I was thoroughly impressed by the thought-provoking article “Stay-at-home mom” (Open Page, Jan. 31) by Seema Kini. Running a family these days on single income is not easy. Therefore, when it comes to family-versus-career or job-versus-satisfaction, perspectives change.
When both parents work hard and earn well, they put their children in good schools, provide them the best of tuitions, employ a well-paid maid at home and save for their children’s future. But when their children look back at their lives after 17, they may not remember a single cherished moment at home. They will remember only their car drivers, maids and ready-to-eat food. What a child becomes after 18 or 20 years will depend on what the parents give him or her in the first few years. Yes, women are as powerful as men. But can this feeling give them any sense of victory when they realise that as parents, they have done nothing other than earning money for their children?
Pragnya Suma Vadrevu,
While endorsing the author’s views, I wish to add that the “empty nest syndrome” will catch up with all of us at some stage in life. When children leave us to pursue their destinies, we will at least be left with the memories of their formative years if we stay at home and look after them. I gave up my bank job of 16 years to take care of my nine-year-old son. The happy times I spent with him are fresh in my mind.
The article evoked memories of my younger days. For any child, the mother’s presence at the bus stop while going to school and returning is the sweetest thing. Sadly, career and economic aspects have taken precedence in our lives. But it is also true that after acquiring professional qualifications, it would be a waste of talent if women remain at home.
Child psychologists say the first six to seven years of a child are very important for his or her development. The mother’s personal care is important for the child to feel secure. In families that do not need double income, women should stay at home. It would be an added virtue if the father too could spend as much quality time as possible with the family. The bonding that develops within the family lasts a lifetime.
I.P.P. Prabhakara Rao,
Don’t working mothers pick up their children from school or share their day’s experience with them? I see loads of them driving their children to school. Do all stay-at-home mothers wait for their children at bus stops? The writer’s family finances were secure enough to help her quit her job. Not all families are that fortunate. From what I have seen, a housewife gets little help from her family members on her daily chores, whereas the whole family shares the work of an away-at-office mom. The husband goes to the market, the mother-in-law cuts vegetables, the father-in-law answers the phone, the son cleans the house, and even the little girl is given a bowl of peas to peel, while the mother cooks. Aren’t these moments to be cherished too?
A woman who stays at home has no economic independence and, in many cases, no say in family matters. As for the children, they no doubt welcome a stay-at-home mother when they are young, but tend to lose respect for her as they grow older and see other women who are successful in different fields. Of course, the welfare of children is the priority of every parent and one must do what is best depending on the family circumstances. A woman should have the freedom to choose.
In the well-written article, the writer has brought out the emotional dilemma of the present-day woman. Economic necessity may be a reason for many women to work. But they need not forsake their happiness for a few thousands of rupees. In the process of acquiring physical wealth, human wealth is lost, adversely affecting the future generations who are not fortunate enough to be brought up by their mothers. Such a situation will only take a toll in the form of producing spoilt brats. It is time social scientists made efforts to change the attitude of people, especially women, towards bringing up children.
The author has used her personal experience to pass a general judgment. The ground reality, however, needs careful examination and discussion. In most cases, the choice to work or stay at home does not rest with the woman concerned. It is only executed through her. Despite the tall talk of the so-called economic independence of employed married women, not many have the authority over their earnings because their social dependence prevails over their financial position.
As for domestic responsibilities, the term “sharing the burden” is self-explanatory — it shows that the primary responsibility is that of the woman. This is nothing but lack of democratic behaviour within the family. Discussions without taking this element into consideration would serve little purpose.
Readers’ Editor S. Viswanathan has rightly paid rich tributes to the Open Page section of The Hindu (Feb. 1). Amid the present-day news that is dominated by political bickering, terrorist attacks, and religious fanaticism, the Open Page provides a welcome change and a refreshing literary feast.
It is to the credit of The Hindu that the articles are written by common people, including housewives, and the topics are extremely relevant to every day issues. The language is simple and reader-friendly. As suggested by the Readers’ Editor, I wish more space is allotted to the section to enable greater public participation.
Varsha S. Shenoy,