Work and the Family
The interaction of adults and children is one to be treasured. When a person becomes a parent they change. He/she instantly becomes more mature and are forced to take on numerous responsibilities. However, every parent will agree it is the best feeling one can have. It is truly a privilege to bring a child into this world, and there is nothing more special than to begin a family. During this course I choose to help facilitate two chapters: Work and Family and To Parent or not to Parent. This is what I have learned… This course had three required texts including The New Peoplemaking by Virginia Satir, Marriages and Families by Mary Ann Lamana and Agnes Reidmann, and Annual Editions by a variety of authors. These three articles really helped me to shed light on some of the hidden topics in family life. What exactly is a family? As defined in the Lamana text it is any sexually expressive or parent-child or other kin relationship in which people live together with a commitment in an intimate interpersonal relationship. Family members see their identity as importantly attatched to the group, which has an identity of its own. Families today take on several forms: single-parent, remarried, dual career, communal, homosexual, traditional, and so forth. More and more families are struggling to make the connection of work and family fit together. There are many issues that working families face such as when if ever will the parents go back to work, child care issues, finances, stress, marital strain, division of labor, and and many more topics. As tradition has it men are the breadwinners of the family but during recent years that role seems to be changing. More and more women have white collar jobs, and are bringing home more money. Tradition leads us to believe that men bring home all the money and women stay home with the kids. However, now in the 2000’s dual career marriages are more popular , and women are coming home to the “second shift”, referring to the unpaid house work waiting for parents at the end of the work day. Women spend on average 20 hours per week doing housework. Another change is that men are doing an increase the amount of housework that they are participating in. Husbands and wives are beginning to share the responsibilities, not just leave it to the husband or the wife. Some options for working around this dilehma might be switching to home based work or part-time jobs instead of full-time. According to the US Census in 1997 47 percent of women did not return to the work force within one year of having a baby. These decisions need to be made before a child is announced. The couple needs to think about how they will cope with a child added to their lives and how things will change. When a baby arrives it is also important to maintain intimacy in the relationship along with the building of better communication, changing roles in the family, and best of all fulfilling the blueprint of your new family. This struggle is from the decision to parent. The majority of US citizens decide to become parents, and some become parents unexpectedly. This is one of the single most rewarding experiences in ones life, and it is not to be taken for granted. Many couples are faced with infertility issues and are unable to have their own children. When a couple knows they are faced with fertility issues they have a couple options. The two biggest are adoption and the use of fertility drugs. Both of these have pros and cons. When two people adopt they may fear the possibility of the birth parents coming back wanting to take the child back. With fertility drugs there are many risks such as multiple births, defects, learning disabilities, downs syndrome, and a multitude of other problems. In today’s society there have been three emerging options which in clude remaining childless, postponing parenthood, and having a one-child family. Many couples want time for themselves before deciding to become a parent. Marriages are more likely to be stronger if postponing pregnancy is an issue. It gives the newlyweds time to enjoy the marriage before adding a child. And many people want to have time for their “toys” such as new cars, big screen televisions, boats, four wheelers, and so forth before having children. Sometimes women have unplanned pregnancies for whatever reason it may have been a rape, unprotected sex, or lack of birth control. When a woman finds out she is pregnant she is faced with a choice that she will have to make that will affect her for the rest of her life. The first step is to sit down with her partner, if he is still there. They must look at all the options available. They may choose to abort the baby, put it up for adoption, or raise the child. Teen pregnancy has been on the rise in recent years. In 1997, 13 percent of all births were to teenage girls. Among those teen births 76 percent were outside a marriage (Ventura 1998). Theh United States has by far the highest rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, and birthrates of any industrialized country (Forrest et al.1993). Studies have shown teen mothers often have less education and are more likely to live at poverty level. They also seem to pass on the cycle of the pregnant teen unwed mother. There are also many social pressures in to days society when deciding to have children. The cost of living is rising rapidly. For a family income of less than $35,000, each child from birth to age 18 will cost approximatly $761,871 (Longman 1998). To clothe a child to age 18 is costs approximatly $22, 063. And girls cost 18 percent more than boys accodring to the USDA. When children finally leave home household spending falls by almost 30 percent (Ambry 1993). Therefore the pressures that society puts on people affects their decision to become parents. If and when a couple decides to become parents they must weigh the affects on their relationship. Who will work? When will the cleaning get done? Who will take care of the children? Who will provide day care? All of these questions must be answered. From my own personal perspective I would hope I am married before I have children. I would sit down with him and we would discuss how we would handle it. I strongly prefer not to put my children in day care. I either prefer to have my own day care where my child will be enrolled, or to switch shifts with my husband where he would work days and I would work at night, so we would equally be spending quality time with our children. I am not completly sure I would like the option of staying home with the children and not working, I wouln’t feel as if I was doing my part financially. I discuss this issue with all of my potential partners before settling down in a relationship, not when it’s SUPRISE! I’m pregnant! I think these issues need to be discussed prior. When two people do start a family quality time becomes scarce. On average working women only spend 6.6 hours of quality time with their children, per week, which includes feeding, bathing, reading, and playing. For unemployed women it rises to 12.9 hours per week. The rate for employed men in 2.5 while unemployed slightly raises to 2.6 hours per week (”The Myth of Quality Time”). Many parents begin to feel as if they have becom a taxi service. I personally think it comes with the job. Its 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you are always on duty or on call, and it doesn’t pay a dime. What could be better than starting a family? You are passing your genes onto the next generation. There is no greater challenge than to raise a child with morals and values, its the greastest thing the life cycle. Even though death is a part of this cycle it is truly amazing how this world keeps turning from one generation to the next. Even with all the ups and downs, the good times and the bad, its all worth it to me. The gift of life is truly a miricle in itself. The connections between work and family are plentiful. It’s all about finding a happy medium between the two. Families are the center of everything in this world. Take a step back and look how lucky we must be. Do not ever take anything for granted, and tell the people you love that you do love them, they might not be here tomorrow.