In this modern age, it is normal to find families that have two careers. Careers are important to a family because these serve as the main source of financial support for the maintenance of a household. Salaries earned from working provide for the payment of bills, as well as provide support for the basic needs for food, shelter and clothing. There are two possible family settings in terms of careers in the family: a two-career family, wherein both parents are working, and a one-career family which has only one parent working, either the father or the mother.
These two settings have similarities and differences, depending on what angle is considered.
Two-family and one-family careers are both capable of supporting a household because both settings have at least one working parent that is earning. Both family settings also have a sense of identity, based on the career(s) of the working parent(s). Children of both family settings generally look up to the status of their working parent(s), making him/them role model(s) to which they can follow as they are growing up.
Both families also give importance to spending time with the entire family, knowing that quality time with the children is not enough now in this modern age, but that quantity is also of equal importance.
On the other hand, there are also differences between a two-career and a one-career family. Two-career families generally have a higher total household income than a one-career family, mainly due to the number of people earning for the household. This results in a greater capacity for two-career families to afford extra perks in life, such as computers, extra vehicle, grand vacations, etc. The one-career family’s earnings are prioritized to cover the basic needs of the household, and if there are any extra money left after paying for the basic needs of the household, only then can they splurge on other things.
On the other hand, two-career families generally have less time to spend with their children, because both are working during the day, and they come home tired and weary and have little energy left to tend to their growing children. Some children from two-career families tend to spend time with friends because their parents are not at home to keep them company, and sadly, this may be a root cause for acquiring bad habits such as smoking and drugs. Unfortunately, there are also some parents who unconsciously bring home the stress of the workplace, which affects their interactions with their children.
One-career families usually have the mother staying at home, and this is very beneficial to the children because they will always have someone to can go to once they reach home after school. Homemakers have unlimited time to help their children with their homework and studies and other after-school activities, and it is also beneficial to the entire household if there is someone based in the house who is ready to provide food to members of the household who come home and are very hungry and tired. However, there is also an unwritten hierarchy in a one-career family, and that is—the working parent is known as the breadwinner or the head of the household, and the other parent who stays at home is not considered to be of authority because he/she is not earning any money.
In this setting, the working parent appears to be the dominant person in the family, and he/she shows self-esteem over the non-working parent (Burke and Weir, 1976). It is sad to know that some families have such structure, because it is actually also a full-time job to maintain a home, even harder to do than to work in an office. In two-career families, both parents are regarded with equal authority and dominance, because both parents are earning for the family. At the same time, both parents have self-esteem and regard themselves as achievers, as well as good providers.
Two-career and one-career family settings have both advantages and disadvantages. The choice of career setting is based on each family’s needs and conditions. If both parents feel that the family will have harmony if both are working, then they maintain such setting. Or if the children are old enough and need not much supervision, a two-career setting is feasible. However, if there is a child who is always sick or is disabled, a one-career family will be advantageous to this particular setting, so that the child can be well taken care of. It is important to know that the number of careers in a family is generally a result of the family’s current needs and situation.
Burke RJ and Weir T (1976): Some personality differences between members of one-career and two-career families. J. Marriage Fam. 38(3):453-459.