How Being a Mom Makes You a Better Professional

"Becoming a parent can make you a better worker," New York Times writer Lisa Belkins said in a recent column.

I'd always heard that becoming a parent made MEN better workers. The common "wisdom" said fatherhood made men more stable and better motivated.

Women, the old prejudice held, would become unreliable once children arrived. Motherhood would bring distractions and increased sick days on account of small, runny noses at home.

My own experience has been mixed. In my early days of motherhood, I concluded that each sleep interruption meant a loss of 10 points from my IQ the next day. And small, runny noses, fevers and upset tummies did indeed take a toll on my work attendance.

At the same time, I began to discover professional advantages to being a parent. For example, I had a whole new way to connect with other parents and with children.

When preparing children's sermons for the various churches where I preached, I could tune in to preschoolers' joys, questions and fears in a new way. As a hospital chaplain, I better understood the anguish of dying parents who were leaving young children behind.

But you don't have to be working directly with children or parents to get a professional edge from parenting.

Good parenting helps you zero in on what's truly important. You become more skilled at setting priorities.

Parenting helps you develop patience and empathy, too. Learning to read your pre-verbal child's body language and vocal tone provides an excellent tool for sensing discomfort in colleagues or clients.

And, as you learn to nurture your children's skills, you can become better at supporting subordinates' and colleagues' skill development.

You may even become more efficient. In "The Working Mother's Guide to Life" (Three Rivers Press), Linda Mason quotes a financial planner named Lara:

"I now work much harder than most people, and I tend to make the most of the time I have. I am more efficient because I have to be. I get done in eight hours today what I used to do in twelve. Honestly."

Sometimes, the connections between parenting and your profession can bring a smile.

Ann Crittenden wrote "If You've Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything"(Gotham Books) after she noticed the similarity between advice books for moms and advice books for managers. Dealing with executives, co-workers or clients turns out to be pretty similar to dealing with toddlers or teenagers.

So. Growing into parenthood has given you more empathy, patience and efficiency, and you can better set priorities and help others grow.

Excellent qualities in any professional!

Why not take a moment today to appreciate the increased skill being a mom lets you bring to your profession? Then, step out with confidence and pride in who you have become.

(c) 2004 Norma Schmidt, Coach, LLC

Norma Schmidt, Coach, LLC, specializes in helping women who are both professionals and parents to create balance. She offers teleclasses, workshops and individual and group coaching. Norma publishes "The Balance Point," a free e-zine, every other Friday. Visit http://www.NormaSchmidt.com


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