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bythebay's avatar

Considering going back to work; good for my kids?

Asked by bythebay (8189points) November 17th, 2008

My question is really more along the lines of: Do you think kids need a parent home with them as much when they’re teens as when they’re infants? I’ve been working from home since mine were little; if affects their life in no way at all. If I go back now, which I don’t have to, I wonder about the effects of all that time alone. They are wonderful kids, but they’re 12 & 14…on the verge of teenage insanity. I know what I did in my ‘home alone’ stage ;) Taking this job is really a just because I can scenario, I’m a little bored and volunteering is taxing and thankless in many instances. I’d like to be challenged, but I’d hate for them to feel adrift just when they might need me the most. I’d love opinions from those younger as well…

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17 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I was both in and out of the workforce during their teen years. Mine were happiest when I was home after school. It meant they could participate in more after school activities. For me, I got to know their friends, could supervise homework, take kids to the library, etc., all of that is really important to me. Kids get into the most trouble between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm.

My youngest, now 19, said that she hated it when I was working because being home with her sister was so lonely. If I could go back and do it over, I would not have worked full time when I did. I would have worked part-time and been home when they came home.

cookieman's avatar

If you can afford it, I would work part time and try to be home when they are.

You definitely need something for yourself though.

jrpowell's avatar

Being around isn’t going to really help with teenage insanity. They will still do bad stuff.

It might actually be good to give them a little freedom and focus on making the most of the time you do have together. They really don’t want to hang out with mom all day. Give them a few hours after school and they will probably be cooler with being stuck in the house at night.

They are old enough that they can pull off a few hours during the day alone. And you are going to blink and they will be in a car driving off to college. They might as well learn about having some control in baby steps instead of being plunged into to total freedom.

I say this as a kid (30 years old, but I still remember it) and not a parent.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

No, they don’t hang out with mom, but how do you get home from after school activities at 4:00 when there’s no school bus, you don’t drive and public transportation may not be an option? It means either mom has to take off of work, someone else’s mom has to bring you home, you hang out in front of school for an hour and a half until mom can come and get you after work, or you don’t participate. For mine, me working meant an end to tennis, dance and piano lessons. It meant eating junk food because they were starving at 4:30, and then not wanting dinner. It meant too much time with video games and talk show tv. It meant an end to much needed tutoring at one point.

My husband never understood the after school thing, but he always traveled for work, and never had to do any of the things that goes into managing children’s lives, like doctor visits, parent-teacher conferences, tutors, getting supplies for projects and presentations, driving to lessons.

A lot of learning takes place after 3:00.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I loved it when I was a teen and my mom was in school. It was great. She was (and still is) definitely a very involved mom in my life and that alone time was great. However, I also always stayed after school until 4 or so for Quiz Bowl practice and (this is important) was able to take the after school activities bus home. So I only had an hour or two alone at home, but it was nice. I also had to call my mom from the landline to tell her when I got home. So she had a definite way to make sure I was home. She usually called once or twice to get me to start dinner or whatever which also served to make sure I was at home, not getting into trouble.

jrpowell's avatar

Every circumstance is different. In high school I could walk home in fifteen minutes. And I knew how to make a sandwich.

This is more of a mental exercise. The kids can grow up fine without being coddled.

cak's avatar

I’m a parent of a 14yr old and a 5 yr old. I’m stuck somewhere on the fence. For now, due to illness and parenting, I will work from home – I run my own business. I do; however, miss being out in the real world. I had my own office space, I had everything in place, but I was constantly going back and forth, between work and home, it just seemed ridiculous to maintain the office space.

I’ve also worked the regular corporate job and was the parent that left to do all the driving to activities or for a sick child. Between the two, it just seemed like a lot. Also, when he (little man) was in daycare, the cost was staggering.

My daughter is ok with me being home. She’s only a freshman, though. ;) She has her freedom, she does activities and isn’t home with me, daily…but I do know what is going on – to a point, I’m sure there are the things she is closed-mouth about! I do know if she is doing her homework and I talk to her about her day, her friends and her teachers. There is part of me that is afraid that if I was to head back out, would I lose that connection? I don’t think so, but it is a fear.

I don’t think there is a perfect answer. I’m not micromanaging when I am home. I ask to see things, randomly, to see how she is doing, but I don’t hover.

For my son, I can’t imagine NOT being home. I’m in a different situation, though. With the age gap, it’s easier for me to say, “I need to be home”.

I do think, though, some people underestimate the need to be around their middle and high school kids. Like I said, I don’t hover, but somehow, they just get tossed out and are expected to handle it and be more responsible. Which they should be more responsible, but they are still teens.

It’s also a matter of money. We take a cut by the fact that I’m not out there more, but we’re doing OK. I look at paying for after school care for my son, because my daughter isn’t home everyday, and the cost kills me!

You have to do what your gut tells you to do. Everyone’s opinion is so different, it’s an important decision, but only one you can make.

funkdaddy's avatar

My brother and I were two years apart and by 12 and 14 had spent a couple years taking that time after school. We both participated in after school activities and, at least for us, there was a bus to take us home afterwards from both junior high and high school.

I think at some point the lessons you can teach your kids stop being about laying the groundwork and start being about teaching them how to operate, with you still there to guide them. Your kids are probably about there right now (just from their ages, you know them best) and would probably be proud of a little autonomy.

The only thing I would add to what’s been said already is that you could probably talk to them about it and get a pretty good read on how ready they are. If they’re going to feel abandoned or if they don’t feel ready, they’ll let you know one way or another.

lynzeut's avatar

I think for every situation there is a different answer. My father passed away when I was very young and so my mom was forced to work. I remember during my teen aged years I would tell her I was fine at home, and I didn’t need her to be home with me, but in actuality I really did need her. Not so much to supervise me but as an example, to teach me things that books couldn’t, to be there when I had an issue that needed help. I understood that my mom had to work but I still to this day feel like our relationship lacks because I never really got to know her. Sure I became a responsible person, because I was forced to do things for myself, but I wish that I could have had a mom to come home to after school. This is the reason that my husband and I have agreed that we will take any measure for me to be at home with our kids.

I really like this quote:
“No amount of success can compensate for failure in the home”. David O McKay

jca's avatar

I am 42 now. My mom was single, and when i was little my mom always worked and i missed her being home like some of my school mates’ moms. i used to wish she could come on the class trips like other kids in the class, or come to an occasional class party. when i was a teenager my mom was unemployed and going for her master’s degree, and it was good she was home watching me because i was up to no good and she tried to keep me in line. i didn’t like it, but it was good for me.

i’d say the answer is something only you can decide. maybe you need some money. maybe you should look into whatever you’re doing volunteering and not allow them to be too demanding on you (volunteering is supposed to be only as arduous as you want it to be). maybe you can work during the day and be home by the time they get home from school.

Snoopy's avatar

I have read everyone’s answers and have found them very thoughtful. One other thing I would add…as moms we have a hard time doing things for ourselves. There is constant reinforcement that we need to sacrifice for our kids. I don’t disagree w/ that….as long as mom doesn’t lose herself in the process.

One of the things that you can do for your children is to be happy and productive. You can show them that being a good mom means being good to yourself. You don’t always have to be the martyr. (I am not suggesting you or anyone else has or is doing that…I am making a generalization….)

You might be an even better mom if you can get out and get back into the workforce. You might feel even more fulfilled than you do now and, in the end, be able to give more of yourself to your kids than you already do….

There is no correct answer. Only you will ultimately be able to know what is in the best interest of you and your particular family.

gimmedat's avatar

My kids would probably tell you that both of their parents are home too much! All three kids are picked up from school (or walk with relative ease) and spend all after school on with both of us. Hubby works nights, I’m done at 3:00 P.M. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of leaving kids alone after school everyday. My kids are 15, 11, and 10 and we’ll be home for as much time as possible. Don’t get me wrong, they usually skate or play bball after school, it’s not just the five of us sitting and looking pretty, but being home is important.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I found I spent a lot of time between 3:30 and 5:30 either on the phone with the kids answering questions, or taking off because of doctor appointments, or leaving early because we had to be somewhere at 6:00 pm, or taking extra time at lunch to get school supplies, etc. Getting home at 6:00, starting dinner, having cranky kids who had stuffed themselves with snack food at 4:30, checking homework, doing laundry, etc. really didn’t create time for myself, or make the adult conversation during the day seem all that rewarding. With the type of work I do, I basically traded riding herd on children for riding herd on creatives in an ad agency. I never could stay late, so I missed all the after work conversations.

Once the oldest one turned 16, it was different, because she could drive. I guess it depends on what sort of support system you have.

bythebay's avatar

The good news is, I have a choice. The even better news is, as I contemplate my choice…I’m armed with some very thoughtful, honest,cogitative and helpful insights. Thanks a million for your words because I really do appreciate them.

YARNLADY's avatar

If you do not have to go to work to help support the family (essentials only) please do not. Your children need you more when they are teens than they did when they were younger.

bythebay's avatar

@YARNLADY: You can see that I asked this Q back in November. I did consider going back to work very seriously, but in the end decided against it. The reasons you listed were primarily the basis for my choice. You are so right; the attention and time I give them now is so much more relevant than it was when they were young. I value the time I have with them. Thanks for your thoughts!

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