Focus on the Family by Jim Daly

Career Success Is Important, But Can Be Hard on Families

Q: As a successful executive, I'm gratified to now be hearing from headhunters who are recruiting me for even better positions across the country. I want to provide the best for my wife and kids. Are there family principles I should keep in mind as I weigh my options?

Jim: A change to your career can be a great opportunity, or it can be the worst thing that ever happened to your family. It all depends on how you handle the choices you're facing.

Couples often make decisions about their careers based on one thing: their financial bottom line. But your family life can be severely affected as well. Say you have the chance to relocate for a new job. Is moving across the country worth leaving behind your support system of family and friends? Are your children emotionally prepared to start over in a new school? And how will the changes you're considering impact your relationships with each other as a family?

If the answer to all those questions points to making a change, you've laid the groundwork for success, not just in your career, but in your home as well. On the other hand, if all the pieces aren't in place, you're asking for trouble.

We're all trying to get ahead financially, but I encourage you not to make decisions that will compromise the most important relationships in your life. More money and responsibility are excellent achievements, but they usually come with a great deal more stress, too. Don't assume a greater income will sweep family issues under the rug.

Decisions about your career will impact far more than just your budget. Don't let your ambition for money and success come at the cost of your family. Have some foresight and make good choices that will protect what really matters.

Q: As a dad, I expect my children to meet high standards every time. That's how my father raised me, and I turned out OK. But my wife thinks we should cut them some slack. What's the balance?

Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: This may initially sound like terrible advice, but the truth is you should be teaching your children to fail -- and then get up. Learning to feel comfortable with your kids' failures can transform your parenting.

Think about how you reacted when your child was learning to walk. That process is really just a long string of failures that ends in success. A toddler may only take one or two steps before falling down, but we don't tell them to give up and wait a few years. No, we immediately encourage them to get back up and to try again. We'll stretch out our hands and say, "Come to Daddy." And they do. They get back to their feet and wiggle out a few more shaky steps.

But something changes in many parents as our children get older. As the consequences for mistakes become more severe, we become less tolerant of failure because we want them to succeed and do well. We'd never call it perfection, but on a practical level that's exactly what our kids feel like we expect. We have great intentions, but create unnecessary pressure that ends up working against them. They need -- and respond to -- encouragement with guidance.

So if perfection has become the unspoken rule in your house, re-center yourself as a parent. The goal is to raise healthy, resilient children, who are willing to get back up, grow from their mistakes and keep moving forward.

Encourage excellence, but help your kids know that it's OK to fail and to try again. Progress, not perfection, is what we want them to learn.

Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at or at


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