by Sue Weston

Can parenting affect your child’s success in the workforce?

Sep 03, 2019
CareersIT LeadershipWomen in IT

Parenting is difficult enough without taking the blame for your childu2019s poor choices. How can your decisions affect your childu2019s success?

working mother and child / work-life balance
Credit: Thinkstock

The author would like to dedicate this article to two strong women, Chris and Sara Leah. She hopes they are looking down, smiling.

No one ever told me how difficult being a mother was going to be, and that older children only mean bigger problems. However, the worst part is hearing “It’s all your fault” in response to my children making poor choices based on my advice and guidance.

Mother-blaming is a sport of its own, and many mothers unwittingly accept the responsibility. Moreover, the feeling of guilt and accepting blame may weigh more heavily on working, or single parents. One-quarter of mothers in the US raise their children alone and 71% of moms working outside the home. But should mothers take on the burden of blame?

It turns out there’s no reason to feel guilty!

Daughters raised by working moms are more likely to be employed as adults, supervise others and have higher incomes. Both sons and daughters of working mothers have significantly more education than children of stay-at-home mothers. Also, children of working mothers had higher grade-point averages at age 15. Based on the numbers, children of working mothers perform as well, if not better, then children raised by stay-at-home mothers. And they’re as happy as children with stay-at-home mothers.

Can a mother influence her child’s career?

One personality trait shared by mothers is the ability to take control of their life. Referred to as having an internal focus of control (IFoC) this trait correlates with children who are better at math, science and problem-solving. People with IFoC have a positive outlook toward the world.

In addition, allowing your children to fail helps them learn to develop and rely on their own judgment. Parents need to remove the negative connotation regarding mistakes. Experimentation, testing limits, and solving problems are all necessary to find new and better approaches and is highly desirable at work.

Try modeling accountability as a way to show your children that decisions have consequences. Discuss how taking a different approach could have changed the outcomes. Decision-making skills are essential for dealing with uncertainties and create a judgement-free zone for evaluating options.  

Parents set their kids up for success, and then step back

Each child has a unique personality. While you can model behaviors, they choose whether to emulate your style or approach. What works for you might not work for your child. Give them the freedom to establish their style. They need space to explore. You can be there to provide support and guidance if they ask.

While research suggests that successful people share six traits – optimism, creativity, resilience, self-control, sociability and emotional intelligence – these studies look at external personality traits. There’s a place and a successful path for everyone. Becoming our best selves requires mindfulness, the ability to show respect and to be open to different points of view. One way to teach these skills it by having frequent back-and-forth conversations. By engaging in open, honest discussions, you cultivate this communication style and build the traits necessary for future success.  

Reshape your expectations

Disregard pressure society puts on women to raise a family. While being a stay-at-home mom was the norm a generation ago, it may not be economically feasible or emotionally satisfying. No matter which path you choose, your children will still be accomplished/successful. Make the decision based on your happiness.

Many women use careers and academics as an indication of accomplishment and measure of their success. If that sounds like you, then making a sacrifice to raise a family may leave you under-stimulated and frustrated. Take the time to understand your personal needs and make a guilt-free decision. Your children and family will be better off if you are happy and well-adjusted.

As mothers, we want the absolute best for our children. Your children may still blame you when things don’t work out as expected but owning the problem and finding a solution is all part of growing up.  Be proud of your choices, own your decisions and your children will thrive…leaving you to watch of who they have become!