Social Question

submariner's avatar

Has the recession affected the balance between work and family in your household?

Asked by submariner (4145 points ) January 3rd, 2011

Going from two full-time salaries to one—or none—must be hard. But raising a family really should not require more than 40 hours of adult labor in a technologically advanced society, as a matter of distributive justice. There is also the issue of child development—if both parents are gone 40–60 hours a week, who’s raising the kids?

Is it possible that the recession might have a silver lining for some households? Has reduced hours or the loss of one paycheck helped your family spend more time together and be less materialistic? Or has the stress of unemployment negated any potential benefits you might have derived from spending more time together?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

11 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

That’s the great thing about poor like my wife and me: the recession just brings everyone else down to our level. Our situation hasn’t changed a bit.

That wasn’t meant to be depressing.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t have children, but your point about it possibly bringing families closer is very possible. Probably depends on the people. Financial stress is a horrible stress, so I could see how the stress elevl in the house might go way up. Depends how realistic the people are and how they handle change I think.

As for my personal situation, nothing has changed in recent years. I took a big change in earings when we moved almost 6 years ago (before the big economic downturn), and our total household income went down, but my income had been for savings anyway, so the day to day did not change.

funkdaddy's avatar

My family may not be the model of what you had in mind because my brother and I are old enough to be out of the house but still feel pretty close to our parents.

My dad lost his job over a year ago. I can’t see an upside to it.

He’s always put a lot of his identity into being a hard worker so it’s been extremely hard on him not to find something equal to what he had right away. He’s taken odd jobs, helped our extended family out, had a couple of contract gigs, so he’s busy but mostly he’s just driven himself crazy trying to figure out what he did wrong. As far as I can tell, he didn’t do anything wrong, he just made too much because of extensive experience and now expects the same. At the same time the type of work he did is in less demand because the products are in less demand.

The affect on my family has been that he’s lost his confidence. It’s been a far reaching change that’s slowly happened over the time he’s been unemployed. He constantly brings up applying to bag groceries or being a greeter at WalMart. Nothing wrong with those jobs, but they’re quite a bit different than what he’s capable of. He worries about retirement constantly, he tries to figure out something he can do for extra cash but always comes back to thinking he’ll fail. He’s just not the same guy and it hurts to watch. He’s amazing and simply doesn’t recognize it anymore because he’s always attached so much of his confidence to always being able to “get the job done”.

The worst part is he and mom are having real problems for the first time I can remember. They’ve been married 30+ years and it’s not like they’ve never fought or it was always perfect, but I’ve never seen it where it is now. They’re OK financially but he sees everything in terms of where savings and earnings were at their peak.

If my mom had lost her job instead, maybe that could be a positive, but honestly I feel taking away options from anyone will never result in them feeling better about their situation.

If someone’s life would be better if they leave work, they should leave work, but circumstances forcing them into that are hard to see as a positive in any situation.

cookieman's avatar

Yes. I went from making a pretty nice salary for 37 hours a week to an average salary ($15K less) for 50 hours a week.

I’m hoping to rectify this this year.

Cruiser's avatar

I am blessed with a good career and have never had to help out more friends and neighbors than I have in these past 2 years. Neighbors have been getting the hand-me-downs and old toys instead of Goodwill.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I have been retired for several years now, but if I were still working, I would probably work two jobs if I could find them. My heart goes out to those struggling with bills and other expenses. I have been there and it is most assuredly a very hard place to be. God be with you.

bolwerk's avatar

Yes. Too little work, too much family.

dubsrayboo's avatar

Our family has had a unique situation during this time. I was the full time bread winner and my husband worked at home. When I lost my job we were clueless as to what we could do. But as time went by we realized that we could financially make it on just his income. I’ve been able to be home for the kids when they get home from school. I can help out with the house more and other such things. In many ways this downturn and loss of employment has been a blessing. I am looking for a part time job to help boost our savings. We’re one in a million in our situation.

YARNLADY's avatar

We have cut way back on our leisure spending because last year 5 adult family members were out of work and relied on us to cover any expenses that unemployment and SNAP didn’t cover. Two of them have found jobs, but we are still paying out a lot to help the others.

submariner's avatar

Thanks for your responses. It appears that men past a certain age who have lost their jobs in this recession may never recover their earning power (at least not from employment; some may become successful entrepreneurs). I imagine that many men of that age will also not adjust well to becoming stay-at-home dads. I hope my question was not insensitive, but I do think that, as a nation, we need to examine our priorities regarding work and family. Now might be a good time to do that.

I think we need to shorten the work week. That would help put more people back to work and would also help make more time for families. For decades, technology has been progressing, and productivity has been rising, but the profits of these advances are mostly going to the wealthiest among us, while middle- and working-class income has stagnated and hours worked per week per household has increased. But all that probably deserves its own separate thread(s).

cookieman's avatar

@submariner: Thanks for the wrap up. I’ll step in front of a train now. ~

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther