Guest Post: Double Income families and their kids


DINK001

Today my guest author deals with a topic which most families, especially double income families grapple with when they have kids. Does the mother continue to work, does she take a break, does she quit her job, what will she do, how will it impact the family. While there are no easy answers, this post does highlight some relevant points to be considered in such a situation.

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One thing that never ceases to puzzle me is what do married couples both working at the same company do at home? Do they read the CEO’s blogs together? Do they swap balances in their Food Cards? Do they help fill each other’s Performance Appraisal forms?

If there is any reason why I have survived marriage, it is that my wife makes sure that I don’t get in her way and we pursue separate interests. While the differences are blurring with time, but still, there is some free space for us to do what we want to do.

My cousin is a well established doctor and she along with her husband run a flourishing medical practice here in Chennai. Their daughter is about the same age as our elder one and this girl came over to spend the day with us. The kids had great fun. But, this girl was freely sharing her withering feedback about her parents with all of us. While it was funny listening to her, back of my mind, I fret that my daughters too will be judging me on what I did or did not do for them.

DINK002Should both parents work to bring in that extra money or should one parent choose to stay at home to raise kids? My wife figured out quite early that she will get only thought leadership from me and that she will have to raise our kids practically by herself. She chose to be a stay at home mother. It has been a good decision for my kids, I think.

When my elder one joyfully talked about our Christmas holiday trip to Yercaud, there were other children at school gleefully talking about their excursions to Dubai & Hong Kong. These are the moments when I think just perhaps, what if both of us worked…

When I started my career, I thought I will take an early retirement when I had Rs.15 Lacs savings. I laugh at my innocence. Financial goal-posts keep shifting away & further away with time. The biggest fear which folks at my age face is ‘Insecurity’. It is – Do we have enough for our children’s education? For their wedding? Do we have enough for a medical emergency? Do we live in a safe neighborhood? I now marvel at my parents for somehow managing to raise their sons & giving them a decent education with just my father’s middle class salary.

How much money is enough for us? This question looks deceptively simple. But, many of our decisions in life are driven by this. Couples who can focus on all aspects -their income, expenditure, savings, investments and insurance will probably get more ‘mileage’ out of their financial choices. Couples choosing to pursue dual careers because they are passionate about work is a good thing. But, I suspect financial compulsions have more to do with this decision than anything else.

The wealthy have lots of money. The truly wealthy have lots of time & money. Our children will appreciate the gift of our undivided time & attention than anything that money can buy.

My relatives blame me for having wasted my wife’s M.Phil education. I explain to them that taking care of me is a full time job. While it may not be monetarily lucrative, the benefit of my company is truly priceless.

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12 thoughts on “Guest Post: Double Income families and their kids

  1. is it all about money….yeah I agree that it is not always the “passion” for the job, but doesn’t it have to do something with being able t be independent…..being brought up in a double income household, I never imagined a world otherwise…..a 9 to 5 job doesn’t take away all of our time, does it?

    • @confused humanity, well, while a 9 to 5 job doesn’t take away all our time, if you factor in the at least 100 min commute one way to the office that takes us most of the time our kids are awake, doesn’t it?

      And trust me, ‘financial independence’ remains that elusive dream for double income families as well. As the saying goes ‘expenditure always expands to fill our income levels’

      • it is not just the money, for example I can quote you an example. A co worker of mine who had recently returned to work after 6 years of break in her career told me that in many instances when she tried to make an intervention in their household investment/expenditure in those 6 years, her husband would first try convincing her an d then always end the argument as “After all I am the one who is earning”…not a big deal if you start talking about how husband’s money is wife’s money and so on….plus in some careers having a break makes it difficult to get a job later on…so quitting the job to take care of the kids would necessarily mean never working again which would imply eternal boredom once the kids grows up and starts needing the parents a lil lesser….It is just my opinion, and looking after a husband is not a full time job :)….and i am not implying that people who decides to be house husbands/wives are making a wrong choice…if they have something that they can pursue side by side and if the working partner is considerate and understanding enough , then it is great…..

      • @confused humanity, to each his own, these are questions that each couple and each parent has to ask of himself or herself and take the decision based on ‘their’ realities I guess

  2. I have worked in the same company with the husband and could relate very well to the first para. Terrible I tell you!

    When you want something the whole universe conspires…
    And here the entire universe is conspiring in making me change my decision of an early retirement. I have explained why my priorities have changed from ‘Gandhiji’ to the girls at home, but alas, no one understands and supports. Hopefully some day I’ll make an independent decision without consulting with too many. Till then I sulk. 😦 Or at least try and act so. 😛

    • @Reks, am sure this post touched a chord with you more so considering that you are contemplating an ‘early retirement’ as well. Give it time, and I am sure that the ‘people you consult’ will come around to understanding your point of view as well. Relax, go with the flow until then 🙂

  3. I agree. The decision to continue to be a double-income family does not really make you financially independent. You are always saving for something or the other. And yes giving your time to your family is irreplaceable. Really a difficult choice and every couple has to figure out the solution for themselves.

  4. To work or not to work is an individual’s choice. Yes money is important, but personally I work because I love working..That doesnt mean the kid of mine will not be aware of the wealth of family time eh? I guess to each his/her own 🙂

  5. 15 years ago , I gave up working outside, unwillingly. I had consoled myself that after 2-3 years, I will work again. But till this date that time hasn’t come. After a certain point of time I lost the will to work outside and was happy bringing up my child and looking after my home.but today many friends question me whether it was a wise decision on my part. How much had I lost in terms of money? I wish not to ponder on these uneasy questions. Another friend of mine is waiting eagerly for her retirement. These questions/problems vary from one family to another.

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