A Dad’s Dilemma: Prioritizing Time Versus Money

While it is important to provide for our families, be careful not to trade off too much time for money. Our kids may want things, but they NEED time with their fathers more. As part of National Work and Family Month, here’s a post for my fellow fathers who feel torn between spending time at work and spending time with our families.

Sure, kids like money. But they NEED you. (photo credit: Good N Crazy, creative commons license)

On October 3rd, my first article at the Huffington Post was published. I was invited to participate in National Work Family Month and contribute content to their month-long effort to raising awareness and support for work-family balance. Here’s the beginning of the piece, plus a link to the full article over at HuffPo.

Poet David Whyte wrote a great book, “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America” aimed at helping people find meaning and balance in their careers (and here I thought poets just lived in their mom’s basements while pulling a few shifts at a hipster coffee shop). There is a one-line poem in his book that, 18 years ago, led me to reassess my professional goals:

“Ten years ago, I turned my head for a moment and it became my life.”

Today, this poem makes me think about fathers in our roles both as caregivers and providers, as well as the needs of those who depend on us. Here’s my stab at a priority list (in order):

1. Baseline providing — e.g., food, a decent house/apartment, safe neighborhood, schools, basic stuff, basic fun stuff, too

2. Time with you

3. Better stuff — e.g., fancier clothes, new toys, video games, new bike

4. Extra stuff for you — e.g., new cars, a big house, fancy vacations

How much of #2 do we sacrifice for #3 and #4, without even realizing it?

Continue here.

How do you set finiancial priorities? What struggles and trade-offs have you had to make? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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5 Comments

  1. Sam Morrissey

     /  January 13, 2014

    Just now reading this (and the HuffPost) article while I am considering pursuing an Executive MBA. My initial thought was that an EMBA could position me for a lucrative career in business, and doing that now while my daughter is vaery young would mean that I could spend more time with her in 5-10 years, when it might be more meainingful. After reading your article, I’m thinking about it more – every time I see my daughter I light up, and she does only have one childhood. I’m torn, because I know that I could make tons more money which would ultimately result in a better life for my daughter. I’m really going to need to think about this more, and I’m happy I found your article.

    Reply
    • Hi Sam- The fact that you are consciously weighing this decision is the best indicator that you will ultimately make the right one for you and your family.

      My one note of caution is that I know a few people who bulked up their work in the first few years of their child’s life, vowing that they would slow down as their child got older, but then couldn’t find a way to get off the treadmill.

      An EMBA is a huge commitment for 1.5 years or so, but while the financial benefits may be lasting, you have to be constantly willing to calibrate your career choices or else you’ll end up in a c-suite but with not much time.

      Good luck to you., and thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Thanks for this Scott. Thought provoking stuff. It really is an ever evolving trade off balancing career and time with the kids.

    One thing i have come to realise is that although I might be home at weekends i am not really present as i am worrying about work. And I certainly dont want to be ome of those Dads who blinks and misses everything :-)

    Reply
    • Thank you. “turning off” the mental/work to do list is really tough. With that said, I encourage you to find ways to be “present’ while you are present with your kids. Perhaps getting out of the house with them (and leaving the cellphone off) would be one way to make this a little easier.

      Reply
  1. Old Dads, New Dads and Super Dads: Which Are You? | Fathers, Work and Family

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