Providing for Your Family isn’t about Presents, it’s about Presence

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

10 Responses to Providing for Your Family isn’t about Presents, it’s about Presence

  1. Still trying to sort that one out…
    Aiming to be working from home (preferably for myself!) when my first is born – will give me more time with it and with my stepdaughter as I will be able to split working time with when they are at preschool/school and when they are in bed 🙂
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..Garden progress… =-.

  2. At the moment, I can work from home. Work is telephone conferences, mail and online chat. This means I can drop out of my room into the living room where the kid is every now and then. I can also attend/cook lunch etc.

    The downside is that I have to accept a project where the customer is emotionally or characteristically challenged to recognize good work. And I find that hard. Intrinsic motivation drives me most of the time, but sometimes I think I need to switch. Which would mean travel and less time with the kid and wife.

    But for the time being I recognize that nothing will bring back the time I can spend with family, so I’ll just bear it.

  3. Yeah! Someone else on the same page! In fact, this blog post could have been quoted partially from my new book, which I think you would love! You sound like someone I would enjoy sitting down to chat with. Perhaps when I am back in CA in March. You are on the right track and your kids are lucky that you are!!!! Hallelujah. We need more conscious dads like you.

    Granny Pants

  4. Been in the south african military for nine years now…married for 5 of those years. Never had a problem with leaving home and go to another part of the country. I always told myself im doing it so my kids have everything they need. January 2018 i couldnt do it anymore. Find myself struggling with the decision to quit army and be with family full time. My daughter is autistic and not alot of schools for children with special needs in south africa. So wife stays with children close to the school. Do i leave army and help raise them or just be the army dad who provides. I dont know.

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