WORK-LIFE BALANCE / MAR. 30, 2014
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Many Parents Prefer Working Over Staying Home

For some mothers and fathers, being a stay-at-home parent is the ideal situation. They can enjoy quality time with their children during the day; and without employment, there's more time for household chores, errands and other personal obligations. 

But although some parents would gladly give up their paychecks and the daily grind for more time with their kids, a new study reveals that many parents actually want to work. 

The study conducted in late 2013 surveyed 4,100 business executives from around the world. The participants included both males and females; and when asked if they would rather work or stay home, a surprising 4 in ten parents preferred work. 

What's more interesting is that the percentage of those who preferred working was nearly equal for both male and female participants. This might come as a shock to anyone who assumes that the majority of mothers don't want to work. Additionally, the study dispels any belief that the majority of mothers only work because they have to. According to the research, "44 percent of working dads and 42 percent of working moms would prefer to work -- even if they didn’t have to worry about money."

When deciding whether to get a job or stay home with the kids, money is certainly a motivating factor. Salaries don't always keep pace with the rising cost of living. And since many families rely on dual incomes to make ends meet, staying home simply isn't an option for many parents. 

But as the study shows, even if a family can survive on one income, giving up a career for full-time family life isn't always the preferred choice. 

"One of the aspects of mothering that's terribly important is making sure that you can provide for your children financially," says Joan K. Peters, a working mother and author of When Mothers Work. 

Although working parents may miss certain milestones, such as their baby's first word or step, the financial rewards of a two-income household are undeniable.

For families who don't necessarily need an additional paycheck, the extra money can build a cash cushion or financially prepare the family for a variety of unforeseen occurrences, such as a sudden job loss or illness. Two incomes can also help parents reach financial goals sooner, such as buying a house or saving for their kid's educational fund. 

"I’ve been able to give them the lifestyle that they have because of the career that I’ve had,” says Nellie Borrero, managing director of global and inclusion and diversity at Accenture. 

However, the fact that 42 percent of working moms prefer work doesn't necessarily suggest that they prefer full-time work. A 2012 study of American workers conducted by the Pew Research Center found that "47 percent of mothers with at least one child under age 18 said the ideal situation would be to work part time." 

Part-time work can offer the best of both worlds. Mothers can pursue their career and generate income for the household, yet still have enough energy to spend quality time with their children each day. The study by the Pew Research Center did not include fathers.

Are you a working parent? Was your decision to go back to work a choice or a necessity? Would you stay at home if you had the choice? Your comments below please…

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