“what would it teach my kids if i stopped working?” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:
Recently a reporter who knows I have 4 kids asked me: “How long will you continue to work?”
That’s one of the many questions I get from people who assume there’s a tension between working and being a mother. That my kids would be better off if raising them was my full time job. But far from worrying about whether my kids will be ok with me working, I worry about what they would think if I stopped.
How it all began
In 2004, four years after leaving a high powered corporate job, I realized that my family could be healthier if we all drank water, instead of sugary or diet drinks. Using simple fruit flavors (essences and oils from the skins of the fruit) I discovered how to make water taste great without making it sweet. My family and friends loved my fruit-infused water and encouraged me to create a product. I decided to do so just before learning that I was pregnant with our fourth child. I told my husband about the company and the pregnancy in the same breath and let him know that I might need a little help. After getting over the shock, he promised to pitch in a bit and today we work together full time.
My daughters know that I started with a mission to change the beverage environment and make it easier for people to lead a healthier lifestyle. They see how hard I work every day and the feedback I receive from consumers. They have learned that if you believe in something and are prepared to work hard at it, you can succeed and you can change the world. That’s had a huge impact on their work ethic, their sense of social responsibility and their happiness. They believe in what I’m doing and they appreciate how hard and how rewarding it is.
I think it’s just as important for my sons to see this, for all the same reasons as the girls, but also because it helps shape their view of women as true partners and leaders in life and business. I’ve worked with a lot of men in a variety of jobs and I assure you that their family history has a huge impact on how they relate in the workforce.
The most difficult men I have managed: 1) had a mom that stayed home, 2) had lost their mom as a young child or 3) grew up with a father who spoke negatively about his mother. It’s sometimes hard for them to accept a woman in the work force much less as their boss.
On the flip side, some of the best men that I have managed: 1) had a mom that worked or 2) had a mom who did not work, but who stayed home because of a child or family member who needed special help. These men respect women and understand what they can accomplish. They are more likely to be inspired by their coworkers and to work off of each others strengths rather than trying to compete for recognition. They’re confident team players.
My sons are growing up with two parents who work hard together, who support each other personally and professionally and who are pursuing a shared vision of the future. My sons see women as equals, as partners in life. When they get their first job, they’ll do well no matter who their boss is and when they get married some day, they and their spouses will find the path that makes sense for them together, that suits who they are, what they want, and what’s best for their whole family. That’s what I hope and believe.
I’m not going to tell you whether you or your spouse should pursue a career, raise a family or do both. That’s a personal decision and it depends on who you are, what you want to do and what your kids need. But I know that what I’m doing is good for my kids and I’m going to keep on doing it until the job is done. I hope that seeing what makes sense for my kids will lend some perspective to you on how your decisions impact your family not just now, but for the rest of their lives.