When Life Gives You Lemons, Parent Anyway

For children, there is no such thing as quality time. Or a perfect time. Or a time when they understand that parents just can’t be there. That’s because they’re kids, and they need all the time we can give them – regardless of our situation.

In the 2009 movie, Company Men, sales executive Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) becomes depressed after losing a six-figure income when his company, a major Boston shipbuilder, decides to down-size prior to a merger. The income that had afforded his family many of the finer things in life is suddenly gone

He becomes bitter and stops engaging with his kids.

The film presents a harsh slice of reality. But in a good way. It takes place during the recent recession, when the U.S. economy nearly grinds to a halt. I can’t imagine how many millions of parents ended up like Walker: depressed, discouraged, and out of luck.

In addition to Affleck, the movie stars Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones as “…corporate executives who have lived by the treacherous adage, ‘You are what you do,'” said a 2010 New York Times review.

First Walker sells his hot little sports car. Then the bank forecloses on his  home.  Out of money and out of options, he moves his family of four in with his parents; and he finds himself sleeping in his boyhood bedroom, this time with a wife.

To add insult to injury, he feels compelled to take a job offer from his carpenter brother-in-law, played by Kevin Costner.

There’s a scene that is positively brilliant, a game changer in the life of this self-absorbed dad. It’s a major breakthrough.

Here’s how the scene unfolds: Walker comes home from working construction, dirty and dog tired. (I love it when he says it’s the first time in his entire career that a boss has ever said “it’s quitting time”. ) He climbs the back steps and is about to go inside his parents’ house when he sees his son shooting hoops in the driveway, into the same basket he once used.

He goes for the door, but in a moment of awareness,  stops and looks at his son. Instead of going in and lamenting over the loss of his lifestyle yet another night, he sets down his lunch cooler, lets go of the door and walks over to play with his kid.

It’s an opportunity parents can take advantage of every single day – the moment  they make a decision to parent – in spite of being too tired, too broke, too depressed, too busy, too hungry, too dirty, too dressed up – too anything.

Instead of being the child, the parent transcends his or her own neediness. It’s a moment of the utmost importance to children.

I think they call it maturity.

Standing on the porch at that moment Bobby Walker stops abandoning his children to self-pity. He became an adult.

And when Walker starts putting his kids first, his whole life changes. Because good is always what happens when parents do the right thing.  FFG

Company Men Trailer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *