A few weeks ago, I was talking to Don, a successful young business owner and he really dislikes the idea of early retirement. He wants to provide a good example for his kids and he thinks early retirement is not the right way to do it. This was just a passing conversation, but he clearly thinks that I’m a bum and he’s afraid my kid will turn out to be one too. To him early retirement is the anti-thesis of hard work. Is this really true? I’m sure he’s working long hours to provide a good life for his family, but is that much better than me being a stay at home dad/blogger?
Actually, I wrote a bit about this last year, but I’m going to take another look today. Is Early Retirement a Good Example for Your Kids?
Time is limited
First of all, a business owner like Don can easily work 60 to 80 hours per week. I’m just blogging part time and I’m already spending way over 20 hours per week on this. A business has a way of sucking all your time. I’m making some assumptions here, but let’s say Don works 80 hours per week to build a successful business. How much time would he really have to spend with the kids?
Don’s family may have a nice house, luxury cars, and international vacations, but they won’t have much time to spend with him. Sure, this shows them that hard work can provide a good standard of living, but the truth is most kids would rather have more time with their parents. I watched our kid being raised by daycare workers for a year and I didn’t like it one bit. I’d rather spend more time with him and teach him about life myself. I’ll tell him that I used to work hard and that’s why I can reap the benefits now. We saved and invested for many years before I could quit my corporate job. Now, we can spend a lot of time together and it’s a happy time for us.
Studies have shown that kids with involved fathers do better in school and in life. RB40 Junior will be a genius with the amount of time and energy we’re spend on him. (joking…) I’m sure Don is a nurturing dad too, but working 80 hours/week does tend to limit your time. He’s depending on other people to raise his kids. That’s one way to do it, but I don’t think it’s very effective. My dad didn’t spend much time with us when I was a kid and I didn’t like it at all. I was resentful that he worked so much and spent a lot of time socializing. As an adult, I can see that work was necessary, but we still don’t have a very close relationship. I’m sure I’ll have a better relationship with Junior, but I guess we’ll see how it turns out in 20 years.
I don’t mean to alienate everyone with a full time job, of course. I’m sure most of you work 40-50 hours/week and still have time to spend with your loved ones. It’s a luxury to spend so much time with my kid and I really appreciate this opportunity. He’ll start regular school soon and he’ll be much more independent then. I’ll most likely work a little bit more then.
I guess my message to RB40 Jr. is to prioritize happiness over wealth. We are doing fine financially and we have a happy family life. Our kid is happy because he gets to spend a lot of time with his parents. We can’t buy every toy he wants, but I think that’s fine, too. We are teaching him that there are limits in life.
I feel Don passed judgment a bit too quickly. He likes being the traditional provider and isn’t open to a different view point. I love my life so I’m not going to let Don cramp my style. I’d rather be happy than be rich and I want my kid to feel the same way.
What about you? Do you think early retirement sends the wrong message to the kids?