Your Dream Career Versus More Time With Your Kids… What Gives

Is there too much pressure on working parents to be there for all those moments that you’re expected to these days?

AaemrB_t20_4ljoBXI have a regular debate with my old man about how he would have coped as a dad in this day and age… and not way back in the ’70s and ’80s when he plied his dad trade with me and my siblings.

He reckons he would have nailed it… I’m not so sure that’s true.

You see, my dad is a workaholic. For as long as I can remember, my dad has worked, and worked, and worked.

Why? Because he bloody loves it. Even now, at the ripe old age of 73, he’s still cracking on. He retired once, for three weeks… then got back on the horse.

He just couldn’t keep away.

The perfect era to be a workaholic

The thing is, I think my dad was a dad in the perfect era to be a workaholic. It was just accepted that work came first, all the time, every time.

I also think that, back then, “workaholicism” was a lot more common because it was more socially acceptable to put work at the top of the tree with regards to your priorities.

And when you’re someone who actually enjoys the thrill of lots of work, that’s the perfect attitude to comply to.

I can’t tell you when it happened, but I reckon within the past 5 or so years, attitudes have completely changed in workplaces around the country when it comes to how your work treats parental stuff, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant!

I feel like now, more than ever, there’s an expectation on us dads to be at all the important events. From the follow-up appointment with the doctor that delivered your child, through to being the parent helper at kindergarten, then merit certificates, sports carnivals, the list goes on.

Fortunately, many of the workplaces across the country recognise this, and I feel like it’s easier than ever for us dads to get away for an hour or two and be there for our kids.

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But here’s the rub. Has it all gone a little too far?

Is there too much pressure on working parents?

Is there too much pressure on working parents to be there for all those moments that you’re expected to these days?

I’m currently facing a situation where my family and I have come to an impasse with regards to our little house. Thanks to the rapid growth of my 11, 9 and 7-year-old, we’re quickly outgrowing our space and need to do something, fast.

This will take a little bit of extra money to make it happen. Actually, when I say “a little”, I mean a shitload of extra cash.

In this current climate, there’s no chance of me getting a pay rise. But I do have the option to look at other ways to make some money on the side.

What this will mean is more time spent away from home and, importantly, more time away from my kids. And for so many reasons, that doesn’t sit well with me.

Isn’t that the conundrum that many of us face these days? How many of us have parents or grandparents who, frankly, worked bloody long and hard just to put food on the table.

What if I shared my dad’s love for work and was, in fact, a workaholic? Could my marriage and home life survive if I chose to spend up to 14 hours a day away from home, the way that my dad used to?

I’m not sure that it could, but I think that’s a good thing (even better that I acknowledge it as well).

I know that if I committed to more time away from home, choosing to work more because I was chasing the dollar, I would quickly become more miserable with every dollar earned.

It all comes down to my kids and my family

It all comes down to my kids and my family. I just love spending time with them and don’t want that to stop.

I wonder whether those of us dads who’d you’d class as “career-driven” feel the same way? In the end, I think it comes down to what is the main priority in your life.

Is it that extra burst of work at night to satisfy the boss and climb another rung on the corporate ladder? Or is it a bedtime reading session with your child that ends up with a tuck-in and kiss on the cheek?

Of course, not every dad can be there for all the little moments, all the time. Many of us are FIFO, or shift workers and the like, so it’s not always a viable option for every dad out there.

You can only look back to how you were brought up, and I don’t ever remember my dad being there for my merit certificate presentation or that egg and spoon race I came 5th in, and I turned out okay (well I reckon, anyway).

But, I don’t think it’s about how your child feels about you being there for the little moments. It’s about you as a dad and how it all makes you feel. Trust me, the rush of adrenaline and pride that goes through your body when you hear your child’s name called for a certificate is well and truly worth the hassle it might be to get there.

As the great Paul Kelly sings, “from little things, big things grow”. I think there’s something in that for all dads!