It’s Not An Excuse

Parenting is a wonderful excuse. It gets you out of things you don’t want to do. You can always tell people, “Sorry, I’ve got to take care of my kids” and most of the time they’ll understand. But this blessing is also a curse—or rather, the power of the excuse has the power to corrupt.

How many people, as we’ve talked about, use their family as a way ​to rationalize whatever they want to do​. This is what the parents were doing in the Varsity Blues scandal—telling themselves they were helping their kids, when really they were in a status competition with other parents. ​This is the logic Gus Fring used to manipulate Walter White in Breaking Bad.​ “A man provides,” he tells Walter, but really this was a means of rationalizing genuinely evil and criminal behavior they both did for reasons that had very little to do with anyone but themselves.

Your kids are not an excuse to be a monster. For those of us well-above the poverty line, your kids are not why you’re gone all the time–you’re gone for you. There are lots of ways to make a living. You chose this one. Your kids would rather have a parent work in some industry that isn’t destroying the environment or the economy or anything else–they would gladly forgo private school in exchange. Bet.

Your job is to provide, sure, but it’s not your only job. Your job is also to be an example. Your job is to do the right thing (Right Thing, Right Now, as the new book says…which you can preorder right now) Your job is to be available to your kids. Your job is to make the world a better place—not simply to be able to afford them nice things. Especially if you got your hands dirty to pay for those things.

Don’t use your kids as an excuse. It’s embarrassing.

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