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Kids learn positive lessons by watching their mother operating in the outside world, taking action, exerting influence, making decisions, and using their talents flexibly and creatively, says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York City. Working moms introduce their children to new ideas and new people, model a positive approach to daily challenges, and offer an inspiring picture of the world and their children’s place in it. Some other findings from Galinsky’s research for over 20 years reveal:

Children of working moms have a heightened sense of organization and responsibility. The reality of working moms is that everyone in the family has to help. For children today, the sense of being needed and of making a contribution to the family system is a very positive influence on self-esteem. Working moms become models for routine and a good work ethic. The children see mom living up to her obligations, so they know they can’t get away with not doing their chores. Working moms demonstrate how to set priorities and plan ahead. Children learn how to put things they need on the grocery list, how to get their social events on mom’s calendar, and how to balance family life with work responsibilities.

Children tend to view working moms as competent and effective both at home and at work. Children can see our world today as a pretty scary place. Having a masterful mother to guide them is very reassuring. Because working moms are skilled at making sales calls and navigating office politics, they can be more effective advocates for their children. When mothers work, children get an expanded view of women’s capabilities – and of men’s, too. Husbands of working mothers generally are more involved in managing the home. This exposes kids to the idea of men as nurturers.

When moms and dads talk freely about how they contend with the ups and downs of their work life, which they tend to do more than parents with only one working parent, kids learn that problems have solutions and they learn coping strategies. Children whose moms feel comfortable negotiating the complex demands of a workplace learn to view life outside the home with curiosity and optimism. They are exposed to a rich mix of experiences, and their enlarged life view motivates them to try their best to fulfill their potential. Children of career women face the future with hope. They take it for granted that they’ll be able to work and support themselves, like their mom did. So be encouraged. You’re doing really good. Dads too.