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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Work, family and life. Mama Papa.

While I am still some time away from being a father, I still think about how it will impact my work and vice versa specially if my wife works. This article discusses the same issue and starts off like this:

I met a vision of my future self for coffee in Heathrow Airport. He lives abroad but was passing through London on business for a few hours, so we sat in a cafe in Terminal One.

'If you want to take risks, if you have any gambles you want to make with your career, make them before you have kids,' the vision said. He sipped his coffee and ruefully lit a cigarette.

The same article quotes an Academic in the middle who paints a very negative picture:

For all that is said about men and women sharing the burden more equally, in a lot of jobs putting in a seven-and-a-half hour day and then going home and looking after children is still a recipe for getting fired,' says Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.

I guess the next question that comes to my mind is should my wife work, etc etc? According to this article on moms staying at home during the early years is better for the kids however the article does stress at the same time that:

Even though it is better for mothers to stay at home, working moms need not be apologetic or feel guilty. The thought that they must keep at the forefront of their minds is that ALL moms must make time for their children. If, instead of spending time on the phone or at the mall or blaming themselves for what they feel they did not give, they make sure that they spend the time they have engaged in meaningful activity and conversation with their children, they can compensate for the time they spend away from them.
Gayle Peterson, Ph.D., and columnist on the Family Therapist website says, "It is the quality of the parent-child relationship that matters. Mothers that are fulfilled themselves are not only good role models for their children, but are happier people too!Â… Research bears out what common sense tells us - that happier women make happier mothers, whether they work outside the home or not" (2001).

Morover this piece on parenting ivillage also makes a reasonable suggestion specifically:

Research reveals two important things. First, it is not in the best interest of the children to have a depressed mother. Naturally, a child needs stimulation and enthusiastic responses on a consistent basis, which can be impossible if the mother is unhappy. They can do much more for their children if given a "break". Secondly, studies show that children who have "working mothers" tend to have higher self-esteem. Ostensibly because working mothers feel happier with themselves and their good feelings spill over to family members.

As with any research, much depends on the parameters of your particular situation. Children who see their mothers rarely may suffer a lack of attention to their basic emotional needs. Women who feel overworked by both their jobs and family responsibilities may feel depleted instead of energized when they interact with their kids. It's important to strike a balance between children's needs and parental needs in any given family.

I guess in the end it all comes down to the 2 parents, their environment, their needs and the support they have.

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