Working Women And Family Lifestyles WORKING WOMEN AND FAMILY LIFESTYLES The issues and concerns of this course are ones with which I am able to identify. Having been married for eight years, a working women and mother qualifies me to give much insight to each of the components listed in this course. My essay will address the following: ? Past and present status of women in the work place ? Balancing career and family ? Career Choices ? The future of the family In addition, I will expand on the implications of single parenthood and how it affects women’s careers and raising a family. PAST AND PRESENT STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE WORK PLACE Every day in some office, bank, store, school, or wherever women work, someone announces an engagement or a wedding. But unlike past generations, the announcement doesn’t automatically mean the employee is leaving.
She is just adding a new dimension to herself-marriage. Unlike her predecessor, she will work for a much longer period because she can decide when to begin her family. If she decides to have a family, her leave of absence is apt to be less than five years, because she is a member of the new breed of women who attempt to combine the roles of career woman, mother, and wife into a workable package. Wives have been working for a much longer period than most people think. Before the Industrial Revolution, even wealthy women worked long hours supervising the needs of large families, household servants, and slaves. Most American families engaged in farming then. Often husband and wife worked together in order to make a profit.
During the time of the Revolutionary, women worked in the fields plowing and harvesting, because all males were away fighting the war. By the eighteenth century, women were employed in all occupations working side by side with men. This may sound unusual, but, in those days, all occupations were based in the home or at a nearby office or workshop. Women and children helped male family members build successful firms. The nineteenth century brought the beginning of a technical era with the center of economic activity moving away from the home into factories and offices.
Most occupations came to be viewed then as unsuitable for women or incompatible with their chores in the home. Very few jobs remained that were considered appropriate for women. As a result, most upper and middle-class women left the work force. As the American population grew and the labor shortage eased, the opportunities for women became even fewer. By the nineteenth century, the practice of paying women less for the same job done by men was well-established.
Just a glance at today’s classified ads in any newspaper will refute the argument that a woman’s place is in the home. In the past, women worked mostly out of necessity. But now, many women work because it is self-fulfilling. When I was a child, both my parents worked. During the eighteen years I lived with my parents, they earned MBA’s and in my mother’s case a Ph.D. I grew up believing that to be successful, I must go to college, establish a career, get married and have kids.
It never occurred to me to be a housewife and stay home. I did go to college at eighteen but dropped out to get married at age twenty. I worked while my husband finished school. I wanted to wait to have children until I was in my later twenty’s and hopefully have the chance to finish school and establish a career. Life did not quite work that way.
At twenty-one the first little, “surprise” bundle of joy came along. So by age twenty-two, I had a year old baby and was working full-time. I did not feel right about staying home. I did not think I would be respected. Four years later I had another baby girl.
I continued to work but not climb any ladders to success partly because my husband moved every two years for his company and partly because I was not focused. I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up and in my heart I wanted to be home with my babies, for awhile at least. I wanted the opportunity to further my education before choosing a career path. Money and childhood beliefs of success kept me at work. I am thirty-two years old now.
I am very close to earning my B.A. degree and I am finally in a position at work where I feel I can move forward. Looking back, I realize several things. First, being I had always worked at low paying jobs, and not having a formal education, I should have dedicated those ten years to my children. I now know the value of devoting time to raising children which I will discuss later. Now that I am divorced, I see I gained very little by working all that time.
I have to work now and I do enjoy it very much. However, given the opportunity to raise my children full-time, I would. BALANCING CAREER AND FAMILY Dual Career Couples. The average young couple planning to continue working after marriage does so for the most altruistic reasons. Their employment is a cooperative venture which will help the marriage financially and socially. There will be no more your money and my money. Sharing and decision-making will be mutual and equal. But as human beings, they are subject to the frailties of people.
One major threat to any marriage is competition. Competition between couples is a natural by-product of today’s concept of marriage as a partnership of equals. While striving for mutual closeness and togetherness, young married’s are also struggling for individuality and trying to develop themselves as persons. In the book Marriage and Families, author Essie E. Lee states that one noted sociologist feels that two growing selves will certainly be more competitive than a merged pair, in which one person (usually the wife) probably did most of the merging.
According to Marriage and Families, different kinds of competition within a marriage include: ? Competition for expression of growth and individuality. ? Competition for attention ? Competition for power ? Competition for money ? Competition for self-esteem As multiple-income families become standard practice and men and women understand more about the needs of each other, husbands will have decreasing need to view women’s desire for self-development and fulfillment as a blow to their masculinity. It is important for women as well as men to be self-sufficient. But there is also the danger of overemphasizing getting clear of people who are closest to you. It is impossible to establish intimacy without a lot of time and experience with each other.
A career wife may tend to grow out and away and into herself instead of growing up. A successful marriage allows each partner to grow and permits sharing and realignment of roles as each changes his or her own conception of self. In my marriage, competition was very high. Since I could not stay at home with my children, I would have liked to work on my career. Once my husband started climbing the upward ladder and becoming very successful, I was a resentful that I could not have the same opportunities.
I was willing to work towards job success but did not have the flexibility to do so. When the kids got sick, I left work to be with them. When my husband was transferred, I was quitting one company and starting with another. Also, my husband was not supportive of me finishing school nor was there the money. As mentioned previously, I believed success in the workplace was the key to happiness and respect.
I saw my husband getting recognition, winning trips and therefore, in my book, a better person and more self-fulfilled. As I see it, there were several problems. First, I had no focus. I was working because I thought I should plus my husband wanted me to for financial reasons. I was torn between feeling guilty for not being home with my children and not moving ahead at work.
It made me very frustrated. I needed to be more assertive and discuss with my husband how I was feeling and possibly make ends meet without working. Secondly, I feel my husband could have been more supportive. His focus was his job. He relied on me to take care of the home and kids plus bring in a few bucks without complaint.
I did do that for a long time. I am a very proud person and did not like to fail or admit I may be failing. My discontent to me was a failure. Plus, just as I was given an opportunity to move forward at a job, we were being transferred. I feel he should have been a little less controlling and more supportive of my goals.
I am all for the man in the family being the bread winner and chief financial support for the family. I never felt competition to be better than my husband. I just found it exceedingly difficult to not be able to excel at anything whether career or family. My parents both worked. However, unlike my husband and I, they complemented each other very well. First, they were in the same field and worked together for success in their careers.
They went back for graduate studies together and one never transferred unless the other had a comparable job. I remember my dad tending to my brother and me as much as my mom when we were sick. Everything seemed to be shared. That is how I thought my marriage should be and where my frustrations stemmed. Child Raising Issues. It is the unusual woman who successfully applies her skills and talents at home and in the working world.
In too many cases, the home and children appear to be neglected. Physical neglect is obvious, but emotional neglect is not too clearly defined. In the book Sex, Career, & Family by Michael Fogarty, Rhona Rapaport an Robert Rapaport, many women who dislike children and housework but through choice or circumstances stay home inflict deep emotional damage on their children. On the other hand, mothers who are happy create happy homes and children, whether they work or not. Two-career families may have children, but they do not build their whole lives around them.
They are not as involved with their families as women who stay at home. As referenced in Sex, Career & Family, a study was done of 15,000 women three years after their graduation. These women had planned careers for themselves. It was found that the career-committed didn’t want as many children, on the average, as the homemakers. They were also more willing to let others care for their children.
In two-career homes, the babies do not come all at once at the beginning of the marriage, but in phases with the wife’s work commitments. The environment of two-career homes molds the character of children in a different way than homes where mothers do most of the rearing. Mother-child relationships are less emotional. Parents seem to have more rights, particularly rights to privacy and a shared adult life. Many sociologist feel that wives in two-career families are more interested in a relationship with their husbands than in the homemaking women, who tend to seek their major satisfaction from their children. For several reasons, my children were not the focus of my life for a couple years. First, I had my first child well before I was emotionally ready. I had only been free of my parents for a couple years and married only one. I did not want the responsibility a child brings.
Second, I wanted to finish school before children. Third, there was a growing discontent in my marriage and finally, working full-time took away from the children. It wasn’t until I divorced that my children became my primary focus. Once I divorced, it was natural to dive into my children. I was happy for the first time in a long time.
Several incidences since my divorce have changed the way I think about raising my children and the time I spend with them. Two women I met in Phoenix were both stay-at-home moms/wives. Their children idolized them. Their children were calm. These women had time for all the plays, fairs, boy scouts or the other million activities children are involved.
They were raising their children, not some daycare center. I remember a particular weekend, while going through a divorce, my youngest said she wanted to go to Patty’s house. Patty was her daycare provider. I was glad my child was happy with Patty but sad she found her security there and not with me. Seeing all these circumstance with other families and within my home, I slowly began to change my thinking and focus more towards children. I also had the opportunity to take six months off work to be with my children.
This time was wonderful. My kids loved having me there when they got home from school. They were sick less. They were better behaved. I became involved in school activities.
I really enjoyed it. I know I could be very content staying home with them full-time. However, that is not an option. My job is great. It is the first step towards career advancement I have ever taken. Do I have the drive to go further? Definitely. Career advancement is a very exciting prospect. However, being a single parent, I have to be the one responsible for the kids at all times.
It concerns me a little, both for the employ …