We all live fast. Mom and Dad scurry to work, to lunch, to meetings, to sporting events, to concerts and eventually back home.
Our kids run their own race. If we speak to one another, it amounts to "See you later!" "Gotta run!" or "I'll be home when I get home!"
As much as we all know the value of eating dinner together, it hardly happens anymore. If you manage to round up the herd for any meal during the day, congratulations! You are an exception -- and an inspiration.
If we were to measure our love for one another by the amount of time we spent together, most of us would cry ourselves to sleep every night. At the very least we'd feel ashamed.
We often hear, "It's not the quantity of time, it's the quality that counts." Sounds good ... but how can we create connections while we're chewing our bagel, brushing our hair or zipping up our pants as we fly out the door toward a heart attack?
February is the month for love, and the challenge for every dad will be to grab a box of candy or a bouquet of flowers as he's trying to maintain his position in the rat race. If he's lucky, his assistant will pick a special card for him to give to his wife -- or will call and make a dinner reservation for him. However, that will pose new challenges. He will have to slow down long enough to sign the card and remember the name and location of the restaurant.
Most of us are our own assistants, so the chances of getting it right -- delivered right on time, to the right person, on the right day of the right month -- can be a bit ... chancy.
We'd like to offer an option to all the frenzy and heartburn. Give something new, different and lasting on Cupid's special day -- offer a simple and heartfelt compliment. Dad, the treadmill never stops, so you'll have to make it short but powerful: "Honey, you look great!" Or "Honey, I love you and am grateful every day for you."
Mom, it works both ways. When you're both staring into the mirror and doing the best you can with those facial finishing touches in the morning, glance over and say, "Honey, having you as my partner means everything."
Encourage your kids to do the same. It has to be in-person, and complete sentences are mandatory. We'd love to hear, "Mom, thanks for always being there. I love you." "Dad, I'm proud to be your kid. I love you."
Flowers wilt. Candy disappears. And you must dress up for an evening of fine dining. But a few genuine and well-chosen words spoken in earnest remain indelibly etched on the heart.
By the way, February is American Heart Month. Slow down.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc.com. They are available for workshops. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.