Cupcake Mama linked to this interesting article, written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning at the State Department, on work-life balance in the Atlantic. The most fascinating part for me was how men and women view priorities.* It made so much sense and I’d never consciously realized it. In a(n overgeneralized) woman’s view many people can do their job, but they are the only mother their children have, making motherhood the more important duty no matter how high-powered their job. “To many men, however,” as she says “the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish.”
She was focusing on careers in public service, but I think even if a man isn’t “working…on issues that affect many lives”, he often sees working hard and being a career role-model as the best thing he can do for his family – more important than spending time with them. This isn’t necessarily right or wrong (or exclusive to men), but I tend toward thinking being there for your children, often at the expense of work, makes more of an impact. (This is all assuming you have a choice, obviously, which I won't get into.)
What I’m interested in is: do you think men and women view the decision to dial back a career to spend more time with children differently (selfish vs. self-sacrificing)? Is this influence by what society expects of them? Does at least one parent have to be a provider-type role model, showing children what it takes to succeed?
*Obviously these generalizations don’t apply to EVERY man/woman.