Saturday, April 14, 2007

Never-ending Story

I just read a book review in the New Yorker of yet another book about whether women should work or stay home with the kids. Fitting for a book on such an oft-told topic is its re-used title, Feminine Mistake. This one is by Leslie Bennetts. I guess all the FM books have different subtitles, but even so.. This one apparently concludes that women should work.

Isn't it obvious that for some women and their families, working is the best option and for others it is staying home with the kids, either for a short or long time? I use the term 'best' in the sense of best for their happiness and overall family well-being, not because of economic requirements to make a salary. Working was and is the best option for my family and me, but I have friends who are enjoying their choice to stay at home for a few years while their kids are very young. We are all different, and there is no one answer for everyone.


PonderingFool said...

"We are all different, and there is no one answer for everyone."

So true. Much work to be done to get there like making it as socially acceptable for a man to make the choice to stay home with the kids while the woman goes to work as the reverse situation is. (Not to mention getting to a place where it is socially acceptable to be a "non-traditional"/non-nuclear family, like for instance dropping the non-traditional nomenclature).

Kristin said...

I think we get all of these books because a title like "Everyone Just Chill Out and Do Whatever Works Best for Your Family" would not sell nearly as many copies. Because let's face it, people are just living their lives and making these decisions for themselves already. It's just that publishers sell more books when some opinionated palooka can find a reason to claim that one side or another is better and generate a little controversy that's good for publicity. Judging choices that women make in balancing work and family seems to be our culture's parlor game.

Mr. B. said...

Amen, sister.

There are many ways to nirvana. The only problem is that it is increasingly difficult for a family to live on the earnings of a single wage earner.

I'm sure someone will chime in with the fact that we are too materialistic and that one salary should be enough. You may have me there.


Twice said...

I love Kristin's book suggestion "Everyone Just Chill Out and Do Whatever Works Best for Your Family." But, yeah, probably hard to find a publisher for that one.

Incidentally, BrainChild magazine has an attitude like this, which makes it a refreshing alternative to other parenting magazines. One of my colleagues did a survey of parenting magazines and found that most of the rest, even the "alternative" ones promoted "traditional" ideas about family roles.

Susan B. Anthony said...

There is an excellent article on this issue (and its persistence as an issue) in the Columbia Journalism Review here:

The Opt-Out Myth

It offers a very well-researched and much-needed bit of historical and social perspective to the discussion.