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What is a Working Parent?

A working parent juggles the dual responsibilities of nurturing a family and pursuing a career. Balancing these roles requires resilience and adaptability, as they strive to provide both emotional and financial support. It's a dynamic that shapes family dynamics and personal growth. How do working parents find equilibrium in their busy lives? Join us as we explore their strategies for success.
Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

A working parent is a parent who works at a job for pay, often outside the home. While it's certainly true that there is a lot of work to do in the home caring for the house and more importantly in raising children, the term "working parent" usually applies to extra, paid work. A working parent is the opposite of a stay-at-home parent, yet it is still possible to be both at the same time if a parent does paid work from home while caring for his or her children.

Some parents work part-time and stay at home with their children the rest of the time. Any combination of paid work and child care is usually possible if the working parent can find quality daycare that fits with his or her work situation. Some working parents have a live-in nanny in their home.

A working parent has a job outside the home.
A working parent has a job outside the home.

While a stay at home parent does not typically engage in paid work outside the home, a working parent may work outside the home part-time and be a stay at home parent the rest of the time. This sort of arrangement is highly customizable, but may need care in its organization. Finding part-time daycare and part-time work that fit together time-wise may be difficult.

Some parents can now telecommute, so they can be at home with their kids.
Some parents can now telecommute, so they can be at home with their kids.

Increased telecommuting options today allow some parents to work from home as more and more companies are finding that productivity can actually increase if those wanting to work from home are allowed to do so. The benefits to parents of working from home are usually great as they can juggle their work schedule to help on a school field trip or a bake sale. Of course, the downside can be making sure to complete the paid work while juggling all of the unpaid demands of caring for children.

Working parents often need to enroll their children in daycare.
Working parents often need to enroll their children in daycare.

Two parents working full time outside the home is still common as families struggle with mortgages and the high costs of living. Probably the best thing about being a working parent today is that there are often many options for working and daycare arrangements. In order to maximize your options as a working parent, it's a good idea to think about your job choice and child care options you hope to have before starting a family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What defines a working parent?

Child care assistance is available in many areas to help low-income families pay for daycare so they can work, go to school, or both.
Child care assistance is available in many areas to help low-income families pay for daycare so they can work, go to school, or both.

A working parent is an individual who has a job—be it part-time, full-time, or self-employment—and is also responsible for raising children. This role involves balancing the demands of a career with the responsibilities of family life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2020, 91.3% of families with children had at least one employed parent, highlighting the prevalence of working parents in society.

How do working parents impact the economy?

Working parents with young children have to balance their schedule so the child doesn't feel forgotten.
Working parents with young children have to balance their schedule so the child doesn't feel forgotten.

Working parents significantly contribute to the economy by participating in the labor force, which sustains productivity and economic growth. They also influence consumer spending patterns, as they have specific needs related to childcare, education, and family-oriented goods and services. The Child Care Aware of America reports that the lack of affordable, quality child care for infants and toddlers costs the United States $57 billion per year in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.

What challenges do working parents face?

Working parents have to consider both their job choices and childcare options.
Working parents have to consider both their job choices and childcare options.

Working parents often encounter challenges such as finding affordable childcare, managing work-life balance, and dealing with workplace inflexibility. The stress of juggling multiple responsibilities can lead to burnout and affect mental health. A survey by Pew Research Center found that 56% of working parents with children under 18 said balancing work and family responsibilities was very or somewhat difficult.

Are there differences in the experiences of working mothers and fathers?

Working parents might struggle to balance work and family responsibilities when children become ill.
Working parents might struggle to balance work and family responsibilities when children become ill.

Yes, working mothers and fathers can have different experiences due to societal expectations and gender roles. Mothers often face greater scrutiny regarding their work-life balance and may experience the "motherhood penalty," which can affect career advancement and earnings. Conversely, fathers may encounter the "fatherhood bonus," where they are perceived as more stable and committed employees. However, both genders strive for family-friendly workplace policies to support their dual roles.

What policies can support working parents?

Policies that support working parents include paid parental leave, flexible work arrangements, affordable childcare options, and workplace protections for pregnant and nursing mothers. Such policies can improve job satisfaction, employee retention, and overall family well-being. For instance, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the United States provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for family and medical reasons, which can be crucial for working parents.

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    • A working parent has a job outside the home.
      By: Monkey Business
      A working parent has a job outside the home.
    • Some parents can now telecommute, so they can be at home with their kids.
      By: michaeljung
      Some parents can now telecommute, so they can be at home with their kids.
    • Working parents often need to enroll their children in daycare.
      By: Köpenicker
      Working parents often need to enroll their children in daycare.
    • Child care assistance is available in many areas to help low-income families pay for daycare so they can work, go to school, or both.
      By: Petro Feketa
      Child care assistance is available in many areas to help low-income families pay for daycare so they can work, go to school, or both.
    • Working parents with young children have to balance their schedule so the child doesn't feel forgotten.
      By: JenKedCo
      Working parents with young children have to balance their schedule so the child doesn't feel forgotten.
    • Working parents have to consider both their job choices and childcare options.
      By: Rido
      Working parents have to consider both their job choices and childcare options.
    • Working parents might struggle to balance work and family responsibilities when children become ill.
      By: Johan Lenell
      Working parents might struggle to balance work and family responsibilities when children become ill.