Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Part II:Two Things Freud Says You Need To Be Happy ( or The Dilemma of The Working Mom)


       Sigmund Freud's central idea about how love and work are central to some of the most influential theories of psychological well-being and happiness. In fact, Freud is purported to have said that the goal of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy is to help the patient develop the ability to love and to work. Several studies have shown that satisfaction in one domain is associated with satisfaction in the other domain. However, this task may be more difficult for working mothers to achieve, especially for mothers who work full-time.

     We can all agree that finding satisfying work is important for everyone. Being engaged in meaningful work-whether it be for pay or not-has a positive effect on our self-esteem, self-confidence, and gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. This makes us happier individuals. When our ability to "love" or to "work" is hindered, our emotional health suffers. Several studies suggest that being able to balance love and work is  key to maintaining good mental health and happiness. Achieving this balance can be particularly challenging for working mothers. Anne-Marie Slaughter created media buzz from her article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All".  She writes about her own difficulties and feelings of ambivalence related to having a prestigious career in a top government leadership position while trying to be a good mother to her two teenage sons. Slaughter decided to continue to work, but in a position that allows her the time to nurture her important relationships, in other words, the time to love.

     Working mothers struggle to find adequate time to care for their children. Most women, working or not, are still responsible for the majority of the household chores and childcare duties.  Many women today also have the added responsibility of being the primary bread-winner a trend which adds new stressors and time demands. 

      So the question remains, what can working mothers do to allow themselves more time to nurture their important relationships and to feel fulfilled and satisfied with the two most important aspects of their lives-love and work? Below are a few tips:

      More fathers than ever before are stepping up and helping mothers with parenting duties. This also includes domestic chores such as well-laundry, grocery shopping, and house work. It is also important to have older children help out. Not only will this ease the stress for the working mom, but studies have shown that children who help with family chores appropriate for their age and developmental level, have a higher degree of self-confidence, self-esteem, and mastery. 

     When possible try to make your work schedule flexible, such as working some days from home or working four days and week and having one day off. If this is not an option, consider picking one day a week when you can focus solely on your family. On this day make sure you do not have any distractions such as computers or cell phones that could interfere with the time you are spending with your children.

     Try to be fully present at the times you are with your children. You can be more in the moment maintaining eye contact when your children are telling you important things. Also, do not interrupt your children when they are speaking.  Let's be honest- there will be plenty of times that you will feel stressed when you are at work because you are not home with your children and vice versa. Children benefit most from having parents that are not "stressed-out" regardless of the amount of time parents are actually spending with them.




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