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"You're not spending enough time with the kids"
Old 09-14-2010, 07:57 PM   #1
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"You're not spending enough time with the kids"

So, today my wife said something to that effect while I was getting our oldest ready for bed. After a long day on the phone, in meetings, and doing paperwork....I lost it. Not only was her timing absolutely wrong, but what she said and how she said it really really hurt.

I already KNOW that I spend a lot of time working. I also know that there are weeks and even months when I am at home 3-4 days a week doing nothing. I was home ALL day, but on the computer (in the kitchen so I get SOME interaction with the family) doing work, taking calls, and working on our new business idea. So although I was THERE, i wasnt able to 'play' with the kids when they bugged me...or go outside to shoot hoops. I had a deadline for some online work and that's the bottom line. I am our sole source of revenue (95%).

She said "it's obvious that everything else comes before the kids" while just 2 weeks ago she praised me for being such a great dad, involved with everything in the kids lives. I was so livid (and hurt) when she said it that I couldnt even finish reading him his book. I had to get out of the room before I exploded.

I KNOW that I have troubles managing my time. I KNOW that I've posted on here about managing family vs. wife vs. work vs. ME time. I KNOW this. But sometimes WORK needs to be done.

I dont know what to do. I dont neglect my kids. We play for a little while every day...no matter what. I I run to the store, I take one of them for alone time. I take the oldest 4-wheeling. I take the youngest to the warehouse to jump on the equipment. I goto the oldest's flag football games and coach. I AM involved...but also very busy.

I just dont know how to approach this with my wife without saying something I regret.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:15 PM   #2
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Wow, I'll let some of the folks with kids respond with something concrete, but I think if I was your wife and you explained the situation to me in the same way you just did in writing; I'd understand.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:18 PM   #3
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Your wife is telling you something - listen up !

I worked with a guy who was a (former) workaholic. He finally saw the error of his ways when his kids grew up and got involved with the very worst kind of drugs. I'll bet he has some regrets !
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:11 PM   #4
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Since I do not know you and you do not know me this could really be of base.

Sometimes us A type personalities convenience ourselves we need to work that much to keep up our lifestyle. It may be that you need to cut back on the lifestyle some so that you can spend the time with them. I certainly learned this the hard way.

Kids want your time with them more than things and that is hard to see sometimes. For me if I looked at it objectively it was me wanting those things and just projecting it on them.

The earlier comment about kids and lack of attention leading to drugs is spot on. Part of what I do with my time now that I am ESRd is to work in and participate in a support group for recovered drug addicts and alcoholics. I have never had a problem with either and really did not think I could help but it turns out I can. The number one thing they all say is if my parents had spent more time with me and encouraged me to believe in myself that addiction would never have become a problem for them.

Of course they could just be blaming it on their parents but they respond to the caring grounded support person I am to them and it really seems to make a difference. It sure is good for me and I hope equally for them. You really do get more than you give in that type of situation and I am learning every day.

I can think of no more deserving person of our time and caring than our kids.

The above could be it or your wife just needs a break or a Midol! It has been all three in the past for me.

Spend the time to figure it out and act accordingly. Your wife and kids are worth it and so are you!
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
Wow, I'll let some of the folks with kids respond with something concrete, but I think if I was your wife and you explained the situation to me in the same way you just did in writing; I'd understand.
Good idea - Fed - cut and paste your post in an email to your wife to get the discussion started.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:21 PM   #6
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.... I am our sole source of revenue (95%)....
I know what you're saying here and what you mean, but do not bring this into the discussion with your wife, who will see herself as at least partially responsible for your success and your family's happiness in ways that are difficult to measure. Mentioning it will not have a happy ending
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:37 PM   #7
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I dunno....when I was a kid both parents had FT jobs and dad always had PT job too. We kids entertained each other and even took extra responsibility as a result. Depends alot on age of kids and whatnot, but it seems you are getting some extra interaction by working from home and if you are making it to important events like ballgames, I guess I'm thinking maybe it's SOMETHING else triggering her to make such a comment....especially while you are reading a bedtime story AND after complementing you just awhile ago.

After all the point of work is to make things comfortable for the family.....right? Sounds like you're doing prettty well to me.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:07 PM   #8
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Been there. Done that. Survived. And I have the t-shirt.

After our first child was born it didn't take long to realise that there are only 24 hours in the day and it was not possible to accomodate every demand on my time within those 24 hours. Something had to give.

I worked out ways to be more efficient at work. Remote access as a big plus - I made sure that I got home before the children go to bed as often as possible, even if I carry on working at home later at night. I agreed a roster with my wife for taking them to school on week days - which cost me some gym time and a notch or two on my belt. I volunteered a bit less at work and started saying "no" to some things - at first I thought that would hurt my career - but if anything it helped as I ended my being more focused on the smaller number of tasks and delivered those quicker. I also learned to delegate more.

I started taking taxis home - it's more than the bus but still relatively affordable in Hong Kong. The difference is that a taxi will often get me home in time to read a bed time story while the bus will not.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:15 PM   #9
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Just like work can expand to usurp family time, family time can expand to usurp work time.

And not every man feels that family time is necessarily more satifying to him. And it is definitely less under his control.

So make up your own mind about what you want to do.

Ha
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:04 AM   #10
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Yeah, well, if you want sympathy now then you're not going to want to live with the guy you're going to be in about 15-20 years. And you'll have to spend the rest of your life with your kids (and your spouse), not with your deadlines.

On the distaff side of the parenting picture, I think that many women seem to value their image by the quality of their parenting instead of the quality of their providing, while many guys see it the other way. It's possible that she thought she was just sharing or venting, although she certainly could have intended to twist the knife as it went in. And the timing-- ouch.

There's a difference between knowing what we should do versus actually making the discomfiting and disruptive changes necessary to achieve that vision. (Otherwise I'd have a BMI of 20 and a six-pack like Brad Pitt.) OTOH it seems the chains that bind the tightest are the ones of our own manufacture. I've victimized myself many times with my own self-imposed deadlines.

When I was working, there were few things I hated more than leaving the office with adequate time to make a pickup at the after-school program... only to run into a traffic jam or some other last-minute administrative crisis. As I retired, it was a tremendous personal relief to know that I could be in the kitchen baking cookies when our kid came home from school... especially during the "danger years" of middle & high school.

I don't miss the teen drama, angst, and bad behavior one bit. But now that I've lost my surfing & taekwondo partner to college, I realize that I have all kinds of time left over to get a real job.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:15 AM   #11
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We had a similar issue only it was over housework instead of kid time, but maybe the same solution will help you. "We" made a weekly time chart with all of the stuff we have to do and fairly divided who does what. It included things like taking the kids to school, soccer practices, cooking meals, laundry. etc. Maybe you could make a similar chart and include things like play time, story time, etc. for your situation.

I work at home. My husband helps some on the businesses but mainly has a day job with a long commute. We used to argue over housework but with the chart we just listed all of the chores that need to be done and divided them up fairly among all of the family members (us and the kids), after factoring in business work hours plus my husband's commute. My husband has a more intense job these days so I picked up more of the chores but we have never really had to make a formal schedule again.

I think unless you really quantify things like "not enough time with the kids" are no win arguments because there is no way to decide who is right. Are you working 40 hours a week and spending 20 hours on kid activities or working 80 and spending 5 hours on kid activities? And what ratio would be acceptable to both you and your wife? Each family has to find what works for them on issues like this but for us (two managers by trade) it was quantifying tasks and activities in a chart and posting it on the fridge.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:46 AM   #12
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We have recently implemented a new schedule in our house that limits "screen time" to 30 minutes a night on school nights, and also sets aside 1 to 1.5 hours a night for "family fun time." The schedule was mostly developed for the kids, but DH and I are also trying to hold ourselves to it. We will allow exceptions for an emergency (I had one last night -- DH away on business and I had an urgent work matter that needed my immediate attention), but otherwise we are going to try to make the family together time pretty sacred. Our thought is if we make this a family commitment we will all take it more seriously and be likely to respect the schedule. Maybe you could consider something similar in your family? After a couple of weeks of this, I can already see positive effects in terms of our relationship with the kids and with each other.

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Old 09-15-2010, 02:55 AM   #13
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Can't recall where I read it, but sometimes "The problem isn't the problem." My SWAG is that SHE is feeling neglected. She may feel neglected but it might be embarrassing to say that - so, she hits you where it hurts the most (no, not there - you know what I mean).

Forgive the "Lucy (from peanuts) 5 cents" psychoanalysis. I could be wrong. I was once. Just ask MY wife.

FWIW - these things usually pass and everything will be fine. The good news is that only someone you love can hurt you that much!
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:15 AM   #14
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Go through the day again. Was there a request from DW to you that you should do something with the kids and you brushed it off lightly or did not get back to?
Are you familiar with the different ways men and women express their wants?
You may not even have realized that she wanted you do do something.

If you do not find anything, talk to her. Tell her that you cannot easily forget her comment, that you want to be a good dad and juggle all the different responsibilities in the best way. So you need her help to understand what went wrong that day and how to juggle better the next day.

Maybe she tells you that she just was tired. Maybe she just needed to make an ugly comment because she has the routine tasks with the kids while you had the quality time with them.
IMO the point is that you need to talk.
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:09 AM   #15
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The Children’s Hour By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow BETWEEN the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day’s occupations, That is known as the Children’s Hour. I hear in the chamber above me 5 The patter of little feet, The sound of a door that is opened, And voices soft and sweet. From my study I see in the lamplight, Descending the broad hall stair, 10 Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, And Edith with golden hair. A whisper, and then a silence: Yet I know by their merry eyes They are plotting and planning together 15 To take me by surprise. A sudden rush from the stairway, A sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded They enter my castle wall! 20 They climb up into my turret O’er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere. They almost devour me with kisses, 25 Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, Because you have scaled the wall, 30 Such an old mustache as I am Is not a match for you all! I have you fast in my fortress, And will not let you depart, But put you down into the dungeon 35 In the round-tower of my heart. And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day, Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, And moulder in dust away.



DW and I both worked full time when the kids were small. They hated going to after school care. But (paid) work STOPPED for both of us when we got the kids. Chores were done with the kids, from cooking to bill paying. Neither one of us had hobbies or activities that ate into kid time.
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:11 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolau View Post
Can't recall where I read it, but sometimes "The problem isn't the problem." My SWAG is that SHE is feeling neglected. She may feel neglected but it might be embarrassing to say that - so, she hits you where it hurts the most (no, not there - you know what I mean).

Forgive the "Lucy (from peanuts) 5 cents" psychoanalysis. I could be wrong. I was once. Just ask MY wife.

FWIW - these things usually pass and everything will be fine. The good news is that only someone you love can hurt you that much!

I think Koolau has zoomed in on the issue . Schedule a few date nights and all will be well in the Fed household .
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:30 AM   #17
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My wife says the same thing and I'm not a workaholic. She gets a crazy streak whether I've been helping a lot or doing nothing. The timing is usually dependent on lack of sleep, abdominal pain, not eating enough, etc.

I agree with Koolau as well.

Make her state the problem back to you, out loud, and have her clarify a couple points... mine usually changes her tune and states the real problem or lists even more things that are bugging her.

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Old 09-15-2010, 07:44 AM   #18
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Just never ever ask your wife " Is it that time of the month " ?.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:30 AM   #19
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I owned a business for ten years while my kids were in their teens. During the latter half the business basically took over my life... it seemed like there was always something to be done and before I knew it I was working 7 days a week. This coincided with the kids being more independent and being involved in their own activities. When I talk to my kids about it they don't seem to think I neglected them or wasn't involved enough, but if you ask my wife she would see it quite differently. Enough time has passed now to be able to look at that period objectively and there is truth to all sides of the argument... the kids grew up well and didn't seem to miss the time we could have spent together, I know now that I put in way too many hours, and as I've gotten older I feel like I've achieved a lot more balance. Until the kids are in their early teens I feel that its important to make them your number one time priority. Those hours can never be recaptured.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:02 AM   #20
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Now that you have had a night to sleep on it, just let her know that her comment has been bugging you and that you didn't have the energy to address it yesterday.

I would inventory where your time goes, ask what the wife thinks is an average appropriate amount of time to spend with the kids. Aim to meet that amount of time (on average) if it is reasonable. Point out that business demands will occasionally interrupt kid time (which probably means "family time" or "give the wife a break from kids time"). Ask the wife if there are specific kid related tasks that she needs help with and maybe focus your time/efforts there. Maybe take on the responsibility for some limited tasks.

DW and I both work and have two kids roughly the same age as yours, and it is always an issue in our house as to who will monitor the kids baths, teeth brushing, feeding/cleaning, homework/teaching, reading to them, etc. I think these tasks would be less of an issue if we somehow allocated responsibilities equitably between DW and me. But we manage ok, and neither of us really take work home from the office. It is going to get more hectic when the youngest starts preschool in a month, on top of the pick up/drop off for the oldest at school.
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