Working Parents and raising respectful, well adjusted children
The other day, a long time former classmate of mine posted a status on Facebook regarding an issue she had been facing for a short time recently. She expressed concern over the problem of having to spend such long hours at work and felt guilty that she wasn't spending enough time with her children; especially since they too had recently expressed that same sentiment, that she works too much. This caused her to feel perplexed as to what she should do about the issue, since she has no choice but to work outside the home. This issue occurs quite often and it matters not whether you are a single parent or a two-parent family, no matter what dynamic your family unit looks like, in today's world, it is the rule, not the exception. If recent studies are any indication as to the trend of dual-income families or even that of single parents working full time outside of the home; that percentage can run anywhere from 50-60% of homes with children (Catalyst.org, 2012).
First and foremost, one of the key things for any parent to know is that they are doing their best in the circumstances they are dealing with; this one concept can make the difference between a parent feeling 'defeated' or being successful and continuing to do what is necessary. Being judged, especially harshly really never accomplishes anything and does not encourage the individual to keep trying. Generally speaking, it would work in quite the opposite sentiment and might detrimentally cause more harm than good. As a Life Coach, and in many situations I encounter with parents trying to achieve better life goals for themselves as well as their families in their overall 'health', this is one of the first things I try to help them see, no matter what the circumstances are, being encouraging of the positive things they are already doing will definitely boost their energy and personal resolve that they are doing their best, no matter how small of an impact that 'best' may seem at the time.
What can you do?
There were many friends of this former classmate of mine that posted many ideas and suggestions for her to contemplate or try. The consensus first off was that due to her situation, she indeed is doing her best and indeed she is doing a fairly decent job at raising her children. Most felt that her children know they are loved, which is one of the fundamental and important things to maintain as a parent.
So then the main ideas that were posted by several of this classmates friends (including myself) agreed with much of the literature on the topic. An article written by Abdullah (2014) addressing the topic of spending time together as a working parent covered three important topics; the first was to be mentally with your child when in their presence and conversing with them. The second was to do one educational activity with your child such as helping with homework, especially those subjects that are particularly difficult for your child/children; this instills a better confidence in them as they work through these difficult subjects if they know they have support when they need it, no matter how brief it is. The third concept mentioned in the article was to do one fun activity with your children, this solidifies bonds and shows them that you are willing to sacrifice a small amount of your personal time to spend with them to have fun (Abdullah, 2014).
One of the suggestions for 'quality time' was to schedule specific 'date nights' with each child so that the time is spent with just that child and no other distractions would occur to derail the time together. Another suggestion offered was to ensure that open communication was always priority despite the circumstances. With that as a constant, it instill's confidence in the children to feel they can go to the parent with any issue or problem and not fear punishment or retribution for 'bothering' the parent with extemporaneous topics not related to the parent them self. The importance of showing by example that listening to one another no matter how busy we get shows the other person that we value each other as human beings, and that their life 'stuff' is just as important as our own. That concept will be carried through with that child as they grown and become adults themselves and do likewise to those around them in their own families as well as the workplace or other social circumstances.
So finally, with some suggestions at your ready, and armed with some knowledge on what the trends are for working parents, you can adjust accordingly to how you feel you would like to see occur. Do you feel you are spending enough time with your children in relationship to how much you work during the day or night? How are your children's attitudes toward various aspects of life or in various situations? These are great ways to measure how your family dynamics measure up to your personal expectations. Something else that can be tried is to hold family meetings where everyone has the opportunity to voice their thoughts and feelings on how things are going currently, without the fear of being judged or their feelings being invalidated from someone else. Keeping the lines of communication open amongst all family members is important to maintain as close to balance as humanly possible in each family's situation and circumstances. It also encourages confidence in the children's self-esteem when they feel their family will always love, support and listen to what they have to say; which in turn will create a situation where any time spent apart, for work will allow them the opportunity to put into action any concepts they have learned by example.
Abdullah, A. (2014). Spending Quality Time with Our Children: How to be an effective working parent. His.edu.my. Retrieved 26 July 2014, from http://www.his.edu.my/education-and-parenting-ideas/324-spending-quality-time-with-our-children-how-to-be-an-effective-working-parent.html
Catalyst.org,. (2012). Knowledge Center | Catalyst.org. Retrieved 26 July 2014, from http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/working-parents
Forum, F. (2013). Minute Meditation:Prayer For Working Parents. Elev8. Retrieved 26 July 2014, from http://elev8.com/576304/minute-meditationprayer-for-working-parents-2/
Theparentszone.com,. (2014). Managing Your Busy Schedule As A Working parent! : Parenting Tips and Advice. Retrieved 26 July 2014, from http://www.theparentszone.com/working-parents/managing-your-busy-schedule-as-a-working-parent/