Lessons Learned from Children: The Value of a Working Mom

By Christine Hammond, MS, IMH


Sometimes the most meaningful moment as a parent comes in the middle of another conversation, has little to nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent. Looking back on the moment you wish there had been a bright shining light calling your attention it so you could take it more slowly and savor every second. But time marches at the same pace and without reflection, the significance of those moments is often lost and the power to heal old wounds is unrecognized.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son just this past week. The filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed his age. This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations and since he loves to talk there is no shortage of either. This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom” and since he often complains how difficult his life is, I asked for further clarification to which he responded with the following points.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.” Talk about a shocking statement coming from a fourteen year old boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week! He further explained that in speaking with some of his friends whose mother chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet their wants and desires, he now sees his friends have a skewed view that life is all about them. If fact, he came home that day astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how their wants and desires impacted the rest of the family. By setting the standard that life is not about his wants and desires, he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.” It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said. My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time. Having experienced this first hand with his mother, he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this. He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well. By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.” By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management. He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and made this observation. When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions. Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk. By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip. However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced and hopefully will make a positive difference in his life. As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

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About the author- Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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