Family First?

Family first is a message I’ve believed for a long time when it comes to career. Finding the work/life balance is important to me, but after reading the recent story of Major League Baseball player Adam LaRoche who unexpectedly retired from baseball walking away from his career and a $13 million dollar salary, it got me rethinking the phase.  The event that prompted LaRoche to make this decision was when his team’s general manager asked him to cut back on the amount of hours his 14-year-old son spent with the team.   LaRoche was so upset about being asked to cut back on bringing his son to work he retired.

When I first heard the story I was surprised and couldn’t believe an employer would be so cold towards one of its employees, but after understanding more about the situation I changed my opinion.  It seems LaRoche has brought his son to work with him every day for much of the past five seasons. LaRoche has been quoted as saying “We’re not big on school.”  But his son does bring school work with him while on the road with his dad, has a tutor and attends classes during the off-season. Who am I to tell another how to educate his son. I do believe our tradition school system lacks life preparing lessons like personal finance.

What I don’t agree with LaRoche is his belief that he has the right to bring his son to work with him every day. As a Major League Baseball player and an employee of a company unfortunately the company dictates the rules. You’ve been lucky enough to have your son with you for a number of years and the company has been flexible.  Do you ever stop and think how this make the other employees feel? Not to be overlooked is that you are highly compensated and the company only asked for you to cut back on the time your son spend at work not end it completely. Given those details I’m not sure it’s something to just walk away from.


Take Your Child to Work Day

Take your child to work day typically occurs in April each year. My previous company participated in the event. Unfortunately the building I worked in was consider a technical building and was not allowed to participate, only the main headquarters. I question the policy because we had areas of the building that we traditional office / cubical and there was really no safety issues in those areas.

I wanted the opportunity to take my children to work with me as a learning experience to see how things were done in the business world, meetings were run, white board session conducted, etc. There is value in seeing real life situations, and also great to understand what dad does at work each day.  I would often see children visiting our headquarters and it was a reminder, but never a big enough concern to press the issue with my company.

Why We Work

Most of us work out of the need for income to support ourselves and our families.  That is the main reason I work. So when I heard LaRoche was walking away from his job, his income over something that most people only get to share one day a year with their children seem really dumb to me. Now I have no idea of LaRoche’s current overall financial situation. I do know over his career in major league baseball he has made over $70+ million. So it’s entirely possible that he has the means to walk about at this point, that not having his son next to him each day in not worth the salary they are offering him.

For me, I’m not in the position to walk away from my salary over something like this. I’m making that salary to help provide for my children. It would be inconsiderate of me and to my co-workers to have my children with me at work each day.  Distracting for me, because my main concern would be about them and less about my work. So good for you Adam LaRoche for choosing family first, let’s hope this is the right decision for you.

Have you ever taken you child to work? If so what was the take away/ lessons learned? Would you ever consider giving up your salary because your employer ask you to cut back on a perk or benefit like LaRoche’s team did?

27 thoughts on “Family First?”

  1. I can actually see both sides to this story. Although I do find it admirable that a professional athlete is that dedicated of a dad. It seems that it’s a tough business to be in if you want to hang out with your kids a lot. I don’t have children so I’ve never had the opportunity, but if I did I think it would be very cool to bring them to work.

    1. I think it can be a great life lesson. Be a great experience for parent and child. When just doesn’t seem right me about this story is the amount of time the two spent at work together.

  2. I haven’t had the option to take my kid to work (well, except for the one time I got a flat tire and took her to work for an hour while her dad changed the tire.) It’s not just distracting for others, but it’s also distracting for me and makes it difficult for me to get quality work done, even when I’m just trying to get stuff done on the computer at home when she’s around. Plus, I can’t see an office environment as being fun for her. Even older kids who behave better tend to look bored and restless when they have to wait while their parents work.

    I do think when someone brings their kid to work they often aren’t as focused. Or their dog…I worked at a place where people regularly brought their pets, and it was a huge distraction for the staff and made some of the customers uncomfortable. Once a year, bringing your kid is reasonable and a good way of connecting. (and no more distracting than the annual Christmas party or NCAA pool.) More regularly, and it’s annoying.

    1. I can totally see how it would be distracting to yourself and co-workers. That;s why I think having the opportunity to take your child to work just a handful of times would make it more valuable.

  3. I can see both sides to this one Brian, and don’t begrudge the Team for asking him to have his son around less. I can think of very few other instances where an employer is willing to have kids in the office everyday. I guess the player did what he needed to do, but I think people are making way too much out of this. I’d be thrilled if I could have my son with me at work 3 days a week…..working as a bat boy or something.


    1. I guess it would really depend on the work situation too. I’d love the fact of being about to spend more time with my kids, just not sure if at work would be the right environment on a daily basis.

  4. As a huge baseball fan, my take on the Adam LaRoche situation was the same as yours…at first I thought it was a good move, then as I learned more I saw that the team was being completely reasonable. What’s since come out is that some team players supported Adam while others had complained about his son’s constant presence, and now there’s infighting as a result.

    Unfortunately I was never able to take either of my children to work with me, but once a year I think it’s a beneficial thing without being too distracting, especially if you can give the kids something to do there. I know my wife actually worked for her father for a summer when she was a teenager and she learned a lot, both business-wise and what working adults have to deal with every day.

    1. I think it can be a nice preview for a child to see what a job or the business world is like. But in the case of LaRoche if he wasn’t a baseball player with a high profile job I wonder if hanging out with dad down at the factory or cubical would be as cool everyday.

  5. Such an interesting question! I admire a guy for being so involved with his kid. BUT, I also think it’s super important to give your children space to develop independence and self-reliance. I went to sleepaway camp as a kid, and I have always been grateful for that experience. I was never homesick or unable to be away from home after that, whereas half my college dorm had massive homesickness and had to fly home on weekends, it seemed like! Finding that balance of staying super involved with your kids while also letting them develop into their own independent human beings is the magic formula… said as a non-parent. 😉

  6. If my coworkers brought their rugrats to the office everyday, I’d be pissed! It would be such a distraction. I’m all aboard bring your kid to work day every once in a while, but that kid had a locker in the clubhouse. He took it a little far.

  7. Since I work from home most days, I kind of get to take my kids to work. However, I can see the company’s point of view too. It’s so much harder to focus on work when your kid(s) or other family are around and you want to put your focus on them. This is why I have to escape the house and work from a coffee shop once in a while to really get some focused work in.

  8. I felt the same way as you about that story when I first heard it. I don’t think either side is wrong. If LaRoche didn’t want to accept the restrictions on his son, then I admire him for giving up that amount of money because it was so important to him. I can also see the team’s side of the issue, LaRoche’s son was not just visiting…he practically was ON the team. Although it seemed like most teammates enjoyed his presence but maybe there were some who found it to be a distraction. In anycase, he was at the end of his career so maybe he just decided to hang it up. Plus, if he was still a productive player, maybe the team might not have put that restriction on his son…who knows. Apparently the team and him had an agreement regarding his son when he signed so if they backtracked on that after his poor play last year…that wasn’t too cool. As for my son…he’s still too young but I’d love to bring him to Bring your child to work day.

    1. I believe having the opportunity to bring a child into a workplace is a great lesson. It’s a great preview for them to see how business operates. Hopefully when your son old enough you’ll have the chance.

  9. To your question, “Would you ever consider giving up your salary because your employer ask you to cut back on a perk or benefit like LaRoche’s team did?” I think the decision to reduce or give up a salary largely depends on where you are financially at the time the decision needs to be made. Clearly an individual that is only a few years into a career, does not have a lot of money saved/invested and perhaps has some debt (e.g. house, car loans) does not have the same options as an individual at a later point in their career, particularly an individual that was enjoying a career where multi-million dollar contracts are the norm.

    At the end of the day, this case is a perfect example of what I often say. Saving/investing is not about hoarding wads of cash, it’s about having choices. The more money you have, the moe – and more diverse – choices you have. Conversely, limited money means … .

  10. When my daughter was 15 I had her shadow me at work for a week over her summer school break. It was a great experience for both of us. I was so proud of her ability to interact as an adult with my coworkers and she proved how smart she was. By the end of the week I had her writing my meeting agendas, and even leading my Scrum team daily stand-ups. It was a fantastic daddy / daughter bonding experience.

  11. I think LaRoche made the right decision! It’s really about family first and I believe that he made the right choice considering his financial stability. That kind of decision wouldn’t be wise for some. LaRoche was plainly wise and smart.

  12. “Family First” really does mean different things for different situations. When I went back to full time work after having taught part-time for 10 years and then resigning to be a stay-at-home mom, I was actually putting family first – though not in a traditional way. My husband was going through a prolonged period of unstable employment, and I had to step up – or we’d all sink together. LaRoche is clearly in a position to afford quitting. Not knowing all of the details of his story, I’d have to say I admire him for making that choice so that he can spend as much time with his son as possible.

    1. Totally understand. My wife went back to work during our debt repayment and continues to work today which meant less family time, but overall better financial picture for us.

  13. The timing of my reading this is funny, since when I got to my desk this morning, I could hear a baby crying somewhere in my office. (He was sick, and his mother had just come to pick up some work on her way to take him to the doctor.)

    I had not heard this story before, but based on what little I know, I feel the same way about it that you do. Children in the office can be very distracting, both for their parents and for their coworkers. My daughter is six, so I would never bring her to work with me, because she’d be bored out of her mind.

    I love the concept of “bring your kid to work day”, but only if it’s structured. If the employer offers tours, programming, etc., then I definitely see the value, especially for older kids. But if it’s just a day for kids to hang out at work, I think it probably just ends up being a day of lost productivity. (Which – as someone else pointed out – happens plenty of other times without kids present…)

  14. If he’s financially independent and willing to give up his job, then good for him! There are some workplaces that don’t benefit from having kids around all the time, and it’s easy to see how it would be frustrating for other team members. Every situation is different.

    My hope is that this was blown out of proportion and it actually ended amicably, but who really knows?

    I quit a high-school job because I was scheduled to work during my grandfather’s 85th birthday party, despite being the first and most senior employee to ask for the day off several months in advance. I don’t regret it a bit, and I didn’t make a big stink about it. I used the notice to get another job.

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