Times are changing, and we must change with the changing times. Gone are the days when there was a clear-cut division of labour based on gender – when men were regarded as bread winners, and women were confined to the household domain. Emancipation of women was expected to take place when they entered the workforce. However, women have added only more work to their portfolio, but have subtracted very little. In most households even today, they continue to take care of the familial responsibilities of nurturing children and looking after the home. This double burden results in frustration, pressure and stress. To understand this issue and to find ways to share parental responsibilities, StreeNews in association with Tiny Troopers, a playschool at Sector 34 C, Kharghar conducted a workshop on ‘Sharing Parental Responsibilities’ under the expertise of Dr. Monica Khanna, Associate Professor, Indira Institute of Business Management, author, academician and trainer on 2nd February, 2019.
The participants taking part in activities
“Studies indicate that the lack of support from spouses does not merely lead to stress, but also causes dissatisfaction in marital relationships. Many women often opt for part time employment to balance their lives, but are then unhappy with their decisions. As a result of the expectations from both the home and professional front, women can neither become ‘ideal mothers’ nor ‘ideal workers.’ They experience guilt, especially if things go wrong,” informed Dr. Monica.
Children often develop greater attachment and affiliation for mothers because of the quantity and quality of time spent with them. There is often a distance and detachment with the fathers, whose role focuses more on financial rather than emotional support.
There is a growing trend of awareness and sensitization of men to such issues, and men are now becoming more willing to participate in the parenting process. From being present at the time of delivery to attending parent teacher meetings, there is evidence of change in some urban families. However, women often believe that they are more competent in the parenting role, and dissuade men from taking responsibilities, often indirectly through interference and control.
The existing issues can be solved by men becoming more involved in the upbringing of their children, and women letting go of their belief that ‘mothers are always right’, thereby allowing men to use their discretion in parenting.
Both parents need to spend time with the children, as time is the most precious gift that can they have to offer to the next generation. Engaging in hobbies and planning activities that children would enjoy is an important step forward – from cooking to playing board games or solving puzzles or reading. It is also imperative to divide responsibilities so that there is no pressure on one spouse. This could include dropping and picking up children from school or classes, helping with homework and projects, as well as attending Parent Teacher Meetings.
“If both spouses work together to share parenting responsibilities, it will help reduce the stress levels of women, strengthen the marital relationship, and most importantly, establish a loving bond with the child who will grow up without gender role expectations and a happy childhood,” stressed Dr. Monica.