Wednesday, November 25, 2015

To give time when the child needs it and wants it is not so easy after all

It is a very personal quit or to not quit a job when the baby arrives.

For some parents, the company of the child matters more than the paychecks [and the rewards (freedom and glory) associated with it], though the latter is definitely something important to them, particularly to women who have toiled and worked their way up in the workplace. It is just that they would miss being there for their children when the kids need them emotionally if they (usually moms) continued with their jobs. They would miss it more than the paychecks. They had to make that tough choice because both were impossible to attain at the same time. They also know that focused attention to the child during the week-ends cannot usually make up for the time they can afford to spend with the kids over the week.

Can a child be expected to wait to share her deep wounds till the time of return of her parent from the workplace? A child often does not even realize that there is someone out there whom she can turn to for that emotional support. Having said that, I'd add that a mother need not and should not solve all emotional problems faced by a child. Just the reassuring knowledge of her physical presence makes the child forget many such wounds. A relationship builds over time and it cannot be bought by gifts. Neither can it be created overnight nor can it be created through time spent with the child when the parent is free instead of when the hurt child needs the parent.

As a counselor, I have had many conversations with people. Over the years I have gathered that people who grew up missing the solid emotional support and love of a permanent family member know completely and deeply the value of it all and try their best not to let their children too miss it.

I have also seen kids who manage it well under supervision of old grandparents or nannies or the creche. Without any major hiccups, the mother rightly does not feel the need to quit her job.

Again, it is a very personal matter and I have seen many stay-at-home moms taking up long-hours jobs to tide over the depression they went through just as I have seen many working moms quitting jobs because they could not battle the guilt arising from not being there for the kids when they needed them.

The parent has the power to take decision and the child has to obviously adjust accordingly. The crucial decision to quit or not should be well-thought-of and an educated one, taken over a period of time and after some analysis of one's mind and circumstances. Whatever is the decision, the decision-maker has to face the consequences boldly and the family members too can be explained in advance. So, when a working mom ceases to be one, she has to be mentally prepared for a not-anymore-so-good lifestyle and for being dismissed by society as unambitious or complacent about life (unfortunately that is the societal attitude). A working mom  has to accept it if the child turns out to be less sensitive to others' feelings than a child who has a mother around to share her feelings with. Often, moms decide to wait and watch and keep noting the overall growth of the child without the mom around and accordingly take a decision. All children are not equally strong emotionally and cannot be expected to handle challenging situations in life with a degree of maturity that can be expected from the adult parent.

A child is the parents' responsibility first and it would be good if the parent takes an educated decision, without being swayed by pressures from society, parents, relatives, friends and media. One may well keep in mind that every child is different and so the needs too are different. Children are the future citizens. We can expect an empathetic society later with more confidence when the feelings of the children are empathized with, as much as is possible and is healthy. Most of the time, the parent can empathize most.

Decades later, the parent has to face the adult child and it would be good if the parent can do so with satisfaction and pride and not guilt.
You may also visit The Hindu's Just for kids .

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