I’ve been following the works of Jonathan Fields for some time now, mostly for the great insights on being an entrepreneur that I found in reading his book Career Renegade. Today, however, he wrote about something close to my heart – fatherhood. More specifically, the trials of providing for our families, and how that can actually cause major issues for our children.
“Simple truth that us men have trouble wrapping our heads around…
Being a “provider” isn’t all about money, it’s also about “providing” love, attention, support, inspiration, compassion and guidance.
It’s about being there to snuggle and hug, to listen and play, to encourage dreams, and to foster within our kids an understanding, through our actions, that these are the things being a parent is all about. And, that, despite the fact that we need to work, we love, more than anything else, to be with them. That’s pretty hard to do when you’re never there or worse, when you’ve become so alienated from your kids, you’d all “prefer” to be apart.”
His analogy is right on – we shouldn’t be providing presents, but rather “presence”. I’ve written before about the value of being present with our children (with our partner as well), and I highly recommend reading Jonathon’s article, “Daddies Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Strangers” and leave him a comment (or leave one here, if you wish).
I made the choice this year to be self employed, in part for the flexibility that it gives me in being more in touch with my kids and my wife, and also because I can work from home, which makes me more available to them. I completely identified with the guy “Peter” that Jonathan talks about when I was working for someone else, and I’ve been able to make an effort toward being more present with my kids since then. However, I still spend way more time working than I should, because the pressure to provide the basic necessities for my family weigh heavily on me.
Reading other people’s accounts of struggling with the work/life balance can make it seem less lonely, and we can help each other by sharing our experiences. What I want to know, dads, is how you have learned to juggle the demands of work and family? Or, if you haven’t learned that yet, what are you struggling with?
Image: Neeta Lind at Flickr