by Trung Hieu
After giving birth, many women have to quit their jobs and stay at home to care for their babies, and some become depressed because of the boring routine.
Although she had a stable job and income, Nguyen Hoai Diep from Cau Giay District in Ha Noi took her four-month maternity leave, but was unable to find a nanny and her parents were not in a position to help her care for the baby, so she was forced to quit her job.
Diep was anxious, but her husband encouraged her, saying his salary with a foreign company was more than enough to care for the family, so she agreed to stay at home.
Another woman, Chu Tu Anh, has been out of work for five years after having two babies.
"After spending all day at home looking after my children, I feel like I'm becoming stupid," she says. "Things that I used to be able to do in the past have become harder for me to solve, and it will be at least three years until my babies are old enough for my husband to agree that I can return to work."
Many people look at families where the wife stays at home and the husband goes out to earn a living for the family with admiration for the hard working bread-winner.
However, from a different perspective, we have to admit that women also have to work exceptionally hard doing chores they do not necessarily enjoy, including cooking, washing and child care, and even when their children have grown up, it is not guaranteed that they will be able to find a job again.
Although many wives accept this burden, many husbands do not acknowledge the sacrifice they make for their children or their family. Some patriarchal husbands think that because they earn the money, they are head of the family.
Nguyen Hao from Hai Ba Trung District makes 10 times more than his wife and feels it is his right to decide the future of his family, from simple things like buying furniture, to choosing which school his children go to, and he hasn't allowed his wife to return to work.
Feeling over dependent on her husband and frustrated that she cannot return to the job she loved, his wife often feels bored. She tried to return to work but her child, in a nearby kindergarten, was taken ill, so her husband decided she should stay at home again.
Nguyen Thi Lanh from Ha Dong District is also faced with a difficult situation. She has to do housework, prepare meals for her in-laws, and care for her baby, but she says her husband does not sympathise with her.
"He does not understand that caring for the baby and cleaning the house is a hard day's work. He thinks that I am free to do what I want," she says.
Lanh often resorts to anti-depressant drugs to deal with the stress.
She has applied for a new job several times, but was turned down because the employers said her child was still young. She feels stuck in a vicious circle: staying at home – caring for her baby – feeling depressed.
But some husbands have a better way of thinking.
Each time he meets his friends, Tran Tuan Quang asks them to encourage his wife.
"I understand her sadness as she has to experience many ups and downs: getting married, giving birth, moreover she feels a complex that she has to depend on my income."
Psychologist Le Thi Tuy from the Happiness and Living Skills Consultancy Centre in Ha Noi says she has seen many cases of depression, mostly in women who have to stay at home to care for their babies.
"Most of them are intellectuals, and they fall into depression because they cannot accept the fact their lives have suddenly become boring. They feel worthless, and do not have the opportunity to socialise," she says.
Tuy says, when women have to quit their jobs to care for their families, they should understand that they have a crucial role, not only to their children, but also to support their husbands.
"Husbands should also appreciate their wives' sacrifices, and try to understand what they are going through. They should not look down on women who have to do housework, and they should share this work with their loved ones." — VNS