Can kids be happy when both parents work?

Posted July 28

Dual-earning families have the financial advantage - but how do their kids see it? In this age where both parents are usually working longer hours, can children still grow up happily? (Deseret Photo)

According to a 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), among 60.6 percent of married families both parents are working. Despite this, the number of married women in the labor force is still low. In the study, mothers with younger children (below six years old) have lower participation rate in the job market than those with older kids (between six to 17 years of age). Meanwhile, the employment rate of married fathers continues to remain high.

It’s no longer surprising that many parents both choose to take on jobs - even if one of them is already earning enough to sustain a good life. Dual-earning families may be argued as having more financial capability, but the challenges they face are real. Those with children find that the stress is oftentimes overwhelming, whereas the kids also suffer from lack of time and personal connection with parents.

But is this truly the case? How do kids today deal when both of their parents are working?

Busy parents: the downside

In a post from the American Academy of Pediatrics, they enumerate the pros and cons of having both couples in the workforce.

One of the biggest downsides to a good career is, unfortunately, less time for the children.

Regardless of the industry, the schedule of busy parents typically include: meetings, overtimes and business travel. This doesn’t include other time-consuming tasks such as household chores and errands. Then there are social events like friends and dates with your partner.

If parents are overworked, underappreciated, or are experiencing other issues in their workplace, this has the tendency to be carried at home as well. Thus, some individuals may find themselves venting their frustrations on their kids or to their partners.

Bottled up emotions tend to manifest themselves as anger. A child raised in an angry or highly tense environment has the likelihood of imitating these behaviors outside of the home. According to Ernesto Segismundo, M.S., Licensed MFT, some kids even develop depression or resort to vices (i.e. alcohol or drugs) if raised by constantly angry parents.

The stress of the workplace combined with the pressures of the household will eventually spiral into an unhappy home. And who would want to live there? Exchanging expensive gifts for affection is not a good idea either. This is common practice nowadays because many parents work long hours. They don’t want their children to feel left behind by peers who have the latest ‘toys.’ They also see it as a way to treat their kids. But children still want to know about YOU. Buying your kids’ love is not going to make up for lost time or connection.

Busy parents: the bright side

Thankfully, it’s not all an unhappy picture. Working couples need not feel guilty about having a career or being busy at work. As long as children don’t feel neglected and there’s open communication, families can remain happy and healthy.

One of the best things about having both parents working is that they become positive examples for their kids. They will see the value of hard work early on. This is especially true for female kids growing up with working moms. They won’t feel threatened by the workplace; and instead, see this as a world of abundant opportunity and growth. Kids actually feel proud of their parents for having successful careers.

Busy moms and dads also have the chance to teach kids the unique skills they employ at their jobs. For instance, parents whose work involves administration can help kids be more organized at home or at school. On the other hand, those in more creative industries can teach kids the concept of imagination and inspiration. These skills should aid them later on in life and at work.

If parents are social at work, they can form friendships with like-minded adults who have children as well. This can lead to playdates or special events, which can widen the kids’ social experiences. By meeting different people from different age groups (and also in their own age bracket), children can learn more about themselves and the world. This should prepare them for more social interactions in the future.

What kids really want

It’s not a sin for parents to do well in their jobs. In fact, it can reflect positively on the children – as long as there’s balance between quality time and communication.

What children are mostly concerned about is when their parents become overwhelmed and stressed out. Remember: YOU are their role model. It’s important for little ones to see the value of hard work, but at the same time, understand that there’s more to life than a paycheck.

Be creative when it comes to finding time with your kids. Here are some examples of what parents can do:

  • Some parents wake up their families ahead of schedule to eat breakfast together before a hectic day begins.
  • After-dinner rituals like board games or movie night can be established, too.
  • Weekends can be reserved for family get-togethers or mini-staycations.
What matters most is that children know they are still loved and appreciated. Kids today understand that times are tough – but they shouldn’t have to compete for your attention. It’s going to be difficult: but nothing worth having was ever easy. Make time for your family as much as you have time for your job. Your efforts will eventually be rewarded when you see your kids grow up to be well-rounded, successful adults.

Cris Antonio is the Chief Editor of She’s currently focused on helping healthcare workers find better career opportunities through Cris also enjoys painting, collecting toys, and reading German novels.


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