The Legacy of a Workaholic Dad


Are your children competing for your time, but often are losing out to other interests or responsibilities? Make no mistake: being a workaholic leaves a powerful legacy.

Today I want to feature another essay, although I think you’ll agree that this one is much more sobering.

Here’s what one girl wrote about her father:

Just one of the many adventures we’ve had together was when I was about eight or nine, [when] my daddy took me to a monster truck show. It was awesome! We got lots of cotton candy and toy souvenirs …. It has been about five years and I’ve noticed my dad and I doing less and less together. I’ve become more involved with my friends and “boys” and ever since my step-mom got laid off her job, my dad has been all about work, work, work.

We gave the dads a chance to respond after reading their kids’ essays, and here’s what this father wrote:

Wow! I guess sometimes things get too hectic and busy that you don’t stop to think about the feelings of the people around you. I love [my daughter] very much. She’s one of a kind, and I think we need to make time for each other a lot more often.

This is one of many dads we’ve heard from who struggle to navigate work commitments and family. And his daughter’s words show that it looms large in children’s minds and hearts when they are placed behind other commitments in their dads’ lives.

Are your children competing for your time, and often losing out to other interests or responsibilities? Or maybe your kids know your top priority is somewhere else, and they no longer ask for or seek out that time and interaction.

Make no mistake: being a workaholic leaves a powerful legacy. Children carry those vivid memories and feelings into adulthood, thinking of Dad as the man behind the closed door, or missing most of their activities.

One “recovering workaholic” suggests that we keep this statement in mind: my kids are going to remember this.

As we’re making daily decisions about how long to work, whether to bring work home, and even how we talk about our work, we must remember that our kids are not only watching and listening, but learning attitudes that will affect their own work lives.

Let’s strive to give our kids a clear example that blends together hard work and a strong commitment to our families. How do you make sure your kids are a top priority? Is there a saying or memory that you keep in mind to help you?

Action Points for dads on the journey:

  • Tell your kids about a memorable adventure you had as a child with your dad or father figure.
  • Plan to bring your child to work with you for a day during the next few months—and/or spend a day as a WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer at his or her school.
  • With your kids, calculate how many hours you work in a typical month. Then discuss what you do during those working hours and the people who benefit from your efforts.
  • If you haven’t recently, update your budget. Having an accurate picture of your income and a plan to meet your family’s needs can give you freedom to turn down higher-paying opportunities that would mean more time away from home.

Written by Carey Casey

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