Having children … Stopping work

Be honest now, how many of you thought I was referring to men stopping work after setting up family? Probably very few and this for a variety of reasons…

Women’s day was a few days ago and in honour of the occasion it feels to me as if I have been bombarded by a variety of opinions regarding women and their activities with a particular focus on women who stop working to take care of their families. I am sure there were other points related to women and women’s affairs mentioned but the one that stuck was women, children and work.

I don’t propose to tell anyone what to do and which decisions to take. I don’t have children myself so even though I know what (I think) I would do in the situation I have not yet had to decide. These are the sort of decisions that should be made within the family core – the woman and her partner. The in-laws should stay out of it; society should not poke its nose into the affair.

Unfortunately the expectations which have, sometimes subconsciously, been drummed into us play an important part in this decision making process for the majority of people. Our culture is still such that for the majority of people, once the children arrive, the woman is naturally expected to stop work, or greatly reduce her working hours so that someone will be there for the children. And there is nothing wrong with taking care of the children and sharing with them the experience of growing up. What I object to, in principle, is that in many cases it does not even occur to people that one should discuss which parent will be the homemaker and which parent will be the breadwinner. Both are very important roles and both parents should be eligible for either job.

To be fair, the mentality is changing. Many more women keep their jobs or careers even after they have children. Most stop for a year or two though until the children are old enough to go to nursery. What I find strange is that so very few fathers opt to stay at home and be the home maker. I know very few people locally who decided this way would work for them. In England there were many more.

The scope of this blog: why is it that automatically we think of the mother as the homemaker and the father as the breadwinner? It is what our parents did and their parents before them. Does that necessarily mean it is the only way? Can’t things be done otherwise? Can’t we at least sit around a table and discuss what would be the best choice?

Oh, and by the way, I am no unreasonable feminist. If I had children I would want to be there when they took the first step, the first tumble, said the first word… So most likely I would prefer to work less and spend more time with the kids, but I would expect the courtesy of discussing it and deciding on what would work out best for the family. Finances, after all, very often pull strings we’d much rather weren’t there.

One thought on “Having children … Stopping work

  • Reply Priscilla Mifsud 25th March 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I enjoyed reading this article but I’m afraid we’re a long way to go from sitting around the table and discussing which parent should be a stay-at-home parent after all. To be fair however, I feel that many men are doing their best nowadays in being active participants in the home rather than solely outside of it. And it also depends on the possibilities offered to men and women alike by the job provider. So many issues to consider, it’s not that simple. Also we’re a long way to go because the sense of guilt which pervades women when it comes to dealing with these situations is so strong I really don’t know whether it’s a nature/nurture situation for us to have it. So much so that the article does end with the note that the author is not trying to be an ‘unreasonable feminist’ and the note of apology can be felt at the end of it all.

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