Here’s a big shout out to parents who work both outside and inside the home and all they contribute to our world! Read on for 3 ways we can be better working parents, friends of working parents, and adult children raised by working parents!
So excited to honor parents who singly or together work outside the home on this National Working Parents Day. We juggle so much in the course of a day or a week and often we feel unnoticed, unappreciated, down-right exhausted, and often very alone.
There’s a lot of reasons we end up being working parents. It may be to be fulfilled as individuals, to provide financially for our often-growing family, to model for our kids how to be resilient, self-confident, and self-managed adults, or a combination of all of these. Whatever the reason, here’s a few ideas for ways we can communicate who we are, better understand working parents we know, and give honor to our working parents who often sacrifice so much for us to be where we are today.
Quiet the Judge and negative comments and offer encouragement instead. In some circles, working parents, for the most part working Moms, often get a bad rap. When a parent works outside of the home or works in a demanding, high pressure position, they often struggle with negative comments and attitudes around the amount of time they spend absent from the day-to-day waking hours of their children, and the implication that this is somehow terribly bad for the children or somehow selfish on the part of the parent. Absent from classroom celebrations, forgetting to bring a snack for the class, constant reminders of what they missed or what their child didn’t have for the day, parents too often hear words that lay a guilt trip so heavy that they can’t help but feel they are always letting someone down. Moms and Dads or other co-parents often share in this equally and neither have an easy road. Both work all day, love their kids when they come home and engage with them in meaningful ways, but often still feel that they are failing because they didn’t dress their child in a red shirt that day and forgot the class snack. So, can we just tone down the chatter about things that don’t matter, (hey, that rhymed!), and focus in on two loving parents who want, and wanted to, provide a stable home for their kids. And acknowledge the efforts of your parents who both work or who worked outside of the home. I didn’t fully realize how much my working Mom taught me until she passed away. She always worked 2-3 jobs to raise four children under 6 years old when my father passed in a car accident. Sure, there were times she was distracted, but there were also many times when she made a fun home for us and taught us the value of family, and I wish I had told her I appreciated it more. Let’s start today to celebrate fiscally responsible, actively engaged, socially contributing working parents with words that lift them up, express admiration, gratitude, encouragement, kindness and love.
Lend a hand. Is there a way you can help when you see a parent overloaded with the stresses of parenting? And if you are one of those parents, can you consider partnering with another parent, equally overloaded, and share the load, trading off tasks and reminding each other of upcoming events? I’ve seen parents text reminders to each other with the goal of setting the other up to succeed. Building connection and interdependence helps make the working parent journey more fun, collaborative, and maybe even a little less lonely. And maybe a parent who works inside the home could come alongside a parent who works outside the hope and help in meaningful ways that don’t judge. Look around for partnerships that could change everything!
Get the kids involved. What better way to raise kids who are more likely to turn out to be productive members of society than to shift some age-appropriate responsibilities to them. When we teach children to spend their time preparing for the next day, making their lunches, laying out clothes to wear, and tuning in to the school calendar, it fosters independence and teaches time management. Too often I see college students on my counseling couch who feel powerless to manage their daily responsibilities because well-meaning parents never off-loaded their lives to them as middle or high school students. Let’s have faith in our children to make good decisions and teach them it’s ok to ask for advice and help, and that we are willing to teach and guide rather than just do for them. Check in with your kids regularly to see how they are doing, see if they need help with anything. Express encouragement when they do a good job and ask how confident they feel in performing the tasks they have been entrusted with. Don’t just delegate without direction. Otherwise they may feel powerless to perform. Set them up to succeed by having meaningful conversations that empower and encourage them. And you will have to grow a thicker skin because others probably will judge and that ‘s okay. They have to parent the way they feel is best just like you. Not better or worse, just different. And I get it. Sometimes it’s just necessary to do it yourself so that it gets done well (and so that you don’t feel guilty if your child doesn’t have what he needs or when you have to face the criticism from daycare or school). Be compassionate to yourself when it all goes bad. And celebrate when your kid impresses you and steps up to take care of himself or herself well. Overall, it will pay off down the road.
So, let’s join together to celebrate being raised by working parents, doing life with working parents, and being working parents. It’s worth celebrating!
Dianne Presley, LCSW
Founder and Owner
Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC