Mom (and Dad) on a Mission
By Kate Torgersen on February 27, 2019
You, as a working mom, encounter unique challenges each day as you step out of your home and into the world. However, a community of driven moms who have been there and done that are here to impart wisdom gained through years of experience.
In our moms on a mission series, we gather advice from women who have started companies, ran marathons, become experts and developed into better employees and employers, all because they became parents.
Amy Henderson, CEO and Founder of TendLab
Being a parent is absolutely, 100% the most rewarding job — but it is a lot of work. Sleepless nights, feeding, playing, nurturing, you know the rest. Oftentimes, moms feel excessive pressure to be the primary and only caregiver rather than letting their partner take on some responsibilities.
“You don’t have to do it all on your own; in fact, it’s better if you don’t!” is the advice Amy Henderson, CEO and founder of TendLab wishes she could’ have told herself during her first pregnancy.
Henderson is now a mom of three and the founder of TendLab, a company that offers parents and companies in-depth consulting and workshops geared towards unlocking the power and potential of parenthood in the workplace.
It all started when Amy accidentally got pregnant with her third child. She constantly felt like she was drowning and couldn’t do it all – work as if she didn’t have kids and parent like she didn’t have a career – so she started looking to other parents she knew and admired, and sought their advice. She found the insights she gathered from these initial conversations so fascinating that she ended up diving into the research, interviewing over 200 people and spending countless hours in the process.
One of the primary conclusions that she arrived at was that it isn’t healthy if moms try to do all the parenting, but it is, in fact, significantly healthier for all parties involved (both at home and in the workplace) if dads play a bigger role in the parenting process.
Amy’s conclusions have been supported by other researchers’ findings. Ruth Feldman, a neuroscientist and adjunct faculty member at Yale School of Medicine, supports this conclusion, having found that being an involved dad makes men better both at work and home.
“The relationship an engaged dad develops with his baby will enhance his ability to think out of the box and to contribute to work.” She continues, “The best employees have plasticity and malleability in acquiring new knowledge, adapting knowledge to new contexts, and integrating new perspectives.”
Scott Coltrane, SVP & Provost in the Sociology Department at the University of Oregon explains in his research that when dads contribute in the early stages of a child’s development and help with even the little things – such as waking up when their baby cries at night or giving a bath – will change things for the child as well. Preschoolers who have had an involved father show higher levels of cognitive competence, self-esteem, and empathy.
With three children, Amy finally started letting her husband take on the parenting role equally. Things immediately began to change drastically, resulting not only in her husband improving his performance at work, which led to a promotion, but also in him establishing a strong bond with his young daughter.
Henderson hopes that sharing her research and experiences will help her fellow moms stop feeling so overwhelmed. Let your partner help; you are not alone, and parenting is meant to be done together.