Why Moms Have the Hardest Job in the Family Business
By Kyle Danner
Working in a family business can be challenging, whatever your role may be. But moms have it especially challenging.
The job of being a mother never ends. You start the day as a mom, go to work as a mom, and end the work day as a mom. You have so many tasks to manage, so many people to take care of, and so little time for yourself. It's truly one of the most respectable titles a person can have.
Yet many people who aren't moms don't realize how challenging the role can be, particularly at the office. So what unique struggles do mothers have to face during work hours, and how can we support them with the same care they always provide us?
Why Being a Mom in the Family Business Is So Difficult
A mom in a family business is more than just the president, CFO, or manager. She is often most called upon to act as the CEO of the family: the Chief Emotional Officer. When things get tense, husbands and kids turn to them for comfort and advice—inside and outside of the business
The tendency is for moms to absorb all the stress and take responsibility for the situation. They may blame themselves when things go wrong, thinking it's all their fault. Even when it really isn’t.
Moms are expected to fix everything, and that’s understandable. That pattern was laid down early in life. Mom was there to step in when we were arguing with our little sister at 4 years old. She was the chief problem-solver. She kept everything going smoothly.
This role is important when you're children. But, when we are adults and in business together, it’s not so great.
When mom takes the blame, it lets everyone off the hook. No one has to fess up to bad behavior because mom has taken responsibility. It reduces stress in the short-term. Yet it keeps family members from addressing the true problem.
That’s not fair to anyone, including mom. It puts mom in the uncomfortable position of taking sides or carrying the stress of being the peacemaker. It also puts her at the risk of being on the outside of things. That’s huge burden to bear.
How to Support Moms in the Workplace
Give mom a break.
Don’t involve her if you have in the past. Try something new.
Part of growing up is taking responsibility for the messes we create. That’s hard in a family business because mom may be in the office next door or just a phone call away. Plus, she’s always been there.
The next time things get tough between you and your family business partners, resist the urge to run to mom and expect her to fix everything. Instead, solve the problem.
However, be aware doing that may make your mom uncomfortable or even feel unneeded. And oddly enough, she may try to insert herself into the problem. The key to remember is that you’re making a change in the relationship dynamic. As human beings, we’re notoriously bad at change.
Be prepared for your mom to feel left out. She may feel that she’s no longer needed.
Reassure her that’s not the case.
Remind her that it’s not fair that she be in the middle of your arguments, either about the business or personal matters, once you are adults. Remind her of the lessons she taught you about being an adult. And report to her, with both of you in the room, on how you solved the problem.
Become the Peacekeeper at Your Family Business
Problems are bound to happen sooner or later in the family business. When they do happen, you'll need to step up so Mom doesn't have to. But don't worry: you already have everything you need to lead the family and the business to success inside you. You just need the right tools to bring your potential to the surface.
Whether you're the founder, one of the kids, a legacy employee, or the mom, my online course will help you learn the fundamentals of resolving conflict within the family business. In the 21-lesson course, you'll learn:
- How to understand the elephant in the family business
- Techniques to help you think about it in a new way
- 5 strategies and conversation starters to help you talk about the elephant
- Tips for taking the next step and moving forward
- And more