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September 21, 2005

Comments

Alice H

Whether you meant to or not, you've said some things that are pretty insulting to people who haven't made the career choices you have.

"A meaningful part-time job? Having never met one I believe they're either an oxymoron or a mirage (up close, nothing ever takes 20 hours/week)."

I've maintained a series of part-time software validation contracts from home for the past two years so I can stay home with my son. I don't have a large web of family locally to help out, but I find time to do my work during naps and after bedtime (with the very occasional sprint weekend when my husband takes full care of my son).

"[Expecting careers to take second place to child rearing] strikes me as the difference between retrofitting and lowering expectations. Are these young women managing their desires so they won't be disappointed by the future?"

It sounds like you don't think that women can realize, once they have children, that being able to spend a lot of quality time with their children is a worthwhile priority.

"Why is it "working versus raising children"? This is the heart of the problem. Women and men still perceive the choice as an either/or proposition, as if the two are mutually exclusive."

I think you covered this fairly well in your disdain for part-time work - you're perpetuating the problem by refusing to recognize the possibility that part-time work can be worthwhile. Everyone make choices in their careers. My husband took his current job, even though it means less pay, because it rarely requires overtime - which allows him to spend more time with family. This is a choice that ultimately every working parent has to make, whether they are a father or a mother.

""Parents have such an influence on their children," Ms. Ku said. "I want to have that influence. Me!" Now I'm scared."

You're scared that a mother wants to be the person who has the most influence on her child, rather than a daycare provider? Way to be supportive.

""It worked so well for me," she said, "and I don't see in my life why it wouldn't work." But you will. You'll see."

You have no idea what this woman's home life is like, or what her capacity for taking care of her family is, or the level of support from her husband and extended family, but you feel qualified to pass judgment on whether choosing family over career is a workable solution.

You may think that you are being a good feminist supporter of women's rights, but in reality you are being unsupportive of women who make the choice to prioritize family over careers.

Erica M.

The problem is that society/most employers won't consider solutions that allow moms to work outside the home without a lot of sacrifice. I'm VERY fortunate. My son is at a caretaker's home one day a week, with my husband two days a week, and with me four days a week. I work 24 hours a week in the office, and another 8 from home. My husband takes off Fri and Sat. When my son was an infant, I occasionally brought him to work with me when I needed to.

I work at a small non-profit organization and have been lucky that they were open to this solution. My son gets to spend the majority of time with his parents, although we sacrifice time with each other. Few women are so fortunate - but they should be, and so should men. It should be easier for parents to work and raise their kids at the same time.

Tina

Education is a path to enlightenment as well as employment. An educated/enlightened individual will hopefully produce the same, whether choosing/needing to work or not. Education is never a waste, even if you are staying at home cleaning up puke like I have been all week. I didn't feel angry about the article, although I too am suspicious of the ambiguous lanugage. I got the impression these girls were saying they felt like they had a choice to either work or stay home without the social pressures their mothers had to do one or the other. And let's face it, the problem with making future proclamations as a college freshman is that you don't yet know how much you don't yet know. Life looks at lot different at 20 than at 30 (even 45).

Rayne of Terror

I'm a SAHM who is halfway through her law degree. I'm taking one year at home because the timing of the birth would have made me sit out at least one semester. So instead of going back and graduating in December and job hunting off season, my hubby and I decided I would stay home an entire year.

I do plan on working after graduation, but I don't plan on going to a firm. I'm thinking gov't work would be more suitable to family life. I can tell you the women who are also in my class at school who want to be SAHMs at some point DO take their studies seriously and are some of the best law students I've met.

Although it will drag my degree out 4 years, I think I'm lucky to have my son during school so that I don't have to deal with trying to re-enter the workforce in the same way as a SAHM. I suspect my 4 year break from the workforce for law school won't be looked down on in the same way this article details.

I think women will vote with their feet. That may be a slower way to get change, but I think change will come nontheless.

Julie

Here's a piece by Jack Shafer at Slate that questions whether this front page story truly reflects a "trend." Shafer notes that it relies on what he calls "weasel words" -- in this case "many women," when it might just be "some women" or a statistically insignificant number of women.

yvonne

As a working mom of three children, I absolutely accept that some women choose to stay home. I was home for a 2 1/2 years and found it very difficult to get back into the work force. I absolutely know that positions have passed me by because I have to get home in time to get the kids from the sitter or take time off because someone is sick. I am grateful that I have a spouse that believes in 50/50 parenting but he too, has not advanced as far as he could have with a better social infrastructure in place. We chose to have lives with our careers, a bit of both not all of one. Tough choices and tough balancing acts. I believe my kids will respect those choices and, as long as we are both still actively employed we can begin our climb of the perverbial corporate ladder with more commitment when the kids are older. Very poignant issue: very strong emotions for people.

Anne

I found this article very depressing.

I live in Belgium where there is reasonable maternity leave (3 months, although the European average is between 4 and 6 months) and a good social security system which has developed on the basis that both parents work (funded care for sick children, cheap creches with tax refunds on creche fees etc.) and I'm not sure that the question of one parent staying at home is as big an issue as it is in the States. This by way of reassurance - it can be done, at least to an extent.

On the other hand, I am from Ireland and, there, I increasingly see the debate being framed in terms of "stay at home mothers" are good for their children vs. working mothers are the spawn of Satan. I find this pretty depressing also. Clearly working fathers are not the spawn of Satan.

Maybe my view that having a working mother is not really the end of the world is coloured by the fact that my own mother worked full-time and I do not seem to have been negatively affected by this, but maybe I just wasn't concentrating.

Christina

Here's the rest of my rant. Again, most of these girls do not have the benefit of hindsight, nor foresight. If they knew what life would bring for them, then certainly, making a determination to stay home, work part time or work for x amount of years, have kids, and then stay home would be much simpler.

I wonder, though, if they're planning to stay home, if they're even taking their education (that I would LOVE to have) seriously. Do they sit there in the college lecture hall and say, "Oh, la la, I'm not going to need any of this knowledge since I'm going to stay at home with my children?" Do they understand what paying back college loans can do to that perfect world of staying at home and living off of one income?

I think the women, and I say women as opposed to girls for a reason, who said that they were stronger for their mothers tackling the dual full time careers of motherhood and a job outside the home nailed it right on the head. My children see me do it. They know that as much as I'd like to stay home with them, that it's not an option, but they also see me balancing both. It's not easy to do, but it gets done. This makes them realize that they, too, can have careers and families if that is what they want...and they do.

What an incredible article. I found myself picking my jaw up off of the floor on many occasions.

Christina

I have so many comments while reading this, that I had to stop half way through and scroll down before I forgot what I was going to say.

I would LOVE to be an at home mom, but, due to "economic necessity" I have to work, as did my mother. I stayed home for a long time while my younger two children were smaller. Then I got divorced and had to go back to work. I don't believe that my not being there all the time will negatively impact my children, nor will it determine what they decide to do when faced with the balancing act of parenthood and career.

I don't consider my job a career. I never had the opportunity to finish college and, therefore, never had to face the prospect of a career that demanded everything from me, including my entire 50hour day that I'm already spending on my children while working a 40hour week.

Personally, I think these girls are deluded and have no clue what the real world is like. I agree that in 10 years, their opinions are likely to be different than now. I would give my right arm and probably some of my gas money to go back to school and finish my degree. That would make a 3-way balancing act for me: Family, economically necessary job, and education. Would I choose to follow one of those paths and set aside the other two? NO WAY.

Ok, enough babbling. I need to finish the rest of the article now. I'll be back.

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