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By Larry King.
I am an older father. Unlike many other parents out there, I have several children from several different generations -- two older sons who are 57 and 50 years old, and a daughter who is 45 years old. Now, with my current wife, Shawn, I have a stepson who is 32 and two little boys of my own. Chance is 14 and Cannon is 13.
I have learned many lessons raising my kids, but the most important one -- and the one I want to pass along to all of you -- is to stay involved. Be present and always take interest in your children’s lives, especially when they are young. Be your kids’ biggest fan.
I found this out the hard way. I was not always as involved in my children’s lives the way I am today. Unfortunately, I am just learning things about my older kids that I should have learned years ago. And, because of this, I don’t have the relationship with my older children I wish that I did.
When they were growing up, I was focused on my career. I wanted to make it at any cost. And although I was present financially, I wasn’t necessarily emotionally present with them. When push comes to shove, this is such a crucial part about being a parent. When you are an involved parent, you instill a sense of generosity and love in your kids that they will take with them throughout life.
With Chance and Cannon, I make them my priority. Work is no longer number one. Looking back on it now, it should have never been number one. When Chance and Cannon have a baseball game or are performing in a school play, I am always there rooting for, cheering them on. And they notice it, too.
It’s not easy being a career parent in this day and age. Technology has changed things for us; we’re expected to be connected at all times. It’s hard to know when to put your cell phone away. But it’s doable. There are ways to make both worlds work. Take passion in your jobs and careers, but carry that same passion with you when you come home at night and greet your kids. Although it’s satisfying to have a successful job, trust me when I say this: it’s much more satisfying to watch your son hit a homerun over the center field wall and then hug him afterward. Those are the memories that will last a lifetime. Not only for your kids, but for you too.
I have met many interesting people throughout my career. Some who are tremendously successful, and some who are still struggling to make ends meet. But no matter their situation, the folks who are happiest are the ones who clearly have a strong and involved relationship with their children. So please, take my advice. Put your cellphone down. Push that meeting until tomorrow. And get to that ballet recital. Nothing will make you happier.
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