Can We (Parents) Have it All? Spoiler Alert… No

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I was invited to be a part of an “expert” parenting panel on Fox and Friends to discuss a few topics. I couldn’t make it, though, because I was rooting my wife along as she competed in her first triathlon. It was ironic that I had to choose between the panel and my wife’s race, because one of the topics of discussion was a recent CEO that decided to step down to a Vice President role in order to spend more time with his friends and family. The conversation centered on the new hot button parenting topic: “having it all.”

I have a lot to say on the subject and would have shared my two cents. Since I wasn’t able to be on the show, I’ll share it here.

To sum up what I think about the concept of having it all: That’s ridiculous! You can’t have it all. Nobody can and nobody ever has. Even work-from-home parents can’t have it all because they are sacrificing something. Whether it’s missing out on time with their kids because they need to be left alone for a few minutes so they can get some work done (that’s me) or not making as much money because they are at home (that’s me too), there are always trade-offs. My wife is an amazing mom and she would love to spend more time with the family. But she can’t, because she is the bread winner of the family.

Sacrifices must be made because that’s the nature of the beast.

The CEO cut back on his workload so he could spend more time with his family. That should be commended. Anybody that makes an attempt to spend more time with his kids is okay in my book. (Though moving down to a lowly VP position will probably not send him to the poor house.)

We make choices about what’s important to us. I would love to have six-pack abs, but I like to sleep instead of going to the gym. I’d like more cash in my pocket, but I’m a stay-at-home dad (my blogger career isn’t exactly rolling in the dough) and I’m not going to stop being a stay-at-home dad. I’d like to be a boxer, but I only like to punch things – I don’t like to be punched back. I would have liked to have made it to the Fox and Friends taping, but I chose to root my wife on in her first race.

I guess we need to define what the “all” is that we’re talking about. If it is money, then no, you can’t have it all if you work less to spend more time with your family. If “all” is spending time with your family, then no, you can’t have it all if you need to work for a living. Remember, if you are privileged enough to worry about “having it all,” you are doing better than most. You aren’t wondering where you next meal will come from, whether you’ll be forced to leave your home, or how you’ll handle childcare when next week’s schedule comes out.

Instead of wondering if we can have it all, maybe we should focus more on being content with what we have. Instead of focusing on what we are giving up, focus on what we are gaining. Having it all is impossible, but leading a fulfilled life is not.

You might also like:

Staying Home – Watching My Kids Grow Up While Others Pass Me By

No Place I’d Rather Be – My Response to the NY Times Article on Working Moms and Stay-at-Home Dads


  1. “Having it all” is kind of a ridiculous concept to begin with, isn’t it? Do I tell my kids they can have it all? No. I tell them “Pick one.” Sometimes, when they are unhappy, I tell them “Well, it was your decision.” Welcome to being alive, folks. What kind of message are we giving the future generation even talking like that? Sheesh!

  2. Absolutely! I’m on maternity leave at the moment and often find myself trying to come up with some magical way that I can stay at home with my kids and never have to go back to work, but also get the social, interaction with adults and mental stimulation that I miss about work AND the money. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen – BUT, I shall follow your advice and focus on the positives. I have two amazing children, a fantastic husband, a job I enjoy and a comfortable financial situation. LUCKY me! 🙂

  3. Well done, Jason. I am all in favor of CEOs stepping down and turning away large sums of money to be with family, but I’d like for someone to write the story of the parent who turns down large sums who doesn’t already have it. I never begrudge people their money but just feel like it’s not THAT big of a story when a CEO takes a “risk’ like that.

  4. Yes, life is about choices. You are right, you can’t have it all. It’s more about making the right decisions. I’m reminded of the poem by Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken.” What is really tricky, is that sometimes you don’t know if you made the right decision until sometime after the fact. That’s why I personally rely heavily on divine guidance.

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