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Family spending time together

By Steve and Bridget Patton

He says: We are struggling financially and I think I should get a second job

I want the best for my family, so I want to take on a second job. Stacy will be home in the evenings with the kids.

She says: It's more important to spend time with the kids

We're getting by, and the family time is more important. We don't need an extra car or fancy vacations, and it’s more important that Mark spends quality time with the kids.

Work is an important part of our lives. But being away from your family because you’re working long hours can be as much a problem as not working enough.

Yes, work is important. Indeed, St. John Paul II, who worked long and hard his whole life, wrote that work is not only a necessary thing, but that through it “man also achieves fulfilment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being.’”(Laborem Exercens, 9) But he also wrote with passion about the importance of protecting and nurturing family life: “The future of the world and of the Church passes through the family.” (Familiaris Consortio, 75)

When balanced properly, work and family life will complement and not compete with each other. A healthy family life will nourish one’s ability to work, while the income and fulfillment one receives from his work will nourish his family life.

To find such a balance, Mark and Stacy must distinguish what their family really needs from what they want. It could help for each to write out their respective views of their family needs versus wants on a two-sided ledger.

They may have some reasonable differences of opinion about what these needs versus wants are, and likewise which items can and can’t be eliminated or delayed. And they should pray and talk their way toward a shared view with care and mutual respect. But one thing should be clear: “Adequate kids’ quality time with dad” should be on the needs side of both of their ledgers.

There’s a sweet story making the rounds on the internet that delivers a punch about the importance of a father’s time: A little boy asks his overworked dad how much he makes an hour. Dad gets angry, but tells the boy how much. The boy then asks his dad to borrow that amount of money. Dad, now even angrier, asks, “For what?!” The boy answers, “I want to buy an hour of time just with you.” Dad, of course, starts weeping.

Mark and Stacy need to work together to make sure their children never feel the need to pay for their parents’ time.