6 Ways Having a Family Boosts Your Career

By Brittany Lyte on 3 August 2015 0 comments

Working full-time while raising a family can be taxing. According to Families and Work Institute's National Study of the Changing Workforce, 67% of employed parents say they don't have enough time with their kids and 63% of married workers say they don't have enough time with their spouse.

But don't go choosing between career and family just yet. The data suggests you really can have it all. And, in fact, one can very well complement the other.

1. Family Boosts Productivity

Women with more children are more productive at work. Chalk it up to all that supermom multitasking, such as firing off emails while breastfeeding and baking a casserole for lunch. At any rate, mothers with at least two kids are most productive of all, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which found that over the course of a 30-year career, mothers outperform women without children. The correlation between number of children and on-the-job productivity is true for men, too. But it's even more pronounced in women. Sarah Palin, a mother of five who was the ninth governor of Alaska until she became and the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 Presidential election, is a great example.

Author Anne-Marie Slaughter puts it this way: "Believe it or not, we will actually be better and happier workers if we are allowed to be better parents."

2. You'll Be Happier and Healthier

Mothers with jobs tend to be happier and healthier than moms who stay at home during their children's infancy and preschool years, according to a new study by the American Psychological Association. This conclusion is based on interviews with 1,364 mothers shortly after their child's birth and subsequent interviews and observations spanning more than 10 years.

3. Parents Make Better Managers

Parents tend to perform better in the workplace, especially in managerial roles, because they know how to multitask, cope with stress, and negotiate, according to research from Clark University and the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. That's because parenting skills and management skills overlap.

"Having kids forces you to learn how to make compromises, and to listen, and to try and support them to be better," says Steve Tirado, chief executive of semiconductor firm Silicon Image, who has four daughters between the ages of 19 and 24. Of course, just having kids won't make you a better manager, the study found. But being actively involved in raising them will.

4. Your Kids Will Be More Successful

A Harvard study found that daughters of working mothers have better careers, higher pay, and more equal relationships. "These findings suggest that in addition to transmitting gender attitudes across generations, mothers' employment teaches daughters a set of skills that enable greater participation in the workforce and in leadership positions," the study states.

5. Family Increases Your Chances for Tenure — For Men, Anyway

For men in academia, having children is a career advantage, according to Mary Ann Mason, who studies the intersection between work and family. Among male tenured faculty, 70% are married with kids, a sign that fathers are far more successful in their careers than men without youngsters of their own. Unfortunately, this optimistic sign of parenting's positive effect on career doesn't ring true for women, according to Mason's data.

6. Egalitarian Parenting Pays Off

Today's mothers are securing high-paying jobs and having families. And it's all made possible by this secret formula: Mothers of today are insisting that their husbands do at least half the housework. Perhaps it's not such a novel idea, but historically this hasn't been the case. Caring for your children all day is draining work, but when the work is split 50-50 it becomes a lot more manageable, allowing both husband and wife to find success in endeavors outside the home. Seven of the 18 women who are Fortune 500 CEOs have at some point had a stay-at-home husband to focus on child-rearing while she chases her career goals.

How has being a good parent helped you professionally?

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