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How working parents fail at home and at work

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Today’s story will be of particular interest to parents – or couples eager to start a family – where both want to continue working.

Anyone who has found themselves in this situation now, or in the past, knows how juggling it can be. Some couples manage to do things right intuitively, without a guide. But in my 30 years of “residency” in a divorce court, I have seen far too many families torn apart by failure to systematically organize their lives.

Seeing this, over and over again, I looked for a guide – something that presented a topic-by-topic approach to managing home and work, of all the things we deal with when two become three or four or more.

I just found this guide.

He is Workparent: The Complete Guide to Success at Work, Staying True to Yourself, and Raising Happy Children, by Daisy Dowling.

Recently I had the most interesting conversation with Dowling, and we looked at what couples do. wrong that threaten the stability of their marriage, the well-being of their children and their professional trajectory.

1. Have no vision of where you are headed or want to go as a working parent.

Consequences: Not knowing where your job is taking you undermines your motivation. So many parents are overwhelmed with work responsibilities, long hours, and the sheer number of things that land on their plates every day – like running on a treadmill – without a stop switch. It’s because all they’re looking at is today.

2. Blurring the lines between professional and parental responsibilities.

Consequences: Feeling that you need to keep an eye on your workplace messages during family dinner and that you should care about the kids while you are in front of your computer at work, you are not going to perform as well, you will burn yourself out and you will have no sense of control over either sphere.

3. Try to do everything yourself. Do not delegate or ask for help at work. Don’t get as much help as you need at home. Avoid connecting with other working parents who can give you advice and support.

Consequences: Taking the same approach you had before you had a child – always working harder and just trying to get through it – will fail you and lead to burnout. You don’t have to solve everything yourself. Other working parents will be happy to give their opinion.

4. Suppose other people are farsighted: your boss knows your parenting responsibilities and your spouse or caregiver knows your deadlines and when projects are due at work.

Consequences: People will make assumptions or judgments about how you behave and about the help and support they think you need. This leads to insufficient support and misunderstanding. Keeping your employer, family, or friends in the dark isn’t fair to anyone, especially yourself.

5. Neglect your own career management. Don’t keep an eye out for the next possible promotion, the new role, building your network, crediting your good accomplishments, and continuing to develop your own skills.

Consequences: Your prospects will be limited if you don’t act like your own career advocate. Improve your own worth for your employer – and your family – in small steps.

6. Not getting ahead of daily logistics, including food, homework, housework, and transportation: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Working Parents. Get home at 6 a.m. and plan to eat dinner while your kids and spouse are hungry and irritable. Laundry can go missing for weeks, and your messy house is filled with sad people.

Consequences: These little chores can add up and overwhelm any working parent. They can leave you feeling defeated. So, have a weekly plan for all of those seemingly minor tasks – which really aren’t that minor after all. Delegate what you can. If your children are old enough, ask for their help. Make it clear to your spouse the types of help you need.

7. Never take time off! Convince yourself that if you stop working for even a day, this disaster will ensue. Consider yourself indispensable.

Consequences: Burnout. Difficulty giving birth at work or being the parent you want to be. Huge personal frustration. Many indispensable people try to change jobs for relief and cannot find it because their state of mind does not change.

Dowling concluded our conversation by asking parents to: “Take a deep look at the future of your children – 25 years from now – when they are working adults with their own children. Today set a positive example. We owe it to our children to give them a good role model for the future.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield, California, and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which can be faxed to 661-323-7993, or emailed to [email protected] And don’t forget to visit

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