When Both Parents are Employed Socio-economic conditions inNorth America have contributed to the need for dual incomesfor families. Economically, “the number of two parentfamilies below the poverty line would increase to anestimated 78% if they were to become single incomefamilies.” (Ontario Women’s Directorate 9) Socially, it wasthe norm, in the past, for women to stay at home having amore expressive role in the family; taking care of thechildren and providing emotional support for the family.

Presently, women feel that their traditional roles as childbearers and homemakers must be supplemented with a sense ofachievement outside the home. Recent studies reflect anincreased trend towards the dual income family andprojections are for this trend to continue. In 1961, 30% ofmarried women were working; in 1978, 38% were employed; by1981 50% were working and in 1985, 55% held paying positionsoutside the home. (Jarman and Howlett 95) In 1961, only 20%of all two parent families were! dual wage families, but by1986, more than half (53%) of all families were dual earningfamilies.

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(Ramu 26) In light of the fact that the majorityof two parent families in the 1990’s have also become dualwage earning families, it is important to examine theeffects of such a phenomenon on society in general and onchild rearing in particular. Children acquire their goals,values and norms based on the way that they view or identifywith their parents as well as from the quality and amount ofcare, love and guidance given to them by their parents.Parents who work present a different image to their childrenthan parents who do not work.

In addition, wage earners,including parents, must (in most cases), be absent from thehome during the day. When considering these modifications tothe family dynamics, there is considerable basis for proofthat the positive effects outweigh the negative effectsexperienced by offspring in families were both parents areemployed. The working parent occupies an important exemplaryrole within the family. Working parents often commandconsiderable respect from their children, because theydemonstrate the worthy characteristics of industriousness,social compatibility, self reliance, maturity, intelligenceand responsibility. Because children identify with theirparents, the feedback from such positive influences tends tobe positive as well because many of these positivecharacteristics are imparted upon them. A child who observesthe competent coping abilities of a working parent learns inturn, how to cope with life’s problems. At first this maytranslate into an improved sense of self-reliance andindependence for the child as well as an improvement in theability to be socially compatible.

As the child grows, itcan further render a child more emotionally mature and hencemore competent in dealing with responsibility and taskcompletion such as is needed for school work and extracurricu! lar activities. A study by Hoffman in 1974corroborates these observations and therefore one canconclude that, in general, the working parent provides avery positive role model for the child in a family whereboth parents are employed. (Hoffman 18) Attitudes of workingparents pertaining to achievement, responsibility andindependence affect both male and female offspring. Thereseems to be more beneficial effects felt by daughters ofworking women than by sons; however, this neither impliesnor concludes that males do not receive some positiveeffects due to maternal employment.

(Spitz 606) Hoffman hasconcluded that daughters of employed mothers tend to be moreindependent. (Hoffman 73) This tendency may result from thefact that in the mother’s absence, a daughter is often leftto cope with caring for herself: This promotes herindependence and self-reliance. At the same time, thedaughter may also be left with the job of looking after ayounger sibling, helping to promote her sense ofresponsibility. Significant too, is the fact that daughtersof working mother’s tend to be more decisive about theirfutures than sons. Further studies have demonstrated that amother’s employment status and occupation tends to be a goodpredictor of the outcome of the working mother’s daughter,since daughters tend to follow in their mother’s footsteps.

Typically, working mothers held higher educationalaspirations for their children and furthermore, mostdaughters tend to achieve higher grades in school. (Spitz606) It is also important to note that both male and femalechildren acquire more egalitarian sex role attitudes whenboth parents work. Boys with working mothers showed bettersocial and personal skills than boys of non-working mothers.On a negative note, middle-class boys tend to do worse inschool when their mothers worked. (Shreve 118) As well, boyswhose mothers work tend to have strained relationships withtheir fathers due to their perceptive devaluation of theirfather’s worth as an adequate bread-winner.

(Adele 32) Onecan conclude that males may be negatively affected whentheir mothers work, but males and, to a greater degree,females are affected in many positive ways with regards toachievement in independence and responsibility. Adequatechild care is a necessity for parents who both work. It isoften complicated to balance both the parent’s and child’sneeds when using child care. However, it may be possible tosatisfy the demands of both if forethought and prudence areapplied. Many cultures worldwide realize that a child’snurturing can be acquired from a variety of sourcesincluding both adults and older children. Children can be ascomfortable with grandparents, neighbors, professional childcare attendants, and babysitters as they are with their ownmothers.

In fact, a variety of sources for nurturing notonly provide the child with a variety of role models, suchas in the case of grandparents, but it also provides themthe ability to compare these role models and to choose theappropriate characteristics which they will adopt as theirown. One third of all children are looked after byrelatives; 50% of all children in child care situations arebeing looked after by someone unrelated! to them. (Petterson533) To date, in Ontario as in all of Canada, there is noadequate government policy for child care. Funds ear markedfor this area of social assistance are eithermisappropriated or abused. Even now, in 1995, the governmentof Canada has not yet recognized the fact that children area community responsibility and that they should starttreating them as such. (Monsebraaten A1) In the end, theresponsibility of choosing the proper type of child carelies with the working parents.

Proper research of the daycare facilities and employees should include aninvestigation into the availability of superior care in aquality program where rearing beliefs and practices mirrorthose of the parents. When both parents feel confident intheir day care choices, they will view them as supportiveinfluences rather than intrusive ones. This positiveattitude will provide the child with positive feedbackbecause when parents feel good about their lives anddecisions, they communicate their satisfaction to theirchildren in the form of positive feelings. These positivefeelings are then internalized by the children.

(Rodman 576)Difficult as it may seem, it is clear that if forethought,research and adequate investigative techniques are applied,parents can successfully select the child care facilityand/or individual most appropriate to fulfill both their ownan! d their child’s needs. Parents who work alter severaltraditional methods of parenting. The aspects of parentingwhich are most affected are quality, quantity and content.

When considering content, a major point is the preparationof the child for a society in which those children will beadults. Currently, a child has a 50% chance of becomingdivorced, and in the case of a female, a 50% chance ofbecoming a single mother as well as the probability ofbecoming a member of a dual wage earning family. (Shreve 61)Working parents are in a good position to prepare theirchildren for that type of lifestyle.

Healthy family dynamicsincluding team work, sharing, and responsibility, are moreeasily adopted when they are already familiar. As far asquality of parenting, it has been observed that women whoare highly satisfied with their roles whether they work ornot, display higher levels of warmth and acceptance than dodissatisfied mothers and these positive feelings arereflected in their ! relationships with their siblings.(Lerner and Galambous 44) Finally, when considering quantityof time spent on parenting when both parents work, it hasbeen concluded by Hoffman in 1974 that there is noconsistent evidence of deprivation felt by children ofemployed mother’s. In fact, mothers who were better educatedand employed outside the home spent more time with theirchildren even at the expense of their own leisure and sleeptime. (Hoffman 76) Hoffman also proposes that the time spenton employment simply substitutes for time previously spenton needless or less important household tasks which can beperformed by others or not at all.

Researchers question thevalidity of measuring the number of hours a mother spendswith her children. Hoffman found that while working mothersspent less time with their children , the time spent withthem was more likely to be in direct contact with them.Mothers who are at home full time spend only 5% of theirtime in direct in! teraction with their children. (Hoffman75) Employed mothers spend about the same time reading to,playing with and otherwise paying attention to theirchildren as do mothers who stay at home. (Hoffman 76)Because society has changed, the family’s function withinsociety has changed as well. Parental roles have beenmodified to meet these changes. Today, the family’s mostimportant task is to provide emotional security in a vastand impersonal world.

Working parents often possess theskills necessary for responding adequately and creatively tothe increased stress placed on children to succeed in suchan environment. Parents who work must, out of necessity, beadept at providing fresh, innovative and effective modes ofparenting even when time with the child is limited. Thedebate as to whether or not both parents should work or notis really not significant anymore. Both parents are workingand will continue to do so and children are not being raisedtoday in the same way as they were in the past. The nextgeneration of parents will be more confident than theirpredecessors and they and their children will probably neverexperience the dichotomous feelings that t! oday’s parentshave about the dual income family and it’s effects on childrearing. Working outside the home and being a good parent atthe same time is possible and in both of these tasks thereis much to value and treasure.

When Both Parents areEmployed Socio-economic conditions in North America havecontributed to the need for dual incomes for families.Economically, “the number of two parent families below thepoverty line would increase to an estimated 78% if they wereto become single income families.” (Ontario Women’sDirectorate 9) Socially, it was the norm, in the past, forwomen to stay at home having a more expressive role in thefamily; taking care of the children and providing emotionalsupport for the family. Presently, women feel that theirtraditional roles as child bearers and homemakers must besupplemented with a sense of achievement outside the home.Recent studies reflect an increased trend towards the dualincome family and projections are for this trend tocontinue.

In 1961, 30% of married women were working; in1978, 38% were employed; by 1981 50% were working and in1985, 55% held paying positions outside the home. (Jarmanand Howlett 95) In 1961, only 20% of all two parent familieswere! dual wage families, but by 1986, more than half (53%)of all families were dual earning families. (Ramu 26) Inlight of the fact that the majority of two parent familiesin the 1990’s have also become dual wage earning families,it is important to examine the effects of such a phenomenonon society in general and on child rearing in particular.Children acquire their goals, values and norms based on theway that they view or identify with their parents as well asfrom the quality and amount of care, love and guidance givento them by their parents.

Parents who work present adifferent image to their children than parents who do notwork. In addition, wage earners, including parents, must (inmost cases), be absent from the home during the day. Whenconsidering these modifications to the family dynamics,there is considerable basis for proof that the positiveeffects outweigh the negative effects experienced byoffspring in families were both parents are employed. Theworking parent occupies an important exemplary role withinthe family. Working parents often command considerablerespect from their children, because they demonstrate theworthy characteristics of industriousness, socialcompatibility, self reliance, maturity, intelligence andresponsibility. Because children identify with theirparents, the feedback from such positive influences tends tobe positive as well because many of these positivecharacteristics are imparted upon them. A child who observesthe competent coping abilities of a working parent learns inturn, how to cope with life’s problems.

At first this maytranslate into an improved sense of self-reliance andindependence for the child as well as an improvement in theability to be socially compatible. As the child grows, itcan further render a child more emotionally mature and hencemore competent in dealing with responsibility and taskcompletion such as is needed for school work and extracurricu! lar activities. A study by Hoffman in 1974corroborates these observations and therefore one canconclude that, in general, the working parent provides avery positive role model for the child in a family whereboth parents are employed.

(Hoffman 18) Attitudes of workingparents pertaining to achievement, responsibility andindependence affect both male and female offspring. Thereseems to be more beneficial effects felt by daughters ofworking women than by sons; however, this neither impliesnor concludes that males do not receive some positiveeffects due to maternal employment. (Spitz 606) Hoffman hasconcluded that daughters of employed mothers tend to be moreindependent. (Hoffman 73) This tendency may result from thefact that in the mother’s absence, a daughter is often leftto cope with caring for herself: This promotes herindependence and self-reliance.

At the same time, thedaughter may also be left with the job of looking after ayounger sibling, helping to promote her sense ofresponsibility. Significant too, is the fact that daughtersof working mother’s tend to be more decisive about theirfutures than sons. Further studies have demonstrated that amother’s employment status and occupation tends to be a goodpredictor of the outcome of the working mother’s daughter,since daughters tend to follow in their mother’s footsteps.Typically, working mothers held higher educationalaspirations for their children and furthermore, mostdaughters tend to achieve higher grades in school. (Spitz606) It is also important to note that both male and femalechildren acquire more egalitarian sex role attitudes whenboth parents work. Boys with working mothers showed bettersocial and personal skills than boys of non-working mothers.

On a negative note, middle-class boys tend to do worse inschool when their mothers worked. (Shreve 118) As well, boyswhose mothers work tend to have strained relationships withtheir fathers due to their perceptive devaluation of theirfather’s worth as an adequate bread-winner. (Adele 32) Onecan conclude that males may be negatively affected whentheir mothers work, but males and, to a greater degree,females are affected in many positive ways with regards toachievement in independence and responsibility. Adequatechild care is a necessity for parents who both work.

It isoften complicated to balance both the parent’s and child’sneeds when using child care. However, it may be possible tosatisfy the demands of both if forethought and prudence areapplied. Many cultures worldwide realize that a child’snurturing can be acquired from a variety of sourcesincluding both adults and older children. Children can be ascomfortable with grandparents, neighbors, professional childcare attendants, and babysitters as they are with their ownmothers. In fact, a variety of sources for nurturing notonly provide the child with a variety of role models, suchas in the case of grandparents, but it also provides themthe ability to compare these role models and to choose theappropriate characteristics which they will adopt as theirown. One third of all children are looked after byrelatives; 50% of all children in child care situations arebeing looked after by someone unrelated! to them.

(Petterson533) To date, in Ontario as in all of Canada, there is noadequate government policy for child care. Funds ear markedfor this area of social assistance are eithermisappropriated or abused. Even now, in 1995, the governmentof Canada has not yet recognized the fact that children area community responsibility and that they should starttreating them as such. (Monsebraaten A1) In the end, theresponsibility of choosing the proper type of child carelies with the working parents. Proper research of the daycare facilities and employees should include aninvestigation into the availability of superior care in aquality program where rearing beliefs and practices mirrorthose of the parents.

When both parents feel confident intheir day care choices, they will view them as supportiveinfluences rather than intrusive ones. This positiveattitude will provide the child with positive feedbackbecause when parents feel good about their lives anddecisions, they communicate their satisfaction to theirchildren in the form of positive feelings. These positivefeelings are then internalized by the children. (Rodman 576)Difficult as it may seem, it is clear that if forethought,research and adequate investigative techniques are applied,parents can successfully select the child care facilityand/or individual most appropriate to fulfill both their ownan! d their child’s needs. Parents who work alter severaltraditional methods of parenting.

The aspects of parentingwhich are most affected are quality, quantity and content.When considering content, a major point is the preparationof the child for a society in which those children will beadults. Currently, a child has a 50% chance of becomingdivorced, and in the case of a female, a 50% chance ofbecoming a single mother as well as the probability ofbecoming a member of a dual wage earning family. (Shreve 61)Working parents are in a good position to prepare theirchildren for that type of lifestyle. Healthy family dynamicsincluding team work, sharing, and responsibility, are moreeasily adopted when they are already familiar. As far asquality of parenting, it has been observed that women whoare highly satisfied with their roles whether they work ornot, display higher levels of warmth and acceptance than dodissatisfied mothers and these positive feelings arereflected in their ! relationships with their siblings.

(Lerner and Galambous 44) Finally, when considering quantityof time spent on parenting when both parents work, it hasbeen concluded by Hoffman in 1974 that there is noconsistent evidence of deprivation felt by children ofemployed mother’s. In fact, mothers who were better educatedand employed outside the home spent more time with theirchildren even at the expense of their own leisure and sleeptime. (Hoffman 76) Hoffman also proposes that the time spenton employment simply substitutes for time previously spenton needless or less important household tasks which can beperformed by others or not at all. Researchers question thevalidity of measuring the number of hours a mother spendswith her children. Hoffman found that while working mothersspent less time with their children , the time spent withthem was more likely to be in direct contact with them.Mothers who are at home full time spend only 5% of theirtime in direct in! teraction with their children.

(Hoffman75) Employed mothers spend about the same time reading to,playing with and otherwise paying attention to theirchildren as do mothers who stay at home. (Hoffman 76)Because society has changed, the family’s function withinsociety has changed as well. Parental roles have beenmodified to meet these changes. Today, the family’s mostimportant task is to provide emotional security in a vastand impersonal world.

Working parents often possess theskills necessary for responding adequately and creatively tothe increased stress placed on children to succeed in suchan environment. Parents who work must, out of necessity, beadept at providing fresh, innovative and effective modes ofparenting even when time with the child is limited. Thedebate as to whether or not both parents should work or notis really not significant anymore. Both parents are workingand will continue to do so and children are not being raisedtoday in the same way as they were in the past.

The nextgeneration of parents will be more confident than theirpredecessors and they and their children will probably neverexperience the dichotomous feelings that t! oday’s parentshave about the dual income family and it’s effects on childrearing. Working outside the home and being a good parent atthe same time is possible and in both of these tasks thereBibliography:

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