Balancing Kids and Career, from the wOwosphere

Women with young children–bad idea to try to juggle a demanding job?  Or actually a great idea that, in the long-term, benefits the children who are raised to be independent and assertive?  Some famous women are discussing just this issue in the “wOwosphere,” a “party designed as a website” and created, run, and written by sixteen “independent-minded women,” including Candice Bergen, Whoopi Goldberg, and Lesley Stahl.  image has some good excerpts of the continuing discussion.  Here are a few:

Candice Bergen: OK. At the risk of being politically incorrect, I think if you are going to commit to the decision to have a child, you owe that child your best. And I think the old saying “Quality time is better than quantity time” is a self-justifying adage that over-worked women use to assuage their guilt. A guilt I think is valid. . . . I always made a point of showing and telling my daughter that she was the love of my life and I think she benefited from that. Obviously I made huge mistakes. And there were times I wasn’t there when I should have been. But not many. I do not think you can have it all without someone paying the price and that shouldn’t be your child.

Whoopi Goldberg: The truth is it is very hard to balance career and family. If you have money, of course it’s easier.  But it doesn’t compensate for birthdays, graduations and the like. If you don’t have money it is incredibly hard and you are constantly worried that you can’t cover whatever costs you have. The truth also is that each family is different and it may be easy for some, except for the guilt of not fitting the perfect mother pattern.

Judith Martin: I have been answering these very questions for more than 40 years. During that time, there was a great wave of feminism, and middle-class mothers entered the work force in large numbers. (That poor mothers have always worked is usually overlooked.) Wouldn’t you think that conditions might have changed just a little?

Then, as now, the working world was designed for people with no personal responsibilities, which originally meant men whose wives ran the entire domestic side of life for them. So both were short-changed: the mothers, who did unrelieved child-care during the years that they might have been building careers and were considered unemployable when the children had grown; and the fathers, who had little time to develop close relationships with their growing children. If anything, the work place is now worse, with ersatz socializing after hours and constant technological availability expected in many jobs. And then, as now, women who take care of their own children full-time were venerated but offered no help, while women who did it professionally were given little money and less respect.

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