A career in social work is not just a challenging and rewarding pursuit professionally but can also help in other areas of life, such as parenting. A social worker is in a unique position to see family life from all sides and understands what good parenting behavior looks like. Traits that a good social worker needs are also skills a good parent should have. These include empathy, understanding, communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving.

A social worker is trained to examine relationships objectively but also be empathetic and fair when dealing with tough situations like domestic abuse or child endangerment. These professionals need to understand that there is no perfect formula for a happy and well-adjusted family life, and the people social workers tend to communicate with are usually dealing with hardships and challenges like poverty and substance abuse. This type of career gives an individual a well-rounded view of kids and adults that can be beneficial when dealing with their own families. 

Good traits for a parent and social worker to have

Empathy and understanding

Social work requires a high level of empathy and understanding towards diverse populations, various social issues, and the struggles individuals and families face. Empathy is the ability to share and understand another person’s point of view without judgment. This and understanding are qualities that can help an individual better understand and respond to children’s emotions, challenges, and needs. 

Some parents may have tunnel vision when it comes to the direction they want their children’s lives to take, but social workers understand that for a child to be happy and successful, they just need to have the freedom to follow their dreams.

Being empathetic and understanding is also a valuable lesson to teach kids, and through examples in their own lives, a social worker’s children are more likely to display understanding towards others, even at a young age. These skills also teach children how to regulate their emotions in stressful situations and be self-aware of their reactions. This valuable lesson also helps kids build better relationships with others and develop deep bonds that can last a lifetime. 

A social worker who has children will understand how devastating it can be for a family when a child is taken away. They will do everything in their power to keep that child with their loved ones safely because they know how important it is emotionally for the child. Their experiences with these troubled families can give them an appreciation of their own children and family which will encourage them to always try their best to be good parents. 

Social workers know how fragile a family unit can be, which can lead to them working their hardest to make their family strong. 

Effective communication

Social workers are trained to communicate effectively and actively listen to their clients. These skills are beneficial in building strong parent-child relationships, fostering open communication, and encouraging children to express themselves freely. This is a valuable lesson for children experiencing difficulties in school or socially and who need to practice advocating for themselves. 

When a child can communicate effectively with their peers or others, they experience higher confidence and social awareness. If a social worker has a child with communication challenges, they are better able to address their needs because of the work they do in the field. Effective communication also includes listening, which is a challenging task for young children. 

A social worker who has spent their career listening carefully to what their clients are telling them and asking open-ended questions to get more information will use that skill with their own kids. When a parent listens intently to their children, those kids feel respected and heard, which boosts their self-esteem. 

A child that grows up with parents that are genuinely interested in what they have to say will feel free to communicate effectively with the rest of the world around them. This is a leadership quality that can propel these children into leading successful and happy lives.

Effective communication skills are also taught to individuals when they apply for their Florida State University MSW online degree. This accredited institution provides the skills and knowledge social workers need to communicate effectively and compassionately with their clients once they are out in the workforce. This master’s degree is often taken by professionals who are currently employed but want to further their education with a flexible schedule of online classes. 

Critical thinking skills

Social workers often help individuals and families solve complex problems and navigate challenging situations. These critical thinking skills can be applied to the parenting journey, enabling individuals to manage conflicts, discipline issues, and other parenting challenges more effectively. Social workers train to think critically and objectively in various situations that may not always be straightforward. These professionals are taught to look at the nuances of situations and understand that not all of life’s challenges are black and white. Sometimes issues require out-of-the-box thinking. The same can be said of parenting. If a parent is too rigid in their thinking and doesn’t have the ability to solve complex personal issues, this can cause a rift in the family. 

An example of how critical thinking skills can help with solving problems is when all the school-aged children in the United States had to learn from home during the pandemic. Parents who may not have been able to afford the proper technology were at a loss as to how to teach their kids. Using critical thinking skills, these parents contacted their school boards and local leaders to demand access to the necessary technology to learn, and that is how the school lending programs began. Social workers advocate for their clients in the same way by developing solutions to problems that may be preventing them from leading successful lives. Children who grow up with this type of skill are better able to advocate for themselves when it comes to what they need in school, in social situations, and at home.   

Experience in child development stages

Social workers frequently work with individuals at various stages of life, including children. Through their work, social workers develop a deep understanding of child development, milestones, and appropriate expectations. This knowledge can help support and guide a child’s growth and development more effectively. Their understanding of child development means they can approach their own child’s milestones with joy but also patience. A social worker meets many families, and the children of those clients may have developmental difficulties or just reach certain stages of life later than other children.

These same social workers may also see children who are much faster at reaching milestones and more advanced for their age. This wide range of experiences gives those in the social work profession a greater understanding of how kids can differ developmentally. 

One area some parents can struggle with when they do not have the experience of someone in social work is the idea that if their child is not developing within a certain period, there is something drastically wrong with them. This fear and uncertainty can be evident to the child and can result in poor self-esteem and the fear that something is wrong with them. A social worker is better equipped to deal with gaps in developmental progress and can recognize when a problem needs to be addressed by a professional and when it is time to have patience and allow the child to work it out in their own time. This more relaxed view of the milestones of development allows the child not to feel pressured and worried. 


Social workers are likely to be well-connected to various resources, community support, and services that can benefit the parenting journey. These connections provide additional tools, knowledge, and guidance to ensure children are thriving and receive the necessary assistance and support when needed, whether it is academic, emotional, or physical.

These professionals often have access to up-to-date knowledge and information about child development, parenting strategies, and community resources. This can directly benefit their child by providing them with valuable guidance and information that supports their growth and development.

Social workers develop strong critical thinking skills through their work. When facing challenges or uncertainties in their child’s life, their resourcefulness enables them to come up with creative solutions and navigate difficult situations effectively. They are also effective advocates for the needs and rights of others. This translates into empowering their child, teaching them self-advocacy skills, and raising them to be informed, resilient individuals who can navigate systems and seek support when required.

Those involved in social work for a living often promote community engagement and connection. This can create an environment where their child feels a sense of belonging, has access to positive social networks, and learns the importance of giving back to the community. They also model resilience by dealing with various challenges and sometimes navigating complex and difficult situations. Their ability to remain resilient and find solutions can serve as a positive role model for their child, teaching them resilience, problem-solving, and adaptability in their own lives.

Other attributes that social workers possess that they can carry over into their personal lives with their children include cultural competency, understanding and setting boundaries, flexibility, and adaptability, among others. 

Cultural competence

Effective social workers are culturally competent, which means they recognize and respect the diversity of individuals and communities they serve. They strive to incorporate cultural awareness and sensitivity into their practice, understanding how culture can influence experiences and identities. By demonstrating this openness to their children, they teach them to embrace all cultures and ethnicities and not develop biases or prejudices. Social workers can improve their child’s ability to socialize with individuals of different backgrounds and not judge anyone because of their differences. With the world in turmoil because of racial differences, the children who learn to respect and embrace other’s cultures can lead the way to a more harmonious future. 

Setting boundaries

Effective social workers understand the importance of establishing and maintaining professional boundaries. They can balance their empathy and emotional connection with maintaining professional objectivity and ensuring ethical practice. This is a valuable lesson for children to learn as they get older and deal with different situations. For older kids in high school, setting boundaries with peers can help them navigate their relationships with less emotional turmoil than others. Setting boundaries can mean not always answering their cell phone when their friend calls or not giving in to peer pressure. High school is a difficult time for most kids and knowing how to set boundaries will help them get through it without the emotional scarring that can happen. 

When a social worker has younger children at home, they can teach them how to set boundaries with their friends at school or playmates in their neighborhood. Their children can learn to recognize when there is a problem that needs to be addressed, such as over-stimulation, and how to create rules around socializing so they have the downtime they need to decompress. Setting boundaries will also help them get the respect of their friends because they will see a confident kid who can advocate for themselves. 

Flexibility and adaptability

Social work often involves working in dynamic and unpredictable environments. Effective social workers are flexible and adaptable, adjusting their approaches and interventions to meet the changing needs and circumstances of their clients. Being an effective social worker in this capacity can have a huge impact on child-rearing, especially with teenagers who can change emotions at the drop of a hat. This flexibility may include letting a child dictate their bedtime routine or letting them perform tasks in a non-traditional way because they want to try something new. By being flexible, a social worker who is also a parent can allow their child to develop in the way they are comfortable with and not what society views as the norm. 

A good social worker will understand that their way is not the only way to perform a task because they will have had to deal with unconventional situations in their work. They are more likely to be relaxed about certain things as long as they see their child is happy, healthy, and successful. 


Self-awareness is crucial for social workers to recognize their own biases, values, and limitations. Effective social workers engage in ongoing self-reflection to understand how their own experiences and beliefs may influence their interactions with clients. This self-awareness translates into approaching situations with their children as openly and freely as possible. When a parent is rigid in their thinking and unable to see their own biases, this can cause a rift between them and their child, especially if that child has strong convictions. The ability to take a step back and review what experience may be causing a reaction and whether it is valid is one way of evaluating a relationship and hopefully making it stronger. 


Social work can be emotionally demanding and challenging. Effective social workers prioritize self-care and develop resilience to prevent burnout, ensuring they can continue to provide the best support to their clients. When a parent understands that they need to take care of themselves as well as their children, they are happier, and that passes on to their kids. A mother or father who is stretched thin and at their wit’s end will be unhappy or angry and create that kind of atmosphere in the home. Parents need to take care of themselves to have the energy and drive to take care of their children. A comparison can be made to being on an airplane when there is a problem. The attendant will always tell the passengers to put their own oxygen masks on first before helping others so they don’t lose strength or breath. When a parent is straining to hold their mental health together, they have little left over for their children, so they need to take a break and regroup.  

A social worker’s commitment to social justice

Effective social workers demonstrate a commitment to social justice, advocating for the rights and well-being of marginalized and oppressed populations. They strive to address systemic issues and work towards social change. When children are raised with this deep commitment, they grow into socially aware and empathetic adults who are strongly committed to making the world a better place. 

When an experienced social worker uses their skills to raise their children, those kids become more empathetic, socially responsible, non-judgmental members of society who have an appreciation for different cultures. These children grow up with high self-esteem and the knowledge that they are important individuals with voices that should be heard.