Bravo for Adam. I didn’t/couldn’t be totally present when my kids were little because I let my work distract me. I would hold my baby in one hand and the phone in the other; we’d take the kids on a trip and I was obsessed with staying updated on whether we were making our sales quota; I was obsessed with Edgar, so I went off into a trance (literally and figuratively). I did all this too often.
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I once read a wonderful piece of advice from Penelope Leach (whose book was so valuable to me) “Play with your child until he or she has had enough, not you.” it’s very important for children to have some positive power, to learn they can be agents in a constructive way. (Most parents only let kids control things from the negative side, by tantrums, for example. It’s not that they mean to do it, but it happens by default.) Penelope Leach taught me a great deal, and I am grateful to this day for her books.