Gini Dietrich

What the Opt-Out Generation Means Longer-Term

By: Gini Dietrich | August 12, 2013 | 

What the Opt-Out Generation Means Longer-TermBy Gini Dietrich

In yesterday’s The Three Things, Lindsay Bell-Wheeler linked to a New York Times article about the opt-out generation of women who quit their careers to raise their families and work inside the home.

It made both of our blood boil. Hers because of the women they portrayed (upper-class, country club, 9,000 square foot homes, highly-educated) who have (or had) husbands who made a good enough living for them to “opt out” of the workforce yet maintain their style of living…and are now complaining because they have to move into a 2,500 square foot townhome because of a divorce.

You can read what she wrote in the blog post and in the comments…and get her riled up more.

I agree with all of those things and more.

A Personal Story

I hope my mom won’t mind my telling this story.

When I was 17, my parents split up. I have three younger brothers and a younger sister (I also have a half-brother, but he didn’t fit into this equation). My dad worked two jobs nearly my entire life and he was never home. When he was home, he was the disciplinarian.

My mom, on the other hand, was with us 24/7. She cooked, she cleaned, she made our clothes, she scheduled our activities, she did the shopping, she made us do our homework…she raised us.

She never worked outside of the home. Not until she got divorced. But, by then, she’d been out of the workforce nearly 20 years and didn’t have desirable skills to an employer.

She’s highly educated, highly intelligent, and extremely talented. And the workforce required she start all over. Those 20 years meant nothing on a resume. To the workforce, she was a brand new college graduate, but with baggage.

As well, when faced with divorce and custody of five children (well, four and a half as I was off to college on a full-ride academic scholarship), she didn’t have her own credit as all of the bills – the utilities, the car, the mortgage – were in my dad’s name.

And the best job she could get? She worked herself up to manager of a retail store a few blocks from our home so we could hang out there after school.

She worked herself nearly to death and it wasn’t enough. She couldn’t make ends meet. She was starting from scratch with lots of mouths to feed. Eventually my dad got custody of my siblings and he moved them to Michigan.

It nearly killed my mom. Literally.

Long-Term Investment in Your Career

I’m reading Lean In (more on that when I finish it) and one of the things Sheryl Sandberg talks about is to think about the long-term effects of the opt-out generation. What happens when you leave your job to raise your family.

The examples she uses aren’t unlike what my mom and some of my friends are going through now: A divorce, a spouse dies, a spouse is injured and can no longer work.

Lots of women decide to leave the workforce because their salaries barely cover childcare when they are born.

It makes sense, right? If your salary goes to childcare, what’s the point in working and being away from your kids, particularly before they go to school?

But what we don’t think about is the salary increases and bonuses we receive during those years. So your salary may barely cover childcare right now, but three years from now, you’ll be making more money. Perhaps you also receive bonuses or incentives. More money added to that. Suddenly the long-term investment in your career doesn’t look so bad.

Of course, none of us think anything bad will happen to us. We’re not going to get divorced. Our spouse isn’t going to get sick. Our spouse isn’t going to be hurt so badly he or she can’t work. That stuff happens to other people.

Opt-Out Generation: Invest in You

I’m not advocating everyone make the same choices I would make. I’m certainly not advocating everyone run out and find themselves jobs.

But what I am advocating is doing things that invest in you in the long-term. Not in your kids. Not in your spouse. In you.

Put some of the bills in your name, particularly the ones that are hard to get without any credit – the utilities, the insurance – and make sure your mortgage has both of your names on it.

Keep your skills fresh by working part-time, even if it’s from home. Technology offers an amazing opportunity for many of us to raise our families and bring in a paycheck. As well, workplaces are becoming more flexible, giving both parents the opportunity to share responsibilities for sick kids or after school activities.

Find ways to keep your resume updated through volunteer activities that mean something to an employer.

This way, the opt-out generation has a way to opt back in. Maybe you’ll be lucky and never need it. Or maybe you’ll find yourself in need of something more when they kids go off to college. Or maybe something more drastic happens and you have no choice.

Whatever it happens to be, don’t lose the opportunity to invest in you.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Liz

    I agree with this. And I did not see Lindsay’s post. But I did read the article earlier last week and had an interesting discussion on FB when I posted it. The piece didn’t make my blood boil; rather I was happy that the women portrayed in it were able to realize early that they needed to make some significant changes. Usually, that realization doesn’t come until much later, say when the kids leave the nest or a spouse divorces or gets sick. My generation of women didn’t opt out but opted in and had other issues to deal with – greater numbers of us are alone or find that the choices we made to focus on our careers have come at the expense of ourselves. The outcomes and lessons are not different; be sure that you are thinking of yourself when making decisions or perhaps, be sure that you are taking as good care of yourself as you are of others.

    • Liz “Be sure that you are taking as good care of yourself as you are of others.” Amen!

  • I am glad you chimed in on this — don’t have time to comment at length right now. I’m waiting to say anything (much) on Lean In until I’ve read it also. I think I need to bump it up the list. Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

    • biggreenpen Bump it up the list. My biggest takeaway from it is the criticism has come from people who clearly have not read it. They’re taking one piece of one chapter and extrapolating their own views without taking the time to read the book. It’s very, very good and I think every woman alive should read it.

      • ginidietrich biggreenpen I have heard a few reviews and read a few summaries of Lean In but this is definitely one of those books that it’s not wise to comment on without reading. Same goes for “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” – anything I had written or said about it before reading it would have been misguided, at best.

  • Options are always a good thing. My wife never really got in the work force because I snatched her up right out of college. Fortunately, things have worked out but I can only imagine how tough it would be for her if I had walked out or something happened to me…..I take that back, I’m worth about twice as much dead as I am alive so I’ve learned how to sleep with one eye open….:). 
    I came from a split home and it was some of my motivation to make sure I got it right when I got married. It’s still a work in progress, but I like my odds much better at this point.

    • bdorman264 I have a very good friend from college who lost her husband in November. He was sick for two years and she had to amp up things at work big time to pay his hospital bills and keep a roof over the head of her four girls. We had a few fundraisers to help her out, but it wasn’t enough. It scares me to think this could happen to any of us.

  • This is really a great post and hits home for me. My parents came to this country from Jordan in 1969. They had me and two younger siblings. In 1980, my father, an electrionics engineer lost his job, and my mother was on maternity leave with my youngest sister. They couldn’t find work, and luckily they had savings stashed, but after that was depleted we ended up living off of food stamps and welfare for a long period of time. 

    Because of this, I started working at the age of 10. I picked up a job at a local drug store passing out flyers from door to door. I advanced in that role, and changed jobs at least 10 times. I never stopped working until this day – 32 years later. 

    I can appreciate the moms out there that “can” stay at home and have as many children as they like, and depend on their spouse for income. If that’s what they want to do. But, there is something to be said about a woman that can hold her own. A woman that can be a mother, a wife and have a career. A woman that has a man by her side because she *wants* him there, not because she *needs* him there. 

    I’ve watched many of my female friends and even family members lose themselves in the “stay at home” option. It’s not something that aligns with my goals in life. And, I’m already teaching my daughter to invest in herself, because in the end, the only person that can or will take care of you, is YOU. 

    That’s my two cents for the day. I’m off to work now.

    • HelenLevinson I’m with you – I appreciate the women who can stay at home. But it’s really scary – like you – to watch your friends go through things they never would have expected in a million years. A good friend of mine from college lost her husband in November. She has four kids. If she had depended solely on him, she would have been totally screwed. It has nothing to do with having it all and everything to do with having your own independence…just in case.

  • ElissaFreeman

    Great post! I became the ‘go-to neighbourhood mommy’ for stay-at-home moms who wanted to get back into the workforce after 10+ years.  And it’s tough. It’s also tough doing the high-flying corporate thing AND being a mother…I know this from experience.  Everytime I see a well-known C-Suite-er saying she is ‘very organized’ that’s how she makes it work?  I shrug my shoulders and think, ‘yeah, right.” Our society still denigrates woman’s work…as well, woman’s work.
    And another point?  Have your own bank account.

    • ElissaFreeman I certainly don’t advocate every woman should have a corporate job and a family. But I agree with you – your own bank account is a must. I would kill myself if I had to ask Mr. D for money. It has nothing to do with how much I love him and everything to do with having my own independence.

      • ElissaFreeman

        ginidietrich ElissaFreeman Ah, neither do I. But I do feel that society as a whole values woman’s work in the workforce vs woman’s work at home. One SHOULDN’T have to have a corporate background to be considered successful.  And yes, the notion of asking for money would kill me too!

        • ElissaFreeman Did you read Lean In? I feel like you would like it. And we could have a really interesting conversation about it.

  • Oh man this is a hot button for me. I live around a lot of “those” people who have opted out and it makes no sense to me. Sure being home to raise your kids is great but like you said – you’re not really planning for “what if” very well are you? “I’ll never get divorced” I hear. And it’s happening around us right now in droves. It’s just the next logical phase of our lives. My husband plays cards with 6 guys and the last time they played, two more were in the process. That’s four out of the 6. I love the fact that I have built my business so that I can have as close to the best of both worlds as possible.. but I busted my tail to do that. And you know what the added bonus is for us? I have 3 daughters who have watched me prove that you CAN do whatever you want to do if you set your mind to it? Do we have a lot of money? No but we do well enough and trading off a “ton of money” is a small price to pay IMHO.

    • KristenDaukas Four out of the six. That’s insane! I think your last point is very good. Your girls see you work hard and run a successful business. THAT says more to them than any kind of talk you could have about equality.

    • KristenDaukas Since we are ‘roughly’ the same age I can say I see a lot of the same things. 
      My son has a friend whose mom just moved from the 8,000 SQF home into a very nice condo, but if it wasn’t for alimony she would be screwed because she hasn’t found anything that pays more than minimum wage.
      She is a smart woman, but never worked because she didn’t have to.
      I want my daughter to always know how to take care of herself. If one day she is a SAHM I am with it provided she makes an effort to cover herself because things do happen.
      One of the nastiest divorces I have ever seen was with the couple you never thought would split up. Turned from crazy love to crazy hate.
      And having lived through the second depression, oops, recession (yeah right) I have seen that crazy things can happen. Hell 9/11 destroyed a bunch of my customers.

  • jacobvar

    Good tips Gini. 
    When I was the one ‘working’ for a salary, we worked it out that almost all the bills were in my wife’s name while we split the stay-at-home between our 2 kids. She spent 8 years, me about 6, working out of the home when we did the stay-at-home-bit. 
    Her credit rating is better than mine now. Both of us have our separate careers going since the kids are in their teens and no longer need us 24/7.
    So two things we both did – invest in ourselves 1) By working out of the home even if it was just to keep one-foot-in-the-industry-door. 2) Make sure both of us had good credit ratings.
    Both are quite easy to do these days.

    • jacobvar The credit rating is sooooo important. I think many people forget about that when they consider leaving the workforce. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. But there are ways to do it – like you and your wife did – so it doesn’t harm one person entirely if something goes wrong.

  • First me, then we……  We can’t care and help others if we are not taking care of ourselves!  I had a stay at home mom who gave up who she was for her five children. We didn’t have two pennies to rub together, but like your mom she cooked, sewed, whatever was needed for us.   It would have been such a powerful roll-model for me to have her get a part time job, to engage in the world and community.and be empowered.  Maybe she would have left what was a terrible marriage if there had been more self-esteem, something any job can give to us…..and if there had been a separate bank account.

    • wandawhitson I’m with you on the part about the marriage. I think my mom would have left much earlier, too. It would have been better on all of us if she had. I love my dad, but their marriage was not a good one.

  • I watched both of my parents work hard throughout my youth. My mom home schooled all five of us kids and always kept businesses on the side. She owned a local newspaper with a sizable circulation, ran for state office, and owned a retail store at one point. 
    I’m always a little unsure of what to say when it comes to stay-at-home parents who stop working because that’s so not me. I think you hit the key point though: never stop investing in yourself. No matter how “good” you have it, things can change in an instant.
    Also, your mom rocks!

    • KateFinley My mom DOES rock. She’s my best friend. Your mom rocks, too.

  • BRAVO!!!! Brilliant. My mom stayed at home, very traditional marriage, small town, and frankly, she was miserable. I won’t get into the gory details, but I think had she had the chance to work she would have been so much happier. She’s a very talented, creative, smart woman. She has always been very supportive of me, but I think in some teeny tiny part of her, she resents what I’ve been able to accomplish. Meanwhile, my sister has a college degree, and stayed home to raise the kids. It wasn’t always easy, but her and her husband managed to find the balance that worked for them. When the kids were heading to college, she started working at a retail store. And she loves it! People do what they need to do – for them. But Gini is right on the money here – my parents got divorced after 28 years of marriage, and I don’t think my mom had ever balanced a cheque book. It was hard on her (though she had alimony, yadda yadda) to start over. It behooves anyone who “opts out” to keep a small toe in the stream. Because life throws some unexpected curveballs. And one might just be coming for you.

    • belllindsay One of my favourite quotes is Moltke the Elder- No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. None of us know what is coming, so think through some variables and have alternate possible plans.

    • belllindsay They were married for 28 years?! Wow.

      • ginidietrich Yes, 28 years – not sure if any of them were ever happy. 😉 Seriously. But they’re both really happy now, and I have two great “step-parents” in my life.

  • Gstockton

    Great story Gini, I must read the source article, but wanted to say how much your story reminds me of what happened when I was growing up. We moved to the USA from England and about a year and a half after we arrived, my parents marriage dissolved. I was just short of 18. My Mum was a home maker for 23 years by then, and she too struggled to re-enter the workforce. She worked at Buffums and later worked in home care for the elderly before her struggles with alcohol and depression sent her packing back to Ireland where she is today. You offer good advice in your article, and a virtually identical snapshot (except for the college part) to my own upbringing.

    • Gstockton It sounds like a bottle of wine and the two of us in a room would be very interesting conversation!

  • You know, I think what happened to your mom and other women like her sucks big time. There’s been a lot of talk about this (particularly in Canada; I’m not sure about the U.S.) and how we put a value on the work that stay-at-home parents do (cuz it isn’t just moms, even if they are the majority still). The discussion of this topic started long before this article reared its ugly head. When tax time comes, there’s no income to report, but there is certainly value. Anyone who reads your description of what your mother did in those years of raising you can see that there is amazing value there.
    What *I* think needs to happen is for society – ESPECIALLY employers – to recognize that value. I know many women who love motherhood more passionately than any job they’ve ever had. They stay home with their kids and they do an amazing job raising the next generation. Goodness knows, that was not for me. Not because I don’t love being a mother, but because I love to work, but not that kind of work. I get energized by the challenges in an office. I got totally drained by the challenges of keeping a child busy all day. I don’t want that for myself, but shouldn’t women or men who do have that choice?

    What I find truly astounding is that I have known men who think that a woman’s place is at home raising her kids, but they would also turn around and deny employment to a qualified woman who made that choice. The hypocrisy is insulting and it’s why this is a problem. I agree that women should invest in themselves, but I would hope that one day they can do that and retain the option of staying home if that’s the choice they want to make.

    • Karen_C_Wilson You know, the hypocrisy you raise is really interesting. It’s kind of like that moron who thinks you can’t get pregnant if you were raped. Clearly he isn’t thinking about what that statement means to his wife, daughters, and granddaughters.

      • ginidietrich Ugh…yes.
        And I should not have said that it’s just men who exhibit this hypocrisy. It’s women too. I’ve worked for them as well.
        This is why working for myself is just ever so much better. 🙂

        • Karen_C_Wilson Yes, in some cases, women are worse. It’s really bad how poorly we treat one another.

  • Two thoughts: first, I hope that workplaces begin to both value the skills of those who choose to stay at home to raise children AND even begin to offer options (on-site childcare, flexible hours, ability to work from home) to better allow people who would like to work part-time to keep their skills fresh. I know, some do. But not nearly enough, and one reason I hear a lot (as you mentioned) is the cost of child care.
    Second, I have several friends who are stay-at-home dads. I wonder if they will face the same challenges if and when they choose to re-enter the work force.
    Thanks, as always, for a thought-provoking post!

    • magriebler

      mickeygomez I became a much better supervisor after I had children because I was more patient, more specific in my instructions and more invested in the success of my staff. (And you know I’m not saying you have to be a parent to be a good manager.) These are skills that employers should value. Not every skill of value in the workplace is developed on the job.

      • magriebler mickeygomez I think this absolutely will be a problem for stay-at-home dads. Mr. D has been out of a job for three years. About 18 months ago, he began interviewing for jobs and kept hearing that he wasn’t eligible to be hired because he’d hadn’t been working for 18 months. Of course, he had been working doing political campaigns, but that didn’t translate to a “real” job. So he’s been incubating a business this year, which will launch before Thanksgiving. It’s the only way he’s able to work.

  • Lara Wellman

    My very first financial planner specialized in working with women.  She was passionate about making sure that women set themselves up for any eventuality, including divorce (she also often talked about the fact that many women outlive their spouses).  I’ve always kept my own credit cards and bank accounts and I would say that the bills are split about 50/50 between my husband and I.  It’s so important.
    As a mom of three kids who were born in under 3 years, the financial aspect of daycare for three kids wasn’t the only reason I stayed home.  The idea of managing a house and family and working full time was overwhelming.  I really get why people decide to stay home, at least until their kids are in full-time school (mine will all be in full-day school come September 2! :).  
    I started businesses when I was home, but  I’m not necessarily the typical example, especially since I was very bored at my job.  So, all this to say, I understand why women stay home and also why during the time they’re home with little kids who take up so much energy and time that they wouldn’t take on anything else.  But I completely agree that women need to keep investing in themselves and not lose themselves to motherhood.  Again, I didn’t have that problem 😉

    • photo chris

      Lara Wellman you have 3 under three and can still speak in complete sentences? Hats off to you for that alone!

      • Lara Wellman

        photo chris lol.  Thankfully they aren’t all under 3 anymore.  I’m not sure I COULD speak in complete sentences the first year the twins were born 😉

        • photo chris

          Lara Wellman photo chris SEE! And, you are a fully functioning woman now; it gives me hope! LOL

        • photo chris Lara Wellman BAHAHAHA!!

    • Lara Wellman September 2 is so close! I think one of the most interesting things Sandberg says in Lean In is creating equality at home first. If you have to manage a house, a family, and work full-time, it’s not going to work. When Mr. D and I started dating, I was so excited to have someone to cook for and clean for and do laundry. After all, I’d seen my mom do that for my dad my entire life. But it created an unequal balance in our home early in our marriage. It wasn’t until about two years ago, that I finally got what it meant to be equal partners…and sometimes that meant letting the dishes pile up in the sink until he was ready to do them…not until I was ready for him to do them.

      • Lara Wellman

        ginidietrich So close.  I can’t wait.  I’m exceptionally lucky that my husband is so supportive of all that I do.  Also, our house isn’t fit for guests most of the time 😉

        • Lara Wellman My mom once said something really important to me: If you wash the windows on Mondays and they’re dirty by Tuesday, you have to be okay with knowing they’ll be clean again on Monday. If only for a day.

        • ginidietrich Lara Wellman My house is always a DISASTER!!! LOL

  • Beautiful post, Gini. I chose to stay home for 14 years, but out of love for my writing and the knowledge that one day I’d go back to work, I freelanced and taught at a community college and started a mural painting business. In that time I also finished my master’s degree. I still miss being home with my children (even though the youngest is 16). Divorce forced me into a big lifestyle change, too. 
    I’d add one point to your great advice to Invest in You. Surround yourself with other strong women. They inspire, comfort, encourage and kick you in the ass when you most need it.

    • Word Ninja LOVE this! See- there is a way to do this masterfully, as you’ve shown. Even with all the random crap that life can fling at you.

      • RebeccaTodd Not sure “masterfully” was accomplished. Lots of bumps, bruises, and gashes. But scars are cool, right?

        • Word Ninja RebeccaTodd I have lots of scars too. It means we’ve lived. 🙂

        • belllindsay Word Ninja RebeccaTodd Scars are SO cool. I’m always a bit trepidatious of those that pretend they have none.

        • RebeccaTodd belllindsay Word Ninja I have some serious bumps, bruises, and gashes that will turn into scars in about a month. Does that count?

        • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd belllindsay They all count.

  • When my wife and I married, it was a first marriage for each of us. I was 41 and she was 38. 
    That means we’d both established our own lives, our own career paths, our own credit, history of ownership/renting, etc., etc., etc.
    I would love to be able to 100 percent support my wife so she can do whatever she chooses. However, there is great comfort in knowing that if something happened to me, she can not just stand on her own, but excel on her own.

    • ClayMorgan We all know she wears the pants in your relationship. 🙂

  • Thanks for this G. What came out of the original article to me was that this was about so much more than “just” a job- this was linked to self-esteem issues for may of these women, too. There can be a lot of pressure on women to feel that we really want to be wives and mothers first. We keep getting told that this is how we should feel, how we DO feel. And many people I know- men and women- DO live to be parents and partners. But this just isn’t true for everyone. When people try and fulfill themselves with a life that really doesn’t meet their needs, it isn’t going to end well. 
    Back to creating a culture where it is FINE to have your own goals- professional and personal- even if they don’t agree with the goals of the MANY. 
    You’ve presented some great tips here for people who do wish to take some time away from career world- thank you Gini, this is a very thoughtful post.

    • RebeccaTodd I face this all the time – people want to know why we don’t have kids. What’s wrong with me? Why would I not be dying to have kids? Do I see us growing old without our own family? No. But I can’t have kids and I’m okay with not being able to have biological children. But that raises a whole TON of issues and concerns from friends and family. It’s kind of funny, actually. People.

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd Exactly! The new bane of my existence is “why are you single?”

        • Yep, EVEN from guys I date! To which I want to respond ‘well douche bag because I’d rather be single than choose the best worst option from the assortment of poopheads like you that I’m faced with daily’

  • But 80% of the people in the US will not be making more money over time to reduce the cost of childcare. Most do not get even cost of living increases. eople who make minimum wage have lost ground for decades.
    Someone who has a job that allows you to make more money than the pac of inflation is no different than someone who has the 9,000 sq ft home you described. That is 4 in 5 people. 
    The flip side is do you want people in the lower 80% who my guess is make $10-15 an hour maximum raising your children for you? Our baby sitter we pay $7/hr.
    This is the same for school. Why do so many people want their kids taught by teachers making crap money? Baffles me.
    So if I work for Arment Dietrich your post fits. But if I work at Walmart or Target or bank tellers, or  most restaurants or even people with Government jobs you won’t be getting ahead. Why not have one person stay home until the kids go to school? 
    The more offensive thing is the view it is the woman who should be staying home. Or the view of what being a stay at hom mom is. My cousin was a stay at home mom while his wife brought Harry Potter to the US. You help pay for my cousin to sit at home in a massive SoHo loft and do nothing but attend art openings and pick his kids up from private school while doing zoomba to stay cute for his wife.

    • Howie Goldfarb “The more offensive thing is the view it is the woman who should be staying home.”
      YES. THIS.
      The reason women get penalized for “opting out” is that it’s almost always women opting out. If more men were doing it than women, you can bet your ass society would reconfigure to allow it.
      a similar vein: I haven’t read “lean in” yet because I have a sneaking
      suspicion that the book’s going to piss me off. Although, that would
      make a good blog post, so maybe I should 😉

      • Kato42 Howie Goldfarb Here is a random interesting note, but at the company I’m consulting for right now they have maternity leave for both men and women. Same amount, same benefits. Only 2% of the men take it and when surveyed it is because they are afraid it will be culturally looked down upon or hurt their future opportunity. Men face discrimination in this way too….

        • LauraPetrolino Kato42 Howie Goldfarb Facebook does that too, and the same results.

    • Howie Goldfarb But here’s the thing: Even if you work at WalMart or McDonald’s or wherever, you give up the years you’ve invested in working when you stay at home. What if someone has worked up to store manager? Do you think they’re going to get hired back at that level if they take 10 years off to raise their kids?

  • RebeccaTodd ginidietrich belllindsay  You must read this Doonesbury strip. One of my favorites. Even funnier is the teacher is a late 60’s divorcee feminist.

    • Howie Goldfarb RebeccaTodd ginidietrich belllindsay Heck yeah!!! I am totally in the market for a wife. Husband didn’t work out for me so well…

      • RebeccaTodd Howie Goldfarb “Try to get a pretty one. They never get traffic tickets.” LOL!! Now you know why the car insurance is in my name.

        • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd Howie Goldfarb Man I always get full tickets. I have a too-obvious issue with authority, I think.

  • susancellura

    I have been very blessed in my life. My parents, especially my dad, made sure I understood that I should always be able to provide for myself. As I began my career in the early 90s, the world was my oyster, so to speak. I worked hard, played hard, etc., just like any single twenty-something. In my early 30s, Mr. C and I got married, and we both had our careers, so the lifestyle didn’t necessarily change much. Once Emily came along, there was no doubt that she came first. Yet, hubby and I instinctively knew that I was going to be a working mom. It was a part of me; a part of who I am today. I work very hard to be involved in Emily’s life (I can’t believe she is starting second grade!), and I believe that I am a better mom because I work. I’m blessed to do what I love, and I’m blessed that hubby supports me and knows me so well. Do I have my moments, of course! Are there arguments over laundry, dishes, and groceries? Yes. But at the end of the day, we’re both fortunate to be doing what we love (and yes, you can still get whiny doing what you love). Do I know what life is going to throw at me next? No. If something were to happen would I be able to support myself? Yes. I continue to learn and work and network. So does hubby. We’d be stupid not to invest in ourselves as well as in each other and Emily.

    • susancellura Read Lean In. I want to have a conversation with you about it. I’m making eveypistorio read it, too.

      • susancellura

        Will do.

  • This subject raises so many thoughts and emotions for me that I think I’ll have to write my own post! The short response is though this all boils down to choices…we all make them.  Sometimes we make the right ones, sometimes wrong, sometimes we HAVE to choose the lesser of two evils, sometimes we are given easy choices…bottom line is each person (and this goes for the guys, too) walks their own path and unfortunately, there’s a whole lotta judgement being passed on other people’s paths these days.  
    I agree with you ginidietrich – it’s important to retain a sense of self regardless of what choice is made – and it’s something as women we should pound into each others heads!  I just wish as a culture/society we’d be more accepting, supportive and recognize that value is not always determined in dollars.

    • lizreusswig I have Lean In on the brain right now because I’m just finishing it, but one of the things she says is woman make up more than half the population. Can you imagine what would happen if we all worked together instead of against one another? We certainly could change a lot of these issues.

  • photo chris

    So so so so many comments inside…..ugh. Gini- I don’t know HOW that happened to your family and it makes me want to scoop you all up and hug you! WHERE was the alimony? The child SUPPORT? The RESPECT that she had been doing this her WHOLE LIFE, that you were all her WHOLE life?!?!?! 
    The fact that people continue to ask WOMEN, “are you going to keep your job?” the second she announces she’s pregnant, just proves how far we have to come in the equity battle.
    As long as people place judgement on  a woman for staying home, for working, for staying home but expecting help around the house, or for “spawning” in the first place, or really defining what a role is for another or what “value” there is in it,  nothing is going to change.
    I have yet to read, “lean in,” It’s on my list. But I’ve read her graduation speech and It mirrors what every women’s studies major will tell you- that this starts MUCH younger. That  as women we (are taught to)  make decisions about our current life based on what we THINK we want our future life (with a husband and family) to be; RATHER than letting our passions and talents dictate our lives and finding a husband and building a family around THAT.
    As someone who is sometimes afraid of “leaning in” herself, my  dear, dear friend JUST reminded me, “you can always say no later.” 
    It’s SUCH a powerful thing to remember.

    • photo chris I wish I could “like” this comment a million times over! Awesome. Just awesome.

      • photo chris

        TaraGeissinger photo chris Thanks Tara!

    • photo chris Well, there were other mitigating issues (it was a nasty, nasty divorce and my dad knew getting custody would kill her). So, while there was child support and alimony, it wasn’t enough. It never is. We assume we’ll still be taken care of, but as the NY Times article points out, the women they interviewed when from gigantic homes to town homes. 
      I have one more chapter to read of Lean In and then I’ll write a blog post about it, as a follow-up to this piece. It’s going to make some people mad, but I really believe it’s one of the most important books of our time. It’s not just about leaning into our careers (which I believe we should do), but about how to negotiate, how to take care our ourselves, how to invest in ourselves, how to require equality from our partners, how to set boundaries at work….all the things we don’t do naturally as women.
      She quotes a stat that says in 1975, women spent 11 hours a week in direct and active childcare because our moms required we go outside and play. There were no structured play dates. There was homework time, but our parents didn’t sit with us while we did it.
      Today, a woman who works outside of the home spends about 11 hours a week on direct and active childcare. The same, exact time as women 40 years ago who worked inside the home. The difference? Today we’re expected to be helicopter parents and feel guilty when we’re not.

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris  I still growl at the whole situation for you. 
        I know this stat well! I’m glad you brought it up here!  My friends and I talk about it all the time. I complain to other moms I know, “I don’t know how to DO a play date. Why can’t kids just play?!?! I just don’t have time to sit and chat with another mom I barely know for two hours unless she wants to help me pick up the house, run the laundry and pull weeds (or veggies) from the garden or make a few meals in those two “free” hours. 
        I minored in women’s studies in college, almost by accident…just kept taking the courses that interested me and walla, a minor to go with my writing major….but all the classes just made SENSE to me.  I remember particularly loving, “the way We NEVER were” as it exploded the myths of the nuclear family.
        Now, 16 (dear god) years later,  I’m VERY at home in my skin in how to require equity from a partner (and the fact that “equity” is rarely equal for  either of us)  set a boundary at work, negotiate and take time for myself. The  last one is the hardest, especially in season when I’m “in the office” for 40 and shooting as well. And, I AM looking at slowing down; just haven’t figured out how yet. 
        But, I will tell you something, just because I’m “at home” in doing these things doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like I get a bit of backlash even from close friends, or resentment at work because I’ve worked out a flexible schedule and I STICK to it. It doesn’t mean I don’t wish to take care of my husband or children, because I take great joy in these things. And it REALLY doesn’t mean that I NEVER wonder if I am doing the right thing for myself, my husband or my children.

        • photo chris ginidietrich My poor son has grown up hearing variations of these his whole life “Ok, it’s adult time now!” “Go and play!” “You have to bored sometimes, you have to figure out how NOT to be bored!” – I’m no helicopter parent – and I’m not his “friend” – I’m his mom. He’s turned out pretty good (touch wood) so far. 😉

        • photo chris

          belllindsay photo chris ginidietrich Perhaps our children can get a group rate in therapy together? LOL

        • photo chris belllindsay ginidietrich Hah yup! How many times we heard “just go outside and PLAY!”

        • RebeccaTodd photo chris belllindsay My mom and I had this very conversation last night. We were always told to go outside and play. Even in the dead of winter.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich RebeccaTodd photo chris belllindsay LOL- if you could have seen my sitter’s face this past winter when I said- snow pants are here…they need to be out at least 20 minutes (3 and 6)…. a day!  My so currently greets everything by whacking at it- outside is the only SAFE place for him to be! LOL

    • MRTraska

      photo chris  Don’t bother with Lean IN — it’s nothing new a more than a little self-serving.  Better to reread The Feminine Mystique (at least Friedan was original).  Then again, I’m older than Sandberg and have already overdiscussed all that over the years, so I’m not as easily impressed.

      • photo chris

        MRTraska photo chris I do feel like many of  the things I’ve heard, through other’s comments, are things that have certainly been said and digested by many. And of course the Feminine Mystique was a wonderful, “eye-opener” and great place to start the conversation, but her feelings weren’t “original” just TALKING about them, investigating them, and publishing them were.  What made the book sensational is that these things were finally, FINALLY being looked at and discussed in a public forum.
        I really do think it’s important that there is a continual voice on these subjects. Sandberg can offer a look at a life that, STILL, many little girls might be taught to not even DREAM of, simply because they’re girls and may want a family some day.
        Until the “popular” belief/vote/idea/dream/ way of living, supports both men and women in the idea of  supporting a family, and by family, I mean children as well as elderly parents and siblings who need assistance; until it is as natural to ask is SOMEONE is staying home when the woman announces she’s pregnant, until we no longer scoff, judge and devalue each other  emotionally or financially for the choices  they’ve made, or feel attacked and have the need to defend them when asked about them,  I will thank Sandberg and the, hopefully, many more who will follow her, for bringing this “old” topic up in whatever way people will listen.
        Because sadly, though it’s not NEW info, it Is info that still needs a place in modern conversation.

  • ifdyperez

    PREACH IT, GIRL! This is about women making smart choices, especially investing in a “plan B” that can get you back up on your feet. And sadly, not many women think this way, and I don’t know why. Nothing in this life is guaranteed, and credit runs out quickly. Gosh, and I know women who are in this situation now. It makes me anxious for them.

    • ifdyperez It makes me anxious, too. My SIL just bought a house with her baby daddy (who we really like so it’s not as derogatory as that sounds) and I FREAKED out when she said she wasn’t on the mortgage. I made her change that immediately. No one is losing out on that on my watch!

    • MRTraska

      ifdyperez   Smart choices are the ones that are right for you now but won’t come back to bite you in the *** later … and it’s not always possible to know that, although some things are more likely than others to bite you later.  What IS certain is that it’s always better to have not just plan B but also plan C **AND** your own money, preferably a decent nest egg, before you take a big risk.  And if you don’t have that, either don’t take the risk or be prepared for subsequent unpleasantness.  Informed choices and trade-offs, right?

  • So many amazing comments that I agree with, so I’ll just put it out there that I work for many reasons — one of which is to be a role model for my daughter. These are the life lessons that they simply don’t teach in school. It’s great to be a SAHM for a while, but be sure that you’re getting what YOU need in the long term. I think how Word Ninja set it up is ideal. Be home and present for your children when they need you, but keep in touch with your industry and your passion however you can. That might mean freelancing, attending industry conferences or even volunteering to keep your resume and skills sharp. When the time comes, however, you’ll be glad you did. 
    It’s never fun to plan for bad things to happen. I hear from friends and family all the time about how insurance isn’t worth it. But my husband is a financial planner so we have more insurance than probably anybody I know! (Including policies on each kid.) Because you know what? Hopefully we don’t ever have to use them, but if we do…..we’ll sure as heck be glad it’s there!

    • TaraGeissinger It worked for me, but it wouldn’t for everyone. Like everything, I believe it’s about balance. And I couldn’t stand the thought of someone else raising my children, at least while they were small. If anyone was going to screw them up, it was going to be me, dammit.

    • TaraGeissinger It’s like having a crisis plan for your business. It’s insurance. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do…boy, it sure is good to have it. I was thinking about how much I want to do Ride the Rockies next year and, if we have kids by then, how cool it would be for them to see their mom finish a ride like that. It IS all about being a role model and I think that is very, very cool of you to think about it that way.

      • ginidietrich TaraGeissinger That’s exactly what it’s like! The whole “put your own oxygen mask on first” so that you can help others mentality. I think women in general lose themselves in Mommy Land and forget that if they aren’t taking care of themselves — and truly feeding their soul — that it could end very, very badly. It’s not all fairy tales.

        • TaraGeissinger ginidietrich I use the oxygen mask analogy A LOT! It’s so true.

  • sherrilynne

    Everything you say in this post makes perfect sense.  I agree with it all.  But I do despair that we are still having these conversations in 2013.  Back in the 70s they told us things were going to be different for women from now on…how wrong they were. I do hope things will be different for my Granddaughter.

    • sherrilynne If you haven’t read Lean In yet, you should. She says this exact thing. She thought her generation wouldn’t have to fight for equality because there was so much done on it in the 60s and 70s. Turns out, it’s just not the case. And that sucks.

      • sherrilynne

        ginidietrich sherrilynne I’ll put it on my reading list.

  • Rvirginia

    As a new mother, I’m currently grappling with this. My corporate job was not flexible with tele- or part-time work and it’s important to my husband and me that our child is raised right. So instead of searching for another job (and a daycare!) now that I have a newborn, I’m going to raise our baby. I had a great career and have made great money but I’ve seen companies have no loyalty to their employees so I don’t feel like I’m missing much that I can’t return to. As for doing something for myself, my husband is urging me to do freelance work; I may consider going back to school via an online program. I think until companies start making it more accessible for mothers (or fathers!), they’re going to continue seeing fall out from experienced, very qualified people like me, unfortunately. So now I’m learning a new skill set – while not valued in professional terms is invaluable personally – and hoping by the time I return to the workforce that things will be viewed a little differently than they were for your mom. Thanks for sharing her story – so sad that she went through that – and thank you for the encouragement to stay on a track even while I’m taking a deliberate leave.

    • photo chris

      Rvirginia Congratulations! Both on the baby and on your decision- it’s a tough one for any family. As a “mommy” who stayed in the workforce (but who DOES have a more flexible schedule) I can tell you it IS hard. But, I can also tell you that there are amazing caregivers out there who you may one day find, when you are ready,  will add a level of love, service and commitment to your family that you may not have thought possible. My daughter was in a kindercare part time that was literally next door to my workplace so when I DID return, I could “lunch” with her (well, her on me anyway in the early days, ha!)  I often say if it weren’t for them, she wouldn’t be potty trained. At six- I can pick her up and drop her off anywhere (school, sports, parties) and I know that she will make friends and be involved. When my son was born it was a bit cheaper to have someone come to the house and I have been blessed in three years to have two amazing, flexible, wonderful,.loving caregivers who my children adore!

    • Rvirginia Freelancing worked well for me while I was home with 1 then 2 then 3 kids, although I did it on a small scale among other pursuits. We lived below our means, and the money I made was used for special trips or things around the house. And man did those years raising kids fly by… But, yes, I also recommend that you freelance or go to school. You and your dreams and goals are important.

      • Word Ninja Rvirginia Not to mention adult conversation!

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich Word Ninja Rvirginia um….may I point out that having a job does not necessairly mean you get to have adult conversations?

        • photo chris Word Ninja Rvirginia HAHAHAHAHAH!!

    • Rvirginia Congratulations on being a new mom! That’s exciting! I believe strongly in paying it forward. So, if I can help in any way should you decide to freelance or need help with class projects or anything, please let me know!

      • Rvirginia

        Thank you for your offer – I really appreciate that. And I’m so glad I found your blog. Really great pieces on here.

  • I just read this ginidietrich and while I hate always agreeing with you (makes for less #ohsnaps kind of comments, I agree 100 percent. I have been living a modified-version of this for the past six years. I did not “plan” on having kids yet, but when I decided to step up and become a guardian of two of my nephews, I immediately had to juggle it. Luckily, my mom was the other guardian, so I wasn’t trying to do it solo. 
    I was faced with a decision though — invest in myself, or use what little free-time I had to do the normal mid-twenties stuff. I decided to invest in myself and spent the majority of that free-time building relationships, learning, practicing, etc.
    So like I said, I was a modified-version of the examples you gave, it was still semi-related. I’m glad I chose what I chose.
    In the grand scheme of things, I agree with you 1000 percent. I have too many female friends now (who are we kidding, it’s 99 percent of the cases) who are complete care givers, but are struggling to find a job, find relevance in a job, or are simply choosing not to work at all.
    Divorce is a much more common thing now then X years ago (sad to say, but fact) and I worry that many of them are putting themselves behind the proverbial eight ball.

    • ryancox The best thing you can do for those friends is support them and help them understand how to invest in themselves. We need everyone to be supportive…not just other women.

      • ginidietrich ryancox I did not know that Ryan (nephews). Good work. The little men will be better for having you in their lives.

  • To leave a career and let yourself become less valuable, work-wise, is to court disaster. I hate to sound like we can’t trust anybody, but even if a loving partner fully intends to support us and the children we raise, life can intervene in the form of layoff, illness or death. I would never for a minute trust another human being to support me. Your advice is perfect. Stay in the game somehow. Your financial life may depend on it.

    • lmspreen I’m also a big believer in being in charge of your own destiny. Why let someone else do that for you?

  • I’ve tried to write like 800 blogs on women and how I think they road block themselves and their success and most of all their individual happiness, but each time I do it just ends up me ranting away and making no sense. So I love when other people write articles on this issue and I can go over and ‘not comment’ long monologues on their blogs. Tag you are it! Two times in one week too with Lindsay’s yesterday. This is great therapy for my angst on this topic. 
    Women are their own worst enemy for so many reasons, the two main ones:
    a) trying to fit some mold they think is the right way to be
    b) hating and belittling each other, pulling each other down, belittling their choices and for some reason believing that just because your choice is right for you it is the only ‘holy’ thing to do. 
    Let’s start with (b). When women make a life decision they treat it like a holy grail and anyone else that makes a different one is ‘de debil’ (I’m honestly not sure why I can’t write without using the inflections or made up accents I talk with,  like really ‘de debil, necessary for my point? No, but OMG sometimes I can’t even deal with my own crazy…anyway moving on)
    Having children is one of those issues and another one I really should ‘not comment’ on, but seriously the vile hatred that women spew my direction when I tell them I’m not interested in having kids is as if I was telling them that I was sent from deep space nine to sleep with their husbands, steal their children and poison their grandmas. I mean dear god, just STOP, STOP, STOP. Stop wasting your energy trying to give yourself and your choices some type of justification by vilifying mine.
    BUT, do you know why they do that (see I’m getting to my point, it all is circling back now….8 decades later, oh look at that, Laura found her point). They do this precisely because of the point you make in this post (and (a)), they have lost (or never had their own identity). No idea what their priorities are, no idea what they want, no idea what their passion is (personally or professionally). 
    Too many women have spent their lives trying to fit a mold. The mom mode, the professional mode, the ‘I can do business like a man mode’ (which by the way, hey guess what, you aren’t a man, don’t try to compete with men in that way because…crazy, but men will always be better than you at being MEN!!!! So do business like a woman, because that is what you are and that gives you your own unique power…this is not brain surgery here), the ‘does it all mode’. And they do this instead of spending that time figuring out their own unique mode.
    And that my friends… the rest of the story.

    • LauraPetrolino So well said. I have had several women (and one or two men) tell me that they are too selfish to have children – with the *expectation* that I (who wanted and now have a child) would berate them for their stance. I had this conversation with someone earlier today in fact. I really don’t think not wanting kids is selfish. I don’t think wanting kids is selfish. I have an only child and he probably will remain an only child and I definitely feel some parents of multiple children look down on me for that, but I don’t care. We’re all different people and we’re all going to want different things. I have my views on why that is, but it gets into one of those topics I don’t discuss online, so I’ll stop there.
      I’ve been working at looking at my motivations when I criticize other business owners lately (only in my brain, usually) – especially women. Because if I’m just in a catty, competitive mood then I need to get over it. There’s enough business for me out there and I can let them do their thing and I can do mine and we will both do just fine.

      • Karen_C_Wilson Karen, I’d like to give this comment a BIG GOLD STAR! Yes, agree with you on all counts! I have more to say on this issue, I’ll circle back later today!

        • LauraPetrolino Aww, thanks! Can’t wait to hear more.

    • LauraPetrolino At this “(I’m honestly not sure why I can’t write without using the inflections or made up accents I talk with,  like really ‘de debil, necessary for my point? No, but OMG sometimes I can’t even deal with my own crazy…anyway moving on)” I spit wine at my computer! YOU OWE ME!
      I have a really good friend from high school. He is the only person I still have a really good relationship with from high school (in fact, you probably know who he is). When he and his wife separated earlier this year, *I* was the reason she kept bringing up as part of their problems. It was shocking to me. We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years. We’ve never slept together. We never dated. We’re really good friends. To say I’m the cause of all your problems is ludicrous.
      But that’s what women do. We vilify one another and it makes me really, really sad.

      • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino Ugh, ugh! I hate that 🙁 But also know that same story oh too well…I tend to have alot of guy friends (because they are less drama, and I have more similar interests with them) and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the “we can’t be friends anymore because my wife/girlfriend says I’m not allowed to see you’. 
        …and it makes me sad too. If only we supported each other, in our choices, in our priorities and helped each other reach where we wanted to be, but instead we rant oh so poetically and hypocritically about inequality. Guess what ladies, stop being your own trojan horse!

        • ginidietrich oh and apologies on the computer 🙂 It was all actually part of my catty female plan to limit your success!! Muahhahahaha! I’ve also simultaneously submitted an expose story to HuffPo reporting on how the only reason AD is thriving is because you pimp both belllindsay and yvettepistorio out as female escorts to all new clients. I mean obviously, that is the only reason a woman leader would be successful right?

        • LauraPetrolino ginidietrich I have a lot of guy friends too. Women suck sometimes. I don’t know why it happens.

        • LauraPetrolino belllindsay yvettepistorio Yes, you’re right. It’s the only way to be successful. Sleep your way to the top.

        • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino belllindsay yvettepistorio Hah where do I start??? “De Debil” was amazeballs. I adore you Laura, maybe you should move up here and be my wife…
          Yes now that I am openly saying I’m not having kids, people get weird. As I said below, “Why are you single?” is now the most annoying question I receive far too often. Like it would not be a choice anyone would ever make, or there is something wrong with me (Someone did ask “does your vagina have teeth?” but that was quite funny).  Then, what is worse, they feel they have to defend their choices to me. Thing is, I ain’t judging, so when they do that, I sure as heck know they are. Sad.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich LauraPetrolino belllindsay yvettepistorio ….bra strap.

        • photo chris Will you email me? I have a question for you. gdietrich at armentdietrich dot com.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich photo chris yes, just did!

        • MRTraska

          LauraPetrolino ginidietrich  I have male friends (some for more than 35 years) and I have female friends, and I don’t get drama from any of them.  Then again, maybe I’m more careful about whom I call friends.  I sure don’t mean all those folks I know through Facebook and LinkedIn.  Those are contacts or colleagues, not friends.  I don’t confuse the two.

    • MRTraska

      LauraPetrolino I agree on all points.  I’d also like to point out that not fitting into a mold also has its price.  I wouldn’t want to be anything other than what and who I am; I know who I am and what I’m worth, and I’m happy with that.  I tend to come at issues differently than most men but also differently than a lot of women.  I’m also not a girly-girl, but I like being a woman.  It shows, and I have no problem with that.

      Other people sometimes do have a problem with that, however.  Envy, resentment because they don’t have as much nerve, you name it.  You’d be surprised how much individualism and intelligence in women bothers people, even today.  A woman not fitting expectations or a stereotype also intimidates a lot of people, mostly men but also some women.  Men are just less likely to say so openly these days.  Once upon a time, it infuriated complete strangers that I never changed my name when I married (I told them it was none of their business; you can imagine how many friends that got me; but at least I got to say the same thing to my ex’s grandmother, too, when she asked when I was having kids and I informed her I wasn’t).  Imagine my surprise when I read in Women’s Health just the other day that a majority of men polled by Men’s Health magazine (better than 60 percent) would resent it if their brides didn’t take their husbands’ surnames and an even bigger majority (in the 90 percent range) wouldn’t consider taking their wives’ surnames.  They felt unmanned by the suggestion and said a woman keeping her own name showed that she really didn’t love him.  Really?!?  Narcissistic much???  Those boys need to be slapped silly — and I say boys, because real men wouldn’t think that way.

      You know what I tell people when they give me some version of that old Japanese maxim ‘the nail that sticks out gets the hammer’?  Answer:  you’re mistaken — I’m not the nail, I’m the steamroller that’s gonna break that hammer;  then maybe the hammer will finally shut up and mind its own business.  Yeah, it’s still intimidating, but it’s sure effective in getting people to stop.  ;D

  • Can I just say “BRAVO” for reading the flippin book, Lean In.  The number of women finding fault with Sandberg never having read the book infuriates me beyond belief, but that’s an entirely different blog post.  
    You are right, right, right.  You can ‘invest in yourself’ WHILE raising kids.  ShellyKramer  described herself today as something along the lines of “one of the crazy ones juggling it all and loving every minute.”  I loved that description – my house isn’t always clean, I’m not always the perfect mom NOR am I always the perfect professional, but I try my ass off to be the best at both.  Additionally, I have lots of clients, women who own their own businesses and work from home WHILE they raise their kids.   When their kids leave the nest, unlike your mom, they have a continuous resume to showcase IF they want to go and work for someone else.  There is no need to totally opt out of your own needs and growth career wise.
    PS: Tell your mom she rocks.  She had to, because we all got you out of it.

    • AmyMccTobin I really loved the book. I have less than a chapter left to read and I think it’s one of the most important books of our generation. When I read the criticism now, it’s pretty clear they haven’t read the book. Most take the concept of “leaning in” and vilify Sandberg. It’s totally ridiculous. That idea makes up maybe half of a chapter of the entire book.
      Don’t worry. I have a blog post coming soon that is going to piss off a bunch of people because I read the book and I agree with 99 percent of it.
      I will tell my mom. I made her cry yesterday. 😐
      P.S. Looks like A had a ton of fun with Hessie’s family this past weekend.

      • ginidietrich AmyMccTobin  Here’s the line that really hit a nerve with me, and I’m paraphrasing “the choice you make in a husband/partner is the most important career decision you make.”  I WISH someone told me that when I was 20.
        And I can’t WAIT for your post.  At first I was slightly annoyed when some of my female marketing pals wrote anti-Sandberg posts and confessed to not reading the book, not I am fuming at what appears to be a backlash BY WOMEN against her who have no idea what Lean In is really about.  It’s not about being aggressive and bitchy, it’s about taking charge of your life.  You go!

        • AmyMccTobin ginidietrich Ohhh! That is a powerful thought — and I totally agree with it. Thankfully my husband is the best friend and partner I could ever imagine, but I never really thought about it in terms of being a career move. My brain is spinning. I think I have to read the book.

        • TaraGeissinger AmyMccTobin ginidietrich Sandberg outlines that something like 19 of the top 20 female CEOs have long lasting marriages.

        • AmyMccTobin TaraGeissinger It’s actually 18 – one is divorced and one has never married.

      • ginidietrich AmyMccTobin I loved Lean In and reviewed it here:

  • rdopping

    It’s really too bad that these books and topics need to be. We all could be focussing on so many other things but alas we must simply because we as a society still have so much to learn.
    Where are the men in all this with their egos, insecurities and macho bull? Not only do your suggestions make perfect sense but the guys who read this also need to see this from a hand perspective. SUPPORT your wife doesn’t ALWAYS mean financially. We may be better off, if more guys would get off their butts and figure out that there are no guarantees in life then the selfishness may be replaced with a little compassion and god forbid, forethought and intelligence.

    • rdopping Amen, Ralph. Amen! I knew I liked you for a reason.

  • MRTraska

    Well, now that we know Sheryl Sandberg is a twit who won’t pay her interns despite making millions, we certainly shouldn’t be listening to her, either — she’s just another one-percenter who Doesn’t Get It, i.e., she’s completely divorced from the reality that the rest of the world experiences.  One of the NYTimes commenters nailed it when she wrote that feminism was never about having it all: it was about having choices.  The corollary to having choices is making trade-offs.  There IS no having it all, no more so for women than for men.

    My mama was an architect who worked while I was growing up (her mother lived with us and was home when we got back from school, but that also had its trade-offs as grandma couldn’t stand my dad, which, it turned out was for good cause; but that’s another conversation).  My mother told me when I was 12 that I must always have my own money (AND not get pregnant before marriage, AND not marry until after I had a degree and a good job, thus earning my own money) because the guy can always die or leave, and leave you stuck with no money, a kid, and no support — and your life then changes irrevocably and never for the better.  Not having your own money severely limits your future.  Consequently, Mama was less than brave about asking for long-overdue raises because she didn’t want to risk losing her job at a time when very few women worked, let alone in architecture.  In retrospect, I wish she’d spoken up for herself more; she didn’t because she needed a second income to raise her daughters.
    I saw what all her trade-offs were and made my own choices later:  two degrees, no kids, and for most of my life, no husband (hey, Mr. Right never showed up, but the bills still had to be paid).  I only worked under duress for bosses who insulted or mistreated me, and then only until I could extricate myself to another job, and I had that freedom because I had my own money and no dependents.  As a result, half my career has been freelance, never my first choice, but I learned to live with it.  It’s still not my first choice — but at least I don’t have to make anyone else suffer for my choices.
    Moreover, I have a life and choices because my mama told me, long before I understood what that strange thing called high school was, that I would be going to university and getting a degree in a profession.  Which profession was my choice, but I was going to be educated and a working woman; she wasn’t paying her hard-earned money for me to stay at home the rest of my life or work for minimum wage.  I’m glad she’s not around now to see what my profession (journalism, ironically) has become or how many of us are out of work or freelancing without choice because the media is undergoing a sea change.  But then, that’s life:  you pay your money, you take your chances, and you can’t anticipate everything.
    Trade-offs.  I don’t suppose Sandberg is familiar with the concept.  Then again, those women in the NYTimes article don’t seem to be, either.  That’s the one percent for you — and there will always be a one percent.  What surprises me is that anyone looks to them for examples of anything useful.

    • MRTraska Your mom sounds like a hero, and you’ve made your own way. However, I don’t think SS can objectively be called a “twit” and I don’t think you can know whether she’s make tradeoffs. It doesn’t further the discussion.

      • lmspreen MRTraska Have you been able to find anything that proves Sandberg knows about the unpaid interns? Everything I’ve seen says it was for the Lean In initiative, but she wasn’t aware. I’d be interested to know if that’s not the case.
        I read Lean In. I thought it was an excellent book. Not because of who she is or what opportunities she’s had many of us did not have, but because it furthers the discussion we need to have as a generation.
        A few things I loved about it:
        * Women make up more than half the world’s population, yet we’re too busy fighting against one another versus working together. Can you imagine the power we’d have if we worked together?
        * It’s not about leaning in all the time. It’s about knowing when to lean out, as well. But not to lean out when your fairy tale life is still in your head and not actually happening yet.
        * In 1975, women spent 11 hours each week on direct childcare (feeding, bathing, reading, etc.). Today moms spend 11 hours each week on direct child care yet we feel guilty it’s not more because somehow between when I was born and my friends starting having kids (I’m not there yet), society told us we have to be helicopter parents. As a business owner, I can tell you how bad it is when children who have helicopter parents come to work. I once had a father of a young man call me to negotiate his salary. I rescinded the offer.
        I got a good nugget or two from every chapter and it was more about this than about what kind of life Sandberg has led.

  • ltcassociates

    Hi ginidietrich, it didn’t appear that any prior commenters brought up this angle, so I’ll address it (seeing as I’m the resident insurance guy around these parts).
    In your article you raise this point, “A divorce, a spouse dies, a spouse is injured and can no longer work” as 3 reasons why Opt-Out Women need to be prepared to burnish their resumes and jump back into the workforce, sometimes at a big disadvantage.
    While I can’t offer a direct solution for divorce, let’s not forget that Life Insurance and Disability Insurance (DI) are protection products designed to cushion life’s unexpected curveballs such as these and given widows, widowers, or families of the disabled the cash cushion they need to get back on their feet. Protection products like these are magnified when you’re not a 1%’er like Sheryl Sandberg.
    Off my teeny soapbox… truth is, I don’t even sell this kind of insurance. I just play an agent on TV.

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