Recently I was asked about the changes I have seen in parenting education over my 30+ years in speaking to parents.
My response was that while children’s developmental needs have not changed, the culture in which they are being raised has shifted.
There is the question of technology, the considerations of safety and the reality of dual income families. It’s the latter that’s on my agenda for this posting.
Unlike past generations today’s parents are not hanging out in the community, they are in the workplace. And the primary goal of any workplace is productivity from the employees.
There was a time when we suggested that parents should leave all their considerations about their children at home as soon as they came to work. It didn’t work.
No matter what, parenting is a 24/7 concern.
But, a parent who has a parenting plan is in control of their child raising responsibilities and has the skills and information they need to facilitate this job will simply do better at work. So let’s take a look and work-life programs and parent needs.
What’s Missing in Work-life Balance Programs?
There are books, articles, workshops and coaches all focused on work/life balance. It’s a huge and important topic, but at some level essentially flawed.
Generally the work-life material that I have seen looks at topics such as simplifying, prioritizing, organizing and self-care. These are all important considerations for those fighting the home and work battle. The days of believing that Moms could do it all, be it all and have it all are dead. Thank goodness! So what’s the problem?
Today Mom and Dad are increasingly parenting children while each holds down a salaried position. In the past we determined that parenting and parenting materials were primarily for women. That’s not so today as we are seeing increasing numbers of young Dads actively raising kids.
Parenting is a career. Each parent has a paid job of some sort and they also parent. They are both dual career people. Parenting is a career and one for which we need training.
We can organize our lives, delegate tasks, outsource some chores and make sure to have some time to look after ourselves but if we only have training for our salaried job and not for the unpaid parenting job, we’re lost. If you went to work and tried to figure out how to do your job by trial and error drawing on your life experiences how well do you think it would go?
You can’t balance two jobs if you’re only trained for one of them. When workplace wellness includes support for parents, the employees function better. Programs such as part-time, flextime and tele-commuting are beneficial for parents. They offer a way to balance time, but not how to raise kids. That requires training for the job.
Parenting workshops, articles, tips and email support are some of the ways the workplace can recognize the importance of the child-raising job held by many of their employees. The more these parents know about how to do their job and also achieve success at home, the more effective they will be in the workplace.
With skills and strategies for effective child-raising they can get organized, can delegate tasks at home which are developmentally appropriate and relax knowing that for the most part they have a handle on both their jobs, at work and at home. And then we see a chance to balance work and family.
What Can it Look Like?
Balancing work and family programs help employees set priorities, plan realistically and choose the programs that work for them. The response by many leaders in the workplace was the development of workshops on topics such as time management, nutrition and parenting.
These represent a recognition that training and information need to be partnered with other programs to make a work/life balance possible.
Parenting workshops and support seem to be difficult to implement. Although we know that child-raising is the most important job in the world, we are still unclear on the concept that like any other career, parenting is one for which we need training.
More importantly, when parents know about child development, when they have a handle on child discipline, when they are comfortable communicating with their kids, they are better employees. They arrive in the morning calm and ready to work, their work time is productive, and they are comfortable and happy in their role as parent and thus can focus on their paid employment.
Today’s young professionals have decided that they will work hard but they will also have a life. They are insisting that their benefits programs include recognition that they have a full life outside of the workplace. And the workplace that honours that will find that they can recruit the best people, that they will see an increase in employee retention and loyalty and that their employees will have fewer sick days, be focused on their job while at work and will suffer less stress and anxiety.
And what do parents think about workplace-based programs. When I was leading a workshop in one workplace the participants told me they brag to their friends about how their employer treats them. They truly appreciate the support they get as parents and therefore, are loyal and production workers.
After one workshop, I received this email:
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that the parenting seminar was fantastic. Other attendees agreed as well. I thought the things she went over…really built my confidence in terms of managing difficult situations/people/family. Loved it
Raising kids is one of the greatest challenges for those trying to achieve a balance between home and work. The workplaces that recognize that will be the winners, as will their employees and the next generation of workers, their children.
Does your workplace honour your role as a parent? If they do, how do you respond?