It can be difficult to juggle the pressures of family life and life outside of the home. Because women have traditionally managed households, this pressure can fall disproportionately on them. Family-related work may include taking care of young children and/or elderly parents.
It may be helpful for both men and women to recognize that family-related work is work. The Psalms teach that children are a gift from God. But raising children requires enormous investments of time, energy, money, and work. If parenting is mistaken for a leisure, or non-work activity, then a decision that exchanges family-time or household work for paid work pits career against family, commitment against laziness, and achievement against triviality. In those terms, every such decision becomes lose-lose. Resentment by family, colleagues or self is a foregone conclusion. But if we recognize that the results of work include not only products, services and business returns, but also a new generation of humanity, then re-allocating work time is basic strategic planning, a routine activity that high-performing workers do on a daily basis.
Some of us may not have children to take care of, but we may have parents who depend on us as they grow older. Honoring our parents may be a part of the work that God has given us.
If you are in a position to help your workplace implement practices (such as providing parental leave, flexible work schedules or flexible career development paths) that honor men and women in their family-related work, consider what steps you might take to create a supportive work environment.
If you are struggling to balance family-related work and paid work, you are not alone. Recall the “valiant woman” from Proverbs 31 (day 1 of this reading plan). Her roles in the community and in her family may have been productive, but they were not effortless. God honors both choices: family work and paid work. Ask him for wisdom and help as you manage your multiple roles.
Lord, I am grateful for the work of caring for family. I'm also grateful for the work that I do outside of my household. Help me discern my path when the two callings seem to be in conflict. Amen.
For further exploration, read this article about passion, family and work in the Song of Songs, from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.