Working parents

Economic necessity created by the current high rentals and mortgages, zero-hour contracts, or wages lower than the living wage makes it almost certain that all the adults in a household will be working outside the home.

This can pose all sorts of problems for parents and create a lot of guilt as well.

Earl Grollman and Gerri Sweder are two American writers I've quoted in the past.

While researching the dilemmas facing working parents, they decided to find out from children what their thoughts were.

From their interviews they developed eight key points.

Here are the first four:

Try not to come home grumpy.

More than a third of the children described their parents as being in a bad mood when they arrived home.

''They yell at us for the littlest things.''

It's possible your youngster has also had a bad day and might need to talk. Your attention will certainly be demanded and needed, bad day or otherwise.

Take a few minutes of ''your time'' to unwind and sort out your feelings before changing into Mum or Dad and giving them ''their time''.

Don't overwork.

Many children believe that their parents value their job more than they do them.

They come to resent the hours their parents spend away from home, which, for younger children, can be from breakfast to well after their bedtime.

''Everyone thinks my Mom's terrific because she's smart and works hard and is famous. She has time to travel everywhere giving talks. The only person she doesn't have time for is me.''

The workday is a lot longer for a child than it is for an adult.

They often have so much to talk about and share with you.

Worse still can be when parents are home but working.

Does ''Don't bother me'', ''Can't you see I'm busy'' or ''What do you want now?'' sound familiar?

Discuss your work.

Better still let them see where you work and what you do.

At least when you are away they can feel comfortable about where you are and what you are doing.

There is security in that and in being able to put into words what Mummy or Daddy are doing.

As they grow older they can also learn about the world of work: duties, frustrations, rewards and satisfactions.

Avoid going out too often.

''On Mondays, my parents play squash. Most Wednesdays or Thursdays, they both have meetings. Then they go out almost every weekend. I think they'd rather be out than be home with us.''

Even in their early teens children can still feel abandoned. What is an hour or two for us is a long time, even for a 13-year-old.

- Ian Munro 

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