Being women, how can we pursue our careers without compromising our role as mothers? This is a question that haunts all professional women who have children. They realize that if they weren’t women, they would not have to make this choice. But they still end up making a choice - often choosing one over the other.
Women who choose to pursue their careers struggle everyday to find time to manage both work and family. They are not able to do justice to both roles and feel unhappy.
Women who choose to either pursue part-time careers or completely opt out of their careers to raise their children fulltime, often miss having careers and regret not being able to realize their potential professionally.
So, it’s a catch 22 situation. Neither choice leaves women fully satisfied. It seems as if choosing both career and motherhood is impossible.
In India, the issue is further compounded by the fact that many women have no option but to give up their jobs and stay home after they have kids because of family pressure – from their in-laws or husbands. Sometimes it’s an unstated expectation which, if not fulfilled, leads to their being held accountable for the first instance of children going astray.
This is what Priya was going through when I met her. Her 10 year old son Sunil, an otherwise bright child started showing signs of trouble in school. He couldn’t keep pace with studies. His teachers started complaining about his lack of concentration in class. Sunil was causing disturbance during class and not completing his work on time. Priya’s husband and in-laws held her largely responsible for Sunil’s changed behavior. Priya’s job as the learning head of an MNC required her to travel around the country and her family believed that if she had been at home full time, Sunil would still be doing well at school. Priya felt guilty and also blamed herself for her son’s changed behavior.
Do you think that Priya would be a better mom if she quit her job to become a fulltime mom?
Let’s first start by trying to understand our role as parents. To put it succinctly, as parents, our job is to raise happy, healthy, responsible, confident, compassionate children who grow up to become good citizens of the world. As parents, we need to make our children responsible for their lives. This includes teaching them to take care of themselves, making them responsible for their actions, and inactions, thoughts, and so on.
Phew! This is probably the toughest job in the world – whether you are pursuing a career or not. So, how can professional women pursuing fulltime careers do justice to it? Well, this is how it can work out.
Don’t feel guilty: It’s a waste of time and results in over-compensating. Instead, put this time to good use and spend it with your children. Help your children deal with issues. You cannot be a supermom. So, assess your priorities, and decide what’s more important at that point of time.
Speak to them about their dreams: Set aside a time every other day to talk to your children. Ask them what they want to do or be. Listen to them when they talk about their ambitions and dreams. Encourage them to pursue their dreams. Provide the requisite financial and emotional support needed to fulfill their dreams.
Show them how to fulfill their dreams: Show them the way and tell them that they are responsible for getting there. Lead by example. When your children see you overcoming challenges and pursuing your dreams, they will be motivated to fulfill theirs. Use every opportunity to show them you are with them in their journey.
Connect them to their passion: This is your job. It’s NOT your job to make them reach where they want to go. They have to get there on their own. But it’s your job to guide them and support them as they strive to get there.
Teach them the value of work: Be proud of your work and share your professional accomplishments with them. Explain to them the nature of your work and why it is so important to you. They will feel proud of you and look up to you for inspiration.
While time is an important gift you can give your kids, the quality of time you spend with them is the key. Therefore, just being a stay-at-home mom does not guarantee well-brought-up children and being a working mom does not mean you have to compromise on your responsibilities as a parent.
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that for pursuing both roles – that of a working woman and a mother - successfully, you need to have an abundance of courage and patience. Have the courage to use every opportunity to teach your children how to become responsible and be patient so as not to take away the responsibility at the first instance of failure.
is the founder director of Parwarish Institute of Parenting. In his professional career spanning 20 years, he has worked in various industries such as manufacturing, venture capital financing, banking, insurance, and education and training. As the founder of Parwarish, he has developed interactive workshops for parents and teachers to deal with issues related to children, such as studies, sex education, time management, technology, and so on. Sushant received the Best Teacher and Parent Coach Award from the Federation of Public Schools of Delhi. Parwarish won the Education INNOVATOR Award at the fifth Ed Leadership International Conference held at Lucknow, October 2011. This award is conferred by The Council for Global Education, USA, The Center For Innovation in Education, USA, and Ed Leadership and City Montessori School, Lucknow.