The Times of Working Mothers (Part 2)
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The Times of Working Mothers (Part 2)

The rapid increase in the number of working mothers is causing tensions in millions of marriages. Although their lives changed drastically when the mother joined the workforce, most couples' perceptions of role responsibilities have not caught up with reality. They have not altered their basic assumptions on the inter-dynamics of marriage.

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The rapid increase in the number of working mothers is causing tensions in millions of marriages. Although their lives changed drastically when the mother joined the workforce, most couples' perceptions of role responsibilities have not caught up with reality. They have not altered their basic assumptions on the inter-dynamics of marriage. They have not modified their ideas of how a mother and father should function. This produces untold conflicts. The majority of couples still think that the mother's primary job revolves around the home and children, even though she may work just as many hours and just as hard at her outside job as the father does at his.

Polls conducted to determine the kind of partnership women want in marriage reveal that most women prefer a marriage in which husband and wife mutually support each other by sharing housekeeping and childcare duties. Yet, studies reveal that the working wife spends more than forty times as much time on housework as her male counterpart. It may not be fair, but the working wife spends an average of twenty-six hours a week on housework while her husband pitches in for a brief thirty-six minutes. A three-year-long study of 1,400 dual-career families with children under 11 showed that only one father in five helped care for the youngsters at all.

Working mothers and their husbands need to think in terms of cooperative family living and shared responsibility. The wife will want to give top priority to helping her husband become involved in housekeeping and caring for the children. But this may not be as easy as it sounds. Some fathers don't take to such responsibility and must be eased into it gradually. Chances are, though, that a father can leave his job to pick up a sick child at school, attend a parent=teacher conference, and chauffeur children to music lessons and after-school activities just as efficiently as a mother can. Some men may need a little push and some instruction, but few will mind it once they get in the habit and develop confidence in their abilities.

Many working mothers have not fully tapped the one source that could bring them the most help - their children. Why? Because many mothers enjoy playing the "martyr role." As "good" mothers they feel that they must "do" for everyone in the family. If you have this problem, begin parceling out household chores and don't feel guilty about it. Run your home on kid power - tap your greatest, most cost-efficient source of energy. Repeat the admonition "Put your things away rather than putting them down," so often and so consistently that your children will readily adopt the habit. Teach them to hang up towels immediately after their bath; to carry dirty dishes to the sink; to put the milk away after a meal; to throw empty cans into the dustbin. They'll respond positively to the new routine if you hold out proper incentives. Introduce your plan with enthusiasm, and offer tangible rewards for their efforts.

Working mothers also find it difficult to spend quality time with the children. As the cliché goes, "It isn't just quantity time, it's the quality time that counts." Ironically, the mother who spends all day with her child - chauffeuring, cleaning and shopping together - may not spend as much quality time with her child as a working mother might. Of course, I'm not advocating that mothers should leave the home in order to create quality time with their children.

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How is it possible to create quality time even when time is in short supply? One way is to keep the television and radio off so that you can listen during the opportunities you do have. Perhaps you can be a good listener while you do sit-ups on the lounge floor first thing in the morning, or while you ride bikes together, or while you drive to music lessons. Seize every opportunity of having heart-to-heart talks. Your child may be capable of handling the usual bedtime routine alone, but if you put him to bed instead, you'll rediscover that bedtime offers opportunities for quality time that are not present during the rest of the day.

As you rush around tending to everyone else's needs, are you wisely saving a little time for yourself? Many working mothers become so earnest about shouldering responsibilities and keeping their nose to the grindstone that they have no time to laugh, play and be a good parent or wife. They feel guilty if they spend a little time on themselves. Interestingly enough, a working father has no problem in naming a dozen or more things he'd like to indulge in and will do so without a trace of guilt. Working mothers need leisure time, too. They need an opportunity to pursue a measure of personal fulfillment for themselves - a hobby, a class, a church project or club activities.

Women want the best of both worlds. In this liberated age both worlds are open to women, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have it all the same time. No one - male or female - can be a good parent in his or her spare time, regardless of what some authors expound. Every working Mom needs to examine prayerfully her priorities. If her time away from home is harming her children, then she will need to cut back on her workload. Unfortunately, mothers often cannot see the danger signals until it is too late. One thing is certain: All children need a constant mothering figure in order to develop proper emotional health. Perhaps we need to take a close look at the value of parenting.

Check out the previous part:

The Times of Working Mothers (Part 1)

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Comments (2)

This article (and the previous one) are amazing. As a woman who has always worked full time, but is recently home on maternity leave with her first child, I find this article very insightful and full of great points to consider.

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