The Time Equation

Am I, as a father, giving my son the correct combination of my time and resources to present him the best shot at enjoying a happy and successful future?

I find myself wondering about this question often these days.

There are obviously many trade offs in raising children.  Arguably one of the most important of these involves how you spend your time.  Time is the most valuable of commodities any individual has at their discretion, and how they allocate the portion of it which they give to their children will undoubtedly have an enormous influence on the type of individuals they will grow up to be, as well as on the opportunities that will present themselves to them as they mature into adulthood.

As I was saying, I have been pondering these very facts often of late.  My son is nearing his third birthday and to this point in his life I have chosen to give to him a large portion of my available time.  Other than the occasional special circumstance I don’t stay late at work. Likewise I don’t work on weekends, or engage in many professional development opportunities in order to get a leg up.

I don’t regret this at all.  I love spending as much time as I can with my son.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you will, no doubt, have realized this from my many posts about how terrific becoming a father has been for me.  But, as I’m sure every father has, there are certain moments of doubt.  These are times when I wonder whether or not I am going about this all wrong. Would my son be better off if I spent more of my time advancing my career?

This question usually manifests itself as only a small sliver of doubt that resides in the back of my mind, but it will surface.  Mostly this is when I encounter another father whom I perceive to be more financially successful than I am.  Living in Seattle, there multitudes of successful dads out there.  Of course, when this happens I most often have no idea of the individual’s personal circumstances, I just see what’s presented on the surface. In truth this is just a bit of my own insecurity rearing its head. Sure, I am providing for my family, but could I be doing more?

I have no doubt that the large amount of time, energy, and attention I devote to my son will pay dividends to him as he grows.  I can see it already in the perception, curiosity, and spirit he approaches his world with on a daily basis.  What I can’t put a finger on is what I am giving up in return. Am I passing up on the ability to afford to send him to a private school, or to have him travel and experience more of the world? Things of that nature. What would those experiences do for him that spending the extra time with me could not?

Of course, the amount of time I spend with my son as he grows will be an evolving equation based on the circumstances of the moment.  I don’t mind thinking about these questions now because it keeps me also thinking about what combination of my time and resources is best for both myself and my family.

And as long as I keep this in mind, I should be able to strike the correct balance that will allow me to be there for my son when he needs me most.

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