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Your article helps to crystalize the issues involved and further challenges one to stop and seek answers to help oneself discover their own path. Your pointed questions, if seriously considered, aid this process. Sometimes we need to have someone else bluntly ask questions of us, ones we would so easily reason away.

I encourage you to continue to write. You are truly blessed in your ability to provoke contemplation of issues in an exceptionally candid but unfettered manner.
Lisa Streib
February 14, 1998

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To Work or Not to Work (II)
( Working Mothers )
Apr 1997 Alan S.L. Wong
(1) Introduction   ::   (2) Working Mothers   ::   (3) Stay-At-Home Mothers

Working Mothers

The Case for Working Mothers

  1. For single/divorced mothers or women in the lower-income groups, working outside the home is often not a choice but a necessity. They need to work to meet the basic needs of the family.

  2. Stimulation of work and interaction with adults ... a sense of personal fulfillment. How parents feel about their work affect their relationship with their children.

  3. Double income = Better provision + Higher standard of living

  4. Personal thoughts:

    • Generally it is true that when both parents work, they are in a better position to provide for their children.

      But does it matter whether our children play with a Barbie doll or a "hand-me-down" doll?

      Does it matter whether, as a family, you went to Disney World in Florida or Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur or Sentosa Island in Singapore?

      The danger is that we unconsciously teach our children to find happiness in material things. Whatever our economic status in life, we can raise happy and confident children.

    • Sometimes the motivating factor is a higher standard of living that comes with double income. But few sit down and calculate the actual incremental income after deducting the incremental expenses of working (e.g., childcare fees, maid's salary, foreign maid levy, working clothes, meals and transportation).

    • What actually keep mothers in the work force may be their financial commitments to pay off the loan on their private apartment, bungalow or car. The fashionable thing to do in Singapore is "upgrading" of our homes and cars. We inadvertently tie ourselves down with our material possessions. We then work out of necessity to support our chosen standard of living.

The Case against Working Mothers

  1. Difficult to juggle a job, household chores and children. Life seems to be one big rush.

    Possible solutions:

    1. Share household chores with your husband and older children

    2. Hire help that you can afford

      For example, hiring someone to come in for a few hours to clean the house ... arranging for catered food in tiffin containers ... employing a full-time maid

    3. Time management strategies

  2. Less time available for the children

    Possible solutions:

    1. Hire help for household chores so that you can spend more time with the children

    2. Maximise use of evenings and weekends

    3. Use your annual vacation to take breaks with your children

  3. Guilt feelings for not spending enough time for children

    Answer the following questions:

    1. Why do you work outside the home?

    2. How are you benefiting from your job?

    3. How are your children benefiting from your work outside the home?