Parents are putting their children’s psychological well-being above their own career goals.
A new study by the American Psychological Association (APA) has revealed that an increasing number of parents are quitting their jobs and sacrifice their careers in order to support their children’s mental health needs. The study surveyed over 2,000 parents and found that nearly one in four (24%) left or considered leaving their jobs to support their child’s well-being more efficiently. These findings indicate that many parents are willing to make significant sacrifices, including ending careers and potentially risking financial instability, to care for their offspring. The study also highlights the importance of addressing and supporting children’s mental health and the perceived necessity of this in the minds of parents.
The research suggests that employers and policymakers should do more to support working parents and their children’s mental health so that families do not have to make drastic choices to realize better work-life balance. Some options include providing flexible work arrangements and financial support for families, offering more paid time off and robust insurance options. Children’s mental health should be considered a priority for all, and parents should feel supported in their decision to prioritize it rather than having to face difficult circumstances alone.
Employers can also provide internal resources, such as mental health support and free employee counseling services, to help parents and their children cope with the stress and challenges of maintaining balance without them having to continue to sacrifice. Furthermore, policymakers can support working parents by offering programs such as childcare subsidies, tax credits, and other forms of financial assistance to help ease the burden of raising children. The culture should also encourage and support parents taking time off to take care of their children’s mental health. This can be achieved through policies such as mandatory paid parental leave and mental health days at the state or federal levels.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the psychological well-being of young people, with many experiencing increased stress and anxiety due to disruptions to their daily lives and the loss of in-person social interactions. Children and teens, in general, tend to thrive in environments that include structure and predictability. Of course, the opposite is also true. The sudden and unanticipated disruptions associated with the onset of COVID, and its longevity have caused even those who were highly successful prior to struggle.
This study highlights the need for additional support on all fronts for children and teens to avoid the need to sacrifice. It also emphasizes the essentialness of understanding and addressing the impact of the pandemic on children specifically and how it also may have changed the mentality of their parents and their willingness to offer support despite the costs (both monetary and nonmonetary).
The study conducted by the APA reveals a growing trend of parents quitting their jobs – whether they want to or not – to put their families first. The findings highlight the need for employers and policymakers to take action, too, to support families. If these parties are more proactive in managing the work-life balance of parents, it will also offer more stability within the workforce, and thus, be better for business. This really is a win-win.