Today, the term "family" is difficult to define. All families are unique, and they can range anywhere from single parent families to extended families. Most importantly though, it is in the family where the next generation is being built. Parents must provide security and support for their children, and they need to be prepared for the challenges of balancing work and family in today's society. In traditional families, there was a mother, a father and their resulting children. The father would most often be the earner of the family, and the mother would stay at home and take care of the children. Things have changed considerably in the twenty-first century. Now there are more dual-income families, single-parent families, and there are many more women in the labour force. This poses a great change to family life, and many parents are working a "double day". They have their regular full time jobs where they earn an income, and then they have to come home to more work such as cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping. Like all systems and interactions, conflict arises between work and family issues. This issue causes conflict for every member of the family, and they need to discover ways to resolve this conflict. According to the feminist theory, "gender is basic to all social structures and organizations". (Eshleman & Wilson, 2001:23). Obviously, it is also basic to the conflicts of work and family life. Today, both men and women must go to work to support their families, but it is usually the woman who has to come home and do the cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, while her husband plays with the kids or watches television in the living room. This is definitely a concern that needs to be addressed, and although there have been some improvements in this area, much more can still be done. More improvements have also been made by employers, unions and the government to benefit families who have full time jobs. Although, they have made steps towards improving this dilemma, there are still many issues that need to be dealt with.
The social conflict theory states that "conflict is natural and inevitable in all human interaction" (Eshleman & Wilson, 2001:15). It is not seen as a negative theory, it just calls for people to be aware that conflict will arise, and that they need to come up with solutions to these struggles. This is no different in the family. Today's families have to deal with tension on the macro level and the micro level. Work and employment affect both the macro and micro elements of the family. More and more varieties of families are coming about, such as dual-income families, single-parent families, and families who take care of their children as well as their parents. These people face tribulations everyday of their lives while trying to juggle work and their family. Mostly in dual-income families, and single-parent families, people are performing a "double day". According to Eshleman and Wilson (2001), the double day, or second shift, refers to the combination of paid and unpaid work most people do.
The family member earning the income "often feels stress and encounters difficulties trying to meet their responsibilities as family members and as employees" (Coates, 1991:1). This affects their performance at work and at home. They are caught in the middle between having to work to support the family, and wanting to create a good environment for their family to grow in. Society tells these parents that "they are bad [parents] if they don't go to the school play and bad employees if they do go and take time off from work" (Denholtz, 2000:91). The children or elderly people in the head of the household's care also suffer from the work/family conflict. Children are often raised by other people other than their own parents, such as nannies, teachers, other relatives or day care workers. Many children must learn to grow up a lot quicker than they would normally have to if their parents were always around which...
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