How a Child Changes You

Soleil at Glen Echo

I’m personally thrilled to participate in two charitable efforts to help children this month because of the incredible impact my daughter Soleil has made in my life.

It’s just amazing how love for a child changes you.

This love eclipses anything you could possibly know beforehand.

For example, I would do anything for Soleil. I would die if it meant she would live, and I’ve never felt that way about anything else. Cliche, but true. It’s just like that.

The same love compels you to be more risk adverse. I so miss my motorcycling days, but there’s no way in hell I’m getting on a donorcycle again until she’s much older.

You’ve seen my quest to be more mindful about speech and treating others well. A big part of that is leading by example so my daughter knows her Daddy lives his words instead of preaching them.

Caitlin & Soleil Playing in the Rain

Another reason behind evolving behavior, Soleil is a lightning rod.

When we smile and have positive conversations, she smiles and laughs and plays. But when it’s a negative or serious conversation, her face takes on a very stoic serious look.

I will never be perfect, but little things like this cause me to focus on positive growth.

It also makes you rethink time expenditures, something I discussed here a couple weeks ago. Whenever I do something for work, there is a time expenditure. Time is a precious resource because I don’t want to rob Soleil of the attention she deserves.

So Little Time


The good night video I sent to Soleil yesterday.

Late last night, I concluded a stint of four business trips that absorbed eight of the last 13 days, including two weekends. The hardest part of it was missing the kiddo.

Soleil let’s me know, too, from separation anxiety to pouting and ignoring me, to crying for me when I am gone. No amount of cute T-shirts, stuffed animals and toys will make up for that. It really sucks.

Wherever duty takes me, I Skype with her and Caitlin, or shoot a video like the one above.

And yes, I am cutting unnecessary trips now as my side of the book tour winds down.

Midtown Manhattan in the Fog
Business demands much travel as of late.

I’ve also decided to postpone starting a new book for the immediate future because of continued business travel and some family matters. Soleil and family comes first. No need to add more hardship to the equation.

Really, the kid changes everything, including approaches towards money and significantly increasing your tolerance for suffering. It’s a night and day difference.

How has a child or children changed you?

P.S. Some of you may know, I’m working with Razoo and Yum Brands to feed children on World Hunger Day this October 16. The week afterwards, I’m hosting a Punish Geoff fundraiser and run a Tough Mudder to help stop child trafficking globally.

31 Replies to “How a Child Changes You”

  1. Geoff,

    Kids change everything. Where else can you find unconditional love? Where else can you find a smile that will brighten your day? Where else can you find such innocence? Where else can you find such wonder at all things?

    The very nature of kids, unaffected and unspoiled, is something adults might strive to emulate. Kids don’t hate. Kids don’t judge. Kids don’t expect anything in return. Kids don’t keep score.

    Imagine how wonderful the world would be if everyone had more “kid” in them?

    You are lucky, Geoff. Don’t ever take that for granted and enjoy every, fleeting moment!

    Cheers,
    Marc

    1. Thank you. You are right, of course. And I so enjoy being around that free spirit that children have, the joy of the moment. It’s amazing really.

  2. Bravo! I remember telling a friend who’s wife was expecting that his life was about to be over. He looked a little dismayed until I said, “but you won’t mind at all, the new life with your child will be more amazing than you can imagine.” I know several men who are making different career and work decisions to be more present for their kids. It used to be only women who did that. Kids need their parents, both of them, whether two mommies, two daddies, or one of each.

    1. His life just began, right?

      Yes, it’s clear Soleil needs her Dad. She was really good about letting me go to work today, but I really need to spend some time with her this weekend.

      Cheers, Laura!

  3. Before my children, I never really knew my capacity to love unconditionally. I took two trips in September, one to surprise my son Nick for his birthday, and the other to celebrate my daugher’s birthday. My babies are 27 and 28, but age doesn’t matter, if it’s a birthday, Mom will be there to help celebrate. My children, their lives and well being play heavy on my mind, every hour of every day. They also inspire the randome acts of kindness I try to practice every day.

    1. I remember working for you and they were so young! You used to fret about them in your office. So cute!

  4. I don’t get to meet my first for another three weeks or so, but the closer I get to that as-yet unscheduled procedure, the more excited I get. Already shifting priorities, as plans are changing. It’s not what I expected – it’s better.

    Can’t wait to meet her.

  5. It’s definitely slowed me down in a good way. I have had to re-examine what is important (and just as important, what isn’t) and adjust my lifestyle to my daughter.

    It has also made me less self centered as suddenly there is someone who I need to constantly take into account.

    1. Well said. It definitely forces you to think differently. Like a book right now after two books in two years is really just ego. From a business standpoint, I got the credibility I would need from these, and don’t need to do more for a bit, and can focus on other thought leadership activities. Kid first.

  6. I second all those emotions Geoff. I also like that you share with Soleil where you are and what you’re doing. My son (who’s now an adult) always loved to hear about my work life. Even from a young age we always spent time in the evening talking about our respective days. It’s so true that your children do as you do, not as you say, so your actions will have a huge influence on her. Scary and wonderful eh?

    1. Scary. I definitely need to be mindful of that especially when I am tired and I am want to grab that dang phone. And she definitely parrots me, there is no question about that.

  7. Great post and quite a touching one. I can completely relate to it, as I have a 5-yr old daughter. Totally agree that a child changes your perspective significantly. I’ve learned a ton of patience and tolerance for suffering, as you say. I also feel kids can teach us a lot on how to stay present in the moment, since they always do.

    1. Yeah, well said. I think that’s the greatest gift Soleil has brought me. Presence in the moment… Thanks for adding this!

  8. I love hearing from people that have gone through this stuff like its the first time its happened. You captured the essence of what happened to me 7 years ago, to our friends and families over their lifetimes, and whats happened to the human race over the many generations of our development
    Nice work!

    1. Yes, it’s something that you can talk about with other parents at the playground. They definitely get it.
      I have a lot of friends without kids, and was writing somewhat for them, to help explain why a parent does the things they do… And when I was without kid I could never fully understand. Somehow I think I communicated this well to the parents but the no kids crowd ;)
      Thank you for your comment!

  9. As a single mother by choice, my opportunity for travel is limited. Seeing how much you and others are on the road, that’s probably a good thing. When I do travel, it’s challenging because life doesn’t stop and kidlet still has needs.

    Thank goodness for Apple and Facetime.

    1. You’re right. And frankly, if I didn’t have Caitlin, my business would be a local/virtual one only for the very same reason. Facetime only takes me so far.
      Thank you for visiting today!

  10. Very sweet video Geoff. It’s amazing how children can alter your existence. I’ve always flown by the seat of my pants, but after having kids I realized that everything I do ultimately I do for them.

    But the biggest change by far I would have to say is that they’ve helped me realize how to get present with people and to slow down and enjoy the moment. I make it a point to acknowledge them any time they come within my presence. I want them to know that no matter what mommy is doing and no matter how much I have on my plate, that they will ALWAYS be my priority and will have my undivided attention.

    Nothing fills a child’s heart more than knowing they are heard and that they matter. ;p

    1. Yes, they really need to see your eyes look into their’s with a smile, and listening to them matters a lot, too. Even when you don’t understand them.

      I think presence is the thing that I constantly need to remind myself of with Soleil. Thanks so much for visiting, Michele. It was great to meet one of the Ori in person!

  11. I can’t think of anything more profound than the changes that took place when I became a father. My oldest is a hair short of 12 and my youngest is 8 going on 30.

    They definitely made me far more aware of what I do and the potential impact upon them. There are jobs I haven’t taken because I was concerned about the impact upon them.

    That undoubtedly has had a negative impact upon my career but it has allowed me to spend more time with them and you can’t ever replace that.

    These kids are the best and there is nothing better than being a father.

    1. I think about this a lot. I, too, am making choices that are hurting me from a full career, and more from enjoying hobbies, but you know, you have to do what’s right for you. Being a great Dad is what’s most right for me… Thanks for this great comment.

  12. That’s a sweet video, what a great idea! How cool will it be when she’s a teenager and has a library of videos from her dad :)

    I don’t have kids but I’ve worked with kids for a good chunk of my life and come from a family of 6 kids so I know they can really change your perspective on just about everything. Sometimes do you wonder why we bothered to grow up?

  13. This really hits home! Great post reflecting on life’s delicate balance & ways children deepen you in unexpected & immeasurable ways! Striving to keep the balance daily.

  14. Great post, Geoff. My entire business is now based on helping people build their work life around their family life so they can make a great living and not have to compromise time with their children. This has been my “life hack” since my son was born 9 years ago. Have I given up some career momentum and visibility? Absolutely. Does it matter in the big scheme of things? Absolutely not. As a child psychologist I can tell you that your child will grow so fast that before we know it, they are asking for the car keys and looking for ways to move away from home. What we give them as parents in their first 10 years of life will essentially make up their entire sense of self and self-esteem for the rest of their lives. We don’t have to be perfect or overly doting. We do need to be present and available and have enough energy in our tank to see, hear and engage with our kids. Best job I”ve ever had. Hardest job I”ll ever have. And I will never regret one moment that I gave to my kid that took away from my career.

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