Ask Dr. Rhodes

Career & Workplace Questions

Should I feel ashamed if I know that, at some point in my life, I may want to take a break from my career to spend time with my children? I feel that if it’s a personal choice, not something you’re made to feel is obligatory, then there is nothing to be ashamed about. However, I’ve been made to feel that this would be an “unfeminist” choice and sometimes feel uncomfortable expressing my decision. I actually believe that denying myself time with my children because I feel societal pressure would be more problematic than going ahead and doing what I want. This issue is particularly relevant and I know many women struggle with the right answer so I’d love if you could speak to this.

Anonymous, 21

There is no right answer. The “mommy wars” between women who work and women who stay home is confusing and unnecessarily rigid. There is nothing wrong with staying home to raise children anymore than it is to go to work. This is a personal choice and the principles of feminism dictate that women be true to themselves.

My biggest concern would be how you would weather a financial crisis if you husband lost his job. Having a career that you can renew is comforting. Moving in and out of the labor force, with full time, part-time work over the life span, is the norm today.

Don’t worry what people think or say. Follow your intuition and stick to your guns. No one but you knows what is right for you.

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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Susan Patton says that if you spend your first years out of college building your career instead of looking for a husband, by the time you’re in your 30s it will be too late and may end up marrying someone who is not you intellectual or professional equal….A lot of my friends are marrying men they met in college, but I chose to focus on my career and have been completely wrapped up in the demands of my job. Am I doomed? Are there any benefits to waiting to settle down?

Jane, 22

Spending your 20’s becoming independent and building your career is a wise investment of time and energy. You will not miss walking down the aisle because you are in your 30’s. That is nonsense! With maturity and financial security, you are more likely to find a partner with whom you can build a loving relationship for the long haul. All the research shows that successful women between the ages of 30 and 45 are marrying at a higher rate than younger and less successful women. Furthermore, these marriages are more stable with less likelihood of divorce. Gone are the days when you went to college to get a MRS degree! Don’t let the nay-sayers frighten you off the self-development that is so important for a happy life.

—Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D.

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