What Working a Job Costs Your Kids

A few weeks back, my mom and I were discussing issues regarding business ownership and how my dad has almost always run his own businesses. At one point I told her — having made this realization at that very moment — that I had very few memories of my father outside the pizzeria he when we lived in Puerto Rico.

She replied, “You know, that’s the thing your father regrets the most: that he wasn’t able to spend more time with you when you were kids.”

My father used to own a pizzeria when we lived in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, it was a one shot deal: he didn’t franchise it. As such, like all other small businesses, where the owner is employee number one, he spent a good chunk of time there, from open to close and back again. Between us getting to school at 7am and him getting home after midnight, it’s no wonder we never really saw at home. Unlike a job, however, since he owned the business, we would go visit him on a regular basis. (Try that at your office.) In fact, I spent more time in a pizzeria when I was a kid than most families do during their entire lifetimes.

This weekend I was at a business workshop listening to a speaker when he said which reminded me of this. Most of what parents do with their kids is the bare minimum when it comes to relationship. They sometimes are so focused on the job and career, and side things that, really, they don’t get to spend much time with their kids. While it’s true, often time there’s just no other choice, way too many times there are, and the parents are simply more concerned with themselves and the trappings of success — in name of their family, of course — than they are with actually spending a large quantity of time with their kids.

“Oh, but we spend quality time with out kids,” some say. Problem is most parents don’t realize that quantity time begets quality time. Again, while there are times when parental absence is necessary — such as when building a company or a part-time business which will allow you more time with them in the future — most people do it all through their kids’ childhoods — worrying about jobs, promotions, and investments — and never really notice they’re doing it until their kids have already grown up.

“If it’s all about us,” the speaker said, “then our kids will make it all about them.”

If you have kids — or are planning to have kids — think about this: Are you willing to have your kids’ memories of you take place only on weekends?

Think about it:

  • Days in a childhood (ages 0 – 12): approx. 4380.
  • Days in a childhood consisting only of weekends: approx. 1248.

Ask yourself — and be brutally honest — why do you give up that time with them? Will it get better in the future? If not, why not? Is it worth it? Hillary Clinton once said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” She’s right. Problem is our villages have very few adults at home these days for a large part of the day.

Here’s a story I found interesting:

A man and his wife were one day celebrating the birth of their new child. A few months later, the wife had to go back to work, so they found a local childcare center and left their kid there. A month after that, the man got a brand new luxury car. Over the weeks, he made sure to take care of this thing like his baby.

Or did he?

The man garaged his car, waxed it, gave it premium fuel — the best treatment. One day, a neighbor friend he knew well asked “hey, nice car. Mind if I take it for a spin around the block to see how it drives.” The man indignantly replied, “What, are you crazy? No!”

Now, let’s think about this: this man would give his kid — so precious to him and his wife, and the future of his family — every day to someone who can’t possibly love his child as much as he and his wife do, yet he wouldn’t let someone he knew drive his car — something he’ll likely replace in a few years anyway — around the neighborhood.

My question for you is how is this any different than what you do?

You may be wondering why am I talking about this. Frankly, because it struck me. Because I realize that I have a much stronger bond with my mom than I do with my dad, in very large part because my mom was a stay-at-home mom, while my dad — while I appreciate everything he ever did for us kids — wasn’t. Mind you this didn’t lead to a bad childhood. In fact, I had a pretty great childhood, and having my mom at home made a huge difference in my life, playing a huge part in who I became. Still, it would have made an ever bigger difference if my dad had been there, too. This is one of the reasons my wife and I have already decided that when we have kids, she’s staying home, and that somehow, soonthereafter, I’ll join her.

So, dear reader, ask yourself, if you’re not in a position to do this today — men, to take your wife out of work to raise your kids — what can you change to make that reality happen? Better yet, how could you come home to be with your kids, too?

Think about this for a little while. I’d love to read some of your honest responses.

2 thoughts on “What Working a Job Costs Your Kids

  1. I totally agree. Most parents miss a huge part of the most important years of their kids lifes. That is why I chose to stay home with my children right now while they are young. I love waking up every day and spending the day watching my children and shaping their future. Nothing gives you a better feeling then teaching your child something new.. or hearing those first words. (Kai said his two days ago.. “dada”)

    I wish Ray could have more quality time with the children. but in today’s society that is almost impossible. We need his income to surrive. Yet, it will get a lot better when he gets a job where he can at least spend eveings with the family.

    I pitty those children who see their care-givers more then their parents. I recently started doing in home daycare and one of our children is with us from 6:30 am till 7:00 pm! that is more then 12 hours.. and most likey gets to spend at most a hour with her parents every night before bed? that is wrong.

  2. Define, what are “the most important years of … kid’s lives”? Would you say that the most important years in your life were when you were young, or would you agree that this year is just as important as last year?

    I will submit that the most important years of a person’s life are those between their birth and death. Everything before and after is not all that important. I will also submit that the older your kids are, the more they’ll need you. Think about it, would you rather be home for your 2 year old kid or for your 14 year old? The problem here is that there is a polarization of questions. Why choose either? Why not take both? The question here becomes “how”.

    I don’t think you quote get the full point of my post. Most parents get stuck in the same trap that Ray’s gotten stuck in, where they work and work and work trying to get to a point where they can spend time with their kids. While that’s all well and good, the vehicle for that usually isn’t. For the record, I don’t believe that there is any such thing as “Quality Time” that is not borne out of “Quantity Time” when it comes to kids.

    I was attempting to say that people should find other financial options and vehicles if they find that their current vehicle isn’t taking them where they want to be. Financial literacy is of utmost concern, and putting that in play is even more important. Most people get so focused on digging the ditch they don’t notice when the ditch has gone off course. Most people get so focused on working they forget the purpose of working: to make enough money to live life comfortably. By the time they’ve noticed there’s a problem it’s usually too late: they don’t have a real retirement waiting for them, their kids have already grown up without them, and as a result we have get the societal problems we have today.

    The economic situation is what it is because of the shrinking middle class. Myopic policies regarding economics have created an environment where the rich are indeed getting richer and the poor are indeed getting poorer. The problem is that without a middle class there is no such thing as democracy, not to mention that because the poor are so focused on working to keep afloat, kids get no true guidance from parents and are instead indoctronated in whatever the family du jour is: political revolution, gangs, drugs, sex culture, etc.

    My question to anyone reading this (and you don’t have to answer this here, obviously) is whether you honestly feel that what you’re doing is what will lead you to your real desired destination? How do you know? Who are your examples? If you can’t clearly answer those questions, then you’d better strongly consider changing directions.

    As for you, Kari, I would suggest you maybe start a home business. Take some time, do a lot of research, and challenge yourself to make enough money from home that Ray doesn’t have to work as hard at his job. (What you’re doing in baby sitting now is a great start, by the way. Congratulations on that. How could you expand it to the point where whether you’re there or not you can still make money? If you can’t, think of other avenues that would net you more income.) I’m sure he’d appreciate the time with the kids just as much as they would appreciate the time with him. And think, when you own the income stream, you can always increase it. Imagine being able to be there for your kids — both of you — when your kids are 13 and truly need you more than they do now, when the alternative to having a parent home will not be a minimum wage baby sitter, but some guy looking for a quick bang, or some gang looking for another member.

Share your thoughts