A working mom's dilemma

Last Updated 26 February 2016, 18:33 IST

MATERIAL LOVE Many working moms try to compensate for their absence from home with expensive gifts for the children. But is it the right thing to do, wonders Shaili Dhagat.

Liza is a worried mom. She has arguments with her husband about not being able to guide and control their kids. Their monthly budget depends upon her teenagers’ monthly pocket money demands. “I am a working mother and when my children were younger, I would pamper them with little gifts like chocolates and comic books. But as they grew up, their
demands also grew,” she says. For instance, the son needs money to recharge his phone (birthday gift) every now and then. The daughter wants a laptop and a tablet, apart from a long list of cosmetics, which must match her friends’ collection. “Their demands are endless and so are the arguments between my husband and me. Sometimes, I feel I should quit my job, so that I can guide my children better,” sighs Liza.

Of priceless gifts

This is not the case of Liza alone, but is true for almost every working mother. Many busy
parents try to compensate for the shortage of time with costly presents. They are willing to spend any amount of money to see their children happily occupied. After all, it does serve the purpose...at least for a while.

Yet many times, pangs of guilt force the parent to ponder over her kids’ emotional wellbeing. Replacing their priceless love with gifts can have negative effects on the young ones. Eventually, many women reach a point where quitting the job for the sake of the  kids seems inevitable. 

But that’s not the solution. Especially for women who want to make a career, who love their job, who are likely to feel miserable at home. Rather than take such a drastic step, it’s better to first make some repairs at home. One good start would be to spend quality time with your kid rather than spoil him or her with expensive gifts. Ditch the phone for a while; sit down with your child for at least one meal a day; narrate your day’s happenings to your little one. Take interest in your kid’s activities at school, try to strike a chord with his or her friends.

Organise ‘family time’, where all the members of the house come together.

It’s not easy. In spite of putting in their best efforts, working moms might face tricky situations at home. It is important to understand that peer pressure amongst children is more profound than what we imagine it to be. Aditya Rao, a class seven student, says, “I want a gear cycle like my best friend, but my parents keep postponing the purchase. I also wanted a play station, but my mom feels it is not good for my studies. Of course, this does not make me love my parents less, but I also want them to fulfill my desires.” This 11-year-old has spoken volumes about our fast-changing society. Possessing material goods has become the need of the hour. It has become a status symbol that proves your worth in society.

Parenting experts concur that it is not wise of working mothers to cater to all demands made by their children. It is important to make the little ones understand the value of hard-earned money. It is also advisable to make the child understand the financial structure of the family. It is helpful if you involve your children in domestic chores like washing the family car on weekends or making the beds and pay them something for their contribution. This will inculcate dignity of labour in them from a young age.

As a reward or treat, it would be a good idea to plan a picnic or a visit to the zoo rather than gifting an expensive, yet impersonal toy. Such an outing will also help you unwind and spend quality time with your young one. It is necessary that both the mother and father are involved in this process.

Remember, your love and affection cannot be replaced with material gifts. It is love, which helps develop a deeper understanding between parents and their children. Temptations will be many but sensible upbringing can surely tackle it all! So, take heart. Your kids may not like you when their demands aren’t met, but when they grow up, they will understand your intentions and respect you more.

(Published 26 February 2016, 15:54 IST)

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