For all those women out there who feel guilty about going to work rather than being with their children, I say “Forget about it!”. The kids don’t need you around all of the time – it’s not good for them and it’s not good for you. Of course they do need guidance and supervision, but they also need their own space in order to develop as independent and confident individuals. The media has brainwashed us into thinking that we should feel guilty about leaving our children in anyone else’s care. I just don’t buy it!
So what’s the cure for the guilt trip. First and foremost, put your logical hat on when thinking about this issue. I can assure you that if you manage your personal life as well as you manage your professional lives, your kids will be fine. If you’re happy in your profession and therefore feel energized in your work environment, you are infusing your home with energy and enthusiasm. When you’re motivated, you can motivate others – i.e. help your kids on that school project, encourage them to finish their homework to the best of their ability, etc.
Second, remember that your relationship with your kids lasts a lifetime – it goes way beyond the toddler years and pre-school. Many professional women I speak to who suffer from the guilt trip tell me that thinking about their children within a longer term perspective gives them comfort. My two older kids are now 21 and 23 and I am enjoying a relationship that would be unimaginable had I not pursued a full-on career. I am able to coach them on their job search, critique their resumes, and add pizzazz to their cover letters. And best of all, they appreciate it and actively seek out my advice!
Do I wish I could have been to more hockey or rugby matches? Yes, of course, but it’s the limitation of being human – you can’t be everywhere at the same time and that’s not your fault. Being a good parent isn’t just about being there – it’s about being there, being happy to be there, and having the knowledge and skill set to support, love, encourage and motivate. My career has made me a better mother. By you reaching for the stars you are encouraging your kids to also reach for the stars. Don’t worry – the kids will be all right. Better yet, the kids will develop into mature, responsible, loving adults because that’s what you’ve taught them by your words and your actions.