Career and Changing Family Roles

838 Words4 Pages
Differences in employment schedules among spouses contribute to the complexity of home life, yet the many dimensions of this important link remain largely undetermined, particularly with regard to primary care giving (PCG) fathers (Frank, 1995). The traditional family is characterized by the division of roles whereby one spouse (husband) is involved primarily in paid work and the other spouse (wife) primarily attends to family work, specifically the activities of household and child care (Pleck, 1983). In the last few decades, a growing number of families were classified as dual-career couples in which both spouses pursued a lifelong career, relatively uninterrupted, and also established a family life that included children (Dancer and Gilbert, 1993). More recently, however, some husbands have been staying home to assume child rearing practices while the wife remains involved in paid work and in pursuit of a career. A 1991 United States Census Bureau survey of income and program participation estimates that "one of every five preschoolers (under age 5) had their father at home with them while their mother was at work" (O'Connell, 1993, p. 3). This trend reflects an evolving self-fulfillment or self-development ethic in which younger, well-educated workers have focused on personal growth , quality of life, and family responsibilities. This runs counter with the career ethic, which implies that employees will perform and strive for promotions even when their work is not particularly satisfying or interesting. While career development is still a vital concern, many workers do not want to delay the development of private life skills. Even though people still believe work is important, attitudes have changed about how and when th... ... middle of paper ... commitment and success in organizations. Schneer and Reitman (1990) also found that men's career satisfaction decreased after work interruption. In short, the psychological task of balancing or reintegrating work and family roles may be very difficult. These considerations lead me to the tentative conclusion that individuals, particularly men, who have stayed at home rearing children are concerned that they will have a harder time pursuing a career upon reentry into the workforce. The notions of career and career success for parents who reenter the workforce may differ from parents involved in dual-career marriages, and such differences may exist between men and women who take on PCG responsibility. Additionally, the parenting experience and demographic factors, such as satisfaction with the PCG role and income, may affect such concerns about career.
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