The Traditional Family Essay Research Paper Differences

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The Traditional Family Essay, Research Paper Differences in employment schedules among spouses contribute to the complexity of home life, yet the many dimensions of this important link remain largely undetermined, particularly with regard to primary care giving (PCG) fathers (Frank, 1995). The traditional family is characterized by the division of roles whereby one spouse (husband) is involved primarily in paid work and the other spouse (wife) primarily attends to family work, specifically the activities of household and child care (Pleck, 1983). In the last few decades, a growing number of families were classified as dual-career couples in which both spouses pursued a lifelong career, relatively uninterrupted, and also established a family life that included children (Dancer

and Gilbert, 1993). More recently, however, some husbands have been staying home to assume child rearing practices while the wife remains involved in paid work and in pursuit of a career. A 1991 United States Census Bureau survey of income and program participation estimates that “one of every five preschoolers (under age 5) had their father at home with them while their mother was at work” (O’Connell, 1993, p. 3). This trend reflects an evolving self-fulfillment or self-development ethic in which younger, well-educated workers have focused on personal growth , quality of life, and family responsibilities. This runs counter with the career ethic, which implies that employees will perform and strive for promotions even when their work is not particularly satisfying or

interesting. While career development is still a vital concern, many workers do not want to delay the development of private life skills. Even though people still believe work is important, attitudes have changed about how and when they want to work and the effects of work on family. Although research about PCG fathers is sparse, research about working and PCG mothers is obtainable. For example, within the family, the primary care giving and work roles are associated with the quality and functioning of the family. In reviewing research on maternal employment and social policy, Lerner (1994) concludes “… that maternal behavior toward children is enhanced when the mother is in her preferred role. That role can be homemaking or employment outside the home. The benefits that are

associated with maternal role satisfaction are both more optimal child functioning and more optimal parental functioning” (p. 93). Concerning perceptions of marital quality, Lerner (1994) finds that “… expectations and practices surrounding role divisions are more important than either socioeconomic or life cycle variables…” (p. 113). Lerner also finds that the division of labor inside the home is a major factor contributing to perceived quality of marriage by both partners, such that the more that the husband does inside the home the greater the perceived quality of marriage. Given such effects of roles within the family, we might expect that such roles and role congruence will affect perceptions of careers as well. A majority of men and women currently available for

work are in their childbearing years, and most will have children during their work careers (Friedman, 1991). Behavioral scientists, corporate leaders, and policy makers have become increasingly interested in the ways in which work and family life are interconnected. Coakley (1996) found that the desire for work schedule autonomy was positively related to work/family conflict and intent to leave the organization, indicating the challenge that may be faced by employers in retaining employees. Many organizations are trying to design and implement family-supportive policies with the changing needs of today’s workforce (e.g., telecommuting, home-based work, daycare) in order to retain capable, dedicated employees who may otherwise leave for family responsibilities. Much concern has