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Why Parents Make the Best Coworkers

molly profile image Molly Struve (she/her) ・3 min read

I have mentioned this many times before on Twitter, but I think it is important enough that it deserves its own post. If you find yourself working at a company where you are over worked and undervalued, I have a suggestion for you when you decide to start job hunting. Look for a place where a good number of your coworkers are going to be parents. In my experience, parents make the best coworkers and here is why.

1. Parents Have Priorities Figured Out

I am not a parent myself, but I suspect that having a family forces parents to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Because parents have a healthy work/life balance, in my experience, they encourage it for everyone else. For example, one night I was working late and pinged a coworker of mine who was a parent. He chatted with me for a little bit and then finally said,

That sounds great, let's pick this back up tomorrow. I am going to go play with my kids, you should take a break as well.

I am one of those people that feels like they need permission sometimes to take a break. Hearing things like that on a daily basis from my coworkers helps me maintain a good work/life balance.

Part of maintaining a good work/life balance for parents means sometimes they have to leave work early to attend a recital or baseball game. Every time I hear a coworker has to leave early to attend a child's event, it's a great little reminder of what matters most in this world.

2. Parents Know How to be Supportive

Parenting is the hardest job on the planet*. You don't get a manual and nothing really prepares you for it. Because of this, parents have to struggle to figure it out. Being a developer is hard and everyone struggles at some point. Parents know what it is like to struggle, which makes them optimally prepared to help others through the struggles that come with being a developer. They know what it is like to be in the trenches, not just at work, but in life.

Parents of older children, not only have struggled themselves, but have also had to help their children through struggles. Those parents of older kids are probably the most qualified to help others when they are struggling. The next time you find yourself deep in the trenches and you are not sure where to turn, look to a parent coworker for help. I bet they will know just what to say to help you conquer your battle.

3. Parents Have Perspective

Parents have a certain type of wisdom that only comes with having raised a kid. They have life in perspective, and they bring that perspective to work. When the world seems to be crumbling around you, they will remind you it actually is not. In my experience, they even tend to act like a parent at work. They make sure everyone is taken care of and happy. They are constantly not just looking out for themselves, but also for others. They are a strong pillar when things get crazy and always provide a solid voice of reason.

Our VP of Engineering at Kenna is a parent, and he is the master at giving us perspective when things get rocky. A couple years ago we had an outage that was rough for everyone. Rather than wallow with the rest of us in the post mortem, he said:

Remember, we are not saving lives here. If a client cannot see their data for 20 minutes, the world, I promise, will keep turning.

He is constantly pushing us to produce the best software possible, but at the same time, will always remind us what the important things are in life.

The next time you are job hunting, I encourage you to look for companies where many of your coworkers will be parents. They have a lot more to offer than you think.

*I am not a parent but I have watched quite a few of my friends tackle parenting and I have to say, I could not do what they do. Their strength is remarkable

Discussion (16)

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miriamtocino profile image
πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’»βœοΈ Miriam Tocino

I love this post, Molly.

I never thought about it as a "metric" to take into account when looking for a place to work, but it does make total sense!

I'm a mom myself, and I always said that motherhood brings you clarity, both for the good and the bad. :D Since I had my son, I'm more able to look into what's really needed in a project and which things aren't.

What's the percentage of parents in your current team?

Thanks for sharing!

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molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her) Author

About 25%, we have a really young team though which I think skews that percentage to the lower end. At Kenna, which is where I was when I wrote this post, we had probably 60-70% at least. I felt like I had many more coworkers that had kids then didn't.

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miriamtocino profile image
πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’»βœοΈ Miriam Tocino

I agree, Nick.

Things change so much when you get kids, and you do need to have priorities clear. Especially, if you have 3!

Have you been able to keep your patience levels up these days? Looking for ways to level them up over there. ;)

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nssimeonov profile image
Templar++

While every person is different and you can meet real ass**es, who are also parents, from my observation - the people who spend more time in the office usually compensate for personal life issues. Of course there are exceptions, but this is my experience.

And of course the patience - you know NOTHING about patience until you have to deal with a 3 years old... ah wait, teenagers make the 3 years old look like cute kittens.

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

This matches up with my experiences. One of the most professional teams I ever worked on was mostly mothers. We all got to know each other pretty well and still keep in touch.

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webreaper profile image
Mark Otway

Was that because they were mothers, or just because they were good, professionally competent people?

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

The latter, certainly. The article explains why it is that being a parent could contribute to that. Anecdotes are only worth so much, but I shared because I tend to agree with the article.

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yechielk profile image
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nssimeonov profile image
Templar++

I'll second that about the patience...

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webreaper profile image
Mark Otway

This seems to be pretty narrow minded. The implication is that as somebody who's worked in tech for 25 years, but has no children, that I don't have perspective, can't be supportive, and don't have priorities figured out.

Perhaps we could stop writing tech blog posts about how parents/women/men/whites/blacks/gay/straight/conservative/liberal/old/young/etc people are better to work with, and understand that the key thing that makes a good workplace is a diverse range of people with different outlooks, priorities and perspectives?

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yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson

That is not what she said at all, she is literally just pointing out the strength of one demographic that is usually looked over in tech. She is not saying it's to the exclusion of others (she even mentions that she isn't a parent herself).

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andygeorge profile image
Andy George (he/him)

mark: "we need a diverse range of people!"
also mark: "...please don't blog about any of those people"

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webreaper profile image
Mark Otway

Correction: "Please don't blog about a team of people who are good and attribute it to the fact that they are parents. It belittles their achievements, and misses the fact that they may just be good because they are good, and that having kids has nothing to do with it."

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anortef profile image
AdriΓ‘n Norte

Totally different from my experience. Most of the time there hasn't been any major difference unless the person is someone who has lots of responsibilities inside the company, in that situation I have always found that there are two roads that go:

1 - that person was already capable of delegating and the team is used to take decisions by itself.

2 - that person micromanages everything, the team have no idea how to take decisions by itself and everything goes downhill in a spiral of chaos because that manager cannot handle two babies and, logically, just takes care of the human one.

Basically, I would boil it down to good professionals are unaffected by parenthood in their work while bad professionals multiply problems x10 under parenthood.

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molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her) Author

Thanks for the comment, Adrian. I am sorry to hear your experience has not been great πŸ˜₯.

Obviously, every situation is different and I agree that having kids can bring out good and bad in people. In my experience, it has made my coworkers better which is why I wanted to share.