My last post, which is much more important than this one, discussed a scenario involving Dad and his son the "baal teshuvah." Which reminded me of this song lyric, which I believe is generally misunderstood.
Before I go any further, let me concede that the authors of the song may well share in the misunderstanding. I respect authorial intent; this is not a deconstruction of the lyrics--it is the most straightforward understanding of them that I can think of. If the authors also misunderstand the lyrics, this may be because of a few poorly chosen words.
The song is "The Cat's in the Cradle," written by Sandy and Harry Chapin and sung by Harry Chapin. Most of you have probably heard it. The story has two characters, Dad and Son; it's told by Dad. At the beginning of the song, Dad is a jet-setting workaholic who doesn't spend much time with his family. Son "learned to walk while I was away." In his childhood, Son wanted to be just like Dad. At the end of the song Dad sings, "I'm long since retired," and Son now is an adult with adult responsibilities. Dad wants to have a visit with Son. As Dad puts it, Son says, "I'd like to, Dad, if I can find the time. You see, the new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu." As Dad hangs up the phone "it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me, my boy was just like me."
Son doesn't have time to talk to Dad, therefore he grew up to be just like Dad. Except he didn't. Why did Son not have time for Dad? Because "the new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu." Son is participating in some way in the care of his sick kids. We can sympathize with Dad; he truly loves Son and now wants to bond. But "my boy was just like me" is just whining--whining about Son, combined with insight into how Son must have felt.
I don't think Dad is a bad person. He loves Son, and a big part of his intention in working so hard was probably to provide for his family. But we have no reason to accept his interpretation of what happened to Son.