5 Tips to Juggling Troubled Children and Work Demands

WorkLife-DadParenting is hard work especially when there’s trouble with your children.  It’s common for workers to experience having troubled kids at home, at some point in their working lives.  And, it’s no easy feat coping with family problems and keeping your career on track.

Here are five tips on how to handle difficulties with kids and work, at the same time:

1. Remember You’re Not Alone

Working parents worry a lot about their children.  And, especially when a child is in trouble, unwell or struggling with something.  Parents feel sad and overwhelmed at times.  They may feel torn between the demands of work and their children’s needs.  You can start not feeling good enough in any role.  And, you can feel guilty for things that are beyond your control when it comes to kids.

2.  Get Support Fast

Parents with support do a lot better. Get help from family and colleagues and bosses. Talk to close friends or neighbours.  For example, I worked with an Administrator whose son was running away from home.  She was beside herself with worry about him.  But, she was able to focus at work because a neighbour took her son in. They obtained family therapy and were able to reconcile.

3.  Watch Out For Isolating Yourself

If you isolate yourself and try to cope alone, you’ll have a harder time.  Talk about what’s going on. Get rid of the myth work and life are totally separate spheres and should remain that way. Talk to other parents, get Employee Assistance Program help, or tap into your Extended Benefits and see a psychologist.

4.  Make Work An Oasis

Parents need a break from home front problems.  Some make work a place where they feel comforted and more in control. When your home life is turned upside down, it takes a toll on your confidence. Self-esteem can be bolstered by working and it can be a distraction from home front issues, that can’t be solved immediately.  I worked with a Manager who had a supportive boss.  She was able to pour energy into work.  And, when she had to attend to her child’s mental health issues, her boss gave her the flexibility she needed.

5.  Wrestle with The Anxiety

Parents have to work hard to comfort themselves during these times.  Recognize that issues at home wax and wane.  Things can come to a head.  There’s a crisis and then things settle down after a while.  If you feel distracted at work and torn, look at what you are worrying about.  If it’s, “What should I do”; “Why is this happening to me or my child”; or , “I wonder what my child is up to”—focus back on the present. Ask what can I do now?—the answer may be focus on a task, or take a break, or make a phone call to talk to your child.  Remember, all anyone can do is their best with the resources they have at the time.


Dr. Jennifer Newman is a workplace psychologist and director of Newman Psychological and Consulting Services, an organizational coaching, training and development company.  Identifying information in cases cited has been changed to protect confidentiality.  She can be contacted at: info@drjennifernewman.com

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