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Work or Family: There’s a Problem

When the XX-th century began most of American families shared one characteristic: the wife didn’t work outside the home. The only exceptions were black women. If a wife worked it meant that her husband was not able to support a family. By contrast to the beginning of the century, in the 1990s over 60% of women were in the work force. The transformation was relatively quick. The two major reasons for that were the Great Depression and the World War II – when most women just had to start working. They became electricians, machinists, carpenters, as well as lawyers, engineers, physicians and proved that they could do this sort of work not worse than men.

As work for married women is now accepted and commonplace, the internal character of American families has greatly changed. Most women have to combine family and work outside the home. There is so-called Supermom – the woman who tries to juggle a career with a family. Others have come to the conclusion that the dual role can often cause them to be mediocre at both. So they’ve given up their career to stay home with children. Some view it as a temporary solution until their children start school. But even when at home, women pursue various interests. They the foreign-born, in fund-raising activities for the colleges they graduated from, the jog in the morning with friends, etc. All that gives them a feeling of achievement.participate in all kinds of organizations, e.g., English-teaching committees for

The major worry for most is that if they decide to go back to work they’ll have problems with finding jobs. Many women say they continue reading in their fields so that they won’t fall behind. Others say that they communicate with their former colleagues to keep up with what is going on. Otherwise, they say, you feel that you’re “a bit out of touch”.

Men haven’t easily accepted changes in the family pattern with working women. Sometimes they show anger and resentment. One Atlanta attorney says, “My wife has her own career as a lawyer and when I arrive home from a tough day, all I want to do is put my feet up and have a drink – the sort of thing a man always expects. Instead I have to help with the household or attend to my children. I frequently have to cut short my own working day in order to pick up our eighteen-month-old son from day care or to spend time with my older child. Often I’m also the one who is on call in case of illness, who prepares many of the meals, and who keeps the house clean.

On the one hand, a majority of men now believe that both sexes should enjoy equal employment opportunities, but on the other, most also believe that children may be harmed psychologically if their mothers work outside the home. This contradiction increasingly rules the Americans.


1. Fill in the gaps with the appropriate word combination from ex. 1.

a)…….my wife is a very kind and intelligent woman, but on the other, she sometimes shows…….and……. .

b)When women come home after…….they just have no strength for……. .

c)Women staying at home with children…….in various field such as charity organizations, women’s clubs, sport society etc.

d)After recent nervous breakdown I came to a…….that I should……. .

e)He’s rather a……student and if he misses many classes he’ll…….the group.

f)As it’s he who…….he has to work long hours.

g)Having five children is a remarkable……., at the same time it’s an exception.

3. a)to support outside the home

to participate changes

to stay at home to a conclusion

to help the house clean

to combine in fund-raising

to work a family

to come with the household

to accept working day

to keep with children

to cut short family and work

b)day harmed

relatively solution

former opportunities

psychologically of the century

employment day

the beginning colleague

work care

mediocre force

temporary mother

tough quick

4.Points for discussion.

1. Why do you think it was unusual for women to work at the beginning of the XX-th century?

2. Why did most women start working after the World War II?

3. What problems does a woman face up when she has to combine family and work?

4. Why do some women decide to give up their careers for their children’s sake?

5. Why do women staying at home with children go in for different activities? What do they do?

6. What do American men think of working women?

7. Do you think that children “may be harmed psychologically if their mothers work”?

8. Nowadays there’s such a phenomenon as “house-husband”. What do you think about it?

Working Mothers: What Children Say

In the two texts below, children give their opinions about having a working mother.

1.Look at the five questions below and then read the text about Debbie Hollobon to find the answers.


a) Why was it a difficult time for Debbie when her mother started working full-time?

b) How did she feel about her sister at that time? (Which words give you the answer?)

c) What did she soon enjoy about the new arrangement?

d) Does she feel that her mother neglected her in any way?

e) What advantages does Debbie think there were in having a working mother?

Debbie Hollobon, aged 21, comes from Daventry, Northamptonshire. Her mother, head of the mail room in a staff agency, has worked full time since Debbie was aged 13 and her sister, Sarah was ten.

‘I didn’t like it a bit when she took a full time job and, as the elder sister, I had to look after Sarah. Everything seemed to come at once: we’d just moved to Davantry and I was in my second year at comprehensive school and meeting new people and making new friends. I felt I had enough on my plate without having Sarah tagging along every time I went out. I went through a stage where I couldn’t stand her; she seemed to get in the way of everything I wanted to do.

‘I never told my mum how I felt. I knew she’d have been miserable sitting at home alone in a town where she didn’t know anyone, so the job was very good for her. Once the initial shock wore off, I got to like it, being trusted with my own key and feeling grown up and independent.

‘However much she had to do, coming home to the cooking and cleaning after a day’s work, she always had time for us when we wanted to talk. There was never a time when she shrugged us off because she was too tired or too busy.

‘I probably helped around the house more than I would have done with a stay-at-home mother, but she never told me to do any chores before she got home. I did what I felt like it and I knew she wouldn’t nag if it wasn’t done.

‘Since I got married, last June, I’ve appreciated the extra independence that came from looking after myself for part of the day. I know what things cost because I’m used to shopping and I know how much work goes into running a house. A lot of the girls I grew up with, who never learned to fend for themselves, must have come down to earth with a bump. When I have children I just hope I can do as well as my mother, but I don’t know if I’ll have enough patience and energy.

2.Now read the five questions about Peter Swift and read the text.

1. What does he dislike about having a working mother?

2. What did his mother agree to before she started work?

3. Does he feel that his mother has neglected him at all?

4. What advantages does Peter think there have been in having a working mother?

5. Does he think the advantages make up for the disadvantages?

Peter Swift, aged 15, lives near Leeds. His mother has worked as a graphic designer for the last three years. ‘I hate it; I’ve always hated it. Mum disappears at 7.30 am and doesn’t get home until about 7.30 pm, so we come home to an empty house. It doesn’t worry my sister Elizabeth. She’s a year older than me and has loads of homework, so she sits upstairs working and I’m left on my own.

‘When she first had the chance of going back to work we all talked about it and she said that it was only a trial period and if we weren’t happy with it she would give it up. But it wasn’t a fair test because in the beginning it was all rather thrilling being on our own: like a big adventure. I didn’t realize what it would be like long term.

‘She started her new job two days before I started at comprehensive school and I had to go by myself, when all other boys had their mothers with them. Of course, everybody was much more interested in what had happened at the new job than what had happened at the new school.

‘Elizabeth and I both have our own chores. I load the dishwasher and I sometimes wash the car or mow the grass. Elizabeth does the ironing – well, she says she does, but she never seems to get round to ironing my shirts. We get extra pocket money because we help out, so I suppose it’s fair, but all my friends do absolutely nothing around the house.

There is a good side to it. Mum has lots of interesting things to tell us and I like to hear her talk about the people she meets. We probably get more freedom, too – I can make my models on the table without getting told off. We wouldn’t have as much money for trips to France or hobbies like photography if she didn’t work, but I’d swap all that if it meant she’d be at home like she used to be. I don’t think a woman’s place is in the home or anything like that, but I do think a career should be fitted round the children, not the other way round, and in my opinion what the children think should come first’.

3.Say whether the following statements are true or false in your opinion and why.

a) Both Debbie and Peter have similar relationships with their sisters.

b) Neither Debbie nor Peter liked their mothers working at the beginning.

c) They both feel that the opportunity to work has been good for the mothers.

d) They were both given special jobs to do around the house.

e) Both their mothers started working at difficult times for their children.

f) Both Debbie and Peter admire their mothers for what they have done.

g) Debbie feels that other girls probably find it more difficult than she did when they first leave home.

h) Peter thinks the trial period at the beginning worked well.


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 4633

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