Working parents' guilt

Working parents' guilt

Working parents are finding it more difficult to juggle work and family. theAsianparent examines this dilemma and offers advice on how to restore the balance between work and family.

Working parents' guiltAs a result of not being able to tend to one’s child because of work, a lot of parents end up with a gnawing feeling of guilt. Even those who work from home may easily be plagued by such guilt.

For a lot of us who are “saddled” with this guilt, we simply try to ignore it as much as we can. But newsflash: we are being hugely unfair to ourselves this way. Living with guilt is like driving a car with the handbrakes on. This negative feeling would always drain your energy; it could always leave you feeling miserable. Get rid of this extra baggage by resolving this issue once and for all.

Let us start with some basic background:

Two of the most common work/kid guilt battles:

1. Dual Income Families

Over the past 20 years, the workplace has significantly evolved from being male-dominated to one that welcomes women even up to the highest rung of the ladder. The traditional notion of women getting hitched to marital bonds and ending up staying at home after graduating college is fast becoming a thing of the past.

It does not matter if one of the parents works at home -- he still has to distance himself from the child when he is working (or else, he could not do anything at all!)

The work vs. child guilt is especially evident during the child’s first 3 to 4 years. These are our children’s formative years and it’s natural to wish that you could spend every minute of the day with them.

2. Single Parent

It may be difficult to admit this, but single parents are more susceptible to the “working parent’s guilt”. For a lot of parents, we can easily whisk our child to our parents or in-laws so we can focus on our career. We much rather our child be financially secure than to spend hours on end with him, but this approach leave him with less.

Most common reasons for working despite guilt:

1. Financial

Bills have to be paid. The children’s education doesn’t come cheap, and when they go to college, it will get worse on the pocket. Single parents have no other choice but to go out and work. Dual income families do it to make ends meet. It’s a fact of life.

2. Stuck with the responsibility

A single parent has no other choice. He/She is stuck with the responsibility of going out to make sure there is food on the table. For dual income families, It could be that the father have a very lucrative business or a highly gratifying job that also pays handsomely for the family; and the wife inherits a family business that no one else can have.

3. Preferred lifestyle

My friend Cathy is an accountant with a MNC. She drives herself to work in a brand-new pick-up truck that would make any guy droll. She could have bought a car but she likes the size and the power of its 230 horse power, 4.7 liter, V-8 engine. Plus, she could well afford it. “This (working lifestyle) is something I have grown accustomed to. I have been working all my life and, except for the short period of rest after I gave birth to my baby, I could not imagine myself staying at home.”

When asked about her relationship with her baby, she admits she wishes she could spend more time with her, but adds, “If I would force myself to become a full-time mom, I think I would go bonkers!”

Guilt blown out of proportion?

Working parent’s guilt may come as a result of having one, or a combination or all three, reasons stated above. But what is guilt?

Guilt is what you feel if you think (regardless of the validity of your thoughts) that you have done something wrong.Mostly, guilt is that nagging feeling if we feel we fell short of certain standards – the question is: Whose standards was it?

Are you affected by your mother-in-law who looks at you disapprovingly while shaking her head? Is it your neighbour who says, “How can you afford to leave your child to your nanny the whole day”?

You can clearly see that all three are valid reasons (even my friend Cathy’s reason) that nobody should be guilty about. Do not be affected by what others would say or think – for all you know, deep inside, they envy you for your successful career.

Striking a balance

Don’t forget to balance your career with your time for your baby. You may not be with your child for most of the day, but you can give him quality time when you are home. You can schedule a day of the week (and I don’t necessarily mean every week) that you can devote solely for your bonding time with the baby.

It’s all about balance and the right perspective. You must have thought hard about the alternative of not going to work. But then, you will be faced with another set of problems which would mostly be financial in nature. Or if you are like my friend Cathy, you would be very unhappy and miserable being stuck inside the house: this would also affect your relationship with your child.

Nothing is perfect, life is about making choices along the way. As long as you do not forget your priorities, you are on the right track. Count your blessings and enjoy the highs and lows of modern parenting.


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Written by

Ron Afable

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