Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 40: couples and family considerations 5

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on February 19, 2017

This is my 40th installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-39.)

I have been focusing on couples, as a simplest case scenario in Parts 36-39 of this series, and begin this posting’s continuation of that narrative by noting that all of the issues that I have raised and addressed there, apply here too. It is just that this time and in this series installment, I add more complications into “couples and family considerations” as noted in its title.

“Family” can hold a wide range of committed and involved meanings here, as critically impacting upon and even fundamentally shaping (or reshaping) careers and retirement decisions and their follow-through. To cite an example of this, that might not automatically come to mind for everyone reading this posting, consider grandparents who suddenly find themselves raising one or more of their grandchildren and taking on renewed parental roles and responsibilities while doing so. According to a February 16, 2016 PBS News Hour report, some 2.7 million grandparents are currently raising grandchildren in the United States (see More Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren .) And in many countries and cultures grandparents have traditionally played at least an actively supportive role in this too. And even then, circumstances have forced many grandparents into taking a more fully parental role there too. I cite by way of example, grandparents in African and other nations that were hard-hit by the AIDS epidemic when it was at its peak, who had to raise their grandchildren because their own children – the parents of those now bereft children were no longer there to raise them themselves.

I began with a perhaps less expected but still fairly common pattern in which people approaching – or already in retirement can find themselves taking financial and time commitment and other responsibilities for family that go beyond simply being part of a committed couple’s relationship. And I did so for a very simple reason: family commitments and responsibilities can arise in ways and from directions that are not always readily predictable. And they can arise in ways that demand significant changes in plans and in what is possible in them. And with that noted, I turn to consider two types of scenarios that can perhaps be more predictably expected, and certainly if you begin this narrative earlier on in retirement planning and well before actually tapering off and ending a work life would be expected – when we begin preparing for that eventuality so we can maintain as good a quality of life for ourselves and our life’s partner when we do retire. And those scenarios are raising children, and caring for aging parents who now need assistance and certainly if they are to retain any independence in their lives.

I begin this with what for many is at least in principle, the most expectable scenario of all, for wider family involvement here: children.

Couples often marry with at least loosely defined and thought through goals of having children and raising them – and with ideas as to how and where, and of what this means to them. And children are expensive and in more ways than just directly monetarily. Our children both enrich and significantly shape our lives – and our plans, including our longer term plans: retirement preparations definitely included. Raising children and carrying the expenses of doing so, shapes our career and employment decisions, and what types of work we pursue and take on. This all impacts upon how, and how much we can set aside financially and for what. And then, at least hopefully our children grow up and move out on their own, attending college and graduating and taking on jobs and entering into career paths of their own – and we become empty nesters and even if we do not become depressed from a sense of loss from this happening as the term empty nest syndrome implies. And to turn back to the “simplifying fairy tale narrative” once again, that I initially made note of in Part 38, “then they live happily ever after.” This line of discussion leads me to yet another “and then they live happily ever after” presumption.

And at this point in this narrative, I could cite any of a wide range of references and resources that I have offered here in this blog, about how the workplace and employability have been changing, and about the still recent Great Recession and its slow recover for employment aftermath. Children who go to college or otherwise complete their formal education, and seek to find their way into employment and the workforce do not always succeed – and certainly without delays. And empty nesters who have planned for their years post-child rearing, can suddenly find themselves with one or more grown children moving back in with them again. This happens; I did not end that last sentence before this one with an exclamation point of surprise and for a reason. It might not fit the standard pattern for anyone’s happily ever after but like finding yourself raising grandchildren as if your children, this is a contingency that does arise and for many – at least for periods of time.

• What I have been writing about here, is the need for flexibility in your retirement planning and in your life planning and from early on in your work life preparations for all of this. And what I am writing of here is the need for resiliency in being able to find and accept Plan B alternatives, when and as need for them arises. And this, ultimately all rests upon knowing what truly is important to you, and where you can find your joy in life – and what might be nice but that ultimately is just one possible vision of what you could do, that can be changed and replaced with new possibilities.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will consider aging parents and the sometimes need for their children to care for or support them in some way, and with impact on their own lives and decisions in the process. And after that I am going to briefly return to consider couples again, this time addressing the challenge of illness and quality of live as that impacts upon couples and their shared lives – and their retirement and retirement planning.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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