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Working Parents: Pros and Cons and How It Affects Children

There are many reasons why people have to work. The most obvious answer is money. Besides financial needs, some people need to work to support their education, hone their skills, or grow in a career they love.


Sometimes families that are struggling financially need both spouses to contribute to their household income. Or, a single parent might need to juggle their household as well as manage their job.


For parents, a nine-to-five job can mean missing out on essential childhood milestones. Working parents often worry about how their job may interfere with their child’s development. Below is a detailed overview of how having working parents can affect child development.


Working Parents: Pros And Cons
Working Parents: Pros And Cons

 

In This Article

 

How Working Parents Affect Children's Wellbeing


Working Parents affect children's development in both positive and negative ways. Let's explore both in detail below.

Advantages of Working Parents


With today’s economy, it’s not unusual for both parents to have jobs to support their family. While the idea of both parents working is usually discouraged, there are many advantages of having working parents. Having working parents can improve a child’s well-being.


Some advantages of having working parents are:

  • More income allows for better opportunities. (extracurricular activities, vacations, school clubs, transport and study programs)

  • Having stable and fulfilling jobs allows parents to spend more time with their kids.

  • Improved quality of life. (better housing, healthcare etc.)

  • Financial security. (in case of emergencies)

  • Hardworking role models. (teaching children that giving your best effort is admirable)

  • Working parents are more likely to let their children gain work experience and professional skills.

  • Working parents better understand the current work society. (transitioning between trade and professional skills, work requirements etc.) This allows them to better support their children’s journey.

  • Working parents are more likely to cherish the time they spend with their children because they know how valuable it is. (quality over quantity)

  • Working parents are more likely to understand each other’s struggles and cover for each other; teamwork (school pick and drop shifts, meals, homework check etc.)


A Mother Helping Her Daughter Study Online
A Mother Helping Her Daughter Study Online

As seen from above, it is safe to say that the main advantage of working parents is financial stability. Financial security allows for a better quality of life, which leads to the overall well-being of children.

Parents who aren’t stressing over money can take better care of a child’s mental and physical needs.

In most places, the government encourages parents to work to help better the economy. This provides more advantages to parents through programs such as maternity leave, paid leave and family support.


Most families with more than one working parent often choose to do so because of a greater financial need. It is less likely for a financially secure family to need both parents to work to support their family.




Disadvantages of Working Parents


Despite its many advantages, there are also many downsides to being a working parent (and having working parents as a kid). Being financially comfortable doesn’t always ensure that a child will be cared for. In some cases, working parents are so busy with their jobs that they begin to neglect their children altogether.


Other times the issue isn’t being a working parent but a child’s age and maturity. Many studies show that lack of proper care and attention in the early years of childhood can be detrimental to a child’s growth and development. In these situations, parents should focus more on their children until they don’t require as much attention.


Some disadvantages of having working parents are:

  • Less family time. (different schedules and work hours)

  • Lack of energy. (too tired to spend time with kids after work)

  • Physical and mental health issues.

  • Children feel unloved and distant from their parents.

  • Working parents often miss big milestones. (e.g. school events)

  • Lack of patience. (work issues can lead to parents taking out their frustration on their family)

  • Working parents may not notice warning signs of a child being bullied or having trouble at school.

  • Overly mature or self-independent children. (can’t rely on their parents for support)

  • Trouble finding childcare. (daycares, babysitters)

  • Substitute child care can be dangerous. (assault, injury, kidnapping, neglect, abuse etc.)

Son Pulling His Working Father
Son Pulling His Working Father

Work culture makes it difficult for parents to maintain a healthy balance between personal and professional life. Working parents are often unable to take care of themselves and experience extreme levels of exhaustion.


As a result, the quality of time they spend with their children and the level of care they provide may decrease as well. If working parents don’t have a strong bond with their kids, it can lead to feelings of enmity and indifference.





Common Issues With Stay-At-Home Moms



Are Stay-At-Home Moms Better For Kids?


For the most part, mothers essentially have a greater role in child upbringing in comparison to fathers simply because a child is more dependent on their mother in their early years. Right after delivery, skin-to-skin contact between the baby and mother is highly recommended because it releases a hormone known as oxytocin. This helps initiate milk flow and provides other benefits.



Then, in the next two years, children rely on their mothers for milk and nutrition. That is why it makes sense that a mother spends more time with a child than a father would.


You might notice that some newborns cry constantly until they are picked up by their mothers. This is because they feel a sense of safety and familiarity with their mothers.

Babies are usually more emotionally connected to their mothers.

However, this by no means that fathers don’t have a vital role in child upbringing. While fathers may not be able to fulfil the more evident needs of children, they are still responsible for the caretaking and development of their children.


Because the early years are key for development, parents must spend more time with their kids during those years. Therefore, it would be encouraged for mothers to stay at home with their children in the early years of childhood if they can do so financially. Fathers also need to be more involved in the early years as well.

A Mother Cooking While Husband and Son are Busy
A Mother Cooking While Husband and Son are Busy

Can You Be a Good Mom and Work Full Time?


Children require love and attention throughout their lives, even as teenagers. However, this dependency decreases as children grow up.


It is necessary to understand that working full-time doesn’t mean a child will be neglected. At the same time, being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t ensure that a child will be properly cared for.


While child development focuses primarily on attention, the quality of care deeply impacts growth as well. For example, a mother struggling with postpartum depression may be with her child all day, but unless she can provide adequate care and attention, that time will provide little benefit to the child. In some cases, it can also be damaging.


Similarly, even if parents hire a babysitter to care for their child’s physical needs, parents who work full time but are unable to spend time with their child or show up for important moments in their life will impact their child’s emotional needs.



It is safe to say that working parents don’t negatively impact child development unless parents fail to manage their responsibilities and balance their time with their children and their jobs.


With that being said, it is crucial to recognize that working mothers are expected to contribute to their families financially, as well as maintain childcare and household chores. This is not logical and puts extreme levels of stress and burden on mothers and by extension, their families.


Spouses need to communicate their needs and capabilities so that they can balance their responsibilities and work together as a team.



Extremely Important Factors To Be Understood


Different Parental Duties
Different Parental Duties

Stay-at-home Parents Need Support


Even if a working parent decides to become a stay-at-home parent, it doesn’t ensure that they will help improve their child’s development. One of the reasons why stay-at-home parents struggle to provide adequate care for their children is because they are struggling to meet their own needs.


Most stay-at-home parents are expected to complete all the household chores along with attending to the kids. This is unrealistic and unfair. In most cases, it makes sense for the stay-at-home to do a larger portion of the house chores.


However, remember that both parents are completing an equal amount of work inside and outside the house. While the division of chores depends on each family, it’s important that no spouse feels like they are carrying an unfair amount of weight in their shared responsibilities.


Furthermore, it is often believed that parents should know everything there is to know about parenting. People often forget that it’s a mother’s and father’s first time being a parent too, even with parents that have more than one child. Each pregnancy and each child is different.



Many parents struggle with hidden mental health issues (such as depression) because they aren’t expected to seek support. These issues can be connected to parenting or cause parenting problems.


Creating an understanding and caring environment can help parents feel less anxious about the responsibility on their shoulders. You can help a parent catch a break by offering to assist them with their tasks.



Giving Stay-At-Home Parents Their Due Credit


Husband Supporting His Wife
Husband Supporting His Wife

Some parents hesitate to stay home for their kids because SAHP is frowned upon. One of the reasons for this is because of grind culture.


According to Slang.net, Grind culture is the belief that people must work hard and be productive to prove their worth. It is also known as hustle culture.


Many people believe that stay-at-home parents are wasting their time and potential, or aren’t striving for ‘success’ as it’s defined by society's standards.


However, motherhood is already a job itself. A study conducted by the famous fruit snack company Welch found that moms' work weekly hours are equivalent to 2.5 jobs. Even though parenthood is a commendable and gruelling task, it is often overlooked and undermined.


Treating parenting like the job that it is not only encourages parents to do their job without guilt but also makes it easier for them to reach out for help and voice their difficulties and experiences.


Another reason why parents, especially women, hate the idea of being stay-at-home parents is because they are expected to stay confined to their homes and make their children their main goal in life.



Why Stay-At-Home Parents Still Need To Exist Beyond Their Homes


According to the American Psychological Association, working mothers feel better than stay-at-home moms. The study found that working mothers “provided more learning opportunities for toddlers than stay-at-home moms.”


While this study includes factors such as physical health, it also sheds light on the state of mind that working mothers have and how that provides a clearer sense of purpose in life.


Oftentimes, once someone becomes a parent, people stop asking about the person themselves and instead always ask about their child. It is as if a parent is expected to only exist as a parent and not as a separate individual.


However, making your children your main goal in life leads to unhealthy dependency, obsession and controlling behaviour.


To learn more about this unhealthy parenting style see:


A Son Hugging His Father While He's Working
A Son Hugging His Father While He's Working

Some stay-at-home parents spend their time scrolling through the internet or just wasting time out of boredom. While ‘doing nothing’ can help you unwind sometimes, creating a habit of not having any hobbies or goals can make you lifeless.


For this reason, it is necessary for adults, especially parents, to still make time to learn, grow and work their brains. Ceasing to strive towards beneficial goals (be it small) can make a person lose a sense of meaning and growth. We as humans depend on knowledge, interaction, fulfilment, and stimulation to function properly.


This is similar to how children are encouraged to actively participate in math class. While a child might not have to use the Pythagorean theorem in everyday life, those mental exercises improve brain health critical thinking and Pythagorean skills.


Parents who become isolated from society and don’t have some sort of healthy stimulation and driving source will begin to feel stuck and fall out of routine. They may begin to feel desensitized and experience abnormal behaviours such as sleeping a lot and losing their appetite, as well as mental health issues.



A parent’s personal growth affects the quality of time they spend with their children and how they raise their children. Being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t mean that you can’t exist outside of your home.


Adopting a part-time job or minor studies can help you remain active. This helps you live for your own life but also helps your child. For example, you will have a fresher mind and be able to help your child with school work and so on.


A Family Using Laptops
A Family Using Laptops


FAQs


Is it okay to be a stay-at-home mom?

Being a SAHM is perfectly okay. Society (and sometimes other mothers) shame or disapprove of mothers who choose to not have jobs. This is because many people don’t understand the importance of caring for children. They also don’t realize that being a SAHM takes a lot of work as well. If being a stay-at-home mom works for you and your family, don’t worry about what others may think.


What are the biggest challenges for working parents?

Working parents still have to manage child care in one way or another. They may have difficulty finding an appropriate babysitter that can cater to their child's needs. Working parents may also feel guilty for not being there for their child during big milestones. Another challenge working parents have to confront is the lack of time to spend with their children. Children need constant attention, especially when they are young. Working parents are usually always working, or are too tired to provide a fun and interactive environment for their children.


What do you say to a hard-working parent?

Working parents are rarely acknowledged for their hard work because their effort is taken as a ‘given’. However, working parents also deserve praise for upholding their responsibilities. The famous African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is very true. Although it’s a parent's duty to take care of their children and the financial needs of their family, it’s not easy to do. Parents need all the help they can get. So tell the working parents around you who feel they are never doing enough that it’s okay and that they are doing well.


Does being a working mom get easier?

Let’s face it, being a working mom or dad isn’t easy. Albeit, there will be challenges with upholding so many responsibilities and it may not seem like it right now, but once you get the hang of it and continue to strive towards a balanced routine, it will get easier to manage. If you are struggling to balance your professional and personal life, don’t be ashamed to seek support.


What percentage of families have a stay-at-home parent?

The percentage of stay-at-home parents has had a notable increase after the pandemic. From 2022-2023, the percentage of stay at home and increased from 15% to 24% in the USA, the majority being mothers. In regards to ethnic groups from around the world, there is a higher percentage of Hispanic and Asian stay-at-home parents, which also mainly consists of stay-at-home mothers. Stay-at-home parenting is becoming more popular as families try to combat long work hours and the possibility of working from home.



Summary of Working Parents: Pros and Cons and How It Affects Children


Ultimately, the decision to be a working parent or stay-at-home parent depends entirely on you and your family's situation. It also depends on your family's needs. Having working parents won’t necessarily impact child development unless parents fail to manage their responsibilities and balance their time with their children, jobs and personal lives. The same goes for stay-at-home parents.


Being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t guarantee that a child will benefit unless the parent can maintain the same balance. Both options require hard work, the proper approach and support. Once you make a decision, trust yourself and your family. Some families feel pressured to maintain an image of a ‘normal family’ because of societal expectations. However, you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you are struggling financially. Don’t be afraid to seek help within your family or through other resources.

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