Were Indian Women Better Off As Homemakers?
As I start writing this piece, I am well aware of the slits that it will open. But let me assure you all that my purpose is to share a few aspects of our upbringing. When compared to our generation, I wonder if the current generation of the fair sex has actually gained anything in the real sense of women emancipation and freedom. With more and more women becoming part of the workforce, is it really impacting the Indian family positively?
I am in mid forties and I still remember most of my peer group had mothers who were homemakers. I have personally felt which many children today are unaware off. We had our mother waiting for us at all times which played a very important role in our overall development. My father had a travelling job and my mother was one constant factor in our lives. Even amongst friends where fathers did not have a travelling job, mothers ensured the overall balance and were the unifying factor. Today, her place has been taken by housemaids. I wonder whether both parents manage to fulfill the emotional need of their children. Are housemaids bothered how much time children spend watching television and surfing the Internet? In our times, mothers ensured that we did our homework on time and where required guided us through teething problems. Today, a tutor is appointed for that where in again there is no supervision involved.
However, the biggest challenge for a couple is to balance work and home at the same time. In our times, mother being the homemaker and father as the breadwinner, ensured that this challenge was not faced in the first place. A mother of our times always ensured that her husband, children and the home was always in harmony with life. Did it not mean balanced or happier family unit? I agree that happiness is a relative factor when different families are compared but the fact is families then were much happier than today’s. They had lesser number of stress and work related factors to deal with. To say that children and relations between husband and wife are not affected in case of a working couple would be similar to avoiding the reality. Ever increasing divorce rates are symbolic of this symptom.
Fact remains that the role of motherhood, her softness, emotions and family instincts has been imparted to women by nature herself. Am I wrong in saying that? If not, then why it is that only women have the child bearing capacity?
And is it not a fact that families with both spouses working has resulted in more nuclear families in India? The fact is that for all its failings, joint families did offer definite security blankets to its members and women and children in particular.
There is no doubt that ability to work has lead to more women emancipation and enhanced her ability to be able to support herself and her family financially. Most importantly, it has made her financially independent. But is it not a fact that it has added onto to her responsibilities and caused excessive physical demands on her? Is it not a fact that balancing work and life may be more challenging for women than men because of how nature made them? She cannot avoid the responsibility of child bearing and the related upbringing factors especially during those critical years of growth. She must also go for work and look after family commitments on both sides as well as look after the needs of her children.
Or is it that today’s women are happy being a part of this struggle and demand that it places on her very being? Only women can respond to that.
I have seen our (and those of our peer-group) mother play the most important role in our upbringing. They (more than father) prepared us to face all challenges and situations that life had to offer. I see her aging gracefully and I have never seen her complaining probably because she was not working. Being a homemaker did not mean that her family exploited her and her rights as women were compromised. I saw her take rest when she wished to rest and has till date the command and respect over the family that only a women can have. She has never had regrets being a homemaker. She continues to be the one unifying factor for the entire family that anyone can call without worrying that she might be busy in office. And this is not only about me. I can vouch for my friend’s families as well. And I am sure that majority in mid forties, including women, would agree to my statements.
I feel this is best responded by women of today. Were their mothers happier as homemakers or they (children) are better off as working women?