of my limited presence and influence is that someone or something else is going to fill the void. Parenting is often about tradeoffs and too often it’s a zero-sum situation where pragmatic and/or necessary life choices mean my kids lose out or get less than ideal parenting from me. But I believe our busy schedules don’t have to deprive our children; they can present opportunities to provide our children with other impactful relationships.
When I was growing up, my dad played in the NBA and often went on road trips during the long season. Sometimes a week or more at a time and even when he wasn’t on the road, practice schedules, training, and game days weren’t normally congruent with regular and extensive quality time with his kids. Fortunately for me, my grandpa (my mother’s father) was available to fill the gaps in my dad’s busy schedule. I can’t overstate the impact my grandpa (among many others) had on shaping and molding the man I am today. He passed some time ago, and I wish very much that my wife and kids could have met him because he remains a part of who I am. While he was alive, he was a living cryptograph whose mere existence revealed important truths about why I am the way I am.
I have the same opportunity to provide that for my kids. To introduce people into their life that will enrich and shape their lives in meaningful ways. Will the teachers and coaches we choose quickly fade from memory, or will they inspire them to grow? Will our friends provide good examples for them to look up to and emulate? Will we make sure their aunts, uncles, and grandparents are actively involved in their lives the same way my grandpa was in mine? The answers to those questions are up to me (and my wife) exclusively to determine, and I intend to take full advantage of the surplus of love and wisdom available to us to supplement and enhance what I have to offer my kids.
Think about who in your life has something to offer your kid(s). How can you get them involved in your child’s life? No one can ever replace you or your love, but no one can do this alone, and you don’t have to. If you seek and ask, there are plenty of friends and mentors out there who will love and care for your kids in ways that will enrich their lives.