Thursday, September 17, 2009

Long-distance Dad?

In life we make choices (if we are lucky enough to be able to do so). I choose to work near my home. I do so because I want to be able to come home and see my family at the end of each day (and sometimes the start too). With my current home and job I can even come home for lunch sometimes.

Not everybody makes this choice. I have a colleague who chooses to work hundreds of miles from his home because he can earn a higher rate of pay (as a contractor). The down side is that his 3 year old son cries his heart out on Sunday when his father has to leave and continues to cry "for hours" after he has left. His son even panics when his father goes to the shop, for fear he will not come back.

So why does he do this to his son? He does it because he wants to get a private education for him. He figures that the lack of his father in his current day-to-day life will be compensated for by the benefit of a private education later.

Is he right?

I don't know with certainty, but clearly my strong instinct, backed up by some reading of research literature, is that the better choice is to give my kids the gift of time now rather than spend more on their education later. Certainly I have lots of anecdotal evidence, even from within my own company, that fathers who choose to work away from their families when their children are young, often later regret this decision.

Perhaps a hidden downside of being away from your kids is that you lose touch with the realities of who they are and where they are in their development. I heard my contractor colleague say that his daughter, who is one year old, wouldn't care whether he is there or not. My own experience would suggest that this is unlikely to be true. I suspect he might be underestimating his daughter's ability to have her own preferences, including that of deciding who is most important to her. Perhaps he would see that more if he was at home more often.

I'm not saying that as a criticism, just my opnion and not a firm one at that. I'm genuinely interested to know how important other parents think it is to see their kids through the week on a daily (or near daily) basis.


Dan said...

No he's not right. And he'll regret it later.

Private education isn't all it's cracked up to be anyhow. You're better off living in a "nice" area.

Post a Comment