We have a crisis on our hands and this is not a BBQ stopper, its a marriage stopper. I’m increasingly thinking our current work arrangements are unsustainable, that by the time my daughter is a grandmother, if not a mother that we just won’t have work structured in this way. (Of course my daughter might not have children, I’m not saying every woman has to aspire to motherhood, I’m using her as a generational example). Work was fashioned around a family unit where the ‘working man’ was supported by a ‘full-time wife’.
Women and men changed; their expectations, their desires, and their ambitions around their work and family lives have changed irrevocably. And we’re a better world for women wanting an opportunity for fulfilling paid employment and men wanting a significant place in raising their children. Women have since entered the workforce and as an economy we’re increasingly dependent upon their labour but nothing much changed in work institutions to accommodate the resultant new family model. Families have absorbed the full impact of the pressure and work institutions have got off virtually scot-free. But the cracks are starting to show and things are falling apart, as this research shows.
Research has found a strong link between long and unpredictable work hours and the breakdown of family and other relationships.
Australia is the only high-income country in the world that combines very long average working hours with a high level of work at unsocial times – during weeknights and weekends – and a significant proportion of casual employment.
These work patterns are making employees unhealthy, putting relationships under extreme stress, creating angry, inconsistent parents, and reducing the well-being of children, says the report by Relationships Forum Australia, titled An unexpected tragedy.
Workplaces have to get more family-friendly and quickly. We don’t even have universal maternity leave in this country, let alone access to part-time or flexible work arrangements for parents of both genders. Mothers are burning out and fathers are imploding, and children, well who knows what children raised in these environments will be like as adults? Hopefully more interested in seeking progressive approaches to a national problem.
And staying on topic, here’s a fantastic post on why the ‘anti-family-friendly workplace’ brigade needs to cool it. Blaming women for ‘choosing’ to have children and a career is insane. So is blaming feminism. Feminists are about increasing our choices and possibilities, not about imprisoning us in them. If we’re trapped by our choices then it means we don’t really have choices and that’s all the more reason why we need feminism.