Handling Careers and the Family
Back in the 1950’s, the traditional family consisted of a working husband, a housewife and their children (Baskin, 1998). This kind of family is known as the one-career family, wherein roles are clearly defined, and division of labor is not for negotiation (Cheatham ; Cheatham, 1988). In this kind of family, the father is the head and the income-gainer. In a situation where his job requires him to relocate, his family follows. The mother, on the other hand, is the one responsible for taking care of household chores, her husband, and their kids. This allows her to spend time with her children and build an intimate relationship with them (Skolnick ; Skolnick, 2002).
Unfortunately, most fathers rarely, if not at all, get to nurture their kids. There is usually no direct intimacy between the two. Fathers only serve as symbols to a child’s identity. This is why, in cases of divorce, fathers become indifferent or may even reject their children. Although studies say that their absence does not affect school performance, it may still cause juvenile delinquency. (Skolnick ; Skolnick, 2002).
In time, women were given equal opportunities in the workplace. Both husband and wife now commit themselves not to mere jobs but to thriving careers so that they may be able to provide for their family (Dickerson ; Hester, 1984). This kind of family is referred to as the two-career or dual-career family (Dickerson ; Hester, 1984).
In comparison to the traditional housewife, the modern-day woman has more shoes to fill—a career woman, a wife, and a mother (Cron, 2001). Although playing multiple roles allows her to recognize her own strength and self-worth, she, at some point, faces a dilemma called “role conflict,” wherein balancing professional and personal life becomes difficult. There are times when attention is given only to one role, consequently leaving the other two roles hanging (Baskin, 1998) and causing great stress (Posig ; Kickul, 2004). Although husbands offer to help, the modern-day woman still takes most of the burden. Even if both agree to join forces, husbands can only give so much (Dickerson ; Hester, 1984). On the bright side, couples that share responsibilities set a good example for their children. Since traditionally, children are used to having their mothers work at home, seeing their fathers do the same thing creates a new role model for them (O Dorisio ; O Dorisio, 2003). They can also learn to accept responsibilities in an early age by helping around the house themselves (Cheatham ; Cheatham, 1988).
Role conflict can get worse when job relocation is brought up, even more when both spouses are given this offer. This causes trouble in dividing labor at home, and, more importantly, affects the relationship between husband and wife. Even if couples decide to stick together, problems may still arise. In one instance, a woman named Helen was asked by her father to pursue their family business in a small town. Her husband Tod supported her on this so he just decided to look for work there. Unfortunately, he became unhappy with his job. In the end, the two separated. Helen continued working for her father while Tod moved to another city to pursue his career in a different firm. Another example is the case of Sally, who decided to pursue college, and her husband Vic, who managed a used car lot. The latter agreed that if his wife is offered a good job in the big city after graduation, he would move with her. Sure enough, Sally got it, but by that time, Vic had already changed his mind. Sally had no other choice but to commute everyday to an office 300 miles away from town (Cheatham ; Cheatham 1988).
In relation to success, busy schedules, and stress, parents in dual-career families have a hard time finding time for their children. Some couples just hire babysitters or rely on day care centers. However, these solutions are impractical since not everyone can afford them (Cheatham ; Cheatham 1988). This is a struggle for children, especially when their parents are unable to support them in school events, competitions, and such. Parents could properly explain to their children why they cannot be there all the time, so that the latter would understand and accept things better. This could be a learning experience for them, too, since they have the opportunity to support one another and take care of themselves (O Dorisio ; O Dorisio 2003).
Today, couples continue to choose the life of a dual-career family; there are also those who still settle for the traditional one-career family. In some cases, fathers are the ones who stay at home doing chores, while their wives take care of the family’s finances, breaking the barriers of tradition (Book ; Pentinnen, 1997).
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Cheatham L. R., ; Cheatham, C. B. (1988). The two-career marriage: A limited parternship? The Woman CPA, 50, 15-19.
Dickerson, K. G. ; Hester S. B. (1984). Serving dual-career families: Problem or opportunity? Journal of Extension, 22 (4). Retrieved September 3, 2008 from Journal of Extension Database http://www.joe.org/joe/1984july/a4.html
O Dorisio, M. S. ; O Dorisio, T. M. (2003). Two-career families: Published data and personal reflections. Experimental Bioligy and Medicine, 228, 1266-1268.
Posig, M., ; Kickul J. (2004). Work-role expectations and work family conflict: gender differences in emotional exhaustion. Women in Management Review, 19, 373-386
Skolnick. A. S., ; Skolnick, J. H.. (2002). Family in Transition (12th Ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.