Everything You Need to Know About Your Workaholic Father

workaholic father. dad ignores his son. son celebrates fathers day
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Workaholism is one of the few addictions that society values and people are quick to claim

Being workaholic is more than a dedication to his job. It’s a near-obsessive commitment that supersedes most, if not all, other aspects of life.  In fact, workaholism is a pattern of overindulgence in work, long work hours, working more than is expected, self-absorption in work, and compulsiveness to work, all of which can result in problems with relationships and health. Understandably, children of workaholics become resentful of their parent’s emotional and physical unavailability. Promises are broken and important activities like teacher conferences, sporting events, and music recitals are missed. Studies show that workaholics experience more marital discord, anxiety, depression, job stress, and health problems.

Lily’s dad, Tom, is a 43-year-old marketing exec. working at a Fortune 500 company. He was recently promoted to a senior vice president position at the firm. Along with new flexibilities on his work schedule, his pay has also increased dramatically. This means that Lily’s mom can now quit her part-time job in order to spend more time with the children, which is the fulfillment of a long-term family goal. After working extreme long hours for many years, Lily thought that his dad’s hard work has paid off with receiving a job promotion and is finally able to spend more time with her. However, Lily still hardly sees dad. His dad misses family dinners because he was traveling or he couldn’t make it to Lily’s orchestra play because of some work thing or another. Lily missed him when he couldn’t be there.

workaholic father. Father's day.Happy family daughter giving dad a greeting card on holiday

What are some characteristics of a workaholic father, and not just an engaged hard-working one? How could you tell the difference?

A workaholic displays symptoms similar to any other addiction. Working long hours, at the expense of his personal relationships and even his own health. One caveat is that the time he spent working is not often due to an external necessity. When not working, he is thinking about work. Work dictates his mood: when work is going well, he’s happy; when work is going less well, he may be down. It is also found in studies that workaholics may use work as a distraction from other problems or aspects of life. And relating to family financial planning, many workaholics may be delaying their planned retirement in an effort to continue the workaholic lifestyle.

Is there a link between health problems and workaholism? 

Yes, there is. Just because work itself is a respectable pursuit doesn’t mean that an addiction to it is any less damaging than other sorts of addictions. A number of studies show that workaholism has been associated with a wide range of health problems, such as insomnia, anxiety, and heart disease.

Besides from health problems, does being a workaholic bring negative effects?

Yes. For some people, working serves as a Band-Aid for other issues, a way to numb undesirable feelings or fill certain voids, much in the way that alcohol might do for an alcoholic or sex for a sex addict. What’s more, working too much can lead to lower job satisfaction. Comparing overworked employees to those who maintained a better work-life balance at a workplace, the ill effects are contagious.

What about the workaholicsm effects to the families?

In one study, adult children of workaholic fathers were reported that they have experienced more depression and anxiety and a weaker sense of self. That study appeared in the American Journal of Family Therapy.

What about the positive side? 

There are many positive aspects to working hard and to an increasing commitment to career. Hard work can reap great rewards, such as that they may be receiving job promotions, salary increases, and praise from their employer and colleagues. For some, it’s how they develop feelings of self worth and confidence and purpose. 

Since many workaholics often deny having a problem, what are the solutions?

It’s difficult to persuade a workaholic to change his behavior if he is not also motivated. But, if you have such a father in your life, besides you can point out the things he may be missing out on while at work, seek to understand why he feels the need to work so much and support him in finding a resolution is important. 

Based on research, cognitive-behavioral financial therapy that includes easy steps on goal setting, can develop one’s ability to derive enjoyment from work, techniques to create work-life balance, problem-solving skills, and time management. The key to healing workaholism, restoration of balance in a person’s life is critical. Taking a holistic approach to family life planning, including sleep, diet, exercise, relaxation, stress management, and spiritual activity.

Some researchers believe that rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) is appropriate for workaholism. REBT is founded on the premise that dysfunctional behavior is caused not only by environmental factors but also by irrational thinking. Take a Money Belief quiz to find out about yours. REBT can offer a promising intervention because it focuses on restructuring irrational beliefs to more functioning ones.

A fathers day greeting card. Happy father's day. workaholic father. dad

Lastly, consider these 3 simple techniques to help your workaholic father slow down and achieve a better healthy work-life balance:

1. Take a “rocking chair test.” Suggest to him, fast-forward to his retirement age sitting on your family front porch rocking in the chair. Looking back on life, where does he wish he had spent more time? – Would it be at the office? On the golf course? Or on vacation with your family?

2. Have him check in with others. Have him ask his friends and relatives to see if they think your father work too much. Workaholics are often unaware of how immersed they are in work and are not necessarily conscious of the negative emotional and physical consequences of workaholism. Be understanding, supportive, can help open his mind and heart to the feedback of those around.

3. Examine his family history around work. Workaholism is often a family phenomenon passed down from parent to child. For example, when one of my friend heard his 90-hour-a-week-working father talk about how lazy he felt compared to his father, it evoked my friend’s feelings of guilt for putting in less hours and that suddenly made a lot of sense. Seeing family pattern around work and becoming conscious of the consequences can open eyes and may help change the relationship with work.

Next. Read about What is Your “Money Script” ?and take a FREE Money Belief Quiz to find out about your relationship with money.

Book a Financial Therapy session now.

Resource: Klontz, B. T., Britt, S. L., & Archuleta, K. L. (2015). Financial Therapy Theory, Research, and Practice. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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