Friday, June 22, 2012

Success, What Is It?

In response to this, a "friend of a friend" stated on facebook that the balance of family and work isn't "easy for men either" and I agree...however, I do think that cultural expectations and norms have long placed men into a position of not feeling as if there is a choice between work and time spent with family.  

I don't think it is "easy" for either gender--but the cultural expectation has long been that a male parent works outside of the home, and has a fairly marginal/outsider role in the raising of his children. This has historically meant that men worked while women raised the children (providing "free" childcare. housekeeping, and preparation of food). Society encouraged and expected this division of labor. As women entered the workforce these roles have had to be filled by paid employees (childcare providers/housekeepers/fast food/quick prep meals). 

Many families have found that the difficulty of providing consist, safe, quality child care is prohibitively expensive--and, when you align this with the desires of parents to actually spend time with their children, parents on either side of the gender divide may find themselves wishing to seek a lifestyle that allows for more balance (eg living more simply, taking less "ambitious" jobs that allow for more time at home). Spending less than an hour of waking time a day with your child is acceptable for fewer and fewer folk--and we know folks for whom this is very much the case (altho' we do understand that for some families there is no other viable economically responsible choice).   

Further, with the usage of birth control and family planning--the children of "professionals" are often had later in life, have been planned, and are the focus of the family dynamic in a way that is relatively, culturally, new. I do think that in many ways our culture(s) are grappling with a new idea of success. 

So, what do you think this "new" idea of success looks like?  Have you ever stepped away from the expected path to reclaim another way of being in the world?

(I did blog about this yesterday as check it out)

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