The Maid Dilemma
As more parents are working, the need for domestic helpers becomes obvious. A lot of families are not able to let their parents help because they are staying quite far away from their parents or that their parents are too old to help. Many families need domestic helpers to help them look after their kids, prepare food and carry out all the household chores.
However, we need to understand that not every family require both parents to work in order to support the family. There are cases where one income is able to support the whole family, but both of them still prefer to work. Many people today cannot stand staying at home whole day to do housework and look after their children. They prefer to work and achieve something in their career. This is most obvious in the role of women. Most of them are no longer housewives.
Even in cases where one soul breadwinner is enough to support the family, both parents would still prefer to work so as to better provide for the family. This is not a problem of greed but a issue of insecurity. As parents, they hope to earn more while they can so that they can provide a better future for their kids. This is understandable since everything is becoming more expensive. However, there are also issues we need to rethink when getting domestic helpers. Just to name a few here:
The issue of bonding
It’s sad these days to see the child more attached to the domestic helpers than their parents. Without the maid, the child would cry. I wonder how the parents feel, or are they just numb to it? The domestic helpers are in fact taking up the role of a mother. As such, our children becomes more attached to them than us. So the question is whether we want to bond with our kids. Some might say that we can have quality time with the kids at night. But are we not busy tutoring our kids at night? If not, we might be sitting dead tired in front of our TV watching programs or fiddling with our smartphones. Anyway, our kids not only need quality time with us, but also quantity time to bond with us.
The issue of safety
While many domestic helpers can be very experienced and well-trained, there is a level of danger. They might not treat our children like their own. Due to the fact that the domestic helpers come from a different environment and culture, they share different definition of danger as us. I have seen the helpers pushing the children around and even let the little children cross the road on their own. I supposed the parents do not know how their kids were treated because they have to work. They just let the helpers send and pick up the kids from school everyday. They do not know the dangers the kids are exposed to until something bad happens. We have to be careful and watchful as we do not want such things to happen to our kids.
The issue of role modelling
With so limited time with the kids, we would also have problem being role models for them. Most of the time, they would just see us coaching them in their homework and see us busy preparing our work. It is very important that we have time with the kids and be good role models for them. As their parents, we have the mandate to train the kids to walk in the ways of God. It is about discipling the kids. It is not just about sending them for tuition and different courses to make them better. As good parents, we must not just give our kids knowledge and skills, but we need to train them in their character too. This is the part that takes up most time and efforts too.
The issue of energy level
After a day of hard work, how much energy do we still have? Taking care of our children need a great amount of energy especially during those years where they are very active. We may have to play with them and be very patient with them. With a domestic helper around, we can leave the playing to her. After a day’s work, we just want to relax and be quiet. We do not want our kids to make noise and disturb us. However, spending time with the kids is very important. Despite of low energy level and the crave for rest and silence, we still have to take care of them. We cannot cease to be their parents. Perhaps, it is not that our kids are too difficult but our work has been too demanding. We may have to make the necessary adjustments and sacrifices so that we can look after our kids.
The issue of freedom
Another common issue is freedom. The dilemma is that though we want to have kids, we also want freedom. We want to have time without the kids tagging along to do our shopping and traveling. We want time for the couple to enjoy by ourselves. It is indeed important for the couple to spend time together. I believe it is all right for us to make arrangements to leave our kids with our parents or friends, but we also need to accept the fact that the composition and dynamics of the family has changed. We cannot have equal freedom as before or we would become irresponsible parents. We have to operate as a family unit rather than a couple. Through the things we do together, we build up the trust and love for each other. While the maid can help us in a lot of things, they cannot replace and should not replace us. We have to change our expectations of freedom. We can no longer exercise the same level of freedom as before. We have a new boundary set for us.
The issue of simplicity
While both parents working can earn a higher income, it is be also possible to survive with one. We can also consider working part time or flexi hours when our children are still young. But that may mean that we have to give up some luxurious lifestyle. Are we ready to live simply for our children sake? In fact, it may be good for our kids since they are getting more and more materialistic these days. They have become little kings and queens in our homes. They get a lot of things they demand because as parents, we want to give them our best. But giving them what they demand might not be best for them. We have to teach then to live simply as well.
The maid dilemma is a tricky one. While we all hope to lighten our workload at home so that we can earn more money outside, we have to evaluate whether this choice is worthwhile. We must be careful not to weigh this decision simply based on the freedom and lifestyle we want, but on the developmental needs of the children. We should constantly evaluate how to better build the family unit in terms of our devotion to God and our relationship with one another rather than being engulfed by our work. Before we get a domestic helper, let us think through the issues more clearly, lest we neglect our duties as parents. The price of it can be a costly one. We may end up having rebellious kids who do not want to communicate with us. Make a change in our parenting before it is too late.