Monday, May 15, 2006 on 'The daddy track'

Derek of (whose blog has been in my 'blogs I like' list since I started blogging) has shared some thoughts on The daddy track – ie being a dad and the choices he's made about his work, life and wealth. He's chosen to make work and income fit around his children and home life, rather than the other way round! He says:
Over most of the ensuing decade, we've adjusted our schedules, which has included my working part time, working freelance while staying home full time, and now my wife working part time while I'm back to a full time position.

Some of those changes we planned, some were unpredictable. Our choices were good ones. We're better off than some of our friends, and not as well off as others. Yet had either of us been ambitious and made the time, perhaps we could have been earning six-figure salaries and driving fancy cars (or fancy bicycles).

On the other hand, I think of the type of person and the type of father I would have had to be to achieve that, and that's not really me—at least not the me I have become.
This rings so true for me and certainly with other fathers I've spoken to about the choices we've made regarding our 'careers' and our families – and which we hold dearer.

Still, I still sometimes wonder 'what could have been', or wonder at how other men my age are earning twice what I am and can afford more 'stuff'. I just need good reminders of why I've made the choices I have: like Derek's posting and spending time with my kids!



At May 16, 2006 9:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark

Good to see you back at the blog!

I certainly agree with the sentiments at this post, but feel compelled to make one "political observation". That is, what a crappy society we have created for ourselves in this Country if we really do have to choose between either work or family.

I know that this is not what you or your blog friend meant, but I raise the point because we are all in danger of becoming so "used" to the idea (that it has to be one or the other) that it is easy to forget that this is in fact a recent and not widespread artifact.

Many, perhaps most, societies have accepted families as the priority, with work hours and other arrangments (particularly extended family and other community links) centred on the need to care for children. The notion that kids are a "private extravegance" (as shown in the increasing tendency to define a "family" ticket as limited to two children) remains alien to most peoples.

Achieving a satisfactory balance is still possible for some of us in Australia (what would I do without your parents, and access to public service flexi-time), but it seems to be getting harder and is no longer possible for all - despite all the hype in the recent budget.

And we are only just starting to see what the new IR laws will do to families.

Your loyal audiance

At May 18, 2006 1:51 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Thanks! It's nice to see my readers miss me and want me back! You're right about the 'choice' we are forced to make between 'work' and 'family' – which isn't really a choice at all, is it? I am worried about what Howard's industrial relations regime will do to our ability to juggle work with family.

But, I think that it is also important to think about the choices we make in relation to our values, our priorities, and our beliefs. If we think it is important to make more money so that we can buy our families and our selves more 'stuff', rather than spend more time with them, then we will make choices about our work time and priorities accordingly...

And let's not buy into that argument about 'quality' time vs 'quantity' time that men have used for so long about their kids... That is just too much of a cop out.

Don't you think?


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