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.

My ordinary, your ordinary

In life, there is something that I call as my ‘ordinary’ life. And so do you. For you, there is an aspect of your life that you see it as ordinary. As routine. As the usual. As what you expect to do and continue to do as part of what you have done and have been doing.

Yet, my ordinary can be extraordinary to you. And likewise, your ordinary can be extraordinary to me. My order of things can be seen as out of order for you, and your order of things can be a disorder for me. Both are ordinary, yet they are equally extraordinary.

That is when your life and my life intersect. When my writing intersects with your reading. When your point of view intersects with my own. We found resonance in some, and dissonance in others.

But this intersection lies on a slippery hill. Extraordinary does not mean better. Nor does it mean worse. At the very simple form, it’s just different. Better or worse—if we are to talk about it at all—is an image that appears from our lens of interest of that difference.

Seekers of knowledge are those who place themselves within this intersection. Their task is to understand the extraordinary as ordinary, and to understand the ordinary as extraordinary. Of course, it is not easy to be in this position. If we are to be placed here, we will often find ourselves confused, even alienated. Confused as we may be, it becomes irresistible that we pass quick judgements to what we see. Judgment is the way we make sense of it. It is a label to describe what we don’t understand. A label that makes sense for the functioning of our ordinary lives.

It is not, therefore, about making the world a ‘better’ place. Since two persons who disagree on what exactly a better place is may in fact make the world a worse place to live. And to make it more confusing, what seems to be a worse place to live may actually be a better place for everyone. At least, this is what Moses found incomprehensible when he set out to follow his mentor, Khidr. Khidr warned Moses that “My company, you cannot endure” (Qur’an 18:67). Yet Moses hastily passed judgments—a label that makes sense—when he saw Khidr’s actions to be out of sense. In Moses’ hasty insistence on ‘a sense’, trust and respect that are developed between him and his mentor are at risk. Yet these are fundamental for learning to ever ensue.

What I am arguing is the following. If we can defer our judgment a little later, if we can maintain our respect a little further, maybe there will be more chance to understand what is extraordinary from each other as part of our own ordinary lives.

Learning is journeying

Learning is journeying. And like traveling, journeying means that we depart from our familiar dwelling to a place that is new and strange to us. But unlike traveling, journeying is a difficult and long process with no clear view of where it will end. Therefore, a journeyman (and woman) is forever a guest to what he visits. Each step taken is a step of respect. And strangeness is not to be judged and beaten up by his pre-conceptions but to be given space to shape his world-view in apprehending it.

It is true that to get things done you need to stick to what you know. But to enrich what you do and how you think, you have to admit what you don’t know. This is what learning is about. To learn requires you to be thrown off-balance. To be uncomfortable. To be exposed. To take the courage and say to yourself, “I don’t know” and then starts to appreciate others.

Andrew Pettigrew’s message to young scholars (Strategy-as-process and practice: Part 2 of 3)

This time Andrew Pettigrew, a world-renowned management professor from Saïd Business School University of Oxford, came to JIBS for a seminar in the second part of Strategy as Process and Practice course. In his energetic, provocative, and occasionally humorous style, Andrew shared his point of view on process scholarship as well as scholarship in general. Here is my interpretation of his advises for young scholars (especially PhD students).

Read More

When those who know are not (necessarily) those who do

The modernity of our era is marked by the separation of tasks in the social life. Consider, for example, the separation of those who hunt (hunters) and those who craft the hunting equipments (blacksmiths). This division of labor, as an economist would term it, has resulted in an increasing productivity both qualitatively and quantitatively. Hunters bring back better game, blacksmiths produces better equipments. Blacksmiths eat better food and hunters, in return, hunt more efficiently. The life quality of our society increases. Everyone is happy.

Read More

We learn from the past to create the future

Kids are amazing. Their energies are endless. Their eyes spark like stars that contain all the futures in the world. They are curious and always excited to learn anything. Unlike adults who worry about their future and trapped by their past, kids totally live in the present. If they fall they cry out loud, if they are happy they laugh sincerely. All out, with no slice of hesitation. But even though they live in the present, their presence projects the future.

Read More