The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Is It Time To Start A Family?

Our most valuable commodity is time. The words we use for money and time are interchangeable. We use expressions like “Time is Money” and “Time well spent” and “It will cost us some time”. As with money, some people are very stingy with their time. They do not relinquish it easily. This seems strange since this generation will live longer and presumably will have more time than ever before.

The most expensive gift you can give anyone is the Gift of Time. Some people buy costly presents hoping they will substitute for the more expensive gift of time. This usually does not work. Possessions are poor substitutes for the time spent with family and friends. It is no fun being alone no matter how expensive the mansion.

Since time is so precious, choosing how to spend it wisely present problems, especially for new families. The first problem surfaces when a young couple, both working, must decide if and when they should take the time to have a child. They realize that it will be a time-consuming decision. The wife obviously will have to take time off from work and they will both have to give up time to raise the child. This then becomes a costly decision.

The decision is even more difficult for couples who have careers as opposed to jobs. A career implies going up a ladder to more and more fulfilling successes. It can be an important part of a person’s identity. A job, on the other hand, usually is simply a means to make money to live. Many women would be happy to give up such jobs but cannot afford to do so financially. Something has to give.

What has to give is the way we view time. One has to become more relaxed about using time, about sharing it and about giving it away. Many people of this generation are going to live to be eighty or ninety. Who says everything one will ever do of significance has to be down between twenty and forty? By forty, we have not even lived half of our lives and only a third of our adult lives. Young couples who feel that they do not have the time to have children, need to relax and to feel that although it will cost them time, it will be time well spent. In the end the material things they buy with money they earn will not compensate for the time freely given to the creation and support of a family. Families do consume time and once the commitment is made, the time has to be given with enthusiasm and freedom.

Many businesses procure all of their employees’ time by giving the message that only those people who are willing to give more than twenty-four hours a day to their careers will be acceptable and successful. As a result, many people are afraid to take vacations and are at work from 6 AM to after 10 PM in order to prove their commitment. In Japan it is an unwritten law that you are available full-time to the company. This use of time is disastrous to family living. Companies who engage in these practices own their employees. They should understand that they are squandering a precious resource for today’ gain without considering future generations. Making time for good parenting is an investment in the future. If this investment is not made, there will continue to be disintegration of the family and society.

Everyone needs to rethink how he uses his time. When you take a serious look at what you are doing with your tune, you might be surprised to learn what your priorities have become. If you discover that you are not spending your precious time well, try to find the courage to change.

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