Magazine article Management Today

What's Your Problem?

Magazine article Management Today

What's Your Problem?

Article excerpt

You suffer the double indignity of being the put-upon parent when most of your male mates are still getting away with it

Q. My wife is the breadwinner in our family and works long and hard. She leaves for the office at 7am (I drop the kids off at school), she's attached to her laptop in the evenings and she travels a lot. While I try to be supportive, I'm starting to feel resentful.

My career is suffering and the children barely see her. Any advice?

A. Unless you're utterly devoid of sensitivity, you must surely recognise that your letter would be read with howls of joyous recognition by thousands of women throughout the country: 'So now you know what it feels like!' If you're hoping for sympathy from them, you should look elsewhere.

But you do, I think, deserve some sympathy - not least because, for far too many years, convention held that the woman's place was in the home while her chap was out there, hunting and gathering. So you suffer the double indignity of being the put-upon parent when most of your male mates are still getting away with it.

You need to be a little more assertive; but don't bottle things up until you become so charged with resentment that your most reasonable suggestions come across as graceless bluster. Fix a date, and fix a babysitter and take your wife out to dinner somewhere quiet. Keep it low key. Make it amusing if you can. Make it clear that you're genuinely delighted that she's so good at her job and enjoys it so much. Don't imply that she should feel guilty; just that she's carrying far too much responsibility for the breadwinning side of things when you're willing and able to play your part. Don't insist on an immediate response: any change for the better is bound to be gradual. Have another glass of wine and enjoy the evening.

Q. My 35-year-old son quit his job as an investment banker in the City because he was burnt out. Three years on, he still hasn't found a new job and he's frittering away his money, despite having an astronomical mortgage. He won't take any advice from me (or his wife). How can I convince him that he needs to settle down?

A. The chances are that your son is just as unhappy as you are but is far too proud or too stubborn to admit it. Men in their mid-30s shouldn't be out of work - and they certainly shouldn't be taking advice from their parents. …

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