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Ok, so that was a lie, but reading that “the average American used 16.8 days of vacation — even though they earned 22.6 days” it means that the average American is leaving 6 days per year unused, which COULD be used to instead stay home with their child -with pay! Six days per year over the child’s first fifteen years is 90 days.

The idea that people “do not have time” to stay home with their kids, or that they “can not afford” it falls flat when you realise that the average person (in America) is leaving paid vacation days unused.

And if you choose to work over using – paid! – vacation days to spend time raising and connecting with your own kin you are telling yourself, and your child, that your job is more important than your child.

This not not about “work-life balance”, this is about “job-parent balance”.

Ask yourself: When the intensive parenting period (0-15 years old) is over which one would you hate to have failed in:

Your role as a professional?
Or your role as a parent?

And no, I do not think 90 extra days spent with your child is the difference between “failing as parent” and “succeeding as a parent”.

(But a lot of messed up people seem to have one thing in common: lack of a caring parent being present during childhood.)

What I do think is that taking 90 days off (of vacation days you already have!) over a 15 year period – to be with your child is in no shape or form going to have any effect on your success as a professional.

And your child is absolutely going to love you for it.
And your quality of life will go through the roof.

Take your 6 year old and teach her how to fish for a week.

Take your 12 year old to Paris to get her to fall in love with French.

Take your 3 year old to the zoo 5 days in a row to show him what all his favourite animals look like in real life and let him set the pace for when he is “done” looking at each animal.

If you think your life is better spent throwing away vacation days than getting to know your children a bit better while you bond and teach them about life and pass on your values, then you might want to reconsider your values.

Do your child, and yourself a favour.

Take out those unused vacation days and spend them being a parent.

If not for you, then for your child.



Fredrik Haren

A blog about the magic of fatherhood and paternity leave. Written by Fredrik Haren, professional speaker and author who is now on semi-paternity leave with his three children.

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