Most working moms agree that we work to meet the needs of our families. We might do it for financial security, health benefits and for other reasons. But even those of us who love our jobs sometimes struggle to find the balance between work and life and, yes, we sometimes feel guilty about the time we spend away from our children. Working mothers, listen up! Your career could actually be good for your kids.
(Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting that being a stay-at-home mom is detrimental to your children. There are many positives to that arrangement. Stay-at-home moms, I appreciate you, too, and I know that you impact your children in many positive ways, but for this article I'm going to focus on mothers who work outside the home.)
For starters, we’re teaching our kids responsibility. In our family we talk about work in a positive way and our daughter thinks having a job is really cool. She often asks if she can come to work with us. We tell her that her job is going to school and she loves the idea of having her own job.
Kids learn responsibility outside the home as well as inside the home. Social psychologist Susan Newman, PhD has done extensive research on the subject of parenting and family issues. She told me, “Being a working mother is an opportunity to give children more responsibility to help with chores, to monitor their own schoolwork and activities, in essence to be more responsible for themselves.”
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We work to make money, right? Even at a young age, kids make the connection between work and money; and money and having stuff. Dr. Newman says, “The earning power you amass allows you to give your child necessities as well as ‘extras,’ and is a lesson in what hard work can accomplish.”
Single, working mom Maurene Arbisi says, “My son has become aware of the benefits of having a college education, budgeting one's finances, and the security that working provides. I have tried to explain to him how my job pays for the things that we have, from the mortgage to the latest video game.”
"They learn to be conscious about the value of money and conservative about their requests, as well as appreciative and grateful for what they have," says mother, author and speaker, Elayna Fernandez.
Business owner and working mom, Brandi Greygor says, “As a professional woman, my children are exposed to a different side of mommy when I'm dressed up and presenting myself to the world as a business woman and business owner. Particularly for my young daughter, the impact is great because she sees a strong, confident role model.”
Dr. Newman agrees, adding, “As a working mother you are a role model for your children, especially for daughters. Mom working often inspires daughters to work harder and in some instances, reflects the possibilities for women today.”
The moms I talked to also say their kids have learned about gender equality. Melissa Veselovsky says, “My husband has had to increase his household and child care responsibilities and they see how nurturing and loving dad can be, too.”
Attorney and mom Lauren Bloom says, “They've watched my significant other and me work as real partners, each contributing what we can to keeping our household running smoothly without worrying about traditional gender roles.”
Are there drawbacks to working outside of the home? Yes. But does it actually harm your kids? Pediatrician Michelle Terry, MD tells me that there’s no evidence supporting that idea. Dr. Terry says, “The facts are that a child’s development is influenced more by the emotional health of the family, and the availability of appropriate child care. Children who receive lots of love and attention will thrive regardless of whether the mother works outside the home. “
Does it sound like I’m writing this to justify what I do? Maybe. I love my job and I love my family. It’s reassuring to know that the two don’t have to conflict with one another.
How do you think being a working mom positively affects your children and family? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.