Working parents: Learn to put family first
IN THIS day and age, we are struck with the desire to do it all, to have it all and to enjoy it all. We work hard, work smart and work tough so that, at the end of the day, it will all work out.
The image we have is that of a juggler attempting to control as many balls as possible - keeping them all up in the air and making sure that nothing falls.
We want to be an excellent employee, an excellent parent, an excellent spouse, an excellent community leader and the list goes on.
Life has become more complicated for me as a working parent and the challenge then is to make it all work, but is it possible to have equal success at work and at home?
THE FUNDAMENTAL PRIORITY
The test of leadership is not in whether you can have it all, but whether you can allocate your resources so that important needs are met.
Think about it - why would you need a leader when you can have it all? There would be no need for leadership if everybody could have everything without any consideration for budget and resources.
As a parent, your leadership at home also requires you to choose. If there is no need to make wise choices, then there is no need for the application of leadership.
What makes choices for parents even more difficult is this - the time when your career is flying is also the time when your child needs you the most. To most of us, this phase hits us when we are in our 30s.
The boss may be impressed by you, and yet your three-year-old at home is wanting to impress you as well.
Bringing everything together is no mean feat, because it requires a partnership approach.
Here is the key: The strength of your marriage is the foundation by which all other priorities are set. Yes, here is the hard truth - your relationship with your spouse is more important than your relationship with your boss.
If you do not believe me, compare your wedding vows with your job description - I have no doubt that your commitment to your spouse is on a higher level. Yet, do we live accordingly?
The sad observation is that there are couples today who live as if the only document guiding their lives is the one related to their competencies and not about their commitment to each other.
From a point of leadership unity within your marriage, you will both have to consider the following:
What is your plan for building the character of your child?
There is no quality time without quantity. Leaving the child with a third party may not necessarily shape their character and values to your standards.
Academic tutoring can be outsourced, but character building and discipline requires direct involvement from the ones who love the child the most - you and your spouse.
What is your plan for defining your career growth?
Contrary to popular thinking, your career growth does not depend only on your conversation with the boss. From my observation, any significant career growth must involve a joint understanding between husband and wife.
The one commodity which you ought to treasure is not how much pay both of you can earn together, but rather how to best invest the non-refundable resource called time.
The fact of the matter is this: We spend time on what we value.
THE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE
The pragmatic mindset (let's do what works) is one of the major factors causing stress to couples nowadays.
While it is important to make practical choices with regard to the daily routine of parenting, there are certain family decisions that can only be made if a foundation of principles that have been decided upon is in place.
The subtle danger of modernity is this: There are so many activities that can occupy our family lives that we as parents do not commit to the hard work of deciding on what our core values are in the first place.
We become so busy that we are no longer purposeful.
Here are three practical steps to get back to the basics:
Spend a weekly dating time with your spouse (and do not just talk about work).
Establish a mentoring relationship with an older couple and learn from their ups and downs.
Since the company you work for has a vision or mission statement, why not create one for your family?
Principles are set not during the hustle and bustle of our professional and parenting lives, they must be created beforehand. Before the stress comes, you owe it to your family to get your house in order - in fact leadership is about getting one's own house in order.
Whether it is the living room or the board room, it really does not matter. What is important is that the priorities are set first, then the rest will fall into place much easier.
Parenting is not an end in itself, rather it is the outcome of a life of leadership. If you and your spouse do not regularly practise the art of united leadership, then your children will not be motivated to follow you in obedience and respect.
The expectations imposed upon working parents today is not diminishing - at home or at work.
Yet, we must be careful not to neglect the priorities of what is really important in life, not just work.
Our relationship with our bosses lasts for a season, but the relationships at home last for a lifetime.
Keep this perspective in mind and parenting will no longer be a balancing act, but a joyful adventure.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
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