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Research indicates that while 30% of children under the age of six had both parents working in 1970, the figure rose to 54% in 1988, and close to 80% in recent times. The reasons for such a rise in dual career families lies in the economic security, better socialization opportunities, better work life balance, and increased efficiency that comes with both spouses working.
Image Credit: flickr.com/austinevan
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Modern Day Juggling Act
The most obvious positive impact of dual career family is the greater economic security with both parents earning income. Economic security translates to lesser financial worries for present and the future, a better quality of lifestyle with increased income, and the ability to withstand sudden economic shocks such as layoffs or unexpected salary delays due to a financial crisis in a company.
The benefits of economic security extends beyond financial gains. Financial security reduces stress, depression, and anxiety leading to better marital relationships. It also prevents one from working too hard on the job and reduces job stress considerably.
An added benefit of dual income economic security is the opportunity for one spouse to take risks such as a midlife career change, seeking out better opportunities for long term gains without bothering about the family finances in the short term.
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An often-ignored positive impact of dual career family is increased socialization. With both spouses working, the contacts and circle of friends multiply by two compared to a single income family. This helps in maintaining a better social life and better networking when it comes to making job or career changes.
With both parents away at work, children learn to become self-reliant and independent, and cultivate their own circle of friends. This has potential dangers such as falling into bad company, but proper monitoring and support by either spouse can convert this independence into an advantage for the child in the long run.
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Another positive impact of dual career families is a better work life balance for both spouses.When the husband remains the sole breadwinner, he tends to involve himself heavily in work at the cost of family life, and the wife tends to concentrate heavily on domestic chores. The reverse is also true.
Research indicates that when wives work more hours, husbands tend to involve themselves more in caring for the children, leading to a better work-life balance for both spouses, and a happy and integrated family. Research also shows that dual career families tend to divide household chores more equitably, leading to better marital satisfaction of wives, increased happiness, and fewer conflicts.
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Dual career families looking to balance work and life always face paucity of time and learn to do things quickly and better, and cut down on unnecessary tasks. This includes positive spill offs such as trying to do household chores in the least time consuming manner, cooking only when necessary to avoid waste, and the like. All these lead to inculcating habits such as a proactive nature, trying to work out the best and effective solution to problems, thrift, helps to eradicate lethargy, and negativism, for not just the spouses, but also for the children.
Dual career families can apply workplace principles to domestic life. Workplace principles such as 5S, Total Quality Management, Kaizen, and Lean have revolutionized workplace management by improving efficiency.
The many positive impacts of dual career families notwithstanding, studies show that many dual-career couples with children experience work-family conflicts that affect their performance and create stress. The key to successful dual career families is for at least one spouse to enjoy a supportive work environment with independence at work and control of one's work schedule. Such a work arrangement alleviates the pressures found in dual career families to a great extent, and allows families to enjoy the best of both worlds.