I hate to give Sean Penn any benefit of the doubt so when he decided to pull out of two high profile projects to spend time with his family, I have serious doubts. He hasn't cared about his wife for years and years so why should he start now? He filmed movie after movie for years and never seemed to care what it was doing to his kids so why now? I will admit that pulling out of The Three Stooges is big. I still probably won't see it, but there was no way I was going to see it if he was in it. Anyway, I don't think this has anything to do directly with family. There are ways to work and still be with your family. He can have them with him the whole time, he can spend the night with his wife instead of Mel Gibson's Russian castoffs. Or is that the other way around? Yeah, I think Mel was probably taking from Sean and not the other way around.
What would everyone think of the idea that perhaps Sean needed some time to deal with other issues. Perhaps there is a little drinking or substance abuse problem? That could explain the lengthy absence. He knows he won't get better without a break from acting and so this would be a good time for that. And if he did have a problem and did get better than maybe the relationship with his wife and family would be better as a result. Therefore if you say you are pulling out of movies to focus on your family, it is true in a very round about intervention-esque kind of way.