One evening some years ago, my 9-year-old son Chance and I were heading up to his bedroom to do the tucking-in ritual, when we took a short detour to my study. It was just a few weeks after I had joined the National Center for Fathering, and my new business cards were on my desk. Chance saw them and asked if he could have one. I said, “Sure, Son,” and he picked one up.
He read it out loud: Carey Casey, Chief Executive Officer. Then he read the address and all the numbers, and I could tell he felt greatly affirmed and even proud of his old dad.
A little later, in Chance’s bedroom, I reached over to turn off the light on his dresser and saw my business card there. On the card, right below my title, in his 9-year-old chicken scratches, Chance had written the words, “A great father.”
As a dad, it was one of those moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. And that has provided motivation for me to help as many dads as possible have a moment like that because they have been there for their children.
It confirmed for me that, in the end, it doesn’t matter so much what title is on your business card. A more important title—and a more important legacy—is in your relationships with your children, and how they describe what you do in life.
I’ve seen evidence that a growing number of fathers agree with me. Steve Reinemund, when he stepped down as CEO of PepsiCo, said, “I have decided that my family is entitled to more time from me than the responsibilities and obligations of continuing as PepsiCo’s CEO requires and deserves.” He continued, “It was, in many respects, the toughest and easiest decision of my life.”
I see many other dads making similar choices, though they don’t make national headlines. They simply have an experience that awakens their father heart, and they decide to invest more of themselves in their families.
Many dads sometimes have career opportunities that might boost their own sense of status and worth in life. But take my word for it: they can’t compare to the rewards of building stronger connections with your children. Those are the events we ought to really look forward to and cherish.