Online Aid For Stressed Out Parents

Helping you keep your balance

Parents with jobs outside the home are constantly playing a juggling game, as they dash from kissing a toddler's scraped knee to running a high-level strategy meeting at the office. Such time-pressed dual-career couples must deal with issues that may or may not confront families in which one parent stays home: How can an executive be taken seriously when she wants to cut back on job responsibilities to spend more time with her kids? How can working parents ask the boss for more flexible hours?

Numerous parenting sites on the Web wisely address these and a host of other questions. In addition to offering general advice about raising children, such as tips on discipline or making it through the cold and flu season, many sites have sections dealing specifically with the stresses and strains of working parents. They provide current magazine articles, fresh content written by experts in a question-and-answer format, or message boards and discussions.

Until recently, "working-parent issues" usually meant only the concerns surrounding working mothers--such as alleviating the guilt about leaving the children each day. The site called ABC's of Parenting still focuses mostly on working women (table). Its "Working Mother" category links the user to such resources as Disney Online: Ending the Mommy Wars, which dispenses practical advice about working outside the home, and HomeWorking Mom.Com, a support organization for work-at-home moms.

MR. MOM'S WOES. But as fathers take a more active role in child-rearing and household chores, some sites are focusing on "Daddy Stress" syndrome. For example, Daily Parent recently posted an article about when "Mr. Mom" goes back to work after staying home with the kids. And posted a Q&A on "Taking Working Dads Seriously," which pointed out that fathers aren't cut any slack at the office even as they pull more of the load at home. The article recommends joining with others in your workplace who feel the same way and raising your concerns en masse to your employer to win policy changes.

One particularly informative and well-designed site is Parenting Q&A. Its "Work & Family" section covers five topics: fathers, mothers, time management, work options, and transitions to and from work. Each section links to tip and fact sheets, book recommendations, and relevant organizations. The work-options section, for example, offers tips on making part-time employment work for you, running a home business, telecommuting, and revising company policies to encourage fathers to be involved parents.

Many of the issues the parenting sites address are gender-neutral. offers suggestions on how to start a parents' support group at work, how to ask for flextime, and how to hire a babysitter. To ask for flextime, for example, it recommends approaching management with a group of people to show broad-based interest. It also suggests offering your manager a time line of when certain projects will be completed to alleviate productivity concerns.

Message boards are extremely helpful in keeping working parents connected to each other, and thus they're a popular feature of parenting sites. Parentsplace has a comprehensive message-board section on some 35 subjects, each broken down into many subcategories. Under "kids' health" are allergies and vaccines, while "child development" includes sibling rivalry and shy children. Two that are especially helpful to working parents are "working" and "at-home parent." In a discussion on "the balancing act," a working mom in Orlando invited others like her in central Florida to join an e-mail community she created.

For the most part, these Web sites cover similar topics, but in a slightly different style or tone. Some have an academic flair while others are bit a more whimsical. Yet they all aim to give time-crunched working parents a place to easily tap resources and connect with others who are living the same kind of whirlwind life.