Last summer after one of our radio shows, I was having an off the cuff conversation in the studio with my co-host, D’Shawn. We were talking about summer plans and things we like to do as fathers with our children. Then he shared a startling revelation he had one day when spending time with his two kids—that he didn’t really know them.
I’ll be the first to tell you that D’Shawn is one of the most admirable men I’ve ever met—he lifted himself from homelessness to owning an award-winning gym and has been named York County Citizen Hero of the Year, been featured on PBS’s Virginia Currents and interviewed on WUSA Channel 9 for his ambitious task of sending a tractor trailer of water to Flint, Michigan. His kids completely adore him and they are the center of his world.
So how could he not know them?
One day, his daughter asked him to name her favorite color. He paused and realized that he didn't know. While that may seem like a simple thing, he realized that there were probably many more things he might not know about his kids. That got his wheels turning.
He has taken his kids on many family vacations, shared American history with them on numerous trips (one of his passions), and has supported them in every way, but seeing them as people that he needs to know in the same manner that he invests in his personal training clients, he felt that he was falling short there. So he committed to making that change and focused his time not on the things he did for or with his kids, but the quality of their conversations.
For a family that was already really close, they became even closer. It caused me to wonder how well I know my kids. My wife knows them inside and out. They bear their souls to her, but with me, not so much. I’m the guy they want to play with. I’ve become a skilled teacher to my kids, but not a skilled listener of their hearts. Play is fun, but talking matters. I don’t want to be an extrovert in the community and an introvert in the home. Like D’Shawn, I invest a lot of time in getting to know clients, strangers and even my friends. Why not my kids? They’re interesting people, too.