Should Mothers Prioritize Work, or Look After Their Children?
All over the world, from the developed west to the developing east, women are faced with a strange problem, the solution to which is as complex as it is tricky. Should we prioritize work, or should we look after our children?
Any working mother will agree that the choice is not really a choice at all. Working gives a woman a sense of purpose, puts her in control of her self, provides much needed financial stability and helps set an example for children. But then again, working mothers often have to leave kids at daycare or with a nanny, and neither of these facilities is fully equipped to handle children in India. With rising reports of children being abused at daycare centers, and with the knowledge that a nanny is just a maid who stays longer hours, there’s no denying how tricky it is to leave our precious children in their care and go to work.
But does this mean that all stay-at-home moms are happy? How many of us have looked for work from home jobs that often do not do justice to our skills?
How many times have we felt like the control of our lives is in the hands of the working spouse and their family? How many of us had degrees and well-earning jobs before having kids?
In an ideal scenario, it is expected that one spouse works and brings home the daily bread while the other looks after the home and children. But humans we are, and humans are prone to fallacies. More often than not, even in urban households, the financially dependent spouse feels helpless, lost and at someone’s mercy. Sure, some people have struck the ideal balance, but some still struggle with it, sometimes even being subjected to silent abuse.
What option should we choose? Should we stay at home and look after the kids or should we leave them with caregivers and go to work?
The answer is fairly straightforward- make the choice you will truly be happy with. If you think you can quit a job and be happy with a break, go ahead. But if you have the slightest of doubts that quitting and staying at home will make you a bitter person, your kids will probably be better off seeing you for just a few hours, but as a happy person. Likewise, when you do decide to stay at home, remember that life isn’t a race to see who buys Zara clothes, who gets that swanky new apartment or who eats at the swishest of eateries. Therefore when you feel picked upon at family gatherings by ‘well-meaning’ relatives, develop a thick skin and move on.
More importantly, every mother – working or stay-at-home’ – loves her kid just as much as their counterparts. Never judge and never ever doubt your love for your child.
If you make the choice to be a working parent, arrange for a solid support system you can always count on. Once you leave for work, stay detached until you come home again. Look for flexibility. Most importantly, if you meet a stay at home parent, don’t judge. Don’t harp on about how horrible they are for the economy and how they’re wasting their education- they’re doing a job people don’t sign up for lightly.
In the meantime, let’s all wait for flexible workplace policies, well equipped daycares, trained nannies and pray for peace of mind while we are at it.