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Post no. 78 (Nista’ – Sharing work-life responsibilities)

February 24, 2012

This is really beginning to grate now.

After a gruelling day’s work, and after having completed all the chores for the day, the next thing on your to-do list is probably to flop gracelessly on the sofa and watch some TV, read a book, give your thumbs a work out in front of the Playstation … but no. You’ve got your children to contend with.

Now let’s forget the ad life for a minute, where everybody smiles and nobody gets on anybody else’s nerves. Children are a bundle of joy, no doubt about that. But they’re also a bale of woe. And when they’re in brat mode, they couldn’t be arsed about sharing your work-life responsibilities, believe me. That’s where tempers flare – and no amount of warm smiles and reassuring squeezes will pour oil on the roaring waves.

I had always believed in the “qualitative” existence of this, but when I started taking Julian to school I realised how deep and unseen the ramifications were.

After having dropped him off and waved good-bye I weave  through gaggles of grannies and stay at home mums sprinkled along my way home. I never mean to eavesdrop but sometimes bits of conversation just flutter into your ears, like:

“It’s not fair, is it? Me, in my twilight years having to put up with my kids’ kids.”


“This is nice. She [presumably her daughter] works so she can go on a cruise – during which she’ll lump her with me – and I’m here stuck with this girl all year round.”


“I had forgotten what it entailed when I accepted to look after them [her kids] for her, while she works”

I was even told a story, once, in which the mother works night shifts and the father isn’t good with kids (whatever that means). Their daughter spends practically the whole week living at her grandmother’s. The mother gets to see her daughter fleetingly in the morning before she’s whisked off to school.

I have three questions that remain unanswered.

a) Why have kids?

b) If the parents are working to pay off a loan, why didn’t they save a bit more before having kids? Or even marry at a later stage?

c) Why hasn’t anybody told young couples not to bite off more than they can chew?

I don’t think that this is a matter of sharing work-life responsibilities. I’d rather say this is a case of getting one’s priorities right.

Family life is not about fitting family around work, but the other way round. Everything we do should be geared towards safeguarding our family. This is not management-speak. What sort of family leaves its children with the grandparents so both parents can work? Or go on holiday? What’s the point of buying a nice house jam-packed with mod cons when you don’t spend time in it, to enjoy it?

Unfortunately much is being done to undermine the traditional roles of parents. From the basic – and true – premise that men and women are equal, it has been speciously argued that they are interchangeable. A patent lie. Now I’m not saying that women should never work. But when a woman has a more important job to do, viz. looking after her own children, she should delay going back to work as long as possible. Nothing is more important than a good upbringing. Not even your career. Put it on hold, if need be. The couple should plan their future to ensure that this is possible.


From → The Gripevine

  1. “But when a woman has a more important job to do, viz. looking after her own children, she should delay going back to work as long as possible”

    Is there ever a good time to hand your kids over to someone else? I suppose when they enter primary school would be the best time, but people don’t take 5-6+ year breaks from careers. It sounds like you’re effectively saying that mothers shouldn’t have careers, except that you explicitly said that you weren’t saying that.

    I suppose you’re saying “Figure it out for yourself, but bottom line, the mother needs to be there for her kids”, but since it’s nearly impossible to work and be a fulltime mom and be a living human being at the same time, that’s kind of a copout. Why not just come out with it and say “Mothers shouldn’t have careers”?

    • I don’t really believe that mothers shouldn’t have careers. But their primary role should be taking care of their children.

      I gather you have children yourself. You don’t need me to tell you how demanding – on every level – they are.

      One can either stuff them silly with toys, so that when both parents are back from work neither will have to deal with them on a really personal level, or one can stick a finger in and play along with them. Did I mention the chores? There are those, too.

      You often hear the term “quality time” bandied about quite a bit. You don’t just decide to have “quality time” at the drop of a hat, the way I see it. Quality time is a pocket of that vast amount of time spent “doing nothing”.

      Nice to see you again 😉

  2. Likewise!

    Yes, I too have a bundle-of-joy/bale-of-woe. My wife and I manage to pull off (usually) a two-person juggling act, balancing careers and our daughter. Usually it takes the shape of me focusing relatively more on work, but it’s more of the de-facto situation than a hard-fast rule we adhere to.

    In my book, as long as both the parents are in the picture and the kid is being raised (whether that’s 70% Dad / 30% Mom, or the reverse, or 50/50 – that’s a good thing.

    But I do completely agree about dumping the kids on grandparents. I have a few associates in the 50-65 set who pulling at least half the weight of parenting themselves, and it’s really not fair. If we were to move the clocks back 100 years, the parents would be moving back in with the kids to be cared for themselves. 30 somethings are getting a bargain already, leave the folks alone.

  3. You may or may not be aware that here in Malta there’s been a “push” to entice women – especially mothers – back into the workforce. It’s an initiative called Nista’ (Maltese for “I can)

    Read about it here:

    We’re bombarded with it quite a bit – TV, posters, bill boards, you name it …

    You may remember, from the redistribution post, that I am a fan of natural systems and that I think that one can only deviate so much from what “happens naturally”

  4. In what sense is this deviating from what happens naturally?

    • In the first few years of life a child should be cared for exclusively by his/her parents – and the mother should be much more heavily involved in this than the father. We can’t just abandon our children in child-care centres with the excuse of a career. Money is important, definitely, but it’s nothing compared to the responsibility of raising children well.

      I know this will ruffle a few feathers, but it’s the way I see it 😉

  5. I’m with you as far as parental involvement, but I’m skeptical as to how much, if any, difference it would make between whether the mother or father takes the lions share of baby care (rhyme!).

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