Parenting Can Create Better Employees

Parenting Can Create Better Employees

shutterstock_182788922I REMEMBER the moment I realized that becoming a parent would change me as a reporter.

I was interviewing the family of a mentally handicapped young woman who was pregnant as the result of a rape in a state-run institution. At the time, I was also pregnant.

Soon the conversation turned to whether the young woman, who had the mental age of a small child, understood all that was happening to her. ”What did she do when she felt the baby kick?” I asked as my own baby did just that. It was a question I would not have thought of a year earlier, and my story was better for it.

There is a lot of talk about the complications of blending parenting with work. There is much less talk about the growth, the strength, the enrichment that come when a worker becomes a parent. Employers and employees worry that children mean less — less time, less concentration, less commitment to the job. In truth, however, having children can mean more.

Ann Crittenden explores the overlapping skill sets of parenting and work in her new book, ”If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything” (Gotham Books). ”Anyone who has learned how to comfort a troublesome toddler, soothe the feelings of a sullen teenager or manage the complex challenges of a fractious household can just as readily smooth the boss’s ruffled feathers, handle crises, juggle several urgent matters at once, motivate the team and survive the most Byzantine office intrigues,” she writes.

Ms. Crittenden — who was a New York Times reporter until her son, James, was born in 1982 — is careful to say that becoming a mother or father is not the only way to develop these skills and insights. Her point is not that parents make the best workers, but rather that parents are clearly better as workers because they are parents. It is a point that is long overdue. READ MORE