Monday, April 5, 2010

To work or stay at home..

I quit my job last February when I conceived. I know I need to start working, and I want to!! but its not easy..where do I leave Danny? Leaving my baby in day care for 9-10 hours a day doesn't appeal to me. I am so confused...its heart breaking, this choice we women have to make. I have till September (When Danny turns 1) I will HAVE to start working by then. I sometimes want to go back to work NOW where I can have a conversation, and a little break from baby care but then I look at Danny and know what is more important. 5 more months with this beautiful child-I will be there 24/7...

PS: About Danny sitting. HE started sitting without support at a little over 5 months. But he still some way off from crawling...


Shazz said... Best Blogger Tips

I dreaded this thought before I even conceived. I am very luck now that I don't have to make that choice, but I hear you on adult conversation and having a mini life. Do you have a relative you could pay to do it?? Could you work from home maybe??

He's very cute!!

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

Sorry this is so long, but I just completed this essay paper for my university writing class. It was life-changing for me. (I have three kids- 2 1/2, 1 1/2, and a 6 month old and am married)

For Better or Worse: The Dual-Earner Family
Dual-income parenting is relatively new. In 1950, the Bureau of Labor reported that only thirty percent of women were in the work force, and those with children younger than six years of age and worked were twenty-three percent (Hochschild 258). According to Bruce and Reed, “Sixty percent of married women who have children under six years old are in the labor force” (37). There are many theories to pinpoint the cause of this dramatic shift such as the feminist movement, increasing wealth, and cultural acceptability. Whatever the cause may be, there are many effects on familial relationships.
Is having both parents work better for the family or not? On the one hand, some argue that the family’s standard of living will be higher, and therefore a happier family will result. From this perspective, less financial stress is an advantage. For some, it is a necessity that both parents work. On the other hand, however, others argue that relationships suffer with this lifestyle. According to this view, the lifestyle of working parents is a detriment to the husband and wife relationship as well as to child development. In order to more effectively see the impact on the family, I will analyze each member separately and intra-personally.

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

Research demonstrates that the emotional and physical stress of maintaining a dual-income family is intense. Though financial gain is a valid reason, there is more to consider. For example, who will do the day-to-day house work and child care after both parents get home from working “full-time”? How much time will be spent with the children? Who will spend that time with the children? Although some might object that the housework is menial and can be done later or that quality time is better than quantity time or that since a couple is married, they do not need date time, I would reply that the house, the children, and a couple’s relationship all need time to be nurtured. This issue is important because there are negative consequences to having both parents employed outside of the home. For those with a choice, parents need to decide if the consequences are the worth the financial benefits involved. For those that have no choice but to work, parents need to be aware of the ramifications of dual-income parenting and decide how to best counter the side effects.
The most common conflicts for men and women are what are termed role overload and role conflict. These two ideas sum many of the problems inherent in dual-earner families. Role overload occurs when one person takes on too many roles than is able to timely, emotionally, or physically accomplish for reasons such as lack of time or energy. When husbands and wives engage in a dual-earner lifestyle, both husband and wife take on roles such as breadwinner, house-keeper, and care provider in some proportion. Whereas, traditionally, the husband has the breadwinner role and the wife the homemaker role, and both contribute to the rearing of the children more or less. Role conflict “refers to the conflict that arises between the expectations of two different roles that a person adopts” (Paden and Bueler 101). Paden and Bueler give the example of the working mother. The woman is expected to be “aggressive, competitive and committed to her work.” While, at home, she is expected to be nurturing, compassionate, and patient with her family as a wife and mother. This mental circus act of trying to meet everyone’s expectations requires a lot of mental work, exertion, and fatigue. Consequently, these couples are at a higher risk for mental and physical ailments (101-102).
For some men, role conflict runs deep. The man wants to take responsibility for his role as the sole monetary provider for his family and he thinks that is what makes him a good parent. So, when the husband forsakes his role in order to share it and then takes on more feminine roles, he also builds resentment for not being able to fulfill his role properly. His role is not simple nor well-defined. In general, this is a problem, because men like to have things clear-cut. By his definition of a good parent, he then becomes incompetent and this runs over into other areas of his life (Perry-Jenkins, Repetti, and Crouter 990).
To stem this emotional turmoil, it was found through the study of “Coping with the Dual-Income Lifestyle” that men most often cope with this hectic lifestyle through cognitive restructuring and withdrawing. Cognitive restructuring is when a person rationalizes a situation or reconstructs the issue as a positive one. He may remind himself that they need the money or that he is proud of his wife for being so smart. Withdrawing is leaving the situation for a certain amount of time, such as going to play video games or get “alone time.” Withdrawing only occasionally seemed to help buffer depressive symptoms. However, if used as a long-term coping device, withdrawing had severe consequences for the marriage. For men, talking with someone about the situation made it worse and was not a good coping mechanism and resulted in higher reports of role overload for men (Paden and Bueler 107).

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

A typical day for a dual-earner husband is that he works all day and then comes home to his wife and kids. However, his wife just got home from work as well. Both husband and wife are tired and ready to have some leisure time (and the men usually get more of it). Yet, he still has to help or play with the kids or clean house, because his wife will either ask (or demand) for some help or he will feel compelled by his conscience. Compared to husbands who are single-earners, dual-earner men actually do more household chores and child care, but still not near as much as the wife (Perry-Jenkins 983-984). Also, husbands are more likely than the working wives to spend more time proportionately with the children. “More men than women take their children on ‘fun’ outings to the park, the zoo, the movies. Women spend more time on maintenance, feeding and bathing children. . . . Men also do fewer of the ‘undesireable’ household chores: fewer men than women wash toilets…” (Hochschild 261).
And the women are even more tired. While the men describe coming home after a long day to unwind, the women describe coming home after a long day to start work again (Perry-Jenkins 983-984). Women tend to ascribe the issues with dual-earner households more as their responsibility and problem. The tasks of the home and the children, traditionally, are her arena. However, she must realize how much she affects others with her stress and mood. The husband and children suffer when mommy suffers (Hochschild 261). Coping mechanisms utilized by women to counter such negativity includes cognitive restructuring (as mentioned earlier) and planning, which is to be organized with one’s time and synchronize family activities for everyone’s sanity (Paden and Bueler 104-108).
Interestingly enough, in dual-income couples, the mothers suffer from more physical ailments as well as depression than their husbands. From these conclusions, one might infer that this lifestyle is harder on the woman than on the man. Yet, I would point out that the issues are hard for both genders, just different. Women have a harder time with role conflict (being different personas at different times) than men do. On the other hand, men have a harder time dealing with role overload (too many demands on his time). I would also like to emphasize that although women have more depression than men, men still have depression, as well as other physical ailments, as a result of this lifestyle. Windle and Dumenci find that “higher levels of parental stress and occupational stress and lower levels of marital satisfaction…were associated with higher levels of depression for both men and women. Also parental and occupational stress was equally predictive of depressive symptoms for women and men (630-632).
However, the dual-earner lifestyle is particularly difficult for mothers with young children under six years old. They are more tired, because younger children demand more of her time and energies, including at night. The added responsibility to make sure that the children are cared for properly and adequately by another added to role conflict. Many mothers felt that caring for their child was their responsibility and felt “guilty” of not being a “good mom” because they worked away from their child(ren). Some used cognitive restructuring and felt that they are a “good mom” because they are simply letting someone keep their child safe, and after work, resume the title of mother as if she had not been gone all day. Yet a smaller number of women, plainly stated that their role had been taken by another as mother due to allocating their child’s care to someone else (Uttal 297-307).

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

By having non-parental care, do the children actually suffer? When “parents are highly stressed, they are likely to be unresponsive and inattentive to their children” (Ehrenberg 144). “People who report more conflict and overload due to the combination of work and family roles tend to also describe emotional distress, and these experiences are linked to problematic parent-child relationship and negative child outcomes” (986-987). “In one study, both maternal self-reports and observers indicated that mothers were more withdrawn from their preschoolers on days when the mothers had experienced greater workloads or interpersonal stress at work (Perry-Jenkins 988). These conclusions all tell us the same thing. Children are affected by their parents’ working. This holds true regardless of the age of children. For adolescents, academic achievement is less (Perry-Jenkins 984) and they have more indirect aggression (Rosembaum and Morrett 733). Mothers working during the first three years of the child’s life was associated with the child having lower vocabulary scores until about nine years old (Perry-Jenkins 983). Along with “lower cognitive outcomes and slower language acquisition among children in the first three years of life,… [it has] a particularly adverse effect if parents started working such a schedule before the child’s first birthday” (Rosenbaum and Morett 733).

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

Some parents try to mitigate some of these effects of dual-working parents by having non-overlapping shifts, so that one parent is always with the child. But contrary to popular belief, this situation is the most damaging of all. Both parents work, but essentially they are both single working parents for all intents and purposes. They are alone to hold down the fort everyday when the other is gone. Otherwise, even when they are “at home” and not at work, they are unavailable and sleeping in order to be ready for the next shift. Instead of both parents coming home after work to start on dinner and play with the kids, one parent is stuck with all of the responsibilities with the children, home, and work. Then, they trade off, and keep going (Hattery 421). Evidence suggests that this type of schedule is associated with “lower marital quality” because spouses saw each other even less than standard shift couples, had more arguments and stress, and were more unhappy (Rosembaum and Morett 733). Another study suggests that the risk of divorce is also higher with this shift arrangement ( Perry-Jenkins 983). The epitome of damage is with the mother working the non-standard shift. In the study “The Effect of Parents’ Joint Work Schedules on Infants’ Behavior Over the First Two Years of Life…” Rosembaum and Morett show that infants have more behavioral problems when one parent works a nonstandard shift, and it was worse for the infant when the mother worked the nonstandard shift. More women than men work the nonstandard shift in order to “be there” for the kids so this finding is significant for mothers to consider. Surprisingly, when the father switched from nonstandard to day-time shifts, the infants’ behavior problems diminished. So, although the mother is the most important part of the equation, the father is a valid component as well to the well-being of children concerning the timing of the work shift.
So, what if both parents need to work? Are their marriage and their children doomed? Well, potentially. It is important to note, however, that compared to the average dual-earner family and their children, children of single mothers and low-income parents had the most optimistic long-term outcomes (983). However, knowing the ramifications of this lifestyle, a couple can look to what they can do to offset these patterns. Nothing can fully eradicate the consequences, but there are some actions that can lessen the damage. The first step is to be aware of what is happening and acknowledging that all of the problems listed in this paper can and will probably happen over time unless something is done. Knowing what the battle is against is most of the battle.

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

Job complexity is an important component for both father and mother. Fathers who had greater autonomy and complexity at work had higher self-esteem, and less “authoritarian” parenting styles. If the mother must engage in this battle for whatever reason, she and the children will be better if she also has a job that requires higher level thinking skills and is also challenging to her. This factor is important because if the job she holds is easy, it “may drain parental energy, discourage childrearing values and practices that teach children to internalize norms” (985). In addition, when the mother had a more complex job, their children had higher reading scores. Also, parents were more “warm” with their children and gave “higher quality” explanations to their children than parents with low complexity jobs (Perry-Jenkins 985-986). So, if working is the plan, couples need to try to obtain a job that requires higher complexity and is mentally challenging for them.
The study of “Child Task Division and Shared Parenting Attitudes in Dual-Earner Families…” suggests three other beneficial practices for this lifestyle. The first is “support.” When the wives felt supported by the husbands and husbands by the wives, they feel less parental stress and feel more connected as a couple. Flexibility of family responsibilities is another practice that lessened familial stress. Even if roles are defined of who does what, if someone had a particularly hard day, the other took up the slack in housework. Lastly, shared parenting values and goals between the couples helped couples have unity. Less stress is accrued when parents don’t have to argue about “what is best” for the children on top of everything else. Parents feel more at ease if the other spouse believes the same as they do in child-rearing (Ehrenberg et. al 144). Another study also suggests some more buffers. A correlated aspect found to “significantly reduce behavioral problems” in infants is eating dinner as a family as well as frequent, quality father-child interaction (Rosenbaum and Morett 739).

Amanda said... Best Blogger Tips

Although these attempts to mitigate the effects on children and spouses will help lessen the stress families feel, help spouses feel connected, and help children to cope, there is still a lot of stress, disconnectedness, and coping within the family dynamics of dual-earner lifestyles. Some couples choose this lifestyle on purpose to maintain a standard of living, some out of feminist peer pressure, and some out of necessity. Values, goals, and beliefs need to be addressed as a family, for the family. Whether the lifestyle is worth the consequences, including material wealth, physical ailments, more behavioral issues with all aged children, emotional turmoil, retarded development in children, possible divorce, and less leisure time, is a choice to be addressed and executed. The husband, the wife, and the children will all be affected, for better or worse.

Works Cited
Ehrenberg, Marion F., Margaret Gearing-Small, Michael A. Hunter, and Brent J. Small. "Childcare Task Division and Shared Parenting Attitudes in Dual-Earner Families with Young Children." Family Relations 50.2 (2001): 143-53. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
Hattery, Angela J. "Tag-Team Parenting: Costs and Benefits of Utilizing Nonoverlapping Shift Work in Families With Young Children." Families in Society 82.4 (2001): 419. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
Hochschild, Arlie. The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home. New York, N.Y.: Viking, 1989. 258-262. JSTOR. Web. 2 Mar. 2010.
Paden, Shelley L., and Cheryl Buehler. "Coping With the Dual-Income Lifestyle." Journal of Marriage and Family 57.1 (1995): 101-10. JSTOR. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.
Perry-Jenkins, Maureen, Rena L. Repetti, and Ann C. Crouter. "Work and Family in the 1990s." Journal of Marriage and Family 62.4 (2000): 981-98. JSTOR. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.
Rosenbaum, Emily, and Christopher R. Morett. "The Effect of Parents' Joint Work Schedules on Infants' Behavior Over the First Two Years of Life: Evidence from the ECLSB." Maternal and Child Health Journal 13.6 (2009): 732-44. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
Uttal, Lynet. "Custodial Care, Surrogate Care, and Coordinated Care: Employed Mothers and the Meaning of Child Care." Gender and Society 10.3 (1996): 291-311. JSTOR. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.
Windle, Michael, and Levent Dumenci. "Parental an Occupational Stress as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms Among Dual-Income Couples: A Multilevel Modeling Approach." Journal of Marriage and Family 59.3 (1997): 625-34. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.

Works Consulted
Bruce, Willa, and Christine Reed. "Preparing Supervisors for the Future Work Force: The Dual-Income Couple and the Work-Family Dichotomy." Public Administration Review 54.1 (1994): 36-43. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
Higgins, Christopher, Linda Duxbury, and Catherine Lee. "Impact of Life-Cycle Stage and Genderon the Ability to Balance Owrk and Family Responsibilities." Family Relations 43.2 (1994): 144-50. JSTOR. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

So insanely cute!! Wow time does fly... it feels like it was only last week that your brother posted about his birth and he is 6 months already! I really didn't think anyone would notice that I stopped blogging and surprised to see some comments. Thanks for being there for me.

Mike said... Best Blogger Tips

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