The two worries of young parents

Couples with young children often worry about two things:

1. “Oh, I have to take care of my children, how can I work to make a living?”

2. “Oh, I have to work to make a living, how can I take care of my children?”

Yes, raising children is a difficult task. Unlike formal work which has definite opening hours, raising children (or parenthood) is always open for business until you breathe your final breath. The enormity and endlessness of the responsibility are scary. Therefore it is understandable that some couples (if not most) worry about how to go about in continuing the life as parents. Not to mention that some young parents reject the reality and decide to quit being parents by ending the lives of themselves or their offspring—may our Lord save us from such calamity.

Yet, it might be that such worries can be easier to accept by understanding the nature of the worries themselves. I will go back to the two points above and try to unpack what is happening in each. But before that, I’d like to underline two inevitable situations that young parents must agree and accept: (a) parents are responsible to raise and nurture their children, and (b) parents are responsible for supporting the continuity of the family.

Having accepted the two inevitable situations above, the most fundamental issue in each worry is then the trade-off of time in the face of the risk of not being able to carry out one’s duty. For the first, if I spend most of my time taking care the children, then I will not have enough time to work and earn money for a living. The same goes for the second, if I spend most of my time working, then I will not have enough time to take care of my children. The problem to be solved, then, is to achieve a situation where: I have to take care my children, and I have to provide for my family.

Curiously, there is no one-off answer to these tensions. In one moment, parents may prefer to work more than taking care of the children, and in another moment, parents may prefer to take care of the children more than working. What seems to be right in one moment is contested on a daily basis with the temptation to do the other. Parents move from one worry to another in trying to balance the seemingly unsolvable equation.

But maybe there is a way to satisfy both proportionally. In the way I see it, maybe the answer lies in the word ‘responsible’ and ‘enough’. Maybe that if we parents—with our best endeavour—strive to be responsible to those that we are bestowed as parents, we will be given enough time and provision to make a living. Maybe.