Advice for the Under-30 Crowd

Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 4, 1999


I am 29 and have been dating a 33-year-old man for almost a year. We have had some pretty serious disagreements about family values.

His mother stayed home. Boyfriend is also fortunate enough to be able to support a family on his salary alone. Therefore, he feels very strongly that when his (future) wife has kids, she should stay home to raise them (at least when they are very young). He maintains that a child raised by a working mother suffers from the lack of care and nurturing.

That is fine if a mom wants to stay home, but I may not. And how nurturing is a stir-crazy mom?

My mother not only worked but also went to grad school, and was still there for us. I don't have any serial killer tendencies yet. I also enjoy my independence and career--I never thought I would be asked to give up everything. That is completely unnecessary!

I think a child benefits from the quality of time with mom, not just the quantity. I have tried to explain this, but he doesn't seem to want to hear. I wish he would just accept my choice and support me. He doesn't understand that the decision to work is one the mother needs to make on her own.

--My Decision

Oh, great, drag me into this.

You may not be a serial killer, but your signature scares the hell out of me. Yoo-hoo, ever heard of "fathers"? This isn't "my" decision, it's yours and his. And if you truly view child-rearing in terms of what is and isn't "necessary," then please don't breed.

Don't get me wrong--it's not like I'm dying to side with your boyfriend. He would have wifey stay home by fiat, so the notion of shared decision-making eludes him, too. And where's his offer to stay home? It's still women's work?

I'm grown, I'm female, I'm married, I work; to say I've given this issue some thought is a grotesque understatement. To arrange my own priorities, I ranked all the basic baby-rearing scenarios (at least till school age) by desirability:

1. Stay-home parent or parent who works part time (tie);

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