Why is dad so grumpy? When is mom going to be home? How come we don't get to ever go on a vacation? These are the types of questions, along with many others, that show your kids are taking notice that your job is having a real impact on your role as a parent. The problem is that, as a working parent, we may be oblivious to these warnings from our own children — which can have lifelong impacts. Here are six signs that may indicate you need to either look for a different job or, at a minimum, see about improving the hours you work.
It may sound obvious, but our kids have a unique ability to be both honest and loving, even in tough situations. Kids can feel when a working parent is no longer happy with what he or she is doing for work. Those feelings come in many formats and often lead to statements like, "Just go get another job if you are not happy," or "Why do you work so hard and we still can't afford anything?" As hard as that may sound, those types of comments shared with the love only a child has can unlock a better future for you.
Chaos and conflict
When a parent is unhappy with his or her employment situation, there can be a tendency for a lack of patience and understanding. Tempers can flare quickly and irrational decisions are made because of the frustration the parent feels. When this occurs there is an overabundance of chaos and conflict in the home. The result is devasting, as the home — the one place a child should be able to go for peace, comfort and safety — becomes an unwelcome environment of contention, negativity and anger. These feelings can create animosity toward loving parents trying to support their loved ones.
When your job causes you to focus more on the negative aspects of what you do, a trend of constant complaining begins. How many times have you come home and started complaining about how bad your boss is, how lazy a coworker is, how you don't get paid enough or how you wish you had a better job? It is important to remember that as a parent, we lead by example and our constant complaining will cause concern in our children. Don't be surprised if they start complaining about their homework, teachers or friends.
It is difficult working a job that doesn't allow for time with your kids or family. You continually miss games, recitals, birthday parties and special moments with your kids because of your job. There is no doubt our kids will remember this. If you see that your priorities are not aligned with your kids, and in turn there is distance in your relationships, it is a sure sign something needs to change.
Money replaces relationships
This may sound crazy, but having a lot of money can have just as negative an impact as not having a lot of it. You can become too focused on ensuring that your kids have the nicest everything — a new car when they turn 16, and whatever the hottest style is that week. You are more focused on the material side of life, and yet can be completely disconnected from what your kids may actually need. There is no price tag on the emotional relationship kids have with their parents; and if your job is causing you to buy their love, there will likely be negative results.
Our children are looking for good examples in us. If we cannot control our emotions based on our work, we need to reconsider what we are doing. It is confusing and frustrating for kids to see a parent come home from work one day super excited about what he or she is doing and how great things are going, and then depressed about how awful his or her job is the next. This emotional rollercoaster is taxing on children.
If any of these signs apply to your situation, the great thing is that you have the power to make things right. You don't have to quit your job tomorrow; but create an environment of trust and communication so that feelings can be expressed to your children with love. Job changes are never easy but they should be a family decision, or at a minimum, a family discussion. Your kids deserve the best mom or dad they can have. Your job should never stand in the way of you fulfilling your most important responsibility — being a loving parent.
Seth Saunders is an executive business consultant and leadership coach. Seth has been married 20 years to his amazing wife, Amber, and is the proud father of three wonderful sons. He is passionate about helping others succeed.