Breadwinners Might Be Doing More Harm Than Good To Their Families


I have a friend named Dan whom I met at a charity. Dan often prides himself as the breadwinner of his family. I was actually impressed of him the first time he mentioned this to me. He was 35 years old, single, and was the only one working in his family. He had a professional job as a university professor and had another part time job for extra income. He worked both jobs to support his old and sickly father and also his two sisters, both of which are already past the legal age.

A few years later, one of Dan’s sister was diagnosed with depression and they would often fight each other at home. I didn’t know why his sister developed depression and just though that it was probably nothing much to worry about. Dan would soon tell me that he’s tired with all the responsibilities that he has in his life. So I advised him to help his two sisters find a job. That way his sisters can help him with all the needs of their family. But shortly after my advises, he suddenly threw out excuses as to why that wouldn’t be a good idea. His main reason was he didn’t want his sickly father to be alone at home so having his two sisters at home to look after their father was for the best. He also mentioned that he would get into fights with his sisters because he would sometimes find out that his sisters are going out on dates without his knowledge and so he would scold them which in turn would result into fights.

Upon hearing more of his reasons, I realized that he wanted to maintain the breadwinner status of his family because it made him become the head figure of the family and able to dictate things for everyone. I also realized that his sisters are suffocated with this kind of life. The two sisters are basically stuck at home, no love life, no prospects of a future career, and just no clear future. I told Dan straight up that he has to let his sisters live on their own terms. They have to experience doing somethings for themselves and be free. Freedom is a human need. They need a job and possibly a relationship, after all they’re already adults. I told him that his sisters are so suffocated by him that one probably developed her depression because of him. But he wouldn’t accept my advise and justifies his actions are protective and a sacrifice for everyone’s good. Sadly, Dan just couldn’t see through his own ego and power was something he wouldn’t easily give up at home, even if it meant having lesser problems to worry about.

These are the usual problems with breadwinners:

  • “He who makes the gold makes the rules”, The person who brings in the money is the one who is in power and often he would take advantage of this power. Power tripping that is.
  • They might have a sense of false pride. Breadwinners might see themselves as the savior of all in the family. When they see their siblings trying to make small achievements on their own, they might see this as a threat to their savior-complexion and tell them that they’re “nagmamalaki na”.
  • They try to handle all the responsibilities themselves while unconsciously judging their siblings as immature or untrustworthy. Undervaluing the talents and abilities of others and therefor prolonging unnecessary hardships by not accepting help from them.
  • They might provide a false sense of security by trying to be the protector and provider of all. Their siblings would usually end up expecting more from them and gain little understanding of self responsibility. Making them even more dependent on the breadwinner, even as they pass the age of maturity.

How to be a good breadwinner:

  • Tell the truth to your siblings early about the hardships of life and the beauty of self-responsibility. In doing so, you help them prepare themselves from any situation and they will use their talents and abilities on how to asses themselves from them.
  • Let them follow their own dreams, not yours. Understand that your siblings might actually be better than you. So instead of throwing words at them like “nagmamalaki ka na”, try to be more encouraging.
  • Understand that you don’t have to do everything. They can take care of themselves. Let go of your hunger for control before you hunger controls you.

Are you a breadwinner and also have good tips on how to be a better one? Share it in the comments.

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