may be this article will help:
Balancing work and the family
By THEAN LEE CHENG
EVERY once in a while, over Light & Easy radio station, we hear a cheery male voice offering some advice on family relationships. The snippets come short and sweet and end with Dr James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, introducing himself.
Dobson founded the radio ministry in 1977 and dedicated it to building the family, the smallest unit of a society. That clip is a pleasant diversion.
Likewise, many may find this soulful bit rather strange, buried among hard numbers and cold facts. But like the radio clip, it is a minor but important diversion. And what better place than this? For as Lee Swee Seng, a member of the board of the KL-based non-profit organisation says, all of us are made up of emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual beings.
“All of us have to balance between family, work and community life. If one area encroaches into another, we find ourselves out of balance,” he says.
Lee was giving a talk “The Balance of Family, Work and Community Life”at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Bukit Kiara on May 10.
None of us, he says, is an island. We may cocoon up into our cosy homes after work, or during weekends, but inevitably, in one way or another, we step out of our peaceful existence in search of other people to interact with. It could be interaction we yearn for, or encounters we need to get our lives moving along.
A trained lawyer with his own firm, Lee delves into the challenges of family life, work and living in a community, cementing the 45-minute session with quotes and heart-warming poems from anonymous to famous personalities like Martin Luther.
“I am telling you what many of you already know. What I have to say is nothing new. But it is good to reflect on what we already know because many times, in this fast-paced life we lead, we tend to forget and get carried away with life’s challenges.
“We are into battles our parents were never in. Different forces are pulling us in different directions. There are so many things clamouring for our attention that at the end of the day, we do not want to speak to anyone, other than just to slip into slumber land,” he says, admitting that even as he speaks, he is trying hard to prevail under life’s challenges.
Lee Swee Seng
Many times throughout the session, Lee states the obvious. For example, “Enjoy your work and you will be a happier person.” At times, he tends to oversimplify things. “Work is therapeutic for our souls” and “Our work defines our identity.”
While there is a certain amount of truth in some of these statements, they are an oversimplification.
Work should not define us. If it does, those who retire will lose their identities, and those yet to enter the job market would be without identities. While work is important, we need to look at it in perspective, vis-a-vis all the other challenges that surround us. So our personalities, our likes and dislikes, our experiences, relationships, and our beliefs define us, not work. If indeed our work defines us, how then does one account for a surgeon who is also an artist, or a miner who is also a poet? The richness and vastness of each of our character is so diverse. To have it defined by the work we do is tragic.
Hence, a number of Lee’s views are challengeable. All of us know that we will definitely be happier if we enjoy our work. But there are many out there who are caught in a rut, who have yet to discover what they would truly enjoy doing. Not all of us are fortunate to make our hobby our work, or our work our hobby.
Nevertheless, though there be differences of viewpoints, Lee worked hard at cementing the session with reams of collective wisdom from inspirational anecdotes.
There were two important missing issues, and participants pointed this out – working mothers with little children and adult children caring for aging parents. Because Focus on the Family is US-based, Lee tend to “americanised” Malaysian families. He looks at the family unit as parents and children. He did not address the mental, emotional, spiritual, social and physical strengths and energy adult children – single or married – need as they live and observe their parents age and become progressively disable and unable. The reversal of roles in this parent-adult children dichotomy has begun.
Lee looks at a family as comprising mother, father and children. While this forms the nucleus, he has omitted the fact that the enlarged family comprises several larger concentric circles, like the ripples that appear when a stone is dropped in the water. For those who are married, our aging parents occupy the circles immediately outside this nucleus but they are nevertheless part of the larger family unit.
As we balance work, family and community, “parenting” our aging parents forms a part of this equation, which was not highlighted. Lee also did not address the issue of working mothers with young children, as pointed out by a participant. His suggestion: go for a flexi-hour job or quit the job market until the children grows up.
Lee called on participants to give back to society what they have received. He defined community as a church or some religious organisation, or some bodies we are involved in.
“The Dead Sea is dead because it receives and never gives,” he quotes. Overall, it was a pleasant conclusion to a busy day with participants leaving the hall needing more answers and guidance. Note: Focus on the Family Malaysia was established in 1998 to build up resilient families.