In Singapore, most couples/ parents are working class; thankfully for us, we are able to make do with our finances, enough to keep your mum at home, she do not have to work. But the norm is, we have both mummies and daddies working.
I noticed that this created a problem when both mummy and daddy comes home after work and unfortunately, brought work home. What I mean is not the ‘work’ work, but their working mindset.
Back when I was working in a bank, I have this ‘not my department’ mindset, you can’t help it; an organization as large as a bank, you cannot possibly know everything. I am in the Collections department, and if someone wants to open a business account, it is truly and purely not my department, it is someone else’s job. Closer to my job, I am a credit card collections department, my colleague may work as a car loan collections department, again, anything pertaining to car loans, not my problem again. It is not that I don’t want to be helpful, but in a work setting, sometimes, being helpful is the least helpful thing to do.
If a guy finishes his work and come home, with a ‘corporate mindset’, he can sometimes say things like, “The children’s education is not my problem. I’ll pay an education centre to take care of that.” If the Wife comes home, and forgets to take her hat off as a Human Resource Manager, will say things like, “The dishes is not my problem, he has to do the washing.”
Lines gets drawn at home, very much the same way lines are drawn at work.
I’ve seen this kind of parenting becoming more common. And it is unfortunate.
No Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine
Sometimes I get asked, ‘So who is the bad guy at home?’ Or ‘Who is the stricter one at home?’ Or ‘Who is the disciplinarian at home?’
Boys, your mum and I have long learned that if we play the ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ role, you kids will manipulate us over the other. Kids are smart, and as we learn to be parents, we deal with the situation, not who plays the role.
If Wayne does something naughty at home, in my absence, your mother does not say things like ‘Wait till you dad comes home and I’ll tell him to discipline you!’ She will discipline you, immediately. Your um and I are good and bad cops all rolled into one.
That’s your department not mine
It’s quite funny, from our perspective, when we talk to some parents, and we realised that the wife doesn’t know certain things about the husband, and vice versa. That is where we can safely assume that both are working professionals who are also spouses who are also parents. Sometimes, the mother will pay for the children’s school fees, and the father’s money is used to maintain the car, that will bring the whole family out.
On the surface, it seems like there is nothing wrong, but such demarcation can only bring so much value and depth into a relationship. When the car breaks down, and the man is short of cash to pay, is he going to get a loan from the wife? Can he justifies that the wife also benefits from using the car and hence, she should start paying for some of the car’s expenses? The wife can argue that the son’s enrichment class helps with the grades which makes the father looks good and he too should look into footing some of the children’s education bills? The argument breaks down the family.
Inter-department feud becomes parenting feud
Sometimes, I will have my bad days in the office fighting other departments over work matters. It happens and within departments, there will be finger pointing and blame shifting. If I don’t clear that, and brings it home, I will start finger pointing when things at home are not going as expected.
This will become exacerbated if your mum is working and comes home with an equally bad day, fighting other departments, and she wants to impose her parental expectations. She is going to pick on the ‘daddy’ department, and the ‘daddy’ department will go up in arms and blames the ‘mummy’ department over the most mundane of things.
What works at work, does not always work at home
Honestly, I think this happens when parents, as spouses do not communicate unconditionally, instead they communicate expectations, sometimes subliminally. Some of those expectations could have been set when they are still dating. A guy may like the girl, who happens to have a lifestyle of manicure and pedicure. Naturally, the boy will not expect the girl to do the dishes when they settle down as husband and wife. And the dishes naturally becomes the guy’s ‘department’.
There is not such thing as your department and my department at home. Everyone has to chip in as one family unit. Sure, there will be some functional demarcation, like, I will be the one doing the lifting at home, changing the light bulbs, washing the toilets and other more laborious stuffs. That said, it doesn’t mean your mum can’t do it, she can and she will if she have to.
It is more about effectiveness than efficiency
You cannot draw an Organization Chart to run a family, and it is not the same as a corporate life. In a corporate life, jobs and functions needs specializing, so that when we work, we are efficient. Lines gets drawn so that everyone gets paid to do the work we are good at. An Accountant, does nothing but accounting, and not sales. The IT guy fix IT problem, and the customer service people do not manage the warehouse. It works like this at work, and this cannot be how it work at home.
Raising kids is all about being effective, more than being efficient. We need all hands on deck, it is not a ‘your department not my department’ mindset. As parents we cannot sit, with a problem on hand, for the other department to come and fix it, simply because it is not in our job scope. As parents, we have to fix anything and everything because, that is the job scope of a parent!
So to have family success, skills and mindsets that brings us professional success needs to be tweaked. There are habits better suited at work, leave them at work, being a parent and raising a family needs us to have a different sets of tools altogether!