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December 22, 2023

A New Year's Resolution: Family First

Successful family life is difficult to achieve. It is never perfect and is often problematic. You have your own set of challenges as you seek to meet the needs of your children. You may be a single parent with very limited financial resources. Perhaps you suffer from illness, disability, or addiction. Or maybe you have strong-willed kids who are tough to handle. The last thing I want to do is add to your pressures or sense of frustration. Nevertheless, if there is any way you can give priority to your children amid those limitations, even if it requires serious sacrifice, you will not regret giving it to them.

This might mean staying married when your impulse is to divorce. It could cause you to make choices that will handicap you professionally. It might mean financial hardship for the family because Mom is staying at home with the children. It might mean giving up your four-hour golf outing every Saturday. What I am saying is that from where I sit today, children are worth everything they cost us.

It was this perspective that led me to walk away from my position as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. My responsibility in this rewarding position required me to visit fifteen major medical centers across the country twice each year, taking me away from home repeatedly. When my father pointed out to me what my absence was doing to my family, I resigned so I could spend more time with my wife and kids.

I admit that at first, professional accomplishment with all its perks had seemed to be like low-hanging fruit for me, and it was very sweet for a time. Honestly, I thought I was walking away from the good life when I left academia. It was difficult for a type-A guy to do, but it was the right decision. As the years unfolded, I realized that I hadn't actually given up much of anything. I just found other ways to use my training and opportunities, and I was more fulfilled than I had been in my "other life." I thank God now that my father urged me to give priority to my family. The wonderful relationship I enjoy with our grown son and daughter today is the payoff.

I hope you will find a way to give your little girls (and boys) the great benefits of a secure, loving home. That is the surest way to preserve the light that shines in their eyes.

From Dr. Dobson's book, Bringing Up Girls.

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