5 Reasons Your Kids Will Be OK Even If You Both Work

5 Reasons Your Kids Will Be OK Even If You Both Work

How does it affect kids to have two working parents? Experts weigh in.

By: Laurie Sue Brockway

Many parents don’t have a choice about whether they both work outside the home. But is it as terrible for our kids as we may think? You’ll be relieved to know that with a little planning -- and a lot of effort to be there for them when you are together -- your children will survive quite well. It may even make family time richer.

“In general, children of working parents grow up fine,” says Noam Shpancer, PhD, a professor of psychology at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and a practicing clinical psychologist. Shpancer points out that providing an overall positive home environment is more important than whether both parents work. “The latest research suggests that children who grow up loved -- in an environment that is safe, stable, supportive, and stimulating -- tend to do better than children who grow up unloved, in dangerous, chaotic, punitive, and dull environments,” he says. “Parents, and society, can help children thrive to the extent that they make it a priority to help provide children with the positive environment and positive relationships they need.”

Experts say our guilt about spending less time with our kids may be worse than the actual effect on them. Here are ways it can be good for your family.

1. Healthy role model. Having two hardworking parents can instill a good work ethic, as well as the idea that Mom and Dad share the household responsibilities. “It can provide children with healthy models, that both parents can have careers and can do work in the home as well,” says psychologist Jesse D. Matthews, PsyD. “This type of arrangement in a family can provide children with a more egalitarian perspective than they may get in other families.”

2. Quality time is sweeter . Less time to spare can make family time a more valued experience for all. “When parents are good at maintaining balance between work and family, the time they do spend with their children, or as a family, can be richer,” says Matthews. “These parents may make an extra effort to have quality time with their children, or to ensure that time spent together is enjoyable.”

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3. Helps foster independence. Work commitments often make it significantly harder to do everything for our kids -- and that helps them grow. “Personally, I have had the experience of being both a stay-at-home parent, and a working parent,” says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, ACC. “I often say that the best gift I ever gave my children was going back to work. It has forced all of us to foster independence in my kids, rather than hovering around them.”

4. Parents share child care duties . With two working parents, you often have to alternate participation in the big events. “[My children] understand that sometimes it will be Mommy who comes to the school play or a parent teacher meeting, and sometimes it will be Daddy -- rarely both,” says Taylor-Klaus. “But they also know that whichever parent is unable to attend is sad about that and will want to hear all about it and see photos and videos, where relevant.”

5. Parents can really be there. Being present while with your children is the most important quality dual working couples need to bring. “What's most important regarding time is being mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically present with your kids, not just putting in face time,” says Sherlyn Pang Luedtke, a parent educator and certified trainer and life coach. “Put the devices down. Ask engaging questions. Listen to words, tone, and body language to understand your child's experience. See life from their eyes without judgment. Play. When you are fully present with them, they feel it, and it means much more than when you are with them but distracted.”


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Shpancer suggests focusing on cultivating a warm relationship with your kids rather than dwelling on what you think may be lacking in your relationship with them. With both parents working, it may not be ideal, but being short one paycheck is no picnic either.

“Generally, competent parenting does not require that parents become perfect human beings, obtain advanced degrees in childhood education, sacrifice their own lives for the child, or live with constant guilt and anxiety,” he says. “Get to know your child. Love your child. And provide the supportive environment within which they can safely grow, explore, and find their own path.”

If both you and your mate work, how do you spend special family time together?

Laurie Sue Brockway is a journalist and author who has written extensively on love, marriage, parenting, well-being, and emotional health. Her work has appeared in hundreds of print and online publications, including Everyday Health and The Huffington Post.

Image ©iStock.com/Blend_Images

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