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The pandemic has given work-from-home a whole new meaning, especially for parents whose home and work lives are now physically intertwined. Many are feeling rushed, distracted, confused, inadequate, isolated, overwhelmed and stressed out as they navigate their new roles trying to manage family and work under one roof. With schools closed and the threat of job furloughs and layoffs looming, life is not easy now.

While these are extraordinary times, they also offers parents, children and their extended families extraordinary opportunities, says Wharton professor Stew Friedman.

In his unexpectedly timely new book “Parents Who Lead: The Leadership Approach You Need to Parent with Purpose, Fuel Your Career, and Create a Richer Life,” co-authored with Alyssa Westring, Friedman offers evidence-based tools for not just managing family and work life, but for creating harmony among, and improving performance in, all aspects of life.

“Now, more than ever, we need to be role models for each other. We’re living, striving and working in an unprecedented time — and struggling, too — so we all need to support each other, be open and honest about our experiences, and be leaders in our workplaces, families and communities,” wrote Friedman in a recent Harvard Business Review article.

“We are facing new choices about how we allocate our energy and attention now. It’s easy to get stuck in a reactive mindset, feeling like we are victims of these unfortunate circumstances. But those of us fortunate enough to have some freedom to choose what to focus on and when and how to do so should identify the values that are important to us and do our best to incorporate those values into our new normal.”

“Parents Who Lead” draws on principles from Friedman’s earlier bestselling and acclaimed book, “Total Leadership,” which helps leaders learn to produce positive, sustainable change in an innovative way by using his framework of “four-way wins,” a holistic approach to work, home, community and personal well-being.

In his new book, he brings the science of leadership to the art of parenting, to help working mothers and fathers tackle what he calls “the leadership challenge of their lives.”


  1. Design a future based on your core values
  2. Engage your children in fresh, meaningful ways
  3. Cultivate a community of caregiving and support
  4. Experiment to discover better ways to live and work

When delivering talks, conducting workshops, or advising leaders about managing during this or any crisis, Friedman shows how skillful, creative leaders are good at adapting to new conditions, no matter what role they’re in – at work, at home, or in the community – and that a values-driven approach is essential. He offers valuable insights in this recent op-ed for Bloomberg on how leaders can be both effective and empathetic during the crisis.

At its core, Friedman’s principles and practices offer WFH parents the realistic promise of a daily life that may not always be balanced, but is bound to be significantly richer and more peaceful.

A Better Model for WFH Parents was last modified: February 1st, 2023 by Whitney Jennings