“When I was a kid, my dad spent too much time with me. I wish he would have worked more so that I could have had fancier vacations, and spent more time at daycare.” If I had a penny for every time I heard a phrase like this I would be… penniless. One of the biggest motivations for me to quit my job was the fact that I had never heard anyone say this or anything remotely similar to this. On the other hand, I have witnessed the opposite sentiment many times over. That is, people who grow up resentful that their father seemed to prioritize his career over his family.
I have also spoken with fathers who wished they had spent more time with their kids and less time with their job. They realized, too late, that their kids were happiest, not with the biggest house or the fanciest vacations, but when spending time with people who cared for them. Apparently, not spending enough time with kids is a common regret among parents, with this study finding that spending too much time at work while their children were young was the number one regret of parents.
So, why are we, as parents, so focused on work instead of our families? Do we prefer filling out long reports to playing at the park? I don’t think so. In fact, I think we have the best intentions for our kids, and generally make what we consider to be the best choice available. The problem is that that choice, to focus on financial security and consumption, is often detrimental to our kids.
There are many reasons we tend to focus more on providing our families with greater financial resources instead of our physical and emotional presence.