Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Working vs non-working parents
Yesterday I happened to watch on TV an all-woman discussion programme. I missed the initial part, but the topic seemed to be "Difficulties of Bringing up Children".
I heard one woman say: "When mothers work, the children are deprived of love. Often the father is always in the office. Imagine if the mother is also always in her office! The role the mother plays for her child is unique and she fails in that if she works. Children are definitely at a disadvantage when their mothers work...."
There was near unanimity among the 15 or so women in the group, since there was no counterargument; except from one.
This is what she said: "Even if both parents work, they can definitely find time to be with their children. Cases of fathers almost always missing from home because of work are exceptions rather than the rule. In most cases working parents are able to make some arrangement by which children are looked after well...
"... What is important is not the amount of time but the quality of time that is spent with kids. If children of working parents are cared for in the proper manner, then such kids, turn out to be far more independent, mature, and better developed in an all-round sense, than kids who are constantly propped up by parents, especially by their mothers."
This lady also countered the earlier speaker saying the role of not just the mother is unique, but that of the father too is unique. A perpetually missing father is as bad as a perpetually missing mother, she said. A very crucial point often underestimated, well stated by that woman.
Sadly the importance of what this lady said was completely lost in a very poorly compered programme, and among the majority of women who didn't seem to have a full understanding of what parenting is all about.
Let me add a couple of points. It's often considered that money is the one criterion which drives mothers in India to work. A rich man's wife would rather prefer to be at home. It could be true. But to say that, is totally unfair and insulting. Not just mothers, even fathers shouldn't just be working for money. There's a world which no amount of money can buy.
Leave aside money. Mothers work also to keep their intellect alive and occupied. A working woman is often much better acquainted with the ways of the world than a mother who doesn't know what it means to commute to office and back, and work under a Boss.
Also, working parents, who fruitfully manage their time and resources are a source of inspiration for their children.
A good set of parents are able to mutually come to an understanding on how they can divide their working and home hours among themselves and with their children. This is not some sort of Utopian situation; but I know a parents who are able to strike this magic balance quite well. And, it shows in them and their children.