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.

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The New Chevrolet Malibu Ad Depicts Fathers’ Work-Family Priorities

Chevy Malibu* launched a new ad campaign that extols the virtues of valuing family over materialism. This rare and honest depiction of everyday dads is a refreshing change from the glitz we often see.

A screencap of Chevrolet Malibu's positive depiction of fathers and work-life balance
A screencap of Chevrolet Malibu’s positive depiction of fathers and work-life balance

When I watch TV, I almost always tune out the commercials. But while watching the World Series the other night, there was an ad that grabbed and kept my attention. (In fact, my wife, whose only flaw is that she dislikes baseball, was in the room at the time and told me “this ad would make for a good blog post for you”)

Car ads typically try to entice the buyer by showing how THIS car will make others see you as richer, cooler, more sophisticated, more powerful. This ad for the 2014 Chevy Malibu stands out- It extols the virtues of valuing relationships with children, significant others, and family over career ambition and status-seeking. It’s worth watching:

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A Blueprint For Discussing Work and Family Priorities

Here’s a helpful tool that can help us discuss our work and family priorities and develop strategies to reach our goals.

This blueprint can not only help you build a house, but also help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)
This blueprint can help you build a better work-family balance! (Harp Family Institute)

A while ago, I gave a presentation at the Academy of Management conference as part of a panel symposium on new areas of work-family research and practice. One of my co-presenters was Trisha Harp, who skyped into the symposium as it took place just a few days before the due date of her baby (Baby has arrived, and mom, baby and family are all doing fine!).

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What I Did Last Sunday Instead of Watching Football. A Photo Essay

I like watching sports as much as the next guy. But living life should always come first.

Nick and Jesse hamming it up on our visit to the awesome Storm King Arts Center
Nick and Jesse hamming it up on our visit to the awesome Storm King Arts Center

Being a New York sports fan, I have two football teams to follow. I’m a rabid Jets fan, but also follow the Giants. Last weekend, they both faced big early-season games.

So, when my wife said she wanted to take a family trip to the Storm King Arts Center (you should really go there if you are in the NY metro area), I was tempted to beg off to stay home and watch the games. I’m so glad I didn’t. Here’s why, in pictures.

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Joe Flacco and Hunter Mahan: Why They Both Made the Right Work-Family Decision

A few weeks ago, PGA golfer Hunter Mahan left a sporting event to be at the birth of his child. Last week, NFL star Joe Flacco chose to play. Why I support both of their decisions.

Real progress for working dads comes when we have choices and can thoughtfully make work-family decisions that work for us.

Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens in training...
Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens in training camp July 23rd, 2008 (Wikipedia, Creative Commons license)

High-Profile Fathers

Over the past few months, I praised high-profile new dads who made public actions to prioritize family over work. Of particular note was pro golfer, Hunter Mahan, who left a tournament he was leading (and in which he could have won $1Million) to be at the birth of his daughter. He made a high-profile choice that, in my opinion, sent an important signal about fatherhood. I was especially encouraged by the support Mahan received from the golf and sports world.

Last week, Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Joe Flacco was faced with a similar dilemma. His wife unexpectantly went into labor shortly before the Ravens’ game against the Cleveland Browns. Flacco talked with his wife and other family members over the phone, but did not leave the stadium for the hospital. Instead, he played, leading the Ravens to a much-needed victory. As soon as the game ended, he sped to the hospital, a few hours after the birth of his son.

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“Daddy, Are We Poor?”

How do you explain to a 5 year old boy that you can’t afford what his friends have because you’ve prioritized family time over financial rewards? Here’s one dad’s story. This is a guest post by Aaron Gouveia that originally appeared at his blog, DaddyFiles.com on July 8th, 2013.

Guest bloffer Aaron Gouveia of Daddyfiles.com
Guest blogger Aaron Gouveia of Daddyfiles.com

What good is a fancy car if you only drive it to the office and back? What’s the point of buying your kids all the best toys if you’re not there to play along with them? And what good is that huge house if you’re never home to dance with your wife in the kitchen or chase the kids around that gargantuan playroom?

“Dad, are we poor?”

The question itself doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s an honest and insightful question that comes from a place of innocence and genuine curiosity often inhabited by 5-year-olds. It was the anxiety-riddled expression he wore on his face, and the hint of fear buried just below the inflection in his voice that did me in.

I should’ve seen this coming.

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Pro Golfer Hunter Mahan’s Choice of Family Over $1Million Applauded By The Golf World

PGA golfer Hunter Mahan recently walked away from a possible million-dollar payday to be present for the birth of his daughter. The overwhelmingly positive reaction to his decision demonstrates that society’s attitudes towards fathers’ work-family roles are changing. What this story could mean for us.  

A Million-Dollar Baby!

Talk about putting family priorities ahead of money.

Congratualtions to the Mahan family on the birth of baby Zoe! (photo courtesy of the Mahan family via PGATour.com)
Congratualtions to the Mahan family on the birth of baby Zoe! (photo courtesy of the Mahan family via PGATour.com)

A Million Dollar Dilemma

Pro golfer Hunter Mahan was in the lead half-way through the Canadian Open tournament, and was in line for his career-best payday of $1Million if he held on to win (and even had he choked and fallen to 10th place, he would have earned $151K).

However, shortly before teeing off on Saturday, Mahan got the phone call that his wife had gone into labor with their first child, about a month early.

So, the dilemma-

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Regular Exercise Can Help Us Be Better Dads

Part 1 of a Series on Stephen Covey, Personal Renewal and Fatherhood

Many busy dads can’t find the time to exercise. But we need to make the time to take care of our bodies, so we can be better, more effective fathers. As Stephen Covey says, we need to do the important, not just the urgent!

Exercise and fatherhood all in one!
Exercise and fatherhood all in one!

Like you, I spend a lot of time at work, and while at home, I tend to put my family’s needs first. But it would be better- for everyone- if we took some time to focus on replenishing ourselves.

The Important vs. The Urgent

Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the most useful book I ever read. In it, Covey writes about spending a few hours every week on personal renewal, what he calls “sharpening the saw.”

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Downshifting: 5 Ways to Slow Down Your Career for Family

“Downshifters” are those who eschew the career ladder and choose alternative paths that open up more time for family or other pursuits. For many, the trade-off is more than worth it. This article discusses 5 common types of downshifting.

“The problem with winning the rat race is… you’re still a rat” –Lily Tomlin

For me, plateauing my career opens up more time for family.

When we think about career paths, we often think about climbing the ladder- stepping up our career one rung at a time to positions of greater status, demands, responsibilities and financial rewards. Career advancement is great, but it often comes at a cost- to mental and physical health and especially to time spent with family.

Perhaps there’s another way. A way that opens up time for a more well-rounded life.

Life in the (slightly slower) Lane

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The Single Best Way To Be A Great Dad: BE THERE

“When your kids become adults, how do you want them to remember their childhoods with you?” Almost all fathers want to be remembered as being a consistent positive presence in their children’s lives. Making this happen requires aligning our actions with our priorities.

I hope Nick can look back on his childhood and know that I was there for him (just like I can look back on time with my dad)
I hope Nick can look back on his childhood and know that I was there for him (just like I can look back on my childhood with my dad)

Modern Dad Workshops

John Badalament is a true pioneer in work-family issues for dads. He wrote a great book, made a documentary, and writes and conducts dads workshops all aimed at equipping men to be better, more present fathers. I had read his book a long time ago, and was happy to have met him in person at the Thirdpath Institute Summit this past May.

In his workshops, he asks this question as a prioritization exercise:

“When your kids become adults, how do you want them to remember their childhoods with you?”

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Finding Work-Life Balance Through Charitable Giving

How one man found purpose and better work-life balance when he discovered the importance of charitable giving. Here’s how we can make charity part of our work and our lives.

Sharing Experiences is a series of articles written by dads about their work-life experiences. These are shared in the hopes of generating conversation, sparking ideas, and letting dads know they are not alone in their work-family struggles. For more of these stories, click on the category link on the right-hand side of your screen.

A guest post by Noble McIntyre

Our guest blogger, Noble McIntyre, with his colleagues during his company's charity drive
Our guest blogger, Noble McIntyre, with his colleagues during his company’s charity food drive

Why Charitable Giving is Important

As we mature and develop our careers, the one resource we never seem to have enough of is time. As a personal injury attorney with a wife and three daughters, my days are frequently packed. Between commuting, handling clients, and attending my daughters’ various extracurricular activities, I have just enough time for my work and often just enough for my family — with very little left over.

A few years ago, I began to feel something was missing. My line of work frequently puts me in a position to help people who are injured and suffering, but taking law cases is not the same as giving selflessly to others. But with my work and family life already occupying so much of my time, how could I make more room for charitable giving? Organizing (or even attending) charity events would take time I simply didn’t have.

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What I Want My Son to Learn About Work and Family (part 3): Family First

Our job as fathers is to equip our children to have productive, happy and meaningful lives. The best way to do so is by role-modeling the values, priorities and actions we hope they will aspire to.

At last, the finale! If you haven’t already, please read Part 1 and Part 2, which were posted last week. This article picks up where those left off.

I hope I can role-model work-family priorities for Nick as well as my father did for me
I hope I can role-model work-family priorities for Nick as well as my father did for me

Someday, and sooner than we think, my Nick (and your kids) will be making choices about their careers, marriages and families. When the time comes, I hope Nick will:

  • Choose a career that makes enough money for his life to be comfortable and so he can take care of his future family.
  • Choose a career he enjoys, finds interesting and meaningful, and through which he can make a larger contribution.
  • Understand the importance of balancing his career with that of his future life partner
  • Understand the relative importance of work and family while having a balanced set of priorities.

In the prior articles, I focused on the first three bullet points, Today, I’ll focus on the fourth.

One day, I hope Nick will be a father, and while I want him to value his own (part 1) and his spouse’s career (part 2), I really want him to know that family comes first. As in the case of the other lessons I’ve discussed, this is not a lesson that is taught effectively through words. I hope that, by seeing how I try to juggle work and family, he sees a role model for himself- just like I did when observing my father. This article is much more about my father than it is about me.

4. Work has its place, but is never more important than family

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