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Will You Regret Not Spending More Time With Your Kids?

Photograph by Twenty20

Singer Marc Anthony has one regret: not being a stay-at-home dad. In a recent interview with CBS News' Tracy Smith the former Mr. Jennifer Lopez said, "The one regret would be that what I chose to do took so much of my time. What I would have done to have been a stay-at-home dad, and, you know, witnessed every second of everything."

I'm not Anthony's tax accountant, but I'm fairly certain he's made enough money in his long and extensive singing career to take a little time off in the form of being a stay-at-home dad. Technically, he probably could have been a stay-at-home dad. In fact, his twins Max and Emme are still young. There's no reason why Anthony still couldn't step away from the spotlight and start driving carpool. So maybe just he doesn't want to. Or, maybe the issue of spending time with kids is more complex than if one needs the income or not from their job.

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Anthony goes on to lament and wonder if all the time he didn't spend with his kids in order to achieve career success was worth it. He even comments that, "It tugs at me." Anthony is not alone. Each and every parent can relate to the tug. We all wonder if we are spending enough time with our kids and if the times we weren't with our kids were worth it.

That's the hard part. No matter what, we can't be with our children all the time.

I can certainly relate. My work schedule allows me to work when my kids are at school and then I'm able to pick them up and be with them for the afternoon and evening. I'm with my kids a lot! But there are things I've had to miss, like my son's poetry day at school that fell on the same day as the one work conference I attend per year that happened to be out of town. Or the day when both my kids, who go to different schools, had an in-class celebration at the exact same time on the exact same day. My kids remember both those days and comment on how sad they were that I wasn't able to attend. And yet, I'm there every afternoon for school pickup. I'm there almost all the time.

And that's the hard part. No matter what, we can't be with our children all the time. Parents are, in varying degrees, going to have to miss school plays, school Thanksgiving feasts and that recital scheduled for the time of the meeting you can't change. A successful entertainer like Marc Anthony may or may not be more in control of his schedule and workload than you or I, but every parent is going to find times they aren't able to be with their kids.

So maybe the key is to focus on making the time with our kids worthwhile. Maybe when it comes to our kids, quality time trumps quantity of time if you can't have both.

For me, that means when I'm with my kids I try not to work or spend too much time texting or emailing. I'm sure they won't notice that I was there everyday for school pickup. And they'll remember that one poetry day I couldn't attend. But I hope they'll also notice and remember that when I was with them, I was really with them. They may have only gotten part of my time, but they always got my full attention.

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And I also hope they'll notice and remember that when I wasn't with them, I was working to help make their lives better. And that I did something I was good at and something I'm proud of. I'm sure it won't offset the times I wasn't available, but hopefully it will all have been worth it.

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