Question: I am considering switching jobs, which would mean more money, but also more travel. My wife and I have three small children and she is concerned about how my traveling might affect our children. I would give us a “C+” on how we’ve managed our money so far, but we’re doing OK. Being a good father is very important to me, but I tend to think more money each month would make me more relaxed when I am with the kids. What do you think?
Answer: Quality time is a myth.
Quality time cannot be scheduled, only appreciated when it happens. Quality time demands quantity time to occur.
That doesn’t mean a traveling business person can’t be a great parent. Just realize the traveling will be mostly a negative to overcome, not a neutral circumstance that isn’t a problem.
Having said that, let me confess I am the son of a very successful businessman who traveled extensively at the height of his career. Today Dad and I enjoy a close and loving relationship and I would rate him “A+” as a husband and father. He’s truly my idol.
But growing up, I hated his travel. So much so that when I was choosing a career, I refused to consider anything I thought would call on me to travel as much as he did.
So, I think you can do it, but don’t kid yourself about the travel part. It will be tough on you, your children and especially your wife.
Congratulations on wanting to be a good provider. Consider the following ways a good father provides for his family.
Fathers provide financially. You’re tuned into this one. Just understand that you’ll achieve more financial results from raising your financial management skills from a “C+” to a good solid “B” or even an “A.” If you just bring more money in the front door, with “C+” financial management, you’ll be wondering how you even managed before without the extra income. And you’ll have little to show for it.
So be financially responsible, but don’t be one dimensional. There are other things your children need from their father, which you may not be able to provide if you travel too much.
Fathers provide emotionally. This is not a women’s job. It’s a parent’s job. If you’re stressed and tired from your travel schedule, you may find yourself with nothing to give at home.
Tim Russert’s Wisdom of our Fathers is a book of letters and thoughts from adult children about what their fathers taught them. I recommend it.
In one poignant story, a woman recalls her father, who worked in manual labor from before sun up until after sun down every day of the week. But her dad loved her and wanted to connect with her, so when he got up at 4 a.m. to go to work, he would wake his little daughter and let her drink sweet coffee milk with him while he had his (early!) morning coffee. When they were finished, he would tuck her back into bed and he would go to work. These 4 a.m. rendezvous were the special time this busy, but committed father found to spend with his daughter.
Fathers provide directionally. Too many of our problems as a society revolve around men who have lost their way, or never had a way. A boy doesn’t learn to be a man from a book, from his buddies or on his own. Left to themselves, too many boys turn out to be trouble.
So far, the best method anyone has come up with to turn a little boy into a healthy man is a good father.
So when considering your job opportunity, ask yourself all the right questions: if I take this job, will I be a better financial provider? Emotional provider? Directional provider?
Good fathers are in short supply. If you do your best to be one, financially, emotionally and directionally, and you’ll be like anything else in short supply – your value will just go up and up.
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Byron R. Moore, CFP® is managing director / planning group of Argent Advisors, Inc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to him at 500 East Reynolds Drive, Ruston, LA 71270 or call him at (318) 251-5800. The opinions of any single advisor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Argent Advisors, Inc. No forecasts can be guaranteed. Argent Advisors, Inc. does not offer tax, insurance or legal advice. The information contained in this column should not be construed as a substitute for personalized investment, tax, insurance or legal advice.