The Emotional Labor of Parenting

09/23/2010 04:14 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I often feel that managing my work life -- the meetings, the emails, the writing -- is trivial compared with the emotional labor it takes to be a parent.

UC Berkeley sociology professor Arlie Hochschield coined the term emotional labor to describe the effort required to manage feelings to create a desirable emotional display and meet the expectations of the job.

Just as the stewardess must appear friendly even with abusive customers, or the physician must display calm reassurance despite her own uncertainty, we parents continually feel the emotional pressure to keep our cool, quell anxieties and appear cheerful.

Managing our emotions is crucial to our success but it comes at a price: stress, emotional exhaustion, dissatisfaction with the "job," health problems and detachment from our feelings -- in other words, abandonment of ourselves.

We can't achieve our leadership aims if we don't take care of ourselves.

Find sanctuaries. Hike, go to the museum, take a day off from parenting, to regain perspective and rejuvenate.

Vent. Find a nonjudgmental person who can hear your genuine feelings, however raw, and provide unconditional support.

Pitch your own fit, appropriately.
Appropriate displays of emotion with your children help you to be authentic and let kids know that you can balance strong emotions without completely losing control ... (most days).