A Family Sabbatical Showed Me What Fatherhood Should Be

A Family Sabbatical Showed Me What Fatherhood Should Be By  for Casey Research

Editor’s note: Today, we’re handing the reins to our colleague Tom Dyson.

Tom got our attention when we heard he likes to go “all in” on his favorite ideas. And it’s paid off… like when he bought bitcoin back in 2011 for under $10 (it’s trading around $9,500 at writing). And now, he’s betting his life savings on the gold bull market.

But about two years ago, he made his boldest decision yet. He and his family left their life in the States behind and hit the road for a trip around the globe.

As Tom will tell you below, it was a life-changing experience… but it was about more than just seeing the world…


By Tom Dyson, editor, Postcards From the Fringe

I used to dread Friday afternoons. That’s when my ex-wife, Kate, would drop off the kids at my apartment for their scheduled weekend with Dad.

Once I had them, I’d watch the clock the whole weekend until I could get rid of them again on Monday morning. If I returned them to Kate without anyone getting hurt, I considered the weekend a success.

I’d give them each an iPad on Friday night. They’d have unlimited screen time in my apartment until Monday morning.

I’m not proud to say this, but I was a babysitter, not a father.

It wasn’t any different before, either, when Kate and I were married. I was so stressed about work, I was never mentally present. Even on the weekends, when I didn’t have work, I’d be in my own little world, either fiddling with my phone or watching television while Kate played with the kids.

“Having kids was supposed to be the greatest joy in life,” I thought. “So why does it feel like such a chore?”

I now realize I had no connection with my children. No wonder I felt like a babysitter…

Fast-forward two years. We get up together. We eat together. We brush our teeth together. We play together. We travel together. We sleep together. We’ve done tourist stuff together, and we’ve shared A LOT of cramped hotel rooms together. We spend ALL our time together.

Most importantly, when we were on the road, there was no work stress or any other drama going on in the background. Just day after day of fun and adventure. “The Endless Vacation,” we called it.

Here we are in Egypt, with the Sphinx behind us…


Checking out the Great Sphinx of Giza

And here we are walking around Xi’an, China (we stayed in an old army barracks that’s over 1,000 years old)…


With Dusty (11), Miles (9), and Penny (7) in Xi’an

At first, we found it exhausting to be in such close proximity. I wasn’t used to it. I don’t think any of us were. There was a brief adjustment period.

Then one day, I noticed we were laughing almost the whole time. We were playing together. We were telling jokes. And stories. The kids were making fun of Dad. We were playing card games. We were even having long conversations about economics!

I realized this was how fatherhood should be!

As the trip went on, I started to notice little things about the kids I’d never noticed before… and I started to see how different they were from each other. I don’t think this would have been possible without living every day for an entire year in each other’s pockets.

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