The culture has traditionally assumed that mothers should manage the home and the father should leave the house to work. Unfortunately, families are under a lot of pressure these days trying to make ends meet financially. Both parents are likely to work at a job outside of the home. In many families both parents also share the responsibilities of taking care of the children and the home unfortunately this is unpaid labor. The more difficult it becomes to have enough money for rent, food, and fuel, the more hours parents spend working. Financial problems lead to emotional stress such as anxiety, frustration and impatience. Not only that but when children have less time with their parents the children suffer.
Each family has a relationship based on emotional ties of love and dependence. The economic stress causes anxiety and frustrations that can lead to fights and other emotional problems within families. Many families may have only one parent at home because the other has to travel for work or because of divorce. Then it becomes necessary to rely on the extended family or the community for support. When children are in the home more money is needed for childcare and gasoline for the car in order to get everyone where they need to be. Traveling back and forth to jobs, daycare, school and the grocery store costs money for gas and it takes time.
Mothers deal with a lot of emotional stress about not staying home to raise their children. Due to the traditional cultural belief about mothers staying at home, women usually feel guilty going to work. A father has emotional stress when he feels guilty about not making enough money which causes his wife to work, too. Organizing a life without enough money causes people to have emotional stress that can easily show up both at work and at home. Unfortunately, after working a full day at a job then coming home to continue household chores is exhausting. The exhaustion and worry causes the situation to become worse, not better.
Not only has the culture assumed that women ‘should’ stay at home, there are other traditional cultural assumptions that are still popular. a) A stay at home parent (assumed to be a ‘mom’) should be dependent economically on the man of the house, b) women should not earn money because it is unnatural and even c) staying at home to raise children and fix the house is where women should be – not working at paying jobs. These assumptions are all holdovers from our previous history when the economy, the availability of jobs, and even our culture were much different than now. Also for poor people the choice of staying home has not usually been a choice available to them throughout history.
Many surveys and studies have been done to determine women’s modern attitudes about professional jobs and housework. The results show that women prefer having a job. A job offers both personal satisfaction as well as a chance to earn money. Many women want to work at least part time when they have children. Women face problems including being stereotyped at work and trying to fill too many roles. They are often expected to work extra hours or they will lose their jobs.
A big problem exists because jobs are not designed to accommodate families. Some companies refuse to change. But those companies that do change have had success by making their work environment more family-friendly. There are many ways for companies to become flexible and adapt to employees with families. Sometimes day care centers are added on the site. Flextime helps people make sure their children can be driven to classes and picked up on time. With flextime people are able to get groceries without having to rush through traffic because they know they have enough time before they have to get back to work. Often when a mother and/or father approach the management at their job they can negotiate for less conflict between work and their families. Also public policy has to make the changes necessary to support women and families in the workplace.