Parenting: Balancing work and children

by Stephen R. Covey on October 3, 2011 | Articles

Many people around the world find it difficult to balance work and family. As societies change and shifts happen in the workplace, that challenge gets even more difficult, especially when you consider technology and people being connected to their work all the time. I remind people that technology is most effective when they take control of these tools rather than the other way around.

The family topic is dear to me. There is a great saying: “No success can compensate for failure in the home.” I believe wholeheartedly in this. I have seen the devastation that comes when families are neglected in favor of work or other pursuits. The most basic organization in any society is the family unit. Without strong families, nations become weak. We have to make a choice to forego many distractions or even enticing financial rewards, if we are pulled away from our families.

I always counsel people to write a mission statement. This statement represents who you are, what you value and what is most important to you. It can be simple as a one line thought, a poem, a song or a more lengthy writing. A mission statement acts as a moral, principle-centered compass for you. If you create it and let it guide every decision or pursuit, it will help you stay true to yourself, your family and your purpose. Without a compass, you are at risk of being swept up by the speed and demands of work, and you will have a difficult time choosing, even in the hard moments, to make time for your family. I teach people to learn to politely say “no” to that which is not important and to say“yes” for that which matters most.

I know it can very difficult navigating all of the demands of life, work, and family. If you have our mission statement, it will be much easier to make choices that add to your happiness and peace of mind, especially in the face of trials or challenges. Without it, you may compromise your family relationships and find that you have, in the end, damaged your family.

Planning is an important part of honoring our family. I take a wide-angle look at my life and the different roles I play. For example, I am a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, neighbor, author, teacher, church member, volunteer, etc. I work around my roles and responsibilities—and I have a vision for what I want my life to look like. At the start of each week, I review my mission statement and think upon my most important roles. I ask myself: “what is the most important thing I can do this week to fulfill my role(s).” I schedule those things first, leaving time for the relationships or projects that will make the greatest difference.

Remember, if you don’t make time for your family no one else will. Being a member of a family is one of the highest callings in life. Honor your family and honor yourself.

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Recognized by Time Magazine as one of America's twenty-five most influential people, Stephen R. Covey is an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, and organizational consultant.

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