So have your kids ever asked why does Mommy and Daddy go away all day? For many families having both mom and dad work is a neccesity. In these situations parenting can be a challenge. It is important to remember that just because we have children, it doesn't mean we can work to earn a living any less than before the kids arrived. Today more and more households that have children are maintained by Mothers and Fathers that who both hold full time careers. It is inevitable to have to work full time in order to make a good living for you and your children, but how do you explain to them the reason why you are gone all day? How do you keep them from feeling that you don't care enough to be at home all of the time?
Children need as much freedom from you as you need from them, but they are entitled to a sincere explanation when you leave them, particularly when they are very young in life. Like most people, you may have a job that requires you to be gone from your children for long periods of time. Your job should never be a source of guilt on your part. But do try to explain to your children, as sincere as you possibly can, just why you have to go away and leave them with a babysitter or at day care.
For example, the next time your child asks you about your time away from them each day then you may say something like:
“Mommy has to go to a place to work so that I can bring home all of the money to pay for all of the things that we have. Remember that good dinner that we have every night? Well Mommy's work gave me the money for that. Watching your cartoons is fun right? Well Mommy goes to work so that we can have money to turn the television on with electricity. I also like to work and be with my friends, just like you have fun with your friends. And I think about you all day too, while I am with my friends at work, until I get home to make dinner.”
Whatever the truth is for you within your own specific circumstances, your children are entitled to an honest explanation of why you leave them each day. Many parents tell their children that they go away to work because they want to, or because they have to. These answers are vague and do not do anything at all to help you child understand why you are not there with them. Be honest, but let them know why you are leaving them.
When you are constantly leaving home without any understandable explanation for your kids, then you are teaching them that they really do not count as total human beings. You are showing them that you demand explanations from them, yet never offer one yourself. Let them know without guilt that they do count and that you do appreciate their feelings and their concern for you not being around all day when working.
Probably the most important thing for a working parent to do is make sure the time spent with our children is "high" quality time. We need to fully engage them and connect with them when we are around, especially in the early years when they are learning and modeling their behaviors. We need to make sure they feel loved, secure and safe. Just because we may not be able to be with them all the time does not mean we don't love them. We know that, but for a young mind that may be hard to understand.
So what do I mean by "high" quality time? That could be an article in itself. High quality time is where you start to build deep bonds with your child. It is funny how we play with our kids when they are babies, how silly we are with them, but as they start to reach their toddler years we become less silly and less physical and less playful. I know that is not true for everyone, but for many it is, especially with working parents who may be totally exhausted at the end of the day. But I will tell you what, playing, laughing, getting physical (in a positive loving way), and connecting with your child will not only build deeper stronger bonds, but will also help re-energize you. It is about the best stress reliever I can think of and if you have a stressful job or life, playing with your children can help you forget all your worries and be there for your child. After all, as parents we are the most important people in our childrens lives, we are their role models. If you think about that its the biggest responsibility we have. This high quality time is an investment that will be time well spent as you build a loving and trusting relationship with your child.