Coming from someone in Generation Z, one of the youngest generations in our country, I have always been encouraged to follow my dreams in life as far as my career. I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor or dentist or orthodontist since I was old enough to know what those big fancy words meant. It wasn’t until I reached high school and began babysitting for one certain family when I began to doubt the possibility of achieving one of these career goals, particularly as a woman, while also maintaining a happy family dynamic in the future. In this family I frequently babysit for, both parents work full-time for the government which requires a hefty commute, a nanny, and a lot of extra other help (aka me the babysitter.) I have nothing but the upmost respect for both parents as they work to keep our country safe, often both working 60-80 hour weeks. However, the week only has so many hours and this extra time working is often taken away from the quality family time category.
The wife, who also happens to be a great family friend of ours, got promoted at the beginning of last year which came along with an even bigger time commitment and a longer commute. She accepted the position because this was her dream job that she had been working hard for her whole life. However, little by little, she became frustrated with herself when she was constantly ridiculed by other parents for not spending ‘adequate time’ with her two sons, whether it was attending sporting events, choir concerts, or holiday parties. However, no one dared to say anything of this kind to her husband.
There is a definite double standard when it comes to judging how well a parent is doing with raising their child. If a man isn’t spending a great amount of time with his child he is ‘just busy’ or ‘bringing home the bacon’ or being the ‘breadwinner.’ If a woman isn’t spending whatever is deemed ‘enough’ time with her child, she is demeaned with words such an ‘unfit’ or ‘power-hungry.’ It is as if a woman wants to work outside the home and be away from her children at all is automatically the bad guy.
What kind of a world is it that we live in that young, ambitious girls like me who dream of becoming the next doctor or president or lawyer are scared into changing their career goals upon thinking that they will never be able to achieve both a successful career and a happy family life?