Subscribe in a reader
where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates
to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions,
work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward
equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our
opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of
what's in the news.
This blog is now located at http://blog.equallysharedparenting.com/.
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here
For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to
Come See Us in Providence!
We'll be doing a book event at the independent bookstore Books on the Square in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday April 24th at 2:00p.m. Joining us will be Providence couple Judy Kaye and Bruce Phillips, who are the "Judy and Bruce" featured in Chapter 8 of our book. This is the Money chapter, by the way, and Bruce and Judy are a fantastic example of an ESP couple who gladly traded maximal salaries for balanced lives with plenty of time with their three children.
Think you can't afford an equal partnership and balanced lives? Come see us, and hear Judy and Bruce's compelling story, on April 24th!
Your Partner or Your Career?
David Brooks had an interesting op ed in the New York Times last week entitled "The Sandra Bullock Trade." It starts out as a description of how the actress has experienced what many would consider one of life's ultimate career highs (winning an Academy Award) and one of life's pretty awful lows (finding out your husband is cheating in a big way) in a very short span of time. But the column isn't really about Ms. Bullock - she's just the hook to get readers to take notice. It's about what brings the most happiness - a stellar career or a stellar partnership.
Anyone care to guess?
Surely you answered correctly that it is a great partnership that brings far more overall happiness. As Brooks says, "Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn't matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn't matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled."
Yet, in our culture, even though we may know better, we're primed to pick the career time and again. This is true not only in fairly obvious ways, such as typical male choosing a job with an enormous commute or tons of travel when he's got young children or a wife he won't see much as a result (but, by God, he'll have a crack at that Global Vice President position), but also in much, much more subtle ways. For example, couples choose who stays home and who works primarily by who has the career or job that stands to net the biggest paycheck. Or we simply pick our careers by their salary prowess or their "importance" (which can then bring better and better opportunities with bigger pay down the road).
Brooks addresses this. He says: "...most of us pay attention to the wrong things. Most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives." No matter if a family nets $50,000/year or $500,000/year, most people often still make important decisions by the compass of money. And collectively, we so rarely choose a lower paying road that brings us more time for our relationships instead. ESP and other simple living lifestyles turn this around - now we can choose to mostly make decisions based on relationship nurturing (happily and knowingly), and only secondarily based on money.
Brooks also tells us: "People aren't happiest during the years when they are winning the most promotions. Instead, people are happy in their 20's, dip in middle age and then, on average, hit peak happiness just after retirement at age 65." It sure seems that, if we assume that most people work at least full time (and probably far more) in those dip years, maybe we could even out this life curve if we evened out the career piece. I'm not saying we have full evidence here, but it sure works that way for me. I'd much rather work a longer career with enough hours to have time for all the other pieces of life that matter - not least of which is my relationship with Marc - than retire early yet miss out on something far more precious that I can't get back.
The White House Looks at Work Flexibility
Yesterday, an historic forum
took place at the White House to address the issue of work-life balance, and specifically job flexibility. Many experts and business owners with experience in offering various types of work flexibility with good results (higher productivity and employee retention, lower overall costs, less energy expenditure) were on hand to listen and share. Michelle Obama
kicked off the forum, and Barack was there to deliver one of my favorite lines of all: "Workplace flexibility isn't just a women's issue. It's an issue that affects the well-being of our families and the success of our businesses."
The Obamas seem genuinely devoted to bringing our business model out of antiquity, and making it capable of meeting families where they need to be - able to balance paid work with caring for the next (and the previous) generation of Americans. They didn't make any decisions today, but they sparked what I hope will be a flame that doesn't die out.
And the best part, well - ESP-wise, is that almost everything I've read about the discussion is gender neutral. Parents need change - not just mothers. Or as Barack said: "Ultimately, it reflects our priorities as a society -- our belief that no matter what each of us does for a living, caring for our loved ones and raising the next generation is the single most important job that we have. I think it's time we started making that job a little easier for folks." I'd just add that everyone
- regardless of their parenting or married status - deserves a decent shot at a balanced life.