Joe Biden: Parenting Lessons From The Newly-elected US President
“Every important thing your child will say to you will be off-script, will be at a time when you don’t expect it.”
He may be, from now on, known as the United States’ 46th President, but Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. or Joe Biden, is more than just a politician.
He is also a father whose life has been painted several colours of love and loss, hardship and purpose. We look at some of the Joe Biden parenting lessons we learned throughout the years.
There’s no distance parents won’t go for their kids
In his speech as Vice President at Yale University’s Class Day in 2015, Mr Biden spoke about how he would take a 4-hour train ride every day for some 37 years, from the Senate in Washington to his hometown in Delaware, to be with his children.
Mr Biden was said to have decided to do this in order to be able to tuck his kids to bed at night and have breakfasts with them in the morning.
While many people, according to Mr Biden, did not understand why he’d choose to travel the distance, for Mr Biden, it was important that he be there for his children because “things can change in a heartbeat.”
“But looking back on it, the truth be told, the real reason I went home every night was that I needed my children more than they needed me,” Mr Biden continued.
There’s no measuring the sacrifices parents will make for their children
When his first wife Neilia was killed in a car accident, the same tragedy which also took the life of his daughter, Naomi, Mr Biden said to have considered resigning from Senate to take care of sons Beau and Hunter, who were also involved in the car accident and were both badly hurt.
In his introduction for his father at the 2008 Democratic Nation Convention. Beau Biden said his father almost did not want to get sworn in because knowing his job would require him to spend time apart from his remaining children.
Opting to stay with his child, eventually, Mr Biden was sworn into office as senator at his son’s hospital bedside.
His son Beau described him as a devoted, single father.
No matter what, family comes first
During an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2016, it was revealed that Mr Biden insists that his staff put their family first—a mandate that he said is something “very important to [him].”
In a memorandum to his staff as then-Vice President of the United States, which Fallon read on air, Mr Biden told his staff:
“I do not expect nor do I want any of you to miss or sacrifice important family obligations for work. Family obligations include but are not limited to family birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, any religious ceremonies such as first communions and bar mitzvahs, graduations, and times of need such as an illness or a loss in the family.”
Mr Biden said this has been “an unwritten rule since my days in the Senate.”
An article, in fact, wrote that added that Mr Biden still doesn’t work on December 18, the anniversary of his first wife’s death.
Quantity is just as important as quantity when it’s about time spent with your kids
“Every important thing your child will say to you will be off-script, will be at a time when you don’t expect it,” Mr Biden said in an interview.
The former US Vice President explained how the quality of moments parents get to spend with their kids are only made possible by ensuring there is enough quantity of time spent with them to make these quality times.
He also emphasised on the importance of taking the time to hear your kids out—though not in a sense of overindulging them but rather being mindful of when parents really need to listen to what their kids have to say.
“Kids can hold an idea for maybe 12, 14 hours and after that, it’s gone, you lose it,” Mr Biden quipped, noting that if you miss those opportunities to hear their ideas, you might not get the chance of hearing about them ever again.
In order to make this possible, especially when his kids were still very young, Mr Biden made it a must that his staff inform—or interrupt him, even—at any time if he received a call from one of his kids. This something his staff were told to do from way back when he was still a senator.
Joe Biden Parenting Bonus: Lessons from Dr Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife and future first lady of the United States
As a parent, give your kids confidence
One of the many roles Dr Jill Biden play in her life is being a mum to her daughter Ashley, and of course her stepsons.
Particularly as mums to daughters, Dr Biden shared how it is important for parents to give their kids confidence—especially for women.
She said, “girls need to be strong because they have to keep it together and handle a lot more responsibilities right now.”
Record your child’s feelings, learn from them
An English teacher for more than 45 years, Mr Biden’s wife Jill, recently shared advice for parents who are currently homeschooling their kids amid the pandemic.
In an Instagram Live interview with actress Jennifer Garner in October, Dr Biden urged parents to “record their [child’s] feelings” and encourage their kids to keep a journal.
This is in order to “reflect on how did this change them, and what learn about themselves [because of it].”