Friday, September 19, 2008

Balancing Career and Family as a Single Father

The single father normally feels torn between his commitment to his job and his commitment to his family. The single father should not feel like he alone has failed to determine where he should direct his energy. Every single father has had that problem, at some time during his life.

Single fathers the world over share their longing for resolution of this issue, this "pull" in two different directions. The single fathers reading this article ought to hear the story of a man who lived in Iran, having started a family in the first half of the 20 th Century.

Now this man did not divorce his wife. He and his wife enjoyed each others company, and they enjoyed their children. Unfortunately they lived in a small village. Their village, one typical of small towns in post-war Iran, did not have the conveniences we enjoy today.

The wife contracted some sort of infectious disease. Because the village lacked adequate medical care, the woman, only one year away from her most recent pregnancy, died. The man became a single father, a father responsible for feeding and clothing sons and daughters, while also striving to earn a living.

At that time in history, with the world just coming out of the Second World War, almost everything was in scarce supply. Even bread could be difficult to obtain. Imagine being a single father in that situation.

The father finally decided to take his children to the home of his parents. They lived there for two years, while the father took a job in the oil fields. By pursuing that arrangement, the single father managed to save up enough money for a home. He returned for his children, and he took them to their new home.

Now did that action delay the education and development of the man's children? No, it did not. His children have finished school; they have married, and they have their own careers and their own families. A discussion with one of those children does not yield any comment about the wisdom of the father's decision.

The role of a single parent is a difficult role to fill. The single father normally lacks much preparation for the demands that are placed upon him—the need to do housekeeping chores while also holding down a full time job. Unless a man has found a way to work at home, he is apt to struggle, torn between his career and his family.

The man in the above story chose to leave his children with his parents for a brief time, while he tried to build up his own finances. A single father might want to think about moving closer to parents, so that the children's grandparents did not need to saddle the full responsibility of caring for them. A single father could also build a shelter for his parents, if they seemed eager to live closer to their grandchildren.

If a man is a good worker he can use that fact to negotiate with his employer. He might, for example tell his employer that if he can not receive either more free time or a larger salary, he will need to look for another job. The single father should have a job in mind, one that he can mention to his employer, leaving the impression that he is quite eager to try that new job.

If an employer wants to retain a good employee (such as a hard-working single father), that employer generally seeks to address the complaint mentioned by the single father. The employer should then offer options to the man who feels torn between his job and his family.

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