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Family Comes First: How Putting Work Ahead of Family Can Be Damaging

4 May 2015 – 06:52 PM EDT

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Keeping a ‘family comes first’ attitude is a healthy way of keeping your family unit strong. Putting work ahead of your family can damage relationships and reduce bonding time. We always focus on reducing screen time for children, but this should also apply to adults who work on screens throughout their work day. Work-at-home Moms and Dads need to know when enough is enough and when it is time to close up the shop.

The more time we spend working and placing work ahead of our loved ones, the more the family unit suffers. While we all need to work to be able to take care of our families, we do need to keep our jobs as second in line to our lives with our families. There is a variety of ways that putting work first can damage the family and it is our job as parents to change this so we can have stronger, loving relationships with our kids.

When the Screen Stays On

If you say you are finished work, but then come home and sit in front of your laptop or mobile phone, you are not really tuning into your family. In your kid’s eyes, you are basically still working. Kids tend to feel ignored and neglected if their parents are staring at a screen while they are asking them questions or telling them about their day. Finish work for the day by turning off all of your screens and spend quality screen-free time with your kids.

When anyone stares at a screen while communicating with another person, the other person tends to feel that what they are saying is not important enough. This is not how we want our kids to feel as we want our kids to feel valued at all times. A great idea is to create an off-screen home rule for two or three hours every night, and play a game or simply catch up over dinner. (This also includes getting your text-crazed teenager to put down their cell phone for a few hours. I promise, they will survive.)

When Work is First

Whether you are a workaholic or work over 40 hours every week, work should never be on top of the list above the needs of your family. A job should remain just that, a job. Something you work on every day, but then you leave it, knowing you’ll work on it the next day. It shouldn’t run your life or by any means be your only source of happiness. Our connection with our family is the strongest relationships we have in our lives and it is where an abundance of happiness and joy can come from.

If you constantly stay late at the office, miss your kid’s game because you had to complete a document that is due next week, or if you forget to pick your child up from school because you ‘just had to’ get that expense report done, this is not effective parenting. Children sense when they are placed on the back burner. They don’t understand that Mommy or Daddy has to do all this work to support the family. However, they will feel second best if you are making work your number one priority.

If you can always remind yourself that your family comes first, and place work second on the list (or further down under health and self-care), you and your family will benefit greatly. The kids will feel appreciated and valued, the family unit will become stronger and your relationships with your children will improve ten-fold. Our jobs do not define us, the love of our family does.