Time Or Money

Real Relationship Advice

A recent study by Parents magazine and The Center for the Next Generation asked parents whether they would like 10,000 dollars or an extra hour of quality time with their family. 2/3 of the respondents chose the money.  Look, times are tough and 10 grand could ease up the stress a bit. However, this answer is not just an indication of economic times or even a smart fiscal decision. It is the root to family issues everywhere. When we choose money or work or ambition or advancement over family, that choice is not selfless.

As parents we say things like, ‘I work hard for my family’ or ‘Everything I do is for my kids.’  In reality, a child cannot cuddle to a stack of money or a healthy 401K. A child needs the presence of their parent. Even if Mom or Dad is in another part of the house while Wilmer plays with his Legos in his room, the presence makes a very big difference in how Wilmer will develop.

When we choose the 10 grand over the family time it is not a choice of greed but of comfort. We completely understand this. We don’t live in a world where we pay in words (because then we would be bazillionaires). The choice of career over family so as to create a financial future that will be comfortable is not how we create a stable family. A stable family is not measured by their bank accounts or the square footage of their home. A stable family is measured by the affect of the children. Are they happy? Do they feel safe?

That is our job. Now, we are not advocating homeschooling or returning to live off the land while creating a commune in nature. We are saying that all those hours working for a possible bright future are better spent playing Parcheesi with your family. All those hours working overtime or bucking for that promotion are better spent watching the “Regular Show” with your boys.

Remember, success, like drugs and alcohol, can be addictive. When we work really hard because of ambition and reap some rewards, our work is validated and we work harder. We may say we are doing this for our families, such a selfless remark, but in reality we are also doing this to feed our ego and addiction. We can say this because we were those people. Sure, we tried to do it all, even bringing our daughter to work with us when we could but ultimately, we failed. We failed her. We could have spent more time with her or played more or just sat with her in front of the TV but we were too busy being awesome at our jobs.

I see that now. I see the difference between our oldest daughter and our young boys. We are present with them in a way we were not with her. We can’t get that time back. If you would have asked us then whether we would choose the money or the time we would have dived at the cash. Today, while she is 1800 miles away and creating her own life, we would gladly choose the time.

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