Saturday, May 22, 2010

Balancing Jobs and Kids: Guest Post by my Dad

Growing up, I can remember my dad being gone for days on business trips, being called in at 4am and not coming home for at least 24 hours. Constant phone calls and e-mail checking, late nights and early mornings. But all of that is greatly over powered by the other memories I have of my dad: Punk rock concerts in Charlotte  and Columbia, overnight trip to Charleston; driving lessons (and some scares for him), teaching me how to ride a bike in the high school parking lot. But most of all, that my dad was a provider, and a good one at that. No matter what the job called for, my dad had a higher calling to answer, and that was to be "Dad" and to provide. Thank you dad for everything you did for our family, and thank you for sharing this post.

The Job and the Kids

Being a good Dad is more than making funny faces for your children. It's being a provider, a disciplinarian, and a visionary.  Work is a major part of that.

Some of my earliest memories of my father are of waiting for him to return from a business trip. Dad spent a large part of my early life travelling the country, frequently being gone for weeks at a time. I spent a large part of my early life at airports waiting for him to get home. . He missed my ball games. He missed my birthdays. He, fortunately, missed my report cards.

Looking back fifty years later I can assure you I wasn't traumatized. I learned as much from his job as I did from his playing catch with me.

You never know what your job will teach your child. When I was in high school Dad's company magazine had an article about a new operating system called "Unix". I remember thinking "I need to remember this". Little did I know that I would make a career from Unix.

You work to provide for your family the things they need to grow and prosper.  At some point you have to decide that in order to give both career and family what they need, you have to give something up. Your spare time.

As an IT professional, I spent many nights and weekends at work. As I advanced I started traveling much like my father did. Sunday afternoon flights out and Friday midnight flights in became part of the routine.

I didn't hang out with friends after work. I didn't go to bars or ball games. I did pay for music lessons. I did travel the state watching my kids in marching band. I did coach soccer. I tried to create opportunities for them to develop to the best of their abilities.

It's a cliché but true - it's quality, not quantity. If you want to be a good dad, do what it takes to give them what they need. Work hard to provide for them. Give them your spare time. Support your wife. That is what you will be remembered for.

I'm 53 now, and I still don't hang with my friends. I hang with my grandkids.

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