Family should be valued over career
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013 19:03
Stating my view on the importance of journalism seems almost unnecessary, considering the fact that I work for the newspaper and am a journalism student. I do, however, want to make it clear that I have great respect for those who are dedicated to bringing the news to the public. What I don’t have respect for is individuals who enter this field with the intention of having a family.
I realize that I may be stepping on the toes of many of my fellow classmates, instructors and even friends, but I cannot hold my tongue on the skewed values that the American dream has embedded in us all.
Fox 4 anchor Steve Eagar spoke in my reporting class this week, and when the floor was open for questions a student asked how Eagar was able to balance his family life with his professional life.
Eagar’s honesty with the room full of aspiring journalists surprised me. He was quick to admit that he only did the best he could without compromising his work performance, which meant limited time with his children.
Eagar made one statement that so deeply resonated with me that I am now kicking myself for not getting the direct quote. Unfortunately, I will just have to paraphrase. Eagar said that while his career has made it possible to provide well for his family, he knows that kids don’t care about that. Kids care about having Dad around.
This stood out, not because it is profound or a new revelation to me, but because of who said it. The fact that Eagar had the humility to say, and I am inferring, that he did not spend as much time with his children as he needed to should be a red flag to the rest of us.
As young, ambitious college students, we want it all. Most of us have been raised to seek success in all forms, and I freely admit that I slip into dreaming of having an incredible career, along with a family and a husband who has an equally admirable job.
We call this a “dream” for a reason. It doesn’t happen.
If you want a fast-paced career in journalism, it is beyond unrealistic to think that you can also be a great parent. And if you’re satisfied with just being an OK parent, don’t have kids.
I do not mean to say that all parents who have demanding careers are negligent or lacking in love. This situation is clearly full of exceptions and practical arguments in the area of providing for a family. I am just calling for a reevaluation of principles.
The American dream has made being selfish commendable, and it’s time that we see it for what it is. My example has been working as a reporter, but there are countless careers that require long nights and devotion that does not allow space for a family. Before pursuing our dreams, we must realize that choices and sacrifices need to be made. And when I say sacrifice, I don’t mean knowing that you’ll have to spend a little less time with Jimmy Jr. to keep your job. I mean knowing that you will need to have a job that allows devotion your family when the time comes.
Thrall is a sophomore majoring in journalism and film.