Last week, I got an email from a new reader asking a thought-provoking question about leaving Corporate America.
“What sort of signal does it send to my kids? Will I still be a good role model?”
It’s a conundrum. We all want our kids to work hard, right? I don’t want my kid to grow up to be a slacker so is quitting my job to be a stay at home dad sending the wrong message? This is an impossible question to answer because every situation is different, but I think spending more time with your kids can only be a good thing. This is one of the major reasons why I became a stay at home dad. We didn’t want our kid to spend 50-60 hours/week at the daycare.
We used to drop him off at 7 am and pick him up at 6 pm when he went to full time daycare. After we got home, we’d feed the baby and then it’s time for bed. That’s A LOT of time with strangers and not a lot of time with his parents. Sure, the daycare workers were very nice, but I wanted to be more influential in my kid’s life.
My parents both worked when I was growing up. They were always busy and relied on babysitters to help raise the kids. My dad in particular didn’t spend much time at home. He was always out socializing and I don’t remember spending much time with him as a child. My mom worked too, but she was the primary caretaker and was always there when the kids needed her.
Was the fact that my dad didn’t spend much time with us influenced my decision to become a SAHD? Not consciously, but more bonding time with my dad would have been nice. To a little kid, it looked like he’d rather spend time with his friends than his family. I don’t want my kid to feel that way.
As for not working a traditional job anymore, I will show him the benefit of working hard and investing early. I didn’t just quit my job on a whim. I saved and invested a large portion of my salary for 16 years before I could even contemplate such a drastic change. The goal of retiring by 40 formed when I was 36, but I laid the foundation from the time I graduated from college.
RB40 Jr. would be able to see the benefit of financial freedom. Most middle class families never even contemplate financial independence and they let their jobs enslave them. Our kid will have a big head start toward becoming financially independent just by seeing my example and knowing that there is an alternative to Corporate America. I want my kid to be entrepreneurial and choose his own path through life. He may choose to work a traditional job, but at least he’ll know there are other ways to live. Life isn’t about collecting as much crap as you can. It’s about finding your own happiness.
I’m still working
Early retirement doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Mrs. RB40 said she didn’t realize how much time and effort it took to blog as a business. It was like learning a completely new language. I plan to keep blogging until it’s not fun anymore, and then I would move on to do something else. I will keep busy and I won’t be sitting around the house watching TV all day. I might even go back to work for other people someday if I really believe in the cause (i.e., Peace Corps) or if it is a really fun job. My kid knows I have to get away to work once in a while and he is learning to live with that. I also want to be more involved with his education as he gets older and that would take time, too.
Anyway, being a good role model is about how you conduct yourself when you’re around your kids. Kids will mimic what grownups around them do. If they spend a majority of their time around strangers, then they will pick up their character and habits. I’m not perfect, but I know I’m a good influence for my kid for the most part. Of course, now he’s going around saying “shoot!” and “bang it!” You really do have to watch yourself around your kids. At least he hasn’t drop the F-bomb yet, unlike his cousin…
Do you think being a stay at home parent is a good example to your kids?
Bonus – random stuff found on the internet
Here are some examples of how not to behave around your kids.