Fathers Putting Their Families First

Many Dads Are Scaling Back on Work

Fathers Putting Their Families First

Every once in a while, something hits you over the head and changes your life. In the case of Andrew Reinholz, it was a beach ball.

It was February 1996. Reinholz was a successful stockbroker living in sunny Arizona where he and his wife were raising two boys under age 5.

Reinholz had worked hard to position himself in his field and industry, and one of the largest and most prestigious financial companies in the Pacific Northwest offered him a great job opportunity in Seattle. It was everything he had worked for -- the culmination of years of hard work and proof that he was on the path to professional success.

"I was relaxing in a swimming pool, thinking of my new career," says Reinholz. "I then started to think about my wife and children and the fact that I was moving them from 350 days of sunshine to 350 days of rain. At that moment a beach ball, thrown by a young child, came flying across the pool and hit me in the head. At that moment I stopped thinking of my career and started thinking about my family. I ended up not taking the job, and needless to say, my life changed dramatically."

A Different Focus

Now 40, Reinholz lives in Mesa, Arizona, and works as an independent athletic footwear salesman. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, and they plan to adopt a girl soon. Instead of focusing on being the top producer in his company, Reinholz is his own boss and focuses on being the best father he can be.

"What surprised me was how much fun it was," says Reinholz. "I discovered that it was more emotionally fulfilling to be a husband and father than it was to be successful in business. Working less meant being a part of the neighborhood, community and church."

In an era where money, prestige and status often take on more importance than being a good parent, fathers like Reinholz are taking a step back, analyzing their lifestyle and realizing that making career sacrifices for the family has an upside that no job can provide.

Family over Lifestyle

Dan Poppe, 46, of Columbus, Nebraska, was on the fast track to becoming bank president before age 40, but he scaled back to spend more time with his four kids. Poppe's biggest regret? He didn't make the change sooner. His 18-year-old daughter just graduated from high school, and his three other children (15, 10 and 7) are growing up fast.

"I reached a point where I realized it was a choice -- my lifestyle or my family," says Poppe. "So I renewed my commitment to something bigger than me: my loving wife and raising godly children. This involved scaling back my professional activities, changing jobs, putting in less hours for less money and putting my wife ahead of my life. It was not a sacrifice -- it was simply doing what a husband and father should do."

Peter Baylies, 49, of North Andover, Massachusetts, went from being a project manager for a computer company to being a stay-at-home dad when his son was 6 months old. "There will always be a job waiting for you if you want to return to work when your child is (older), but your kids will not always be there," notes Baylies. "Don't get stuck in the trap of equating money with success."

Mike Gaffin, 37, of Waltham, Massachusetts, was an over-the-road truck driver for 12 years before he moved to a regional position to be home more with his wife and family. Even though Gaffin took a pay cut, the lifestyle change has been a personal bonus. "I'm now working about 55 hours a week where before I worked 70 hours," he says. "I'm much more relaxed, I sleep well every night, and I lost a lot of weight because I now have time to eat healthy and go to the gym. I have a regular job and a life I never had before."

All these men admit it can be an adjustment; not surprisingly, the biggest is financial. But they are all also proof it can be done.

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