Chicago Tribune: If Fatherhood Came With a Redo Button

Posted June 15, 2014 by jimhigley




I’m proud to be a contributor to the Chicago Tribune. This story is part of their Father’s Day 2014 section:


I was in the home stretch of a talk about parenting. It’s a talk I’ve given many times. This time I was in front of a group of parents in a Buffalo Grove middle school gym.

I invited them to join in the conversation. The first few questions focused on specific problems: A daughter who stopped communicating. A son with questionable friends. Drinking. Pretty common topics. Then came a question from a young dad in the back of the room.

“Would you do anything different as a dad now that you know what you know?”

His question caught me off-guard. Perhaps it was hitting too close to home.

“I wish I had been more available to my children,” I told him. “Not just physically available. But also emotionally available.” Then I shifted my answer to new research supporting my response, safely deflecting my comments from anything personal. But his question lingered in my mind — and heart — as I drove home that night.

Would you do anything different as a dad now that you know what you know?

Should’ve. Would’ve. Could’ve. Those are dangerous — and highly uncomfortable — words to use when reflecting on your parenting. I’ve been a dad for nearly 25 years. And I’d like to think I’ve earned a strong passing grade.

I’ve raised three children. Two of them are college graduates and gainfully employed. Happy. The youngest is about to start his collegiate journey. All good, right?

But would I have done anything different? Pull up a chair, my friend. This may take a while.

  • I wouldn’t worry so much about fixing everything. Kids don’t need us to solve every problem. Our heart and compassion are often enough.
  • I’d let my kids pick out the paint color for their bedroom walls at least once.
  • I’d be sure they knew how to play chess.