Ask kids what they want, and it may surprise you. It surprised Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute and author of "Ask the Children." More than half of the parents whom she interviewed for the book, 56% of them, guessed that when kids were asked what they would wish for if they could change anything about their parents' work lives, the kids would wish for more time with mom and dad. In fact, only 10% of the kids actually wished for more time with mom, and 15% wished for more time with dad.
Instead, 34% of kids wished their mothers, and 28% of kids wished their fathers, were less stressed out and tired. "Does this finding mean that children do not care about time?" she writes in the current issue of The American Psychoanalyst, with a special section on working parents and their children. "No. Children care about parents being less stressed because they do care about the time spent together." She talked to children in third through 12th grades, and those with working moms rated them as highly on parenting skills as those with stay-at-home moms.
Other articles in the issue include a discussion by Dr. Leon Hoffman, director of the Pacella Parent Child Center, of the near-universal feelings of ambivalence that working mothers feel. "Many mothers, while at work, wish they were home with their children, and while at home, wish they were back at work," he writes.
Ah, yes, those tugs and pulls. But knowing that the kids are happy with a little bit less of us, so long as we're relaxed and rested, can only help.
Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times