Making Tradeoffs as a Father

We didn’t have children till I was in my 30’s. By that time I’d seen many examples of how couples raised their children. By far the most influential example of how to raise children came from my own parents. I remember something my anthropology professor said. Something along the lines of “you will raise your kids the way you were raised”.

Lately I’ve thought about what lessons I’ve taken from my my parents. Was my anthropology professor correct? Am I raising my kids the same way I was raised?

kidsfence

Kim and I don’t have as well defined roles as my parents had. I go off to work each day like my father did, but I don’t work as many hours as he did. In fact, I’ll bet I work half the hours he put in during the school year. I understand why he worked as hard as he did. He enabled my mother, who was ill much of the time, to stay home to raise five children. My father worked as a teacher which didn’t give him as much scheduling flexibility as I have employed in the technology field. 

The downside to my father’s choice of professions is that I didn’t know him very well until I entered high school. He was off to work most days before I was awake, and later, his coaching assignments filled many late nights away from home. I don’t recall him accompanying me on a field trip or taking time off to catch a movie with me.

The thought of my father playing hokey to hang out with us was unfathomable. As a child, I had the impression his work came before everything else. At the time I figured all fathers were gone from dawn till dusk. I don’t recall any fathers accompanying their children on grade school field trips.

The upside of my father’s profession was that I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him as my coach in high school baseball, basketball and football. He oftentimes gave me a ride to and from school. I have many fond memories of those few minutes we had together discussing sports and school. Although things worked out fine and we are close friends today, I wish I could have built a relationship with him sooner.

And that’s the one thing I wanted to improve upon when I had kids. I don’t want to wait till they are in their early teens before I get to know them well. I remember seeing my dad on the weekends but not often during the week.

It’s not easy balancing work and family. There are times when I do one well while slacking a bit at the other.

I don’t know how it will work out. In a sense, I’m betting that one day I’ll look back and be grateful I took time away from work to spend with my family. Yet I’m fully aware that doing so could cost me promotions down the road. I’ve made sure my manager understands my main priority is my family. I don’t believe that makes me a less valuable employee. But I can’t be sure I’ll always work for someone who sees it that way.

My father was more involved in the lives of his children than his father was with his own. I have no doubt my dad wants me to spend more time with my kids than he was able to spend with us.

If my children look back on how they were raised and only find one area they’d like to improve, I’ll feel like I’ve done well in raising them to be better parents than I’ve been.

7 thoughts on “Making Tradeoffs as a Father

  1. It’s a real luxury to be able to spend more time enjoying our kids than our parents typically did. I have this sense as a parent that I didn’t have as a kid that parents like nothing more than to be with their kids (OK, ok not every minute but you know what I mean!). The one thing we’re doing in raising our kids that our parents did also is: never bore your children.

    Like

  2. Oy! This is a rough subject. I had a wonderfully patient and understanding father. He too worked a lot of hours, as a heavy engine mechanic for our local sawmill. When he came home in the evening he spent it in front of the tv. There was not a lot of love and affection or personal interaction in our home, for what ever reason. So quality time was usually found in the car, going on rides up in the mountains or going on camping trips.
    My mother on the other had, I love her dearly now, was not patient, gentle, soft-spoken and all those qualities that come to mind when you think of an LDS mother. 😀 Unfortunately I ended up with my mother’s temperament rather than my dad’s, bummer!! But I can look back now and appreciate her more because I understand where she’s coming from. I’m not trying to justify my own faults but they help me to understand hers. It’s a struggle every moment of everyday to try to bring out the best of her in me and change what could be better.

    Like

    1. @Kel
      Kel, I appreciate your comments. But having known you for a while now I can say you’re one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. If you consider yourself impatient then I’m in big trouble. 🙂

      Like

  3. Your anthropology prof was WRONG. I don’t spank my kids. I don’t host parties, keeping my kids up with the loud music, raucous friends and drug dealing. I don’t let me kids sleepover at ANYONE’S house, never mind friends with parents I don’t know. I don’t call my kids stupid or “bitch”. I don’t give them fat lips. I take them to church. I tell them I love them. I say prayers with them and sing hymns.

    I am not my mother.

    Like

  4. THIS IS A VERY TOUGH SUBJECT. I HAVE THREE KIDS AND I CAN SAY I DO SOME THINGS LIKE MY PARENTS BUT NOT ALL I ACTUALLY DO QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT. I THINK I AM MORE STRICT WITH MY KIDS THAN MY PARENTS WHERE WITH ME. I WORK ALOT OF LONG HOURS AND MY YOUNGEST 11 MONTH OLD SON WAS BORN WITH ESOPHAGEAL ATRESIA AND A FEW OTHER COMPLICATIONS SO WE SPENT THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF HIS LIFE IN THE HOSPITAL. ALL WORTH THE WHILE. ALL I CAN SAY IS YOU SEEM LIKE A VERY GOOD PARENT FALLOW YOUR HEART AND DO WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS RIGHT.

    Like

  5. A very good subject. I read your post and think “if I had written that is would be the exact same, just not as well written”.

    My father was an engineer. He worked hard climbing the corporate ladder at a defense company to support 7 kids. There was no taking a day off. He only came to school event I ever remember (a High School play – I was shocked).

    Most of my relationship was built in the last years of high school forward. I think I understand him. I believe he did more than his best as a father and as a man.

    I just want a different relationship with my kids and I live in a time when it is possible.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s