Bryan’s “Yes Mom” post reminded me of a decision I made early in my daughter’s life that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had heard so many parents with teenagers and young adult children express their regret about how little time they had spent with their kids when their kids wanted to be with them. Also, when I first had heard Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” in my 20s, it had really hit home. I knew I couldn’t commit always to make my daughter my priority. But I committed to my wife that when my daughter asked me to play with her, I would say yes at least 90% of the time. I didn’t keep careful track but I think I batted over 0.900.

I remember one time when my daughter was about 10 and I had been coaching her on a basketball team for a couple of years. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had a pile of grading in front of me that was due to be returned in class Monday morning. Karen, my daughter, asked me if I would play basketball with her. “No, honey,” I replied, “I need to do this grading.” “Are your students more important to you than me?” she asked. “No,” I replied, “you’re more important than my students. But on the margin, they’re more important than you. It’s more important that I spend this next 2 hours grading than that I play basketball with you.” I think she got it.