Editor's Note: Third of four articles
You hear this myth in a lot of forms. We run into young investment bankers and lawyers on Wall Street who say, "I would lose my job if I didn't show up before 8 each morning and stay until evening, because that's what my whole department does."
Others say, "If you want to make it in the professional world, you have to compete, and it may take me away from my family for a few years, but ultimately it will give me the earning power to give my kids a good life."
The question is, "Is it worth it?" The other question is, "Is that really the way it has to be?"
And the more constructive, positive question is, "Are there ways that I can succeed in my career without sacrificing my family?"
Let us give you a few case studies from the real world.
We know an aggressive young attorney with a big international firm in London who would lose his job if he tried to go home earlier than 8 each evening. But since he rarely has early morning meetings, he has set a pattern of getting up early each morning and having breakfast with his kids, enjoying some quality family time, and taking them to school each day before he leaves for work.
We know another young set of parents in New York City who have changed jobs so that the husband now has a still demanding but much more flexible job that allows him to get home for dinner with his kids each night and get to school meetings during the day when necessary. The wife has cut back to part time so she can be home when the kids get home from school. It was a big adjustment and the new jobs were not easy, but they are now doing just as well financially as they were before, and not short-changing their children anymore.
We know an even more extreme case (not recommending this for everyone) where the parents sold their expensive home and are using the money to allow them to live in a more modest home and take some extensive time off to really spend time with their four kids while they are all young and impressionable. They believe they will be able to re-enter their career once the kids are all in school, and they are willing to live a much simpler, less expensive lifestyle for a few years while their kids are young and in their most formative stages.
Still another parent, a single mom, found a way to share parenting duties with a sister and their mother, which now allows all three of them to work while rotating responsibility for being with and caring for the children.
The point is that it doesn't have to be a choice between career and children. Anyone who looks at it that way will end up paying a huge price. We need to look for ways to do both, and to do both well.
And here is something to think about: Today's life expectancies are more than 80 years. This means that you will have a child with you in your home for about one-fifth of your life. Once that child is gone, you will still have your career, and your golf game, and your church callings, and your hobbies, and your interests — but the child will be gone.
How important that we find a way to prioritize these kids during the fleeting years they are under our roofs. And how important to reject the myth that we can't put them first, no matter what our work demands are.
Join us next week as we do our best to explode the fourth and final myth that discourages parents and undermines families.
The Eyres' newest books are "The Entitlement Trap: How to rescue your child with a new family system of choosing, earning, and "ownership and "5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting Problems." Richard and Linda are the founders of Joyschools.com and New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.valuesparenting.com.