“Lean In” vs.The Cult of Inconvenience

Hi frsebbdddf
Folks! This oped of mine recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Afterwards, I heard from guess who? Hint: She’s Chief Operating Officer of a very popular social network — and a Free-Range Kids fan! Here’s to spreading the “Kids are not in constant danger” message…perhaps via social media? – L


How can you devote yourself to a career when you’re busy being a helicopter parent? by Lenore Skenazy

‘Lean In,” says Sheryl Sandberg in her new book by that name. As chief operating officer of Facebook, she is encouraging working women not to “push back” from their careers. Too often, she says, women fear that if they climb too high at the office, they won’t have enough time for their children. Ms. Sandberg once counseled a woman who was worrying about the work/baby balance—before the woman even had a boyfriend.

Why does the worry loom so large? Blame the modern-day, mom-guilting belief that being a good mother means devoting every waking moment (give or take 30 minutes for yoga or Pinterest) to child-rearing.

Thanks to that delusion, college-educated mothers are spending more time with their kids than ever: an extra nine hours a week since 1995, according to a University of California at San Diego study. That’s the equivalent of an entire extra workday women spend as their children’s soccer-watchers, snack-selecters, flashcard-flashers, all-seven-volumes-of-Harry-Potter readers, college-essay editors and Candyland rivals (not necessarily in that order).

But in truth, both generations benefit when parents do a little more leaning out of their children’s lives. Intensive parenting is coming under increasing scrutiny, and the results are so bad, pretty soon high-school seniors are going to be writing their Common Application essays about the hardships they endured as helicoptered kids.

Helicopter-parented children tend to be sadder, fatter and less resilient than kids given more independence. A 2011 North Carolina State University study found that children play less actively when their (loving, worried) parents hover over them, even as another study, at the University of Missouri published this winter, found that the more time spent by mothers directing their children’s play—do this! try that!—the more “negative emotion” is displayed by the little ingrates.

By the time these cosseted kids reach college, they’re ready to give up—or so concludes another study, this one by Holly Schiffrin at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia: “Students who reported having over-controlling parents reported significantly higher levels of depression and less satisfaction with life.”

That’s not exactly the outcome that the Sikorsky parents had in mind. So what’s keeping moms so kid-centric?

The cult of inconvenience.

It starts even before birth. Pregnant women are encouraged to “establish an auditory bond” with their children by reading to them in the womb. That’s actually the advice of “Dr. Oz” in “You: Having a Baby.” (Sequel: “You: Having a Breakdown.”) Why does a mom have to read to an unborn child who’s already stuck hearing every word she says, including, “I’d like #7 with brown rice and soup”? Because it is clearly an inconvenience. Mom earns a chit.

Likewise, once the baby is out, mothers are encouraged never to let go. This explains things like a new child carrier on the market called the Freeloader. The contraption lets you carry a child up to 80 pounds on your back. Yes, 80 pounds—the weight of an 8- or 9-year-old. (Also the weight of a dishwasher.) According to its website, the Freeloader is a “safe, comfortable and portable child carrier that will meet the needs of both you and your children for years to come.” Years? Does it come with a cane?

Extreme mother-inconvenience is now presented as the norm. A recent piece on playdate etiquette in Parenting magazine addressed this pressing question: If two friends are old enough to stay home by themselves, is it all right for the hosting mom to leave them while she runs a quick errand?

Of course not, said the magazine: She has to remain close by to “make sure that no one’s feelings get too hurt if there’s a squabble.” No incident is so small that it doesn’t demand a mother’s attention. And afternoon.

Society is leaning on mothers to go the extra yard, spend those extra hours, and even read that extra book to a fetus that doesn’t know the difference between “The Three Little Pigs” and moo shu pork. For the sake of our careers as well as for our kids, maybe it’s time for us moms to push back.

Ms. Skenazy, author of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids,” is the television host of “World’s Worst Mom” on Discovery/TLC International.

Sheryl Sandberg, leaning!


157 Responses to “Lean In” vs.The Cult of Inconvenience

  1. hineata April 11, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    Well, the attached article was fascinating. Does anyone else still cut up fruit for their eleven year olds? And so what about nine-year-olds making s’mores ‘unsupervised’…Aren’t s’mores just melted marshmallows pressed into chocolate biscuits? Gosh, my girls have used candles, outdoor fires, the gas cooker etc to do that sort of thing for years, and I only ‘supervise’ them to the extent that I ensure that I am close enough to nab some of them, LOL!

    Maybe I’m missing some sort of point, but really, once again, what the heck is the world coming to?

    Must confess, though, that I am with not leaving certain combinations of my kids and their friends home unsupervised – some would burn the house down, quite honestly, or find some other more creative ways to kill each other. Really needs to be done on a case-by-case basis…

  2. Kenny Felder April 11, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    My mother took a 20-year hiatus from her career to raise the three of us in the 1970s. She played the games, read the books, baked the cookies. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to come play at our house because my mother made it the fun place to be. (She has never regretted that decision, and I have heard her encourage young mothers to do the same.) At the same time, she was very Free Range. We were encouraged to run around in the woods (and climb the highest trees we could), bike to the store unsupervised.

    My point is that there is a *HUGE* difference between “spending lots of time being heavily involved in your kids’ lives” and “hovering constantly over them in an overprotective way.”

  3. Really Bad Mum April 11, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    Playdates are for toddlers not Tweens…. Also if people don’t like the way I do things in MY house, keep your little cretins away…. I don’t give a flying …. If the other mothers like me or not, and my kids have found more then enough friends whose parents feel the same as me… Without me ever “hosting, supervising, whatever,

  4. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    That bit about not leaving kids old enough to be alone, alone, irritated me. Not only do kids that age not need someone to navigate whether their “feelings get hurt” (sure, it might happen, but deal with later it if it happens!) but the thing about cooking….

    When I thought my kids were old enough to be home alone for brief periods but wasn’t confident enough in their good sense to let them do things like cooking safely while I was gone I — wait for it — TOLD THEM NOT TO DO THAT WHILE I WAS GONE.

    Why is always having to be in their faces a substitute for simply setting rules about what they shouldn’t without permission?????? In this article, the mom’s not even supposed to be distracted by her own interests while the friend is over, she’s supposed to be mommying them like toddlers.

    The only reason I’d be hesitant to leave the house with kids that age for brief periods is that these days, most parents don’t expect them to be left unsupervised. So I’d stay around (minding my own business) for the sake of the parents’ feelings, not because it’s strictly necessary. I’d hate for my kids to lose the ability to have other kids over because an overprotective parent got mad that someone got left alone.

  5. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    “My point is that there is a *HUGE* difference between “spending lots of time being heavily involved in your kids’ lives” and “hovering constantly over them in an overprotective way.”

    Well said. I know a lot of homeschoolers who exemplify this distinction. There’s no more obvious way to be “heavily involved in your kids’ lives” than to educate them yourself, but a lot of us give them tons of freedom when schoolwork is done, and/or in how they do their schoolwork.

  6. Coccinelle April 11, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    I agree with Kenny. I don’t think we should equate being a stay at home parent with helicoptering and being a working mom with free-ranging.

    It’s not about the quantity of time you are with your children, it’s the WAY you are with them.

    If a parent wants to compromise a few years of their career to be more involved in the life of their babies or toddlers, we shouldn’t stamp them with the helicopter parenting brand. I often see that kind of message and I don’t agree.

    Also don’t forget to make your fetus listen to Mozart! Very important! (I’m joking here by the way…)

  7. Sally April 11, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    I really dislike this post. I see it as yet another version of ‘blame the mother’ plus that evergreen – treat the woman like an imbecile that doesn’t know what wants herself and is such an insecure mess she’s just do ‘what society expects’ instead of assuming she knows what she’s doing and is doing what she wants.

    Obviously , a good amount of women decide they don’t want their career to be the main thing that defines them (at least at certain times in their lives). I’m going to assume they are rational beings. They know they could do otherwise but have chosen the path they have. I’m going to assume it’s the choice they want to make. I’m not going to assume I know better what is best for them.

    If there is a societal pressure going on, it’s one that’s making women feel like losers about that decision. So what do you know? Suddenly motherhood has become a career! A very demanding one. A very important one. (And to be honest, that really is just like any other career. So often it really is just a matter of talking up the importance, i.e. marketing it.)

    It’s people like Sandburg, who postulate that what women really want is their careers and are being ‘held back’ by some kind of malevolent force — instead of realizing that maybe women aren’t just worse versions of men, and actually may have different motivations than they do — that has driven this übermomming trend. Ironic, isn’t it?

    And stating: “Helicopter-parented children tend to be sadder, fatter and less resilient than kids given more independence.”
    Is setting off my ‘Junk Science’ alarm bells. What the what? How do you define ‘helicopter parent’ for starters? Disappointing stuff from someone who’s usually sharp as a tack.

  8. JJ April 11, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    I think you’d have to be a nitwit to follow most of the advice in that linked parenting article. How about the article’s advice to back out of letting your daughter sleep over at a friend’s house where there is only a “divorced dad” at home. So not only a dad, but one whose been divorced! (Gasp). To me that is just mean to the hosting kid. Making it her problem that her parents are divorced or worse, that she may not have a mom at all. I would absolutely let my daughter sleep over at a house where only the dad is home. As has been discusses on this site ad naseam,we should not assume that males are child molesters.

  9. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    And again with the food. All the angst about what kind of snacks to serve. Protip: if the kids are at your house less than three hours, they don’t need to be fed. They are not newborn kittens. If they are at your house more than four hours, they should be invited for a meal.

    Offering a drink in warm weather or if they’ve been very active of course makes sense. But all this angst about hobbit meals for children and teenagers, ugh!

  10. Dave April 11, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Good article. Always love the wit.

  11. Captain America April 11, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    I think it’s a mistake for women to point to the hyperactive, nonsensical helicopter parents and say, “ooops! We women need to go back to the office/factory floor.”

    Or is this a useful self-justification?

    What’s needed is a good living wage, so that two parent families are not a necessity. . . as well as a shift in consumption toward simpler, more durable and useful stuff: fewer jewelry-quality SUVs and McMansions.

    I can appreciate the two big paths women now have since the 1970s: do a career or do motherhood. Given what we’ve learned since then about single parent families and difficulties, too easy divorce and economic impacts, the birth dearth and its vastly negative social implications, etc., I think we agree that motherhood’s been given short shrift and needs to be valued far more.

    Hence, the living wage.

  12. Another Jennifer April 11, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    They’re talking about tweens and they’re referring to it as a playdate? Seriously? My (now) 12 year old told me when she was in 4th grade to stop referring to the time period when her besties were hanging out at our house as a “playdate”, and start calling it “hanging out”.

    When kids come over to our house, I point to the fridge and pantry and tell them to help themselves if they get hungry or thirsty. Then I get out of the way. Kids that age don’t really need (or want) your oversight. They want to hang out with each other, not you.

  13. RG April 11, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    My heart beats faster whenever I see my little snowflakes climbing high on playground equipment – broken arms, broken necks, poked eyeballs and worse flash through my brain. So I try to make sure they get lots of time on the playground without me around! Better for them, better for me.

    And to Sally – I agree in part. We need “care work” (which includes mothering and also caring for sick or old family members, keeping house, all that sort of thing) to have its value elevated above where it is now. That’s a big part of “allowing” women to choose staying at home and feeling more rewarded instead of chastised for it – and also a big part of getting men involved in these tasks. However, let’s not also ignore that many women who are mothers leave the workforce because of powerful disincentives and gender imbalances – including being maligned for “letting strangers raise her children” and failing to attend every one of Junior’s field trips. We all need to own our choices and tell people to buzz off when they insult us – but we can also acknowledge when cultural barriers cause intense struggles, both emotional and structural.

  14. Andy April 11, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    @Sally If I could like your comment, I would.

    The post makes a lot of assumptions. It assumes that stay at home parents are all helicopter and that those additional 9 hours are spend doing boring chores and woman may not possibly, you know, like them. Or that spending more time with kids then in 1995 means spending more time with kids then ever in history.

    Although I agree that there is certain cult of inconvenience going on, it may be as well caused by woman needing to prove that being with kids as respectable as being in work. Meaning that it is hard work, cause it being pleasure would prove that they are lazy.

    Btw, there are also men don’t want their career to be the main thing that defines them. They go to work and then go home to play with kids. And grasp, there are stay at home woman that don’t want their husbands being defined by work so they can have a manly partner to talk with in the evening instead of wallet they almost never see.

  15. katrin April 11, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Pentamom: Completely agree with you about the food. We don’t really need to be eating constantly. And then one always has to worry about what a particular child is allowed to have. I have had kids come to me to tell me they need to eat, but are not satisfied with what I offer. I tell those kids they need to eat at home before they come over. I do not run a restaurant.

  16. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Andy and Sally, I agree. I don’t think the helicopter thing is primarily caused by women who wish they were at work and can’t be, (are there seriously any educated women left in the U.S. who don’t understand the range of choices available to them and aren’t free to make them?) I think it’s caused by women who choose to be at home but are receiving conflicting messages. On the one hand, they feel that being there and available for their kids is both good for their kids, and what they want to provide them. On the other hand, they keep hearing that if you ain’t SuperCareerWoman, you ain’t nothing. So they want to make parenting into some executive-suite project. Once the kids are walking, out of diapers, and capable of picking up their dirty clothing, it’s not so time and effort-consuming, it just doesn’t rise to an executive project, so they have to make it so by hyper-parenting. If they understood that they could mix in some personal interests or part-time occupation without making parenting itself the high-powered CEO activity, everybody could relax. (Just my opinion, but I think it has merit in at least some fraction of the cases.)

    Sheryl Sandberg thinks that women need to be told to lean in to their careers. I think women need to be told they don’t need to have a career, or a career-like parenting method, if they don’t feel that serves themselves and their family best.

  17. marie April 11, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Yes, 80 pounds—the weight of an 8- or 9-year-old. (Also the weight of a dishwasher.)

    Huh. My mom thought an 8- or 9-year-old WAS a dishwasher.

  18. Elizabeth D. Thomas (@MarriageKids) April 11, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    I like this article. I think it’s a renegade mom, especially stay at home mom, who can actually let her kids play and not hover over them. My husband and I talk about the culturally instilled guilt that we don’t play with our kids a lot. Then we laugh and say no generation EVER has done that, including our parents, and we turned out just fine. In fact we have more memories as kids because we really were in our own fantasy lands, without an adult getting in the way.

    When my kids are bored, I tell them that it’s very exciting that they are bored… that it’s their job, and that through boredom AMAZINGLY creative things can happen. And if nothing creative happens, it’s still a great lesson for adult life that there won’t be a 2 party team of loving adults to entertain you 24/7.

    Then I get really geeky on them and say scientists are really upset how few kids have any downtime to explore, unsupervised, because most of them got inspired for their field based on their free range, bored, creative self-directed moments growing up.

    That doesn’t stop my kids from being bored, and no doubt annoys them but it’s at least instilling the broader sense that creativity often comes in those quiet, bored moments. Or at least it distracts the whining for the 2 minute lecture. 😉

  19. yourmindinbloom April 11, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Love this article and awesome responses! I’m currently homeschooling my two children, I run a small tutoring business, got my EMT last year, and would like to go into law enforcement as well. The only thing holding me back right now is the training time.

    People don’t realize how much women give up, financially, emotionally, socially, and career wise to be with their children. I’m glad Ms. Sandberg is talking about and doing the “leaning in” and “pushing back” because sometimes those are the only things left to do. Women who want a career should realize that your children will be fine. I went back and got my EMT when my younger finally potty trained because I didn’t have to worry about them sitting in a dirty diaper anymore or someone wouldn’t know the cues that they are hungry.

    All of you should go out and do what you need to do.

    I have the business so I can have my own income and make my own schedule for the time being. Going into EMT was a dream of mine since high school and the life experience has helped. Law enforcement has been as well. A way will be found, remember that.

    Good luck to all of you and please remember that the more you get out there, the more people are going to see moms don’t sit around eating bon bons all day.

  20. jxnsmom April 11, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    So many good comments here. Just chiming in as a very happy and satisfied stay-home, work PT-from-home mom who is also proudly free-range. I was happy to give up a full-time, growing career to raise my children (the career I wanted from the time I was a kid). As my youngest are reaching middle school, I’m feeling it’s time to lean into my career again and devote more time to the office. I would never trade those years with my kids — even if it meant I was home alone while the ran around the neighborhood playing without me!

  21. Lola April 11, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Yes, and then again, not quite.
    My stand is that we get rid once and for all of the expressions “stay-at-home mum”, or “full-time mum”.
    The hosewife role has to be translated by something more like “domestic manager”. The job description does include taking care of babies, toddlers and children with special needs. This chore (let’s call it “human resources”) takes up most of the time and resources available, but it’s by no means the only one. There’s budget balancing, acquisitions, nutrition, hygene… And don’t forget the “domestic manager” has to gradually train the “working force”, efficiently delegating tasks, so that the family’s product (happiness and comfort) increases with time. Children are not “clients”; they’re more like “interns”.
    In my experience it’s a very fulfilling career.

  22. Sally April 11, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Andy, great point about men not wanting or needing careers to be what defines them either.

    I would guess that for the vast majority of us, Job Charming never materialized. Despite lots of degrees, money spent, and promises to the contrary. But we got to make a living ergo we have a ‘career’. Thank goodness for our personal relationships, our mates, children, family, and friends that make life worthwhile. Many of us are happy to spend as much time with them as possible.

    Ms. Sandburg of course would be one of those special few. Someone for whom Job Charming came riding in on a white horse. Well, nice for her. But why should the rest of us deny our honest experience to make her happy?

  23. JJ April 11, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    @Sally and @Captain America, to imply that a working woman has chosen work as the one thing that most defines her or to say that women can choose either a career or parenthood shows a lack of understanding of what it’s like to be a working parent. Does any parent (man or woman) of young children define themselves as a “lawyer”, “insurance adjuster”, or “bus driver” over “parent”? And if you have a job does it preclude a woman from being a parent altogether? How about for a man, same answer? I sure don’t think so.

  24. marie April 11, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    My stand is that we get rid once and for all of the expressions “stay-at-home mum”, or “full-time mum”.

    At a wedding, making small talk with an old friend, she said, “So do you work or are you a full-time mom?” I stared at her for a moment then said, “I’m a full-time mom AND I work full-time at XXX.”

    No matter how awful you think the parent is, the parent is a full-time parent. By definition.

  25. Jodie April 11, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Must confess that the idea of the Freeloader appeals to me. I have a disabled child who is 3 and get around by army crawling. There are situations where using his wheelchair is a pain because the world does not always meet ADA standards. Having a backpack contraption would be very appealing to me as I cannot always carry him, however the 250.00 price tag is a definite deterrent, yikes.

  26. LisaS April 11, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    The reasoning given was bogus (“hurt feelings”? really?) but if I’ve invited someone else’s kids to my house, I hang around. I might go down to the basement, and I certainly don’t hang out with them, but I don’t leave, either. That will be the moment someone decides to listen to Back in Black at top volume and piss off my downstairs neighbor. Not interested.

    The one that got me was the one about divorced dads. My parents were divorced, and none of the friends I grew up with ever spent the night at his house … never. They could go to my grandparents’ lake house with us, but not his house. I never understood – I do now, and it’s just stupid. Y chromosome doesn’t equal rapist! Good grief, people!!

  27. Sally April 11, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Lola, you’re a woman after my own heart:

    “My stand is that we get rid once and for all of the expressions “stay-at-home mum”, or “full-time mum”.

    A relation has become a job description. And not only that, one that can be chosen on a “full-time” basis. Sad state of affairs!

  28. Maggie April 11, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    “My point is that there is a *HUGE* difference between “spending lots of time being heavily involved in your kids’ lives” and “hovering constantly over them in an overprotective way.”

    “Well said. I know a lot of homeschoolers who exemplify this distinction. There’s no more obvious way to be “heavily involved in your kids’ lives” than to educate them yourself, but a lot of us give them tons of freedom when schoolwork is done, and/or in how they do their schoolwork.”

    THIS! As a homeschooling mom, I’m with my kids pretty much all the time. But if they want to hop on their bikes and ride to a friends house, run to the local coffee shop to get a soda, or just “hang out” in town, I let them. My kids have more freedom than average, and more time than a public school child, to simply be themselves and explore the world.

  29. Warren April 11, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Playdate? Who in the blue hell came up with that in the first place? From what I understand the “playdate” when first conceived wasn’t about the kids, it was about the moms being able to get together for some adult time with a friend, that had a child a similiar age.

    Our son stayed over at a friend’s last Saturday. My bride dropped him off, at the apartement, where his friend was waiting outside. She never went upstairs, never had “facetime” with the parents. When she got home, she asked me if I thought she should have gone up to meet the parents? I asked her in return, how many parents have pulled into our drive over the years, kicked their kid out on a Fri. and then come back on Sun. to get them? With maybe a wave from the car if we happen to be outside.

    As far as food goes for the little trash cans, unless a specific allergy is brought to our attention, if it is good enough for our kids, then it is good enough for any of their friends.

    When it comes to leaving them alone, at the house. When my kids were old enough to be left alone, we would asked the friend that was over, if we needed to go out, if they were okay with us leaving. Never had one or a parent make an issue of it.

    Basically, other than Dad making a huge pancake/ waffle breakfast, nothing really changed around the house, just because they had a friend/s over.

    When my oldest first started with all this, we had some unreasonable requests by some helicopter parents, and they were politely listened to, and rejected. One having the nerve to try to make me feel guilty for not complying, and she wasn’t so politely rejected then, lol.

    I have tried to understand the hovering, the overprotecting, but I just cannot think of feel that way. It all seems so irrational and unnatural.

  30. Sally April 11, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    pentamom, gorgeous comment. Well said.

  31. Nicole April 11, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    OK, I admit I read. – But I personally LOVE reading out loud, and found out to my great amusement that when I read to the baby, the CAT would sit and listen. It was hilarious!! – So I did it when I felt like it, and never felt “inconvenienced”. I would hate to see mothers gritting their teeth between the words, feeling they HAD to do it!

    And I agree with other posters that we need to seperate the SAHM label from the helicopter label. My job makes me a “summer-SAHM”, but I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent or hover over “playdates” (we’ve also dropped that name).

    There are a lot of things that are great to with/for your kids when you can, but that should not be considered necessary every second. — Balance, balance, balance!!

  32. Rachel April 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    I am an attachment and free range parent. Everyone i know uses a baby carrier, but the people i know who use carriers for 60-80 carrier have kids with disabilities. So while it might be hard to carry around an 80lb kid, apparently it is harder to carry around an 80lb kid AND a wheelchair.

  33. Warren April 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Why don’t we get away from the label altogether. It is hilarious the people in here taking offense to the use of stay at home or full time or whatever.

    And let’s face it, it is the women hung up on the use of labels, and that find the need to use them.

    Untill this post, and all the talk of being called this or that, I never really noticed, but it is always “moms” and very rarely “dads”. Personally what someone calls me is not important, as long as my kids still call me DAD.

  34. SKL April 11, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I must admit I don’t know what is the perfect balance for my kids. I have one who really needs a lot of help academically, as well as an advocate (she is 6). She’s also doing various daily therapies to get her on track with her classmates. Here’s hoping she will have more independence in 2nd grade than she has in 1st. My focus is on shoring up missed foundations and comprehending written instructions, so she can be both independent and successful.

    My other 6yo has plenty of independence, but she prefers sedentary pastimes to active ones. Until she gets caught up in an active hobby/sport, I do decide for her that she’s going to the gym etc. Otherwise she’d be unhealthy. Shoot me.

  35. Susan2 April 11, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Great comments on this complex issue! A few random comments –

    I’ve often wondered why there are way more parents at events now than their were in my childhood when most households had a SAHM. Our parents rarely came to games, didn’t drive us to school, rarely volunteered in schools (except as chaperones). Now the total hours worked by parents is greater, yet parents do much more of the above. Why is this? Is it because we don’t have much down time with our kids, so we do all this to make up for that?

    I’m curious about the studies that show that kids who have less parental hovering are more physically active. By my own anecdotal observation – including within my own family – kids tend to choose play a lot of video games and surf the web when left to their own devices. These are older kids. Probably not as true with kids younger than 8.

    I wish someone would read to me. I try to get my family to do it – love family reading time! – but it’s a hard sell.

  36. lollipoplover April 11, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I hate the mommy wars! Let’s not start one here. I’ve been every combination of work/parenting balance- full-time work with childcare, part-time work with childcare, full-time no childcare,part-time no childcare, and now no “work” and no childcare. There’s no magic bullet. Each combination has it’s pros and cons and all families need to find their own best fit.

    I was fortunate to have many great career opportunities with my college education but am even happier I can apply it to parenting. There is a whole world out there there for my kids to experience and I want them to see as much of it as possible. I can’t think of a better use of a college education, to be honest.

    Being a full-time mom is probably the most sh@t upon job to hold in this world (second only to full-time dads) ESPECIALLY if you are well educated. To walk away from money when you could have hired a nanny? Crazy.
    But I love it. It’s the most frustrating yet rewarding job I’ve ever held. And the crappiest pay. And you get articles like this one that make you want to hide in your closet and eat jelly beans questioning your life choices.

    I don’t hover. I expect my kids to play outside and find adventures and this usually attracts lots of other kids to our house. I went outside this morning to walk the dogs and noticed a bucket on a long rope from high up in the tree. It’s great tree climbing weather with beautifully flowering trees and the kids were gathering petals off the cherry trees. I will gladly retire from the rat race to put bandaids on busted knees. The days are long but the years are short. And kids can’t just be “given more independence” to not be fat, sad, and Facebook addicted. Independence needs to be taught. So don’t sh@t on the moms and dads who take on the task of teaching it to our future generation.

    The Parenting article advise (and can someone make the use of the word “Sitch” an internet crime?) is absolutely insane.
    No S’mores should ever be made in the oven especially by 9 year-olds.
    S’mores should be roasted over a fire which can be build safely with the help of older siblings at the age of 9. That’s a no brainer. But kids playing happily outside rarely want to return indoors to bother with snacks. We keep a water cooler in our garage which keeps them hydrated but I don’t give them snacks or let them in the kitchen. I will feed anyone who is at my table who received permission (they can use my phone) at meal time. My kids wind up at neighbor’s tables too (and sometimes they shop around for the best dinner). Which brings back fond memories of my free range childhood. I wish I still had that dinner bell my mom rang to get us out of the woods and tree forts….

  37. Arianne April 11, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Ok, I didn’t read all of the comments, but I do want to say

    Kenny (and Pentamom): “My point is that there is a *HUGE* difference between ‘spending lots of time being heavily involved in your kids’ lives’ and ‘hovering constantly over them in an overprotective way.'” –Thank you so much for making the distinction I was thinking about too! I am a homeschooling mom, and actually, some of the reasons I chose to homeschool have to do with my FR philosophy.

    and Marie: “Huh. My mom thought an 8- or 9-year-old WAS a dishwasher.” –LOL! I love that. I know in our house it is. 🙂

  38. Arianne April 11, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    But I do think Lenore makes a good point that a lot of the career/kids-balance-angst in parents (mostly mothers) comes from the guilt culture we live in that says that it’s impossible to be a good parent without spending a ton of time with your kids, which isn’t necessarily true. And this is coming from someone who quite literally spends 24/7 with her kids (well, except for the 3ish hours–minimum–they spend outside unsupervised…made possible by homeschooling). Very interesting topic.

  39. Loremi April 11, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Excellent points, especially about the (over)care of helicopter kids.

  40. Virginia April 11, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a parent at my daughter’s school. Her daughter had the luxury of choosing among several excellent high schools, and it sounded to me as if they were leaning toward the one closest to their home because it would minimize driving time and give their daughter more free time in the afternoon. But mom and daughter were both still agonizing over the decision. “Is that *really* how you choose a school?” she said. “Why not?” I asked. “It’s not like any of the schools you’re considering are bad.”

    I don’t know this family well, and there may have been other factors in their decision. But it almost seemed to me as if there would be some kind of credit in choosing a school that would be less convenient for the family. Personally, other things being equal, I’d vote for the short commute!

  41. Fear less April 11, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I agree with Kenny. I work part time and when my children were small, I only worked at home, and I am a free range parent. There is a big difference between hovering, and being there. Many parents who work more also hover more, because they want every second to count for them.

  42. Sharon April 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    About 40 fifth graders were deciding how to use tickets to an Orioles baseball game (about 30 miles away from home) as a reward to be a safety patrol.

    Many parents said their darlings could only go if both parent and child could go.One girl broke a computer because her mother didn’t want to go and wouldn’t let any other parent take her daughter. I let my 11 year old go with one parent (not me or my husband) and the Mom had three children with her only one related to her. The only contact I had with her during the game was an emailed picture and all the girls are smiling.

    If the children are old enough to supervise other children on the bus why aren’t they responsible enough to attend a baseball game?

  43. Havva April 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Looking through the comments I’m a little surprised by the number of moms who are upset about this because … how do I even say it with out using one of the numerous terms that are being debated. Let’s just say that it is obvious that whatever choice a woman makes she feels like someone is criticizing her and holding it against her.

    But going back to part of the set up on this..
    “she is encouraging working women…”

    If you don’t describe your self as a career woman. Maybe this isn’t making sense to you the way it does to me. I’ve heard these hours engaged in child care statistics before. Always with the gasp that despite working more, women were also spending more time directly engaged in care activities.

    A little on my background: I was raised in an environment where working and using child care was considered a serious form of neglect (as thought nothing good or developmentally beneficial could possibly happen in those hours).

    I tried to “do the right thing” but I was driving myself crazy at home, working from home or not. I was also driving my daughter good and nuts as well. And I realized that I wasn’t doing anyone any good that way. So childcare it was. I still have a certain idealization of moms who can be the sole care provider for their children. But I realized I was never going to be that mom (my mom.) Still I had a huge temptation, at first, to overcompensate. To think about childcare at work, and then over do all the care at home. Finally, I realized that I can’t “make up” for the chunk of the day I was gone. My daughter’s didn’t go into suspended animation just because I was gone. *Her day* happened, and it was good and developmentally rich. I just wasn’t a part of it. Not to unlike how my mom wasn’t a part of my school day.

    I also had to learn that to maintain any balance and sanity, I had to stop trying to “make up” for the time I wasn’t there and step back. Give my daughter room to grow. And see how much (and what precisely) was developing without me, and occasionally with me. I had to make smart choice about what was and wasn’t an immediate priority, in our few hours each evening and morning. And I had to work with her ‘teachers’ when I had a priority item come up, and support the items they saw as priorities. We had to be partners in her upbringing.

    And so perhaps colored by my experience this is what I see from this article. The encouragement for mom’s who spend the day at work, to tell them that you don’t have to fill some vast hole, compensating for the part of the day you weren’t there. That the child still needs space, and that efforts to “make up” for that missing time might not be doing anyone a favor.

    As for the feeling criticized. I look at a lot of articles and say. “This must be for people in a different situation.” Maybe that’s what this article is for a lot of other moms here.

  44. SKL April 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I want to add that as a working parent, I find it very challenging to give my kids a free-range experience. They have to go to after-school programs and summer camps (or other paid care options) so I can work. Such programs are too afraid to let kids do anything free-range. The liability! The feared wrath of helicopter parents! The feeling that even my sister has: “if they were my own kids, I might, but I don’t want to take that much risk with someone else’s kids.”

    I thought I would hate putting my kids in the after-school program at their school, because it didn’t offer anything structured (e.g. exercise programs). However, it turns out that I love it, because it is so laid-back and kids of all ages naturally share a lot of traditional kid-culture while the elderly monitor looks on. They get to play on the playground or in the gym with just the basic required supervision. They even get to watch the TV up on the wall if they so desire. So to be honest, that’s a lot of my kids’ free-range time, as strange as it may seem. However, they can’t exactly leave the premises or go build a fort, like I did as a kid.

    After work hours, half of the year it’s too dark/cold to do anything outside, even if there were any neighbor kids around to play with. To keep them healthy, Mom frequently takes them to the gym (for mostly guided activities), which some would call helicoptering. Or in warm months, I drive them to a park, since time is too tight for a walk to one (more “helicoptering”). Mom also “afterschools” one of the kids, makes everyone finish homework/piano practice, does therapy, occasionally enforces a chore or a bath, and before you know it, it’s bedtime.

    Occasionally they have a long stretch of free time when I’m working (at home) and they’re off school. Then they can do as they please, except for the concern that some busybody might complain if they range a bit too far for other people’s liking. I would feel a lot more confident letting them expand their stomping ground if they had more experience out in the neighborhood. But with them usually away from home, . . . things are what they are.

  45. Papilio April 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    @Fear less: Ah, finally someone who mentions part time jobs! I started to wonder whether the choice for American moms is really to work either full time or not at all…

    In the Netherlands it’s pretty normal for moms to work part time (say 3 days). That way they’re mostly there for their children, but they still have their life outside the house (so they have something to tell over diner too, and talk with other people than just their children or the neighbor or that other mom she run into in the supermarket, and those years of education aren’t lost completely).

  46. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    In case I wasn’t clear above, when I referred to making child-rearing into an executive-level project, I was talking about what Lenore is calling “the cult of inconvenience” — the idea that doing anything less than the maximum possible, exhausting effort to “do stuff for” your kids is failing to justify your choice to not pursue an outside career temporarily or long-term. I wasn’t suggesting that all working moms, or all moms who seek a lot of fulfillment in their careers, are crazies, but that it is my hypothesis that the source of a lot of the “cult of inconvenience” is the felt need among *some* to justify the relatively simple life (under normal circumstances) of full-time care for kids out of diapers, once a mom has made the choice to do that.

  47. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    And that there really isn’t a need to justify it — if a woman is concerned that her time is not productive enough when there are school-aged kids around and she is not homeschooling, yet still believes that being available all day is important *for whatever reason,* she can pursue other interests, take a part-time job, whatever. But making a “high-powered career” of raising your kids when raising your kids really isn’t all that demanding most of the time, by having to do everything the most complicated possible way, and never giving them space to breathe without you, is using your kids to fulfill a need, and tends to result in overprotective parenting, which isn’t great for them either.

  48. Donna April 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Good grief people; this is NOT a debate over working mothers and SAHMs. Nothing there that says one is better than the other or that SAHMs are helicopter parents.

    Sandberg’s book is about how women can achieve in their career IF THEY WANT A CAREER. It is not an insistence that all women must have a career or they fail in life.

    What Lenore says is very valid. It is impossible to “lean in” and become a CEO or whatever if you follow society’s insistence that you must be at every 4 year old soccer practice to watch your little darling twirl in circles and pick grass. Or you must chaperone playdates for teenagers with fancy foods. Or intercede in every instance of hurt feelings. And that the later is not required for happy, healthy children and is actually harmful than them.

    This is absolutely NOT an insistence that every mother should want to be a CEO. It is a book and article aimed at a specific group of people – career moms and women who would like to be career moms. Not everything needs to be aimed at everybody. I guarantee you that I find articles about SAHM parenting to be useless to me. I just don’t assume their mere existence is meant as an attack on working parents.

  49. Christina April 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Perfectly put, Kenny!

  50. lollipoplover April 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    @SKL- I found that too. We had the best fit at a camp (26 acres) but these past years they changed to get accredited. The kids lost the grounds to roam (they used to fly kites and go on nature hikes daily) and were kept in small rooms with little pens to play in outside, designated age appropriate areas with crappy plastic toys. They couldn’t wait to go home to stretch their legs and run.

    I also find an advantage of not earning an income is that I cannot afford the competitive parenting equipment/training/classes. I hear so many expenditures that parents make for children’s sports-a $500 bat, indoor professional trainings, camps. Our family can’t afford this so we just do seasonal, local sports. I shake my head at the thought of premier youth sports leagues and the outrageous dues so I can spend weekends traveling out of state for games. No thanks, doesn’t sound that fun to me or my kids.

    They just want to play! And they can do it in the backyard with the gang from the neighborhood or down at the local field without paying thousands of dollars (which we’d rather spend on a cool vacation).
    You know what gives kids strong soccer legs?
    Biking to school. And it’s free.

  51. Sally April 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Just to be clear, I’m not at all personally upset at this. I’m just annoyed at what seems to me to be the insistence, once again, that women are doing everything wrong:

    “As chief operating officer of Facebook, she is encouraging working women not to “push back” from their careers. Too often, she says, women fear that if they climb too high at the office, they won’t have enough time for their children.”

    Well, if women are choosing to “push back” from their careers, then I’m going to assume that is because it is what these women actually WANT to do. As Pentamom said: “are there seriously any educated women left in the U.S. who don’t understand the range of choices available to them and aren’t free to make them?”

  52. Natalie April 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Thank you Donna, thank you Havva. This article is to encourage moms who work out of the home and want to progress in their careers to apply free-range parenting and do exactly that. To not let the current trend in helicopter parenting hold them back.

    Do you want to work out of the home part-time? Do you want to be the one to stay at home with your kids during the day? Great! Good for you. This article is not for you, and yet from 90% of the comments you’d think the article was about something else entirely. What a ridiculous discussion, totally not the point of the article.

  53. Rachel April 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    It is our dysfunctional, neurotic work culture that makes moms opt out, more than a helicopter parent mentality.

    I really don’t like the “lean in” idea…for anybody. Not just for moms and dads. We live in a workaholic culture where you are expected to be tethered to your smart phone during your annual 1 week vacation so the boss can get in touch with you. There is face-time and no time off for getting sick. We all need time to pursue our own interests and hang with our families…not just people with kids.

    I am one of those moms with a master’s degree who opted out of work when my kids were born. I don’t like to be judged for my decisions and, likewise I certainly don’t think badly of parents who work and have a nanny raising their kids.

    But, honestly…I don’t appreciate the CEO of Facebook, who spends their life trying to earn as much profits as possible and arguably doing some very unethical things (as Facebook does), telling me that I should aspire to follow in her footsteps. Her life isn’t better spent than mine.

  54. Molly April 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    FAntastic Lenore!!

  55. Donna April 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    @Sally (and pentamom) – Yes all women understand that they can choose to be a working mother or a SAHM. There are millions of women in the world who don’t understand that they can be a GREAT career mother; just as there are many women who don’t understand that they can be fulfilled SAHM. Society tells them that working mother = letting someone else raise your kids and SAHM = wasting brains. If you don’t understand that why the annoyance over this article?

    And it isn’t even really about SAHM v working. The book is about working v career. Many women don’t equate motherhood with CEO so they opt to be middle management when they really want to be CEO. And they make this choice BEORE they even have kids. They choose to go to nursing school instead of medical school because nursing is better for mothers.

  56. Donna April 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Sent before I finish –

    There is nothing wrong with choosing to be a nurse if being a nurse is what you want to be. However, there is no reason to choose to be a nurse if you really want to be a doctor simply because you may have children one day. Her point is to reach for the doctor and make it work once you have children.

  57. Warren April 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    LOL about the tethered to the phone on vacation. I had one boss question why I didn’t answer my workphone while I was on vacation, or just at the trailer for the weekend, can’t remember which. Anyway I told him point blank, that he didn’t pay me enough to answer the company phone on my time. And that no matter what he paid me, my time is my time.
    It is people’s insecurities that have them answering the phone, on holidays. Fear of being replaced. When for the most part, most employers prefer a confident person.

  58. SKL April 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    I agree that if I push back on my career, it’s because I want to. And I do to some extent. I work full-time, 7 days per week, but I take time for kid stuff where some other working moms would not. It’s up to me to prioritize work vs. kids vs. whatever else I care about. However, something’s gotta give one way or the other.

    I could have made the choice to not accelerate my girls in school, to not put them in a high-standards parochial school which offers no bus service, to let them flail along rather than proactively address their special needs, to leave it up to them to find exercise opportunities on winter nights, bla bla bla. If I’d made different choices, I’d have more time and energy for work. But my job isn’t so awesome to be worth prioritizing it over most everything else. Being a nerdy introvert, I was born to be the “wind beneath someone’s wings” career-wise, and I’m fine with that, including the fact that I rarely feel more drawn to my work than my kids when they’re awake and off school.

    Now if I were President of the USA, darn right I would hire nannies and delegate even more of the childrearing than I do. Let’s face it, sitting at Little Gym and watching through the glass provides but limited fulfillment. And my kids might find it cool to sit in the Oval Office and listen to my conference call when I can’t quite get away for dinner. Whatever works, right?

  59. Sally April 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    So Donna they have the same information available to them as you do and yet they choose to do what they do. Why do you, or the CEO of Facebook for that matter, assume to know better than them what’s better for them?

  60. SKL April 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    I also think there’s nothing wrong with planning for being a very involved mother. When I was young, I had extravagant plans of being a very do-it-yourself mom (I always pictured myself as a single mom, but also sewing everything myself, cooking and baking, etc.). I initially pursued a teaching degree because (a) I really love teaching / curriculum development, and (b) it’s a relatively good career for a mom. Life had other plans, but I can understand the drive to be primarily a nurturer / earth mother type of person. The inner drive, that is. If the push is external based on community pressure, then I would agree with Donna – it takes away from what a woman can achieve.

  61. Donna April 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    @SKL – I also push back on my career because I want to. The point kinda is that we have the option. We chose to go to lawschool and not become paralegals. We choose to push back once we had kids because we wanted to and didn’t take a job in our 20s that limited our opportunities because we would one day have kids.

    There are also many who push back not because they want to but because society tells them they have to. Read comments about this woman’s book when it first came out. The VAST MAJORITY were his she can’t possible be a good mother and CEO. In other words, that you must push back to be a good mother.

    Pushing back because you want to is great. Pushing back because society says that you must to be a good mother is wrong. And never achieving at all because you might one day have kids is ridiculous.

  62. Sally April 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Okay Donna, I responded before you added your second comment. Still, I would say these women have made rational choices for themselves. And Sandberg is in essence browbeating them for not “shooting higher” — As if doing so is going to magically turn making a living into some wondrous joy, but that’s another story.

  63. Donna April 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    That’s right Sally nobody tells women that they can’t be CEOs and be good parents. And nobody actually believes that. Why are you annoyed at this article again? Afterall there are no stereotypes or preconceived notions of motherhood and everyone is doing their exact life’s bliss.

  64. Donna April 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Sandberg isn’t browbeating anyone. She is telling people how to achieve if they want to achieve. My guess is that if you don’t, you won’t read the book.

  65. Sally April 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    I guess if you need Sandberg to tell you “You can have it all!” you haven’t been paying much attention to the main-stream media message for like the last 20, no, make that 30 years. Never mind it doesn’t resemble what most of us want. And where do I get the idea that most don’t want it? Because they don’t do it! — Hence Sandberg’s lament, and book.

  66. Papilio April 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    So you do everything you want?

  67. SKL April 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    “And never achieving at all because you might one day have kids is ridiculous.”

    I’m not exactly sure what that meant. The only people I can think of who don’t achieve at all are the people who should never have kids.

    As a mom raising girls, I think there’s a balance between “you can do it all” and “being a mom means sacrifices.” The former is a lie, at least the way young women tend to understand it. Having kids after believing in the supermom myth is quite the eye-opener. And yet I do believe mothers can have successful careers of almost all kinds – and maintain most of their sanity. It’s all about prioritizing, and girls need to start learning that young.

  68. Natalie April 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Donna, kudos to you for trying. I dont think youre going to get the discussion you want here. Nobody is discussing what Sandberg is trying to say. Everyone is feeling threatened by her message and as a result the posts are self- justifications for choices that don’t need to be justified.
    As an aside, her book is exactly what I’m debating right now. I’m finishing a postdoc and have 2 young kids. My job options are forcing me to think about how I want my career to progress, and whether to make a choice based on having two kids, or choose a career path solely based on what I want to do, and worry about adapting later. It’s a fork in the road and she’s got some valid points that can’t be boiled down to a caricature of someone answering phone calls on vacation. And the fact of the matter is, she’s very inspiring, which is what she set out to do. Couple that with the free range movement showing that not only do you not have to hover but it’s detrimental if you do, helps you realize that yes, you can.

  69. Captain America April 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    sKL makes an interesting point. And for men, sometimes we take jobs we don’t want to do, or care for, simply to pay the bills. I ran into, once, a guy who hated his job for 19 years, hated getting up in the morning, and finally saved enough to open a muffler franchise. Now he’s happy.

    I think the whole “follow your bliss” and “your work will transform you into a God” or “your work is your highest personal goal” ideas are pretty flat, if not bogus.

  70. Natalie April 11, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Have it all.

  71. Sally April 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Papilio, no! I should be the president of the United States but the conspiracy of old, white, men has kept me from achieving what should rightfully be mine!

    We can’t all become CEOs of Facebook. Quite frankly, I’m with Rachel on this one — that’s great news. I’m old enough and know myself well enough now to know I wouldn’t want it if you handed it to me. But I suppose that’d be incomprehensible to someone like Sandberg.

  72. Sally April 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Natalie regarding “threatened by her message” , what in her message is threatening?

  73. hineata April 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    The whole SAHM thing’s a bit of a myth anyway, isn’t it? I thought most mums and even dads work for money sometimes, work for free others, depending on age of kid/dependency of kid/older parents, job ops etc.

    Good on Ms Sandusky. Personally I am not a terribly ambitious person, and wouldn’t want the bother of her job. I remember a flatmate telling me once when we were both about 18 that her and I would never amount to anything much because we were both too content, and she was right, LOL! We both went on quite happily to teach and then have a kid or a few…..Am back studying and teaching now but generally like an easy life, keeping the house going without it falling over, keeping the man reasonably happy, ensuring the kids aren’t killing each other etc, etc.

    But it seems a sin these days not to have some burning ambition, or burning purpose for existence. As others have implied, some men and women who choose/have the choice foisted on them to stay at home and attend to the kids, feel they have to make it some kind of career, or their lives are meaningless.

    Which is total rubbish, of course.

  74. Vicky April 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    @SKL – I think you nailed it. A lot of parents would LIKE to be more free-range, but school/childcare system doesn’t allow it.

    We should be spending our energy trying to change the culture of fear that says, ” Don’t let anyone do anything because someone, somewhere could maybe, possibly sue us over it.” Let’s change our culture to be more family friendly instead of criticizing women for their individual parenting choices or circumstances.

  75. Papilio April 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    @Sally: I still think it’s weird what you’re saying: ‘they don’t do it, so that must mean they don’t want to do it’. As if anything is achievable, just by wanting it?
    I don’t live in a villa with a pool in the backyard because I don’t want to?

  76. hineata April 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    @Sally – the old white men are a little passe right now, LOL! Maybe your time has come…..

    Me, I am considering joining the Communist Party of China and taking over from the current Chinese Premier. Now, that would be something to see….a fat middle-aged whitish woman in charge of China.

    Maybe it’s time to get hubby to finally teach me Mandarin… 🙂

  77. Vicky April 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Sorry for the double post, but I wanted to add: You hear a lot of lip service paid to work-life balance, but in reality the system rewards workaholics. At most place of employment, your co-workers will give you the side eye if you have to take time off for your special needs kid or if you need to rearrange your schedule because of child care issues. Sandberg’s book is just acknowledging that reality.

  78. Emily April 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Without getting into the “stay-at-home moms versus working moms, versus women who choose to focus on their career and not have kids in the first place” debate, I agree with everyone that “play dates” needn’t be a big, orchestrated thing, and ideally, kids should just be left to make their own fun. I’m not saying that parents should completely neglect their kids, or let them do the latchkey thing at five years old or anything like that, but I’d like to see a resurgence of kids ringing doorbells to ask if Jimmy or Susie can come out to play, or walking or biking to the park and meeting “the gang” there. It might look a little different; maybe Jimmy would text Susie to meet at the park instead of knocking or calling a land line, but the overall effect would be the same. Adults don’t need to be so intricately enmeshed in their children’s social lives.

  79. Sally April 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I only am going on what I’ve read here about what Sandberg says, but my take away is that Sandberg is arguing that the women themselves, note themselves, are getting in the way of realizing brilliant careers. They are “pushing back” from their careers.

    “As chief operating officer of Facebook, she is encouraging working women not to “push back” from their careers. Too often, she says, women fear that if they climb too high at the office, they won’t have enough time for their children. ”

    And then Donna remarked something about women – themselves – choosing to be nurses instead of doctors.

    I suppose the going argument for these two is that “society” makes these women feel bad about choosing a high-powered, demanding career when they are mothers, so they back down from it. But what they really want is to have a high-power career and be a mother, too.

    That is what is at issue for me here. I don’t believe that premise is true. If a women has considered being a doctor and then has decided that becoming a nurse is the better option for her (and presuming that both these options are possible), I see it as patronizing to not assume that she has made a rational choice for herself. If she has decided she wants to “push back” from her career, I’m going to assume that also, is the rational choice for her.

    Of course in real life, things are never decided on pure rationality alone. There will be other factors involved. And probably plenty of things beyond her control. But I am not going to assume that she is doing so because “society” makes her feel bad if he doesn’t. I don’t think that’s giving these women much credit. I

  80. Sally April 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    hineata, after I wrote the “old, white men” thing I also realized my age was showing — that was yesterday’s excuse. Now it’s society wants to make me feel like a bad mommy if I have too high-powered a job. I’ll get it straight one of these days. In the meantime, please note that’s why I don’t have a brilliant career.

  81. Sally April 11, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    @Papilio, my post above the @hineata was in reply to you. Missed out the @Papilio.

  82. pentamom April 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    ” As if anything is achievable, just by wanting it?”

    How is spending more (or less) time on your career than you currently want to beyond your control in the way that living in a huge house with certain luxuries is? Yes, having a more demanding career is achievable if you want it. You just have to be willing to meet the demands. Rising to a certain point in the career is not entirely within your control, but the degree to which you pursue it, is. And that’s the point here. If women are putting less effort into their careers relative to how much they put into their families, it’s because they want to. If they wanted to, they could put more effort in. I cannot see what is stopping them in this century. It is not as though one’s sense of what is important is not part of what one “wants.”

  83. Donald April 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm #


    You’re changing the world. According to the census, there are 146 people ages 0 – 34 in the US. Not all of these people have helicopter parents and there is only a small present of 34 year old ‘children’ that don’t have the confidence to move out. However, we’re still talking about a lot of people and this is for the US alone! The world is a big place.

    Confidence and self esteem is essential. Few argue with that. However, over the last 40 years, more and more kids have been disallowed to develop any.

    Anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. A greater amount of the population is being ‘sucked in’ to the fear mongering and are helping the lawyers, corporations, networks, and politicians that benefit from the fear. (and thus keep stirring it up)

    You’re changing the world. Don’t forget it.

  84. Donald April 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    146 million people
    and percent not present

  85. AW13 April 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    I once read the theory that the upswing in helicoptering was in part because there were a lot of highly educated women without an outlet.

    Some of the best advice I got regarding the work/home balance was to do what made me happy, because if I were happy, my child would be happy. Now that doesn’t account for everything, of course, but the point was that if you have to work, you can still be a good parent. It was meant as reassurance that your kids won’t be awful just because you worked.

    There are all kinds of reasons a mom might chose to stay at home, even if that isn’t what she wants to do, such as familial pressure or spousal expectation.

  86. Donna April 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    I read an article about Sandberg and this book when it first came out last week. 99.9% of the people who commented (of those I read which was a large number because I was astounded) stated that Sandberg was a bad, selfish mother based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever other than the fact that she is CEO of Facebook. The article actually said very little about Sandberg’s personal life except that she left work every day at 5pm to eat dinner with her children. Without knowing her, her children or their relationship, almost everyone who commented concluded that she is not a proper mother and her children resent her work and feel neglected.

    If you think your daughters aren’t getting these messages from the world, you are hiding under a bush. If you think these messages don’t affect what your daughter seeks to achieve in her life and how she views her future roles in life, you are extremely naive.

  87. Gina April 11, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    As a preschool teacher (2-year-olds) and a Free Range Parent who spent 20 years as a SAHM, I think I have an interesting perspective on this.
    I do NOT regret staying home with my kids. I didn’t hover or give directions (“try it this way”, etc)…but they knew I was there and they were my priority for the most part. That is how it should be when they are little. I gave them freedom to make choices from the day they were born and they always had natural consequences to any choice they made, good or bad. But I was there and I was interested and we discussed when THEY wanted to.
    Jump ahead to my youngest in 4th grade. I go back to work part time. Now I am dealing with 2-year-olds whose moms are working and leaving them in Day Care 40 hours a week. These moms are so full of guilt that they are off the scale helicoptering. Instead of spending time just hanging out with their kids, watching them or not watching them play, giving the occasional hug or bandaid, making a sandwich at lunchtime, etc..they are spending weekends of “quality time” ie, lessons, museums, ice shows….They micromanage teachers to the point of asking questions like “why did you change her shirt? How did it get wet?” and “Where did that scratch come from”.
    So, IMHO, I would say that working moms are much more likely to be helicopter parents because they think that’s what makes a “good parent” whereas SAHM’s can be less helicopter because they deal with the day-to-day stuff and don’t ‘need” that micromanaging piece.
    Before you jump all over me, I am GENERALIZING. Certainly not every single mom fits this. It’s just my experience as a mom (for 29 years) and a teacher that this tends to be the way things go.

  88. Natalie April 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    *fist pump*

  89. Donna April 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    “Sandberg is arguing that the women themselves, note themselves, are getting in the way of realizing brilliant careers. They are “pushing back” from their careers.”

    Hmmm, then maybe you should actually read the book. I haven’t read it either but based on many other reviews about the book, that is actually not what she is saying at all.

    Her book is about how many women get in the way of their own careers. In many ways that have nothing to do with parenting or family. For example, she notes that women tend to sit on the sidelines in meetings while men sit at the table. It talks about finding proper mentors, etc.

    The book is geared towards helping women who WANT TO SUCCEED IN WORKPLACE succeed in the workplace. Not to force everyone into wanting to succeed in the workplace.

  90. Natalie April 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    (Fist pump to Donna)

  91. hineata April 11, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    Does anyone know what Sandberg’s husband/partner does? I ask only because a few years ago here we had a woman, a CEO of what passes for a big company here, being lauded as an example to women ‘everywhere’ (in other words, in our rather small community) about what working women could achieve and still be ‘great mothers’ to preschool kids. It turned out her husband was a stay-at-home dad who did everything for the kids and the household, rather like the ‘traditional’ stay-at-home ’50s mum. So in actual fact she ‘had it all’ because she had a ‘wife’ in the fifties sense.

    ( Many families could do it all, all at once, if they had a third or fourth adult to help. In Malaysia the worklife balance is acheived with the help/total involvement of grandparents and/or maids. Works great, but not so practical in countries like NZ that have pesky things like minimum wage laws. We can certainly have it all too, just often not all at once.)

    The above doesn’t mean that two working-outside-the-home parents aren’t great parents – it is just that it annoys me when women are cited as examples of being ‘high achievers’ who still ‘hold their families together’ when the often considerable contribution of their husbands/partners is ignored completely (as it was in the case above).

  92. Natalie April 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Sally- I don’t find her message threatening, I find it inspiring. However, it amazes me the amount of comments justifying decisions that don’t need to be justified, rather than discussing the topic at hand. We’ve got stereotypical caricatures of career women, mommy war baiting, a who’s more free range contest between SAHM and work out of house moms, and the whole tone is both defensive when talking about personal decisions of the commenters, and aggressive and disdainful when talking about the decisions of others. Which leads me to believe that a lot of people here are threatened by what Sheryl Sandberg is saying. But the funny thing is, none of them know what she’s trying to say, because that’s not what they’re discussing. They’re too busy defending their life decisions.

  93. hineata April 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Oh, the ‘great parent’ thing sounded bad. What I am attempting to get at is why the heck we focus on women so much? Men are cool partners, cool with kids etc.How come, forty years or so past feminisn etc, we still even talk about SAHMs and working ‘women’ etc? Is it something biological or something? A conservative backlash? Societal discomfort? What?

    Culture certainly forms part of it, as my husband and I found out when I was already pregnant with our first. They say it pays to talk through everything first before you get married, but there were some things it honestly never occurred to us to discuss. I had a deepseated impression that remaining at home with preschoolers was the right thing to do, and he had the notion that both parents worked (very normal in Chinese culture). That led to an exciting few months, LOL!

    But oddly conservative, polar-opposite couples like ourselves are in the minority, surely, among educated people these days. I would have thought that most of the Western world would have gotten over stuff like this years back, but it seems to be ongoing…Why?

  94. Gina April 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    To clarify my post….SAHM should be SAHP…ie, a dad is as good as a mom in this case.

  95. Donna April 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Hineata –

    Sandberg’s husband is definitely not a SAHD. He is CEO of SurveyMonkey.

  96. SKL April 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    That’s true about supportive dads. I had a colleague (“C”) with two daughters. When her kids were babies thru preschool, her husband was a stay-at-home dad, and then he became a teacher, so his schedule is relatively kid-friendly. I on the other hand am a single mom with two young daughters. When I would resist the pressure to work ridiculous hours, my boss would bring up “C” as proof that other career moms put in the long hours etc., and so should I. Well, maybe if I had a very involved spouse I would have different priorities. As many of you would agree, it’s exhausting to do everything for the house and kids, all the time, while keeping a challenging work schedule. Child care helps of course, but it’s not flexible. You can’t drop off your kid and hop on a plane or stay at the office until 2am. The daycare doesn’t take your kid to the doctor or do his laundry or stay up at night when he can’t sleep. I’ve gone through stints of ridiculous hours and it wipes me out to the point where I’m useless at work for a period of time. Before kids, I used to do all-nighters multiple times per week, and recover after one or two good nights’ sleep.

  97. socalledauthor April 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong moms, but honestly, I’m not convinced that all women are making the career/ home choices they WANT or that they would make without external media, social, or familial (or economic) pressure. I know far too many who felt pressured to stay home because of the so-called evils of child-care (and many that were pressured to give up nursing, babywearing, etc, etc. by “well-intentioned” family and friends.) These mothers speak with regret from one side of their mouth while using the other side to add the (obligatory?) I wouldn’t have missed it/ wouldn’t change anything/ love my kids!.

    There is a lot of social pressure out there– some women are susceptible to the pressures on work out of home/ work at home/ stay at home mom decision. Just as some men define their own masculinity (or lack of) based on the manly v. nerdy images in media. (I know many “nerdy” guys and few that also feel “manly” even though they have the equipment.) I was told in my pre-marriage classes that the husband and my plan to have him be the stay-at-home parent and me follow my career would NEVER work because mommy’s don’t want to leave their kids. A cascade of circumstances meant that I ended up being the stay-at-home parent (with several part time jobs in and out of the home) and, honestly, I NEED to work. I love my son, but I can only watch Chugginton or read Bears in the Night so many times before my brain would melt. But the pressure was there (is there) from time to time in different avenues. Even now, the snide comments on ‘aren’t you clad you got to stay home?’ (Answer: Not really. I don’t get nearly the same satisfaction with my son as I do in a job well done at work.)

    It’s similar, I think, to the not-so-subtle societal pressure that “If you want to avoid flipping burgers, go to college” and the adjoiner, only losers end up in menial labor jobs. The pressure sends people to school who might otherwise just stay home and have babies or whatever else. Women seem to get both sides (in a way men don’t quite get) they’re supposed to go to school, start a career, be the good feminist woman to support what women fought for in the 1970s… but also to stay home and enjoy every kiss and hug and moment with their babies because they ‘grow up so fast!’ Whatever women do, we’re supposed to do it 110%– giving it ALL our time and energy and attention. Even having hobbies takes away from the joy of motherhood (or so I’ve read on some more rabid forums.)

  98. Donna April 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Childcare can do all the things you mention except the laundry and housekeepers will do that. That is likely the biggest legitimate complaint of Sandberg’s book. Two CEOs have enough money to pay people to do the grind. It is far easier to “have it all” if you never have to clean out the toilets and do all the other crap that nobody wants to do.

  99. Ann April 11, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    “My point is that there is a *HUGE* difference between “spending lots of time being heavily involved in your kids’ lives” and “hovering constantly over them in an overprotective way.”

    AGREE! I didn’t care for the disdainful way that reading with your children or playing board games was talked about. Kids appreciate that kind of parent-child bonding, and I don’t consider reading “Harry Potter” together “helicopter parenting”. We do a lot of reading and board games in place of mindless TV watching. But at the park or when they’re with their friends, I am very hands-off and let them do their own thing. I am able to be this kind of parent, I think, because I am a SAHM. Otherwise, they’d be stuck in daycare with every second of their day planned, which is what I would never want for them.

  100. socalledauthor April 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    There’s also a huge difference between reading books to, playing boardgames with, and spending time with your kid ALL DAY, everyday, because you’re “supposed” to and that what “good moms” do. I like reading to my son, but not all day. It it were up to him, I’d spend 100% of my energy on him… but when, after reading, coloring, and playing together for a spell, I push him to go play by himself, he ALSO has a lot of fun and learns a lot by figuring things out and explores his own creativity by telling little stories with his trains and cars– something he doesn’t do when I play with (for) him.

    It’s not that reading and playing are bad… but doing it all day doesn’t benefit moms (dads) or children. Everyone needs their own lives, their own time, imho, even if it’s just to clean up the kitchen. (The moms I know that bought into the “must play with child all day” are the same ones who “have no time” to cook or even clean to a minimal standard. Because childhood is too precious to spend any time cleaning, is the going notion.)

    It seems that issues can only be discussed in hyperbole– saying that moms don’t have to spend all their time playing with their children reads the same as parents should spend NO time playing with their kids. It’s either helicopter or free-range, work full time on a career with “someone else raising your kids” or stay at home and love every moment of it. Clean all day or “actually be with your kids.”

  101. Michelle April 11, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    Slightly off-topic, but the linked Parenting article gave me the biggest laugh tonight. So not only can nobody work anything out on their own, but all dads (especially divorced ones!) are perverts. Do their writers actually *have* kids in this universe?

  102. SKL April 12, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    Donna, not to be argumentative, but there are actually times when I would rather clean out a toilet than spend one more minute at work. (And since I work at home, that’s the kind of thing I do for a break, LOL. For real.)

    Yes, if I made enough money, I could pay someone to sit up with my sick/scared child or take her to the doctor. But there are some things I will not delegate just for the sake of my job. Everyone has some line beyond which they must say, “why did I become a parent then?” These examples would be over that line for me.

  103. amy April 12, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    Might Sandberg be a hard-core feminist who disapproves of sahm moms? Is it really a benefit to chose to give birth but not to raise our own children? This article “leans” too far in that direction, at least initially. I happen to love baking cookies so they’ll be ready for my kids after school. But I don’t cut the cookies into tiny pieces so they won’t choke.

  104. HRu April 12, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    I have read every single comment in this post. YOU ARE ALL RIGHT! I “chose” to lose 1.5 hours of sleep tonight (I read slow); this means I will probably walk into my FT contract job later than I want and be grumpy to my 6yo and 4yo later tomorrow as I scramble to make a probably not unhealthy dinner. Thank you Lenore and crew for free will, free speech and free-range kids.

  105. Warren April 12, 2013 at 2:14 am #

    Wow, if you were to just take the comments at face value, it looks like a bunch of people who are generally not happy with their lives and some of the choices they have made.

    All this talk of “what I gave up” for my kids, gets real old real fast.

    If you work somewhere that is not cooperating with your parenting style, then find a new employer, or go to work for yourself.

    But there is also nothing wrong with a kid looking up into the stands, or out into the audience and not seeing mom or dad. Real life is real life, and bills have to be paid, college funds need to be built, and sometimes work comes first.

    The key is balance. Balance for the kid, and balance for the parent. And yes balance is a personal thing, what I find as a balance, may not be balanced for someone else. So everyone needs to stop being so thin skinned and judgemental.

  106. Donna April 12, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    @SKL – While I agree on the sick/scared kid thing (and based on what I read so does Sandberg), it would be nice to not have to clean the pukey, sweaty sheets too (which I’m sure Sandberg doesn’t).

    The point is not specific things, but that money buys time. Sandberg makes a point of leaving work every day at 5 to eat dinner with her kids. Does anyone here really think that she actually cooks that meal most days? Or washes the dishes afterward? Or does the grocery shopping beforehand? Or ever has a Saturday where she spends the whole day running errands?

    The fact is that for everyone the day is only 24 hours long and you have to sleep some of them. You absolutely can work longer and still spend good quality time with your kids if you are not responsible for those daily grind things that have to be done. Those of us who still have to cook all the meals, clean the house, mow the lawn, run the errands, maintain the vehicles, etc. run out of hours to dedicate to work and childcare more quickly.

    And any time you want to come clean my toilets feel free.

  107. Ange April 12, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    Well, I don’t believe that being a devoted mother means you need to spend every waking moment devoted to your children, or hovering over them. But neither do I believe that it’s a great idea to spend every waking moment devoted to a career (or job). I stayed at home with the kids full time for 6 years, and have worked in varying part time fractions at the same job for the past 11 years. It’s true that my career (in terms of promotions) has stalled, however I have a lot of experience and knowledge and much of the time I enjoy my job. The rest of the time I find it tedious. Maybe I could climb the ladder a bit further if I ‘leant in’ but my observations lead me to believe that the tedium would only increase. I think those who promote the workaholic culture only do so to validate their own choices. So I’m not interested in what Sheryl Sandberg or any other CEO thinks. (In fact I’d never heard of her until her book was released)

  108. Donna April 12, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    And before someone starts with the “my family loves to cook together” or whatever, the point is that Sandberg doesn’t have to do any chore that she doesn’t want to do. Ever. That cuts in her favor in the work/life balance.

    Again, I agree with most of what Sandberg says. I simply think it is a legitimate complaint of her writing. I also think it is something that critics of CEO mothers don’t consider. Many of them are actually able to spend as much time interacting with their kids as other mothers because the chores are done by paid help. Working 60 hours a week leaves time for kids if you have no duties outside of work and playing with the kids.

  109. Sally April 12, 2013 at 4:58 am #

    Donna you write this: “If you think your daughters aren’t getting these messages from the world, you are hiding under a bush. If you think these messages don’t affect what your daughter seeks to achieve in her life and how she views her future roles in life, you are extremely naive.”

    And yet this: “@SKL – I also push back on my career because I want to. The point kinda is that we have the option.”

    Why do you have options and yet other women don’t? To me, your “you’ve been living under a rock” talk is so much rehashed gender studies rhetoric circa 1985. Again, if not more pressure, than mothers today are receiving at least as much pressure to work outside the house.

    And you’re probably right — Sandberg hasn’t seen the backside of a dirty dish for X number of years now. Which brings us to another point: Why the bloody hell should we “low-lifes” be listening to a 1% er like Sandberg tell us how we should prioritize what’s important to us? The overwhelming vast majority of us will never have a career like hers. And my guess is that a very good chunk of us are very happy about that.

    It seems clear to me that Sandberg thinks women who prioritize child-rearing early on are silly. “Ms. Sandberg once counseled a woman who was worrying about the work/baby balance—before the woman even had a boyfriend.”

    I say, that’s a courageous gal! If today’s atmosphere for college educated women in their 20s is anything like it was when I was that age, admitting that (to a boss no less!) is nothing short of revolutionary. And she’s wise: Childbearing is most definitely something that needs to be considered well ahead of time. An undeniable truth that many have learned at their peril. Sometimes with very sad results.

    Of the two women here, Sandberg and the young women, I ask you, who’s being celebrating like a rock-star? Who’s book is being toasted? (And of course detractors are there too, that all part of the package.) And who’s being laughed at?

  110. pentamom April 12, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    “Again, if not more pressure, than mothers today are receiving at least as much pressure to work outside the house. ”

    This. And my point is that with many different messages being out there, and women being adults, which ones you listen to is your choice. Which side you come down on is your choice. Therefore, which option you choose( from among a large range of choices involving work and family, not merely as simple as “work” or “not work”), is the one you want.

    I am not saying anyone lives without pressures or constraints and gets to choose as though they had infinite resources, I am saying that, in the end, there are very, very few situations in which women are not making the choice of what is more important to them, and what is the best way to work out those values, because they are somehow constrained by a power beyond their control. (That is true even in the situations where a woman must work to feed her kids — obviously, she is correctly prioritizing feeding them over showing up at soccer games.) That they may be influenced by some or other conflicting societal message is not really relevant since no other choice is ever made in a social vacuum — why does the existence of influence make this one special?

  111. Katie April 12, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    You know, there’s a term that doesn’t involve gender or parental status: homemaker. That’s the correct one to fill in when a form asks for an occupation, and even a man could use it. It applies regardless of the age or presence of the children in a family. It’s much better than “sahm” which I personally NEVER use.

  112. Sally April 12, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Isn’t it interesting that Sandberg uses the terms “lean in” — the easier thing to do — and “push back” — the thing which takes more energy — regarding women’s careers? This could be seen an acknowledging that things are expected to be that way around. Or should be. But for some reason we stupid broads just won’t play ball and keep insisting we want to make time for other things.

    Elites to hoi polloi: “You don’t know what’s good for! Work, work, and more work (then you won’t have to the dishes, I promise!) that’s what you really want. And if you say otherwise you’re unenlightened.”

  113. SKL April 12, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Hmm, I do not necessarily agree that having more money means doing less hands-on parenting. That is also a choice. I could hire someone to do a lot of what I do – including drudgery. I do hire people to do some of it (monthly cleaning, a lawn service, snow removal, hair cutting). However, I also wash my dishes by hand despite the fact that I have a working dishwasher. When I cook, I use the stove and all-metal pots, despite the fact that I have a microwave and non-stick cookware available. I pack my kids’ lunch every day and often cook their breakfast, despite the affordability of much more convenient options. I do all of our laundry though I could easily hand it off to one of my service providers. I just happen to like and want to do these things. I would not assume that someone else does not do them just because they have the money to subcontract it. For some of us, mundane, hands-on work is therapeutic, especially if it contributes to nurturing. Doing stuff you don’t “have” to do is part of life balance.

  114. SKL April 12, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    After re-reading Donna’s comment, I think she and I are saying the same thing, just coming at it from different angles.

    But the same is true of non-CEO moms. We all have things we do that we could do more efficiently if we wanted to.

  115. BMS April 12, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    I hate both the careerist types and the ubermom types.

    I have a job. A demanding, full time, 40+ hours a week job. I like it, it’s interesting. I’m never going to be at the top of the ladder, and I really don’t care. If I get promoted, great. If not, as long as the bills get paid and my students get taught, I’m good. Money doesn’t motivate me particularly beyond the basics. I’d probably have to look it up to tell you exactly what I make. So no, I don’t want to lean in. I know what’s “holding me back” – it’s me, and I’m cool with it.

    I’m a mom. I help my dyslexic son with his homework extensively, volunteer with scouts, and try to keep things as clean and neat as possible with two budding engineers in the house. But I’m never going to be a Tiger Mom, I don’t have the freaking energy to Helicopter, and Martha Stewart doesn’t live here. I am not going to obsess over my kids’ futures – I assume they’ll survive if I stay out of their way. I don’t need to be supermom anymore than I need to be superwoman at work. And I don’t really need anyone telling me I’m a failure because my ambitions are not theirs.

  116. JJ April 12, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    @Michelle “Slightly off-topic, but the linked Parenting article gave me the biggest laugh…all dads (especially divorced ones!) are perverts. Do their writers actually *have* kids in this universe?

    If you want even more of a laugh, check this out. There Is actually a linked article in the linked article where the male Editor defends that concept (which was apparently Attacked by readers) by saying something like (I am totally paraphrasing) “I am a good involved dad but braiding hair and games of truth or dare are not my strong suit.” Ok, in my world neither mom NOR dad would participate hands on in sleepovers, especially considering sleepovers are usually the domain of 11+ year olds.

  117. Warren April 12, 2013 at 10:14 am #


    Just wanted to say I am sorry. After watching what you are dealing with, in SKL and Sally, I do owe you the apology, for some of our battles. I guess one sometimes needs to see others to see themselves. LOL.

  118. SKL April 12, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Not gonna bite . . . .

  119. Betsy April 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    This article makes me laugh.
    Lean in, push back could be a name for a whirlygig ride at an amusement park.

  120. Cynthia812 April 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Natalie, I think the issue people were having was equating staying home with helicoptering, when clearly it’s not the same thing.

    SKL, I really appreciate you coming out and saying that work never looks better than when kids are awake. I’m need a lot of alone time, and that’s the only thing about parenting that makes me feel guilty. Except when I accept that that’s how I am and don’t worry about it.

    I think the Mommy Wars drive a lot of this helicoptering. Moms at home try to justify being at home by micromanaging. Moms that have outside jobs try to prove that they aren’t neglecting their kids by being at every game and micromanaging. Everybody would be better off if we’d just lay off each other and refuse to let others’ opinions sway us so easily. Which is pretty much what I think most people here have been saying already.

  121. Donna April 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Sally –

    I did get the message loud and clear. I went to law school with 0 interest in ever having children.

    However, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. That is the problem with choosing a career when you are 20 based on the idea of the family you may or may not have and may or may not even want 10 years in the future. Pulling back is always possible if that is what you want. Gearing up at 40 because the kids never happened is much harder.

    I will also add that pulling back had nothing to do with my kid. It was 100% selfish. I could have done my former career and had the same relationship with my kid as I have now. I simply would have had to work when she went to bed and had no me time. I wasn’t willing to give up me time.

  122. Natalie April 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    I suggest to the Sheryl Sandberg haters that you read an article at parent.com entitled Stop hating Sheryl Sandberg. most criticism leveled at her is leveled at her personal life, about which people know nothing, and not at the ideas she’s presenting, because people haven’t read her book, and just assume they know what she’s going to say.
    Sadly, that’s exactly what we’ve seen in this thread. Free range moms are not immune.
    And really, that kind of hate just exemplifies that women hate women, and women hate successful women even more.

  123. SKL April 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Cynthia, your comment to me had me scrolling back up to look at my previous comments, LOL. Although I can sometimes relate to your feeling, I didn’t mean it that way. I meant that when my kids are awake and off school, I usually don’t feel drawn to my work. I don’t get as much time with my kids as I would like. Maybe another hour per day would have me running away from them, LOL. But as it is, I do cherish the time with them (except when they make me crazy, LOL).

  124. Sally April 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Natalie, I don’t hate Sandberg. I also don’t automatically like or even necessarily admire her because she’s a CEO somewhere. I’m sure as a “real” person she’s just a gal trying to get on the best she can like the rest of us. But her position as the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation does mean she represents a certain type of person. A type that I probably don’t have much in common with, and I don’t imagine her advice would be useful to me. And what I’ve been doing here is questioning out loud whether her advice is useful to women in general. I mean, if she’s out there giving advice, people have to be allowed to discuss its merits, right?

  125. Sally April 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    @Donna “I will also add that pulling back had nothing to do with my kid. It was 100% selfish. I could have done my former career and had the same relationship with my kid as I have now. I simply would have had to work when she went to bed and had no me time. I wasn’t willing to give up me time.”

    I personally don’t believe that most parents cut back on work mainly because it benefits their children. I think they do so for reasons like yours.

  126. Cynthia812 April 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    Donna, the only problem I have with what you’re saying is that student debt can get in the way of changing your plans just as much as not going to school. It’s a gamble either way.

    SKL, darn, if that’s not what you meant, I have to backpedal now. Actually, all I was trying to say is that being at home is what I want to do, even though my personality doesn’t find it easy to be the go-to person for little kids all day. And I’m okay with that. Probably why I’m free range.

  127. SKL April 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Cynthia, I agree that you should be OK with that. I could not be the go-to person all day, either. To some extent, for me, work is a break from parenthood, even as domestic stuff is sometimes an escape from work. Because I’m a single parent, there are many things I almost never get to do “alone” outside of work; so when I do get those moments, it feels strange but nice.

  128. Donna April 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    “I think the issue people were having was equating staying home with helicoptering, when clearly it’s not the same thing.”

    Just out of their own paranoia because that isn’t what Lenore said at all. In fact, Lenore doesn’t mention stay at home parents at all.

    Her point is that today’s parenting calls for micromanaging of children and rejecting anything based on the mother’s own convenience. You must attend every dance class, volunteer at school, personally address every slight or hurt feeling, negotiate all relationships and cook healthy, organic meals that you have pre-cut into bite size, non-chokeable pieces. With that as the picture of what is necessary for parenting, it is no wonder that so many women are overwhelmed with the idea of having a career and being a good parent.

    But most here would agree that those things are not necessary, and some of them even detrimental, to good parenting. If we could get that through society’s thick skull then maybe some women who would like to be CEO would not be too overwhelmed to even try.

    In no way is Lenore, or Sandberg, saying that everyone needs to want to be CEO or that all SAHM mothers are helicopter parents. She’s saying that society’s unrealistic parenting expectations makes it really damn hard to imagine being anything outside of a parent.

    And some SAHMs feel the same way. I know some who feel totally trapped. Not by feelings of not wanting to be SAHMs or wanting to work. But those who want to do things for themselves and are getting attacked for hiring babysitters or dropping kids at classes instead of spending every single minute doting on mere existence of their little cherubs.

  129. Natalie April 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Sally – everything you’ve said in this thread regarding Sheryl Sandberg is postulating on what kind of person you think Sheryl Sandberg is (and people like her – whatever that may be), what her priorities are, what her family life is like, and how you don’t like her message – except that your comments make it painfully obvious that you don’t know what her message is.

    Hence my women hating women comment. I didn’t mean to single you out, you’re certainly not the only one saying these things on this thread. You just replied to me, so now I’m writing directly to you.

    Now, commenting on a book that you haven’t read (movie you haven’t seen, topic you don’t know much about) is certainly endemic to the internet, and I do it lots. But in this case, I’ve actually read what Sandberg has to say. And from your comments (and the comments of 99% of the people here) it’s obvious that they haven’t. And they haven’t even read a summary.

    And I understand the animosity, because there are a lot of (I’m sorry I just don’t know what term to use anymore) home-makers (?) and part-time job moms (?) who took this post to mean their parenting choices are de facto helicoptering – as Cynthia pointed out. Which this whole website is against. So, that’s the ultimate insult on this forum.

    Alright, so there’s animosity about the tone of the post. But Sheryl Sandberg did not write this post, she wrote a book giving advice to women who want to advance in their careers. She didn’t write a book for those who don’t want to advance in their careers, or look at work as a necessary evil. She did not write the things that you think she wrote. You are not commenting on her advice as you say, because you don’t know what that advice is.

    That’s why I’m directing people to that article, here’s the link:


    And why do I care so much? Because I think we should be cheering her on. You don’t want to take her path? That’s fine. She’s not saying you have to, and she’s not saying that you are less of a person for not doing so, even though that’s what you seem to think she’s saying.

    And I will cheer for her, and Marissa Meyer, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Condoleeza Rice, Vanitha Narayanan, and Ann-Marie Slaughter. And I cheer attempts to get young women to take on leadership positions, like her book. Because otherwise, we will always be in a world run by men. Always. And well-meaning men or not, a world dominated by men will always be a place where it is more difficult for women to succeed, for lots of different reasons. And I want my two daughters to live in a world where female leaders are no longer the exception, but the norm.

    So stop the catfight, because there is nothing more depressing to me than women trying to bring other women down when we are still fighting for full equality. And full equality will not happen in a male dominated world. Full equality will happen when women/minorities/etc. have sufficient representation at the top levels of society to change the norm. And that doesn’t happen by opting out or pushing back.

    And before I get a knee-jerk reaction, I’m not saying that opting out or pushing back are bad choices, or make you less of a person.

    Have a nice weekend, I’m sorry for the tone of my post and don’t mean to offend. It’s a subject that I really feel passionate about.

  130. Donna April 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    @Cynthia –

    I don’t get how having children at some undetermined time in the future with some man that you haven’t even met yet is actually considered “plans.” Something you’d like to have happen? Sure. Something you should structure your life as if it is imminent? No.

    This doesn’t mean that I think it should be forgotten all together. If you are equally torn between being a CEO and a teacher, a future family may break that tie on one side or the other. I just see no reason to decide when 20 and unattached that you must be a teacher even though you’d really rather be a CEO because a teacher is a better kid career.

  131. Buffy April 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    “I personally don’t believe that most parents cut back on work mainly because it benefits their children. I think they do so for reasons like yours.”

    @Sally, is that really so bad? If I’d like to be able to read a book or watch a TV show after my children go to bed, instead of doing work for my job, I shouldn’t need to feel guilty because it’s not directly benefiting my children.

    It is benefiting them indirectly though, because a happy person who makes time to indulge her hobbies is a happier mom (in my humble opinion).

  132. Beth April 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    @BMS, I always love your comments – they are so spot on to what I think.

    You don’t live in southern Wisconsin do you? I want to be your friend!

  133. epu April 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    OMG why in the world did I “give up” my career and decided to be a full-time mom instead? Maybe because my toddlers need me? Or they would rather stay at home with me than go to daycare? And I was really enjoying being at home with my kids, what was I thinking???
    Quick, I need to go back and be miserable at my job while I put my sad, fat, less resilient kids in daycare.
    Lenore, I’m all for free-range, but you don’t need a career to feel like an accomplished woman. You can stay at home, homeschool etc. and be free-range at the same time. (I’m not homeschooling, but know stay-at-home moms who do, and have some of the most independent, resilient, outspoken kids I know).
    I’m a bit disappointed…

  134. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt April 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Good point, EPU. Professional achievement is not the end-all, be-all of existence. As a relatively new stay-at-home dad, I am glad that I opted out of my career to spend time with my kids while they are little. Does that mean I won’t be as “accomplished” professionally? Sure. But I think it’s a choice worth making.

    All that said, from the perspective of a dad with two girls, I think Sheryl Sandberg is a great role model. I blogged about this last month:

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    A dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  135. AW13 April 12, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    @Buffy: I totally agree. A happy mom is a mom who has more patience with her children. A mom who has time to recharge her batteries will be a better role model, too. After all, everyone needs time to themselves and a mom who demonstrates that teaches her children an important skill: how to set your boundaries. (Dads can do this too, of course.)

  136. hineata April 12, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    @Donna – ta for that. Survey Monkey, cool name. Guess he would be pretty busy too.

    Outsourcing parenting is hardly new, of course – the aristocracy in Britain and other places have done it for centuries. I guess a really positive thing about CEOs etc is that theoretically anyone could become one, and so given the right combination of talent /circumstances/choices we all could do that/have that lifestyle where we didn’t have to do any housework we didn’t want to, LOL. Whereas I can’t imagine ever being able to become, say, a baroness or a duchess…though wouldn’t that be fun!

    To achieve a similar thing without reaching the 1%, one could either migrate to a country with cheap household labour, or have many kids, training the older ones from a very young age to look after the younger ones…..

    Or, moving a bit off-topic, but still looking at choices women could make, polygamy isn’t without its attractions. Imagine having two or three women helping run a household – two could pursue very fulfilling outside careers while the one that actually feels fulfilled running the household could do that. Or they could mix and match as they felt like it. I say polygamy rather than polyandry (I think that’s the woman to multiple men one) because personally I find one man enough to deal with, and couldn’t be bothered having more around, but each to his/her own.

  137. Krista April 13, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    “Or, moving a bit off-topic, but still looking at choices women could make, polygamy isn’t without its attractions. Imagine having two or three women helping run a household….”

    Sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine. PolygaMy is the practice of having multiple spouses. PolygaNy is multiple wives, polyandry is multiple husbands.

    And I think a commune-type of life where you have like-minded individuals living in close proximity willing to share help, services, and goods is a great idea. I really think that’s how humans are “supposed” to live, being primates and everything.

  138. hineata April 13, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    @Krista – I stand corrected 🙂 . Ta for that.

  139. Nancy April 13, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    That wasn’t even the most offensive thing in that article. That was farther down the list, when it suggested that you might want to be uncomfortable if a divorced dad was chaperoning a sleepover for his daughters. As in, divorced dad = predator. My brother in law has two daughters and a spacious house. Not a predator.

    Then, I guess as an apology, they wrote a non-apology that ended with “I’m a dad, and I can’t handle a bunch of girls” as explanation.

    What. Ever. Know what? Keep your kid at home; they’re probably learning to be just like you.

  140. Sally April 13, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    “I personally don’t believe that most parents cut back on work mainly because it benefits their children. I think they do so for reasons like yours.”

    @Sally, is that really so bad? If I’d like to be able to read a book or watch a TV show after my children go to bed, instead of doing work for my job, I shouldn’t need to feel guilty because it’s not directly benefiting my children.”

    @Buffy, where in the world did you get the idea from what I wrote that I thought that was bad??? I guess you haven’t read my other comments.

    Donna writing that led me to believe she thinks she is exceptional in cutting back on work for personal reasons, rather than for child-care concerns. I feel pretty sure that for most people, such a decision is undertaken because it suits them PERSONALLY. I mean for the vast majority of us, making a buck is a means to an end. How many people do you know would rather be at work than any place else?

    Of course taking on as much paid work as possible or cutting back on it comes down to a decision between material gains vs. personal time won. I’ve been arguing that people (incl. women! Imagine!) recognize that, weigh up their options, and make their decisions. We should be given credit for having brains enough to figure out for ourselves what’s right for us. And assumptions shouldn’t be made that we “poor, defenseless, and probably stupid” mothers are being bullied into leaving paid work by society and our spoiled brats.

    Thus the issue I have with what I understood to be the stance of the original post: The presumption that what women want is to work outside the house more. (And maybe even we would all like to be CEOs but are holding ourselves back.) I just don’t believe that’s true. And we need look no further than our own experiences to know the reasons for not wanting to take on more paid employment, or cutting back on it, or stopping it altogether may have nothing to do with our children’s well being.

  141. SKL April 13, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Krista: polygyny, not poligany, I think.

    If people could learn to get along in close quarters as adults, wouldn’t that be lovely? A romantic relationship is not necessary. There are plenty of single, childless women who could join a household for mutual benefit.

  142. JJ April 13, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    @Natalie, thank you, thank you, thank you. Well said!

    Regardless of the job/career choices we make for ourselves we should remember that the more women in powerful roles, the more choices we will all have and the more family-friendly the work environment will be for all working parents including the majority of American parents from whom paid employment is not a choice but a necessity. I am not saying that a man in charge can’t or won’t promote a family friendly environment, but the healthier the mix between the gender of those in big roles, the better.

  143. Cynthia812 April 13, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Donna- on rereading what Lenore said, I agree that it can’t really be read as an attack on SAHM (and I didn’t think Lenore would do that anyway; I’ve been reading her for a long time). I think that the beginning where Sanburg bemoans women spending nine more hours a week (!) with their kids is what set people off, rightly or wrongly. I also completely agree with the part about the cult of inconvenience. Your point about it simply not being written for people like me is valid, as is the point that people shouldn’t att

  144. Cynthia812 April 13, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Sorry, hit a wrong key. People shouldn’t attack her personal life without knowing about it. But the article is here to discuss. And her choices are not without repercussion in the real world. For example, dual income families have directly contributed to the decline of children being home to play in the neighborhood after school. That’s indisputable. What we can and should do about it, society versus individual’s roles in deciding what to do about it, questions like that are all fair game, and they may involve questioning others’ choices. This area is pretty polarizing, and we just all need to do what we think is best and grow a thick skin.

    As for what I said about college, I admit my perspective is currently out of the mainstream. I’m from a culture that strongly promotes marriage, and I believe in marriage at a fairly young age and building a life together. So for me, 20 was definitely an age to be preparing for that. I got a college degree, but honestly, there are ways my time could have been better spent to prepare me for what I’m doing now. Like you said, life happens while you are making other plans. I don’t regret my degree, and there may be a point in my life when it is more directly useful. But there are also a lot of people who want to stay home who would be happier there if they had realized earlier that there is skill involved in managing a home, and worked to gain those skills. That fact is downright ignored in society today. Just my two cents. This part is really a discussion for another day, so sorry for hijacking. I don’t expect you to agree with this, so don’t feel like you have to respond to it if you don’t want to . Just wanted to show where I was coming from.

  145. SKL April 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    JJ, I’m not sure that women in “powerful roles” guarantees a more family-friendly work environment. I think in general women are better at seeing the benefits of flexibility and nurturing. But often, women in “powerful roles” go there by being more work-oriented than most men and women. They often take the attitude that “I did it, you can too if you want what I have.” Women in a competitive high-power workplace tend to be rather unsupportive of each other anyway. “Women are their own worst enemies” was my mantra back in the day.

  146. CrazyCatLady April 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    A happy mom makes for a happy family.

    The question is, what makes mom happy? For some women it is being with the kids. For others it is being around adults. Or working on personal goals. Or writing a book….or whatever.

    I personally like being around kids. My plan was to teach. I couldn’t find a job teaching where I was living, and now I am teaching my own kids. And it is great.

    I know other women who need adult interaction, who have personal goals that they want to reach that are independent of their kids. They do these things, this is what their kids know, everyone is happy.

    I have known dads who used to be the bread winners, decide that they should be the ones to stay home or only work part time because their wife was not happy when staying home. They were happy staying home. Everyone is happy.

    Now, women (or fathers) who obsess over their kid’s safety….they are NOT happy. The ones who feel they have to see every waking moment, worry about what in the past were tiny dangers… they are not happy. And neither are the kids.

  147. Donna April 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    “Donna writing that led me to believe she thinks she is exceptional in cutting back on work for personal reasons, rather than for child-care concerns.”

    And your reading things into words that aren’t there (and books you haven’t read) has been the problem all along. My point was that the assumption that people who work longer always spend less time with their kids is wrong not the vast uniqueness of me.

    “I mean for the vast majority of us, making a buck is a means to an end. How many people do you know would rather be at work than any place else? ”

    No, work may be nothing more than a means to an end for YOU, but many of us enjoy our work and working. I can’t say that I would rather be at work than ANYWHERE, but I’d rather work than be a SAHM. My work is extremely satisfying in ways that being a parent is not. And being a parent is extremely satisfying in ways that my job is not. I feel sad for people who view their job as nothing more than a means to an end.

    “And assumptions shouldn’t be made that we “poor, defenseless, and probably stupid” mothers are being bullied into leaving paid work by society and our spoiled brats.”

    You seem to be the only one making the assumption that that is what is being said at all. Which brings us back to Natalie’s question, why exactly are you feeling so threatened by Sandberg?

    And since the premise of her book is that although women make up 50% of college graduates but an extremely small fraction of those in leadership roles, what do you think is the reason for that? If there is no societal pressure and everything is just a matter of free will, the only conclusion that I can draw is that you believe that women are simply inherently less motivated than men. Or that women are less fit for leadership roles than men.

    That is 100% not the mentality I want anywhere around my daughter. I don’t care what she achieves in her life or if she chooses to stay home and raise children but I don’t want her to ever believe that women are less fit or capable than men.

  148. Donna April 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    @Cynthia –

    “where Sanburg bemoans women spending nine more hours a week (!) with their kids is what set people off, rightly or wrongly.”

    Sandberg didn’t bemoan that at all. Those were Lenore’s words, not Sandberg’s. Nor is the statement a bemoaning. It was a study conducted by UCSD. If this is the same study I am thinking of, it involved working mothers and SAHMs. It also measured one-on-one interactions with children – time when mothers are actively engaged with their children and not simply time spent coexisting in a house with children. Cooking dinner with your child would count, but cooking dinner while your child watched TV did not.

    Studies done between moms today and moms in 1965 (when most were SAH) showed the same thing. Moms today spend more time with their children. Lenore’s argument is that this added time is not a good thing since kids are not getting the freedom to play by themselves. Not that moms need to go to work.

    As far as the rest, while your choices would not be mine, I respect people’s right to have different ideas than mine. I am not threatened by your ideas being out in the world.

    That has kinda been my problem with the stance of several here all along. The inability to say “different people can want different things out of life and this book and article was simply not written for me but for women who want different things” but to instead view it as an attack on SAHMs.

  149. Donna April 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    And the study I referenced (I believe it was a University of Maryland study done a couple years back) looked solely at WORKING mothers and determined that working mothers today spent more time actively engaged with their children than SAHMs of 1965.

  150. Donna April 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    ” I got a college degree, but honestly, there are ways my time could have been better spent to prepare me for what I’m doing now. … But there are also a lot of people who want to stay home who would be happier there if they had realized earlier that there is skill involved in managing a home, and worked to gain those skills.”

    Isn’t time spent learning to manage a home, equally a waste if you never have a home to manage (by “home” I assume you mean spouse and children)?

    Hindsight is 20/20. Would you still feel that your college degree was not important if you never married? Or you met your husband in one of your classes your final year of school? Or if, god forbid, your husband dies/cannot work/leaves you and you have to become the sole support of your children? Or if you had been infertile and the extra money from your job is what allowed you to adopt? Or any number of things that could have happened or could still happen in your life.

  151. Maggie April 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    I leave my oldest home alone for brief periods, and have since she was about 8, but I wouldn’t leave if she had a friend over. I trust my child, but I don’t trust necessarily know other people’s children well enough to leave them home alone in my house and expect my child to keep an eye on things. My parents often left us kids home, but if friends came over, we could only play outside. We could take our friend inside to use the bathroom or get a drink, but we couldn’t hang out or play inside if a parent wasn’t home.

  152. Sally April 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    @Donna “Which brings us back to Natalie’s question, why exactly are you feeling so threatened by Sandberg?”

    It’s getting exasperating at this point. Can my opinions not taken seriously without assuming I’m feeling ‘threatened’? Pretty cheap tactic, I would say .

    “That has kinda been my problem with the stance of several here all along. The inability to say “different people can want different things out of life and this book and article was simply not written for me but for women who want different things” but to instead view it as an attack on SAHMs.”

    Well, that’s what some of us have been trying to do here — point out that there may be another perspective. And these comments here do not pertain to the book, which I never read, and as you point out is not written for people like me, so I can’t imagine that I’ll ever read it, the comments are in response to the post which refers to the book. It is my understanding that the keeper of this blog desires such discussions when she posts something.

    And I never said anything about SAHMs (hateful term, I agree y’all). I wrote about people “pushing back” from work. Which you said you have done. Why you choose not to use your own decision as a spring-board to empathy with other women who may choose same I do not know.

    ” Lenore’s argument is that this added time is not a good thing since kids are not getting the freedom to play by themselves. Not that moms need to go to work.”

    I know this is generally Lenore’s line. Lenore is normally sharp as a tack and that’s why I enjoy reading her stuff.

  153. Jynet April 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    I have this book on my shelf to read right now, but all the press about it is making me wonder about wasting my time.

    Now that I run my own business I’m proving that you can be fully invested in your career AND balance that with being fully invested in my child’s life. (Invested = caring about and providing age appropriate support for her learning to be a functional member of our society) AND support your staff in balancing their own working and personal lives.

    I’m tired of books that say you have to pick. I don’t need Fortune 500 success to be a success. I’m not sure any of us do if the cost is to our psyche’s and families.

  154. Krista April 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm #


    *facepalm* Yes, it’s spelled ‘polygyny’. Thanks for that.

  155. Donna April 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    “Why you choose not to use your own decision as a spring-board to empathy with other women who may choose same I do not know. ”

    Where exactly did I show a lack of empathy and how? Is not buying into your notion that everything is bliss in mommyland and everyone is doing exact what they want to be doing somehow not showing empathy in your world?

    I know far too many women who are clearly miserable – although none of them will admit it – in their chosen life but who refuse to change anything based on their own preconceived notions of motherhood and career to buy what you are trying to sell.

    I also know many women who perfectly happy not working and many who are perfectly happy pushing back from their career. This book is not directed at them.

    I am happy that books and articles like this exist, not because I find them useful for my life, but because I want kids to hear many different voices so that hopefully fewer will grow up to be borderline alcoholic, over-the-top helicopter parents because they are miserable at home but have set notions as to how mothers must be (and I am thinking of one friend in particular but I know many others who have not delved into alcoholism).

  156. Sally April 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Did I write “to empathy”? I meant “to empathize”. Note to self: Stay away from making comments in internet after drinking wine!

    Wait, Donna, do we know each other in real life? I’m not that friend of yours, am I? ; )

    Anyway, probably time to move on to other posts. Enjoy your week.

  157. epu April 21, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Donna, you say “If there is no societal pressure and everything is just a matter of free will, the only conclusion that I can draw is that you believe that women are simply inherently less motivated than men. Or that women are less fit for leadership roles than men. ”

    No, there is also the conclusion that many women WANT to spend time caring for their house, family and children, but this kind of work has no value in Western society
    In ancient societies, the time spent cleaning, gardening, cooking, was a valued time for meditation, introspection and personal fulfillment and people could draw satisfaction from it.