When both parents work, some children feel neglected. No matter how hectic your life becomes, you need to set aside time each day for your youngsters. Let them know just how important they are to you, not only through words or gifts but through a commitment of time. Two-parent working families may have more money, but material things and access to costly activities are no substitute for a parent's time.
Encourage your children to talk with you about how your job is affecting your relationship with them; if they are upset that you are spending less time with them than in the past, you need to make an extra effort, perhaps developing a ritual of having them call you at work each day at a certain time. Let them know you really want to hear from them each afternoon.
It's important to keep in mind that stress at work can find its way home. When parents feel overworked or unappreciated at their job, they may vent their frustration and anger at their children or at each other. And the way parents are supervised at work frequently becomes how they "supervise" their children at home. If you have to abide by many rules and rigid policies at work, you may find yourself running a very structured household with lots of rules. Finally, parents tend to encourage their children to develop skills similar to those they use in their work. For example, parents whose jobs involve autonomy and creative problem-solving are likely to guide their children toward those same types of behaviors, while parents whose work rewards organizing information or materials may value those skills at home.
Some parents awaken their families a few minutes earlier each morning so that everyone can eat breakfast together and thus share a few minutes with one another as the day begins. In the evenings they turn off the television set and replace it with family activities like games, sports, music, and conversation.
A family with two wage earners can be a positive influence on children. Everyone—both children and adults—will enjoy some of the benefits. Boys and girls will tend to see the world as a less threatening place, knowing that both Mom and Dad are succeeding in the workplace; girls in particular perceive themselves as having greater career options if they have a mother who works. Children also tend to feel proud that their parents have careers. Depending on their after-school child care setting, middle-years children also have greater exposure to other youngsters and new social experiences, which can contribute to their development.