We all hate to disappoint or upset people who look up to us—especially our children. The point of this post is to remind us that we can create unwanted reactions in others without realizing it.

A colleague varied his normal routine at home recently. Normally Rich devotes the time from when he gets home until his children go to bed to his family. This includes reading to his youngest daughter just before she goes to sleep. After she’s in bed, Rich often gets some work done in preparation for his next day at the office.

One evening, Rich had something pressing to get done, so he grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed to a quiet spot to work on his computer. Two hours later, he went to his daughter’s room for the bedtime reading.

She greeted him with, “Am I in trouble, Daddy?”

“Of course not! What makes you think you are in trouble?”

“You didn’t talk to me when you came home from work.”

Our attention, our time, and our conversations matter to our kids. In the hectic pace of our lives, we can take our kids for granted and not interact with them in a meaningful way. And they will notice!

One of the wonderful things about small children is that they tell us what they are thinking and feeling. Others in the family may not.

One option is to check in with every single family member each evening.

“How are you doing?”

“Everything okay?”

“Anything you want to chat about or ask?”

Anything you are excited about that you want to share?”

Even if they don’t have anything, they will know you asked, and that will make a difference to them.

The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.” 

— O. A. Battista, Canadian-American author