Honest reflections from a travelling mom on the plane to Amsterdam:
I know many argue that pursuing a career is something one do for our family. To a certain extent thats true. However, once we reach a certain income level needed to provide for ourselves and an eventual family, I’d claim that this has more to do with individual or mutual ambitions, related to one or several of the following; materialism (both wanting a bigger house or better lifestyle), a need for confirmations/admiration, personal growth, or the belief that we can make a difference. We do it for selfish reasons, impacting time with our beloved ones, at the same time this is needed for contributing towards the growth and prosperity of society.
Throughout history, this privilegie was most often a man’s privilegie. At the same time, he carried the sole burden of supporting the family. Should the man die, become disabled or simply choose to leave his family, they were in trouble. Should the wife die, the family was also in trouble, leaving the oldest siblings to cover the emotional and practical needs (until an eventual new wife came into the picture). Split roles, split responsibilites and limited understanding of – or ability to switch – the other partners’ role. A great solution, provided that both honored the agreement and stayed healthy & alive.
A dual-career society is in this context more sustainable. It provides familys with two bread-winners and two carers, leaving the family as a unit less vulnerable. The roles are shared to a bigger extent, forcing both to comply and adapt in a different way. Also, life-long committments are rarer, meaning that both needs to build a competence and income fundament to stay independently on, regardless of the current situation and partnership we’re in.
Creating a basis for better mutual understanding of the responsibilites, pressure and everyday life of ones’ partner. At the same time blurring the deliverables and expectations; creating a source for potential disagreement, misunderstandings and continuous struggle to ensure enough capacity spent at home in total.
When one of us choose to pursue a career requiring more time spent away from our family, it rocks the balance of this shared role/resource system. Meaning that one cannot neccesarily contribute fully at home, at least not all the time. And bringing along the need for finding a solution for this, either through using external help or by the increased contrubution from the other partner.
And – here comes my question to you – provided that the other partner takes a heavier share of the responsibilites at home and kids (not “outsourcing” through the use of aupairs or extensive use of external help), how can and should we compensate this?
- Monthly financial compensation?
- Paying extra into a pension scheme?
- Taking on extra responsibilites in low-activity periods?
- Down-prioritizing individual non-work activities (social time with friends, hobbies etc)?
- Set a timeline for each partner to prioritize his/hers career, then switch?
- Set up a shared stock-owning company, where the investments are paid by the career hunter, but stocks jointly owned?
Any ideas are most welcome, so please share!
We might not always be conscious about why and how we pursue our path and make our choices and priorities. Due to the short and long-term consequences of the path we choose for ourselves and our kids,this is a discussion all families or couples planning to have kids should make sure to have.
Saturday greetings, Birgit