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Women And Family Support

Posted: October 4, 2015

The author was asked why women always thanked their families when they were complimented for their successes. Her answer will surprise you.

Just the other day, our bunch of women was discussing something about professional writing, and a lovely lady complimented me on how I am able to pack so many things into my routine and do them well. Of course, I felt happy. Every compliment is a motivator and an energiser on many levels. After thanking her, I chipped in that I owe it to a very supportive family. I do what I do and it makes me very happy. She then pointed me to a very valid observation – no, it is not about not taking compliments well! I do love compliments and take them well. But her observation was this, “Why do women always immediately start thanking their families when they are complimented?”

She even suggested that I write a blog post about it.

“Write a blog post about it” is what I hear and read quite regularly these days. In the past week, I’ve had 5 conversations that have veered towards blog posts. Even the husband now says, “a topic for a blog post!” Okay, so let us get to the business of dissecting this one.  And this is rooted not only in Indian culture but something that I have seen all around the world.

Traditionally and even now, the home and the hearth are a woman’s responsibility as much as bringing the bacon to the table is considered to be a man’s job. Yes, before you jump up and strangle me, women earn and earn well these days, but I am talking about traditional expectations. A man quitting a job and living on his wife’s salary is almost unheard of; whereas, a woman, a well-earning professional woman, can quit her job and be at home without anyone batting an eyelid.

Women have been considered nurturers and caregivers since time immemorial. Are they more suited to it? I don’t know. In my home, I am the better parent in terms of patience, doing things with children, teaching them, making projects with them,  listening to them and being around them. And this comes from the husband, so I do take it at face value. I also regularly cook at home. I enjoy cooking. It is my way of ensuring that everyone at home gets hot, nutritionally balanced meals. It is my way of gifting us health. Yes, I could employ a cook. But, I prefer not to. Now, it is out of my free will. No one has pushed me into it. My husband also cooks. He has a few signature dishes that he excels at and is able to manage regular cooking, even the rotis, very well. Yet, I handle the responsibility of daily cooking.

I also have the responsibility of housekeeping. I do delegate work, make the kids dust or do errands but by and large, most of the work is done by me. I do have a domestic help to do regular chores. And when she does not come, my husband chips in equally (when he doesn’t offer, I twist his arm!). I was very clear when I had my children that I wanted to be hands-on with them. With no support of mummies and daddies on both sides, we singlehandedly raised the children through every illness, sleepless night, every tantrum, while holding on to our jobs (me sporadically)! In the past 15 years that my husband and I have been together, there have been multiple times that I tried my hand at something professionally after my sabbaticals. Twice I gave up as it was getting too difficult for me to manage all. My husband took up the economic burden without a thought or a word. We ran on a single income. I was never asked to go work so that we could have extra. Yes, I got that choice.

It is not always about the chores the men do but also how they motivate you and take pride in the work you do and stand by you, especially through your mistakes and failures. If they did not, perhaps I would still be doing all that I do but would not be in the happy space that I am in currently.

And then when I wanted to work again and I have been a freelance Content Writer and Content Strategist for the past 7 years now, I took it up. Now I work from home and handle the duties of being a wife, parent, homemaker. I also handle responsibilities for my company. I took it slow and steady and even now I don’t work full-time. Now, I talk personally. It would be impossible to do it all if my family did not stand by me in support. Just the same way as it works for every man who excels at his work. It is not always about the chores they do but also how they motivate you and take pride in the work you do and stand by you, especially through your mistakes and failures. If they did not, perhaps I would still be doing all that I do but would not be in the happy space that I am in currently.

So, in my opinion, I am not being modest but just mindful of the fact and acknowledging the contribution and joy that my family brings to me both personally and professionally. I am also aware that not every working woman is that fortunate. In a similar vein, I attribute my strength of character, professional commitment and honesty to my father. He has been the strong backbone that I have always leaned on. He says less but does more. To my sister and I, he has been a father who taught us very early in life to be as equal to men in thought, deed and ambition. No wonder then that he supports my sister-in-law wholeheartedly in her career and my sister in hers.

So, in my opinion, I am not being modest but just mindful of the fact and acknowledging the contribution and joy that my family brings to me both personally and professionally.

When I got married, I did not draw up a charter to divide the household chores. We took up what we felt each was good at. When we saw the other having a low day, we chipped in. When one of us needs to be away, the other chips in for the missing person and does much more. And what makes it all worth it is a family that loves you and appreciates you for what you do for them. I am just doing the same for them.

Have I answered the question adequately? What do you opine?

Image via Shutterstock.

Rachna Parmar is an award-winning blogger, a Content Developer and strategist who enjoys her

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  1. Very well said, Rachna. This happy space is what every woman aspires for. And yes, how the family, especially the husband, supports you, plays a big role in it. Made for a very interesting read! 🙂

    • Thanks, Veena. All I am saying is that figure out for yourself what works in your home. Don’t let anyone else dictate to you.

  2. I was also blessed to have a dad and a mum – who made me believe I could do anything I set my mind to. So true- to chase our dream, live our life, and make whatever works for us- work… Everyday happiness for me:-) Enjoyed this read!

  3. Indeed, Rachna, you’ve answered the query in volumes. Upbring is the only factor that matters. That moulds. That stays. No school r university can match that.
    And complimenting family is but natural. Husband and wife are spokes of the same wheel that need to roll smoothly for a balanced family life. Neither can accomplish anything without the other.
    The person who asked you may be a hardcore ‘feminist’ 🙁

    • Thanks, Nisha. I think she must have asked this question because according to her very rarely do you find men crediting their families for their success. It could be because in our society, families are expected to make changes around the career decisions of men hence the support could be taken for granted. Or because men in general speak much less about families.

  4. I must admit I was a little disappointed reading the post. When I read the title, I thought it would be a discussion about the gendered phenomenon (make no mistake it is one!) where men rarely acknowledge the role of family while women almost always do so. And before anyone jumps down my throat about being a ‘hardcore feminist’ or some such BS, let me explain.

    • Looks like comment got cut off!

      The majority of CEOs around the world are men. When asked how they do what they do or manage their professional career, the answer usually has the words like ‘character, hard work, determination, luck, smarts’ or some combo thereof. If we’re lucky, they might mention parents. Never do they bother to mention the wife who gave up her career – by being a housewife or taking a low pressure job or part-time work or working from home – or the understanding kids who help with chores so that they can continue to put in insane hours in the office or go on business trips. Rarely do interviewers/journalists also bother to ask them about their partners in life.

      On the other hand, I have yet to see a female professional NOT being asked the question in interviews/articles. Commonly ‘How do you manage home and work?’ or ‘Who do you attribute your success to?’ Even here there is subtle prompting (asking who to women vs what for men thus women will end up thanking other people and men end up praising their own character traits). No successful MAN or WOMAN would be able to get where they are professionally if they did not have an understanding spouse and family (unless they’re divorced!). So why don’t men thank/acknowledge their family while women are practically expected to? I can’t imagine the criticism that would erupt if a woman did not say the usual my husband was by biggest support and instead gave the standard male response! (I have no doubt that other women will be the first to criticize her) Sadly that’s the world we live in today..

      I think we are asking the wrong question when we say why do women credit their families for their accomplishments. The real question is why don’t the men do it?! I don’t want a world where everyone forgets their families and pretends that their success is only because of themselves, without any external support when we all know it’s not true. What I want is a world where both MEN and WOMEN are honest and frankly acknowledge their family’s contributions to their own career. Basically women shouldn’t stop thanking their spouses/families, but men should start doing it more often!

  5. So sorry, Shilpa. I missed replying to your comment. Your last lines just sums it up for me. We shouldn’t stop thanking our families/spouses but men should certainly start doing it more often. Gratitude makes us happier and more successful as well. Hope the men realize it too. Thanks so much for reading.

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