Read The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? by Leslie Bennetts Online


Author Leslie Bennett insists that in the so-called Mommy Wars, the first casualty is truth. The veteran Vanity Fair journalist argues that much of the apparently relentless campaign against working mothers ignores one of the issue's central components: economics. Her Feminine Mistake stakes out the dollars and cents case for married women participating in the workplace, aAuthor Leslie Bennett insists that in the so-called Mommy Wars, the first casualty is truth. The veteran Vanity Fair journalist argues that much of the apparently relentless campaign against working mothers ignores one of the issue's central components: economics. Her Feminine Mistake stakes out the dollars and cents case for married women participating in the workplace, arguing persuasively that millions of families need two incomes for financial security, medical expenses, and retirement funds, not to mention personal independence. Food for thought; fodder for debate....

Title : The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781401303068
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? Reviews

  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    2019-05-05 08:17

    Are we giving up too much? You bet your ass we are.(only 90 pages in...)This is not my review... the following is in response to a nasty message that was sent to me.For the sender of the hate mail... you listen to Dr. Laura, don't you?I love my child, but I disagree that everything I do should revolve around him. His well-being comes first, but let me tell you, I was a person with interests and hobbies before he came along and I will be that person when he grows up and leaves this home. You do realize that the child isn't yours to "keep"? I think it's dangerous for a woman to attach her sense of self completely to her child.For your information, I am not a "high power corporate robot" who "ditches" her kids in day care to go to work. Nice assumption, though.For your information, I am a stay at home mom. Pretty much. I work maybe 4 days a month, always on a weekend, (go ahead send the mail about not keeping the sabbath holy) so my son can be with his dad while I work. I might bring in about $10,000 a year to our home. That's a quarter of what I made prior to having kids. I will not get a pension, 401k, insurance, vacation time... It is a sacrifice I make to be home with my son, until he goes to school. There are pros and cons to this, my brain feels like mush most days from singing childrens songs, I don't enjoy "domestic" tasks like decorating and cleaning. I don't mind having dinner ready for my husband, but some nights, I don't want to cook. Washing out my toddler's shit streaked underwear does not fill me with a sense of a job well done. I feel guilty when I want to buy something for me, it's my husband's money, right? I do not feel appreciated for this work and my son may never fully understand the sacrifices we made so I can be home with him. However, he just turned three and knows the alphabet, upper and lower case letters, can count to 20, can read over 2 dozen sight words. I don't have to worry about some idiot in a day care center leaving him in a car to bake, or abusing him. Then I'd be in jail for murder, and what kind of mommy would I be then?It irks me that one can pass such harsh judgement without fully knowing the situation.

  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    2019-04-25 07:14

    20 years ago, in a mouse infested, 1 bedroom apartment in a scary neighborhood, I sat across from my mom, watching her weep over the checkbook. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she told me, "Don't ever depend on a man to take care of you."Recently divorced, she was struggling to put food on the table, a roof over our heads and hand me down clothes on my back.Now here I am, a stay at home mom who depends on my husband financially. (Okay, I work maybe 30 hours a month. My son stays home with my husband while I work.) There are some things that really suck about this situation. I feel I don't have a say on what car we should get or what furniture to choose. After all, it's not my money. I feel guilty buying things for myself. (for the record, I am very low maintenance)There are some things that are good about the situation. My husband does not beat me for blowing $25 at the bookstore ($25 that I feel a bit guilty about). He has handed me a wad of money and said, "go get new clothes". What I am driving at here is that he's not a prick about money. (Unlike many of the men in the is book)I am home with my son until he goes to school. We wanted him to grow up with me, not a day care person. Being at home has been a gift. I can take sick relatives to the doctor, help my friends with new babies, keep things around the house in order (somewhat). The best part of it all is, I was not planning on being a mom, ever, and here I am, loving it. 9 days out of 10. So am I giving up too much to take a time out from the workplace and be home with my son? Yes and no.As the author points out in this book, shit happens.Say, for example, my husband decides to leave me for a new and improved model. I'm potentially screwed. Say he drops dead or becomes disabled. Well, we have insurance for those events, God forbid that happens. (Plus, that job I work at 30 hours a month? I can easily get a full time job. Health care is always in demand, folks.)What is simply stunning in this book is the amount of seemingly intelligent women who completely leave the workforce to be housewives and moms."But our love is forever!"Gimmie a break. We have a 50% (at least) divorce rate in this country. You think half the people getting married expect it to end? Read again: shit happens."Well, if he leaves me, I'll get half and I can survive on that!" Sure. If he doesn't piss it away, hiding it in other accounts or with someone anticipating that you are going to want a chunk of it! If he even sends you the check!"I'll get right back into work when my kids go to middle school or high school!"Right. After 13 years off the job, you are at the top of your game! (NOT) Employers like fresh, young meat. Yeah, young. They will hire a 30 year old over a 45 year old. Ageism. Check it out!(If you are lucky, your husband has turned you into a trophy wife, all plastic with the frozen Botox head, so maybe you look 35 instead...) This book is a must read! Cover your ass. Have a backup plan that does not include finding another man to marry. This is incredibly important if you have children. This is also important for you, as a woman, so you do not end up old, living under a bridge eating dog food out of a can.

  • Nicole
    2019-05-03 03:31

    When I first started reading this book I hated Ms. Bennetts and thought she was a smug self-righteous person (I just edited myself). I stopped reading and cursed her for hating stay at home mothers so much (full disclosure, I am a stay-at-home mother). But then I thought about it. Why had I reacted so strongly to this book and her ideas? Because on some level I knew she was right, or at least her points applied to me.The basic thrust of the book is that women give up too much when they "choose" to give up employment for full-time child care. They give up financial independence, self-fulfillment, self-determination, the respect of others (sometimes including their partners and children), retirement savings, freedom, the opportunity to live up to their full potential, and intellectual challenge. She doesn't argue that motherhood and caring for children is unimportant, but just that it can be done by others, including the children's father, child care providers, etc.Women who choose to "opt out" often don't think about the vulnerability they assume once they give up the paycheck. Women who rely on their husbands (or partners) for their financial security can be surprised when they are left to fend for themselves (by their partner's death, divorce, etc.). Often they have been out of the work force for a decade or more and cannot re-enter their chosen field, or at least not at the level they had held when they left. Women returning to work face sexism and ageism. Our culture tells women that they can't "have it all", meaning they can't have a happy and healthy family, a job and a strong relationship with their partners. Something has to give, and for a lot of women, they give up their jobs/careers. How many stories do you hear about a mother being successful in a career and being an active and involved parent? No, they are usually about the stresses and strains of combining work and motherhood. Mothers are held up to some absurd standards to be Martha Stewart, Mary Poppins, and Jenna Jamison (the porn star, in case you don't know) all while volunteering at church and school every week. But what about the dads? If they give a kid a bath or do a load of laundry they are Father of the Year. Men are not asked to make the same sacrifices as their female partners. Why?Maybe because we women don't demand it. Maybe because we just assume that it's our job to take care of kids, house and everyone else. Maybe because we don't think (or want to think) that anyone can do it as good as we can. Maybe because we are afraid of the hassle, challenges, stress, etc. that the full life of work and home and children brings. But let's remember that kids grow up. They go to school. They get their own lives. They don't want or need us around. What happens to all the at-home moms then? They get bored. They feel insecure and useless. They try to get back into the work world and are re-buffed at every turn. They get divorced.So what are we to do as women? We are to live full lives with all the challenges, and with help from our partners. Men in Gen X and Y don't expect to have their partners to be June Cleaver and don't want to miss out on being fathers like their own may have. So let's ask them, demand them, to help us out so we can all be happy and fulfilled. And then let's demand that our society institutes policies that support families and mothers. We are legion, let's get to it.As one of my favorite saying goes, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."After finishing the whole book, I have to say this book changed my thinking and probably will change my life. I have taken steps to add work and other activities to my life to give it more depth and breadth. My son and partner will benefit from these changes, as well as myself and society as a whole. I feel like I have sacrificed a lot for my child (and gladly). Now I need to show him what a healthy full life looks like, at least mine.

  • Julie Ehlers
    2019-05-10 00:20

    The publisher seems to have marketed The Feminine Mistake as a kind of self-help book for women, which does the book a disservice—it's actually a pretty detailed work of reporting, about a topic that shouldn't be controversial but somehow still is: that it's not a great idea for a woman to be completely financially dependent on a man. Among other things, this book is full of sobering stories of women who "stayed home" for years and were eventually blindsided by their husband losing his job, their husband asking for a divorce, their husband passing away or becoming injured/too sick to work, etc. It's pretty shocking to see how many women were willing to leave everything in their husbands' hands, as if they believed their life was guaranteed to always stay the same.Other important points this book makes:1. We tend to raise boys to understand that they are going to need to be able to financially support themselves in life. We don't really raise girls this way, even now. There seems to be some expectation that a woman's career will always come second to everything else.2. Following on that, there were many, many stories in here about women who quit working when they had kids because they didn't like their jobs and/or had no idea where their careers were going, so they figured they might as well leave. This was disturbing to me! It's so important to have some kind of direction and figure out what you want to do in life, both so you'll be less likely to abandon your career and also just for the sake of your personal happiness.3. Leaving a job to stay home with kids doesn't just mean you don't get paid for that time; it sets you back in numerous other ways as well. You lose your business contacts; you miss out on raises and promotions, which puts you behind everyone else when you do get back to work; you don't contribute to social security or a retirement plan during that time; you'll have a much harder time getting a job again once you've been out of the workforce for a few years.4. As some women interviewed for this book put it, "Motherhood is a temp job"—i.e., even if you elect to stay home, the period of time when your kids will need you around all day is finite, so you should plan your life/career based on that.Despite all the valuable points this book makes, though, its flaws make it somewhat difficult to recommend. First and foremost, it is way too long/repetitive. A lot of this material could have been condensed for less tedious reading. And oddly enough, even though the book was generally too long, some aspects of the topic were definitely given short shrift—Bennetts spends some time addressing the ideas that men typically don't pull their weight in the household and that family leave/flextime policies leave a lot to be desired in the U.S., but given what big obstacles these can be to full-time work for women, they really should have played a larger role in the book.An even bigger flaw is that, when it comes to working women, Bennetts's sample is very heavily skewed toward wealthy women (lawyers, women in finance, etc.). These are women who can easily afford day care/babysitters/nannies. Very little space is given to women whose financial situation is a bit more precarious; i.e., families for whom day care would be prohibitively expensive, even with two salaries. Bennetts does make the excellent point that not losing out on promotions/raises while your child is in day care will likely be worth it in the end, but it's not the most useful point if day care is truly out of reach financially. Bennetts generally believes that these things can be worked out, and she stresses that we shouldn't expect every aspect of our lives to be perfect all the time. This is a good message, but it would have been more convincing if she had profiled a wider variety of women at a wider variety of education/income levels.I have to admit that I personally get a little frustrated at the number of women who opt out of the workforce, simply because I know there are a lot of smart, talented, empathetic women out there whose gifts could make the workplace (and the world) a better place. I think having some financial independence is very, very important for everyone. I think it's appalling that anyone who says women should have jobs is absolutely pilloried for daring to suggest such a thing (as has definitely happened to Leslie Bennetts!). I think our workplaces and our federal policies need to become more friendly to parents in the workplace, but it won't happen if women keep opting out rather than fighting for what they need. For these reasons, I think a book like this one is important. I wish it were a little more fun to read, but I would probably still recommend it for young women and for any woman who's trying to decide whether to stay in the workforce or opt out of it.

  • Heather
    2019-05-20 01:06

    All women MUST read this book...Leslie Bennetts' "The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?" To say it is life-altering is a huge understatement. In a nutshell, she tackles the premise that women who quit working because their husband will take care of them (with or without children) is a really stupid idea on oh-so-many levels...financially, emotionally, mentally. And that this causes an infantilizing situation in which the woman becomes like a child to her own spouse, and is typically disengaged with co-managing the finances in the relationship (the fact that many women blindly let the husband put only his name on investments scares the hell out of me). Odds are, at some point they will be put in a situation of getting divorced, or their spouse becomes ill, dies, loses their job, then they (and any children they might have) become completely hosed. When I was in college, I used to think that I would work until I had kids, and then leave permanently leave the workforce, or at least until they were school-age. Now that I've worked for a while, I can see that there are increasing fewer opportunities for women to disenage and successfully re-engage in the workforce, and that there are major short- and long-term financial ramifications that can happen as a result. Damn few workplaces honestly let people go part-time and are supportive of that choice, and the few people that I've seen that do part-time eventually quit because they're so thoroughly discouraged and shunned. I've seen a majority of women my age leave the workforce over the past few years when they have kids ("because their salary would have gone to child care anyways, so why not?"), and although they think they are "raising their children properly" (because apparently working women can't), they have closed more doors than opened them. One person pointed out in this book that if paying for child care is the sole decision, you're basing a couple years of paying for it compared to a lifetime of earning potential. I am grateful for the gift of access to resources such as this, to help me make a well-thought decision in how to run my life in a way that makes me happiest and minimizes my personal risk of financial insecurity in this insecure world.Here's a few great quotes from the book:Page 161..."It's terrifying to take responsibility for things, but it gets less terrifying if you do it a couple of times. If you take responsibility, there's a slow accretion of confidence; you begin to feel you're intelligent, and you know how to get the job done. You know what you know, and you what you don't know. You know how to get people to support you, how to find the right people, how to ask for advice and take advice and sift through advice and learn what's good and what's not. You learn who you can trust and who you can't. Over the years, it changes you. You become more certain, more secure, more able to deal with anything that comes up. You're not afraid to speak up, because you know that most of the time, the things you're going to say are reasonably intelligent. The confidence you get in yourself as you achieve things is very powerful and very satisfying. It makes you feel good."Page 177..."if feminism is about the freedom to make choices, true liberation is not having to discuss and defend those choices."

  • Claudia Putnam
    2019-05-17 03:12

    I'm late to the party with this... Finally got around to it... I guess I put it off figuring I'd disagree with it since I'm kind of a textbook case for the "mistake." Bennetts wrote the book after she read about a bunch of Ivy League Xers (I think, maybe they were early Millennials) who'd been interviewed somewhere and were saying they intended to stay home with their kids when they had them. She, like many first-wave feminists, was horrified and wanted to rebut. These young Yalies being the first gen of kids raised in daycare, I happened to think maybe they had a point, though, and they and their husbands weren't necessarily rejecting feminism but their experience in daycare....Bennetts' argument is that Moms who stay home forfeit their best earning years and their best chance to get ahead on the corporate ladder, both things they cannot easily make up when they do return to work. Also, she further argues, they risk losing the respect of their husbands, their career-oriented female friends, and if they wind up divorced, they'll be screwed.Much of this happened to me. I'm still not convinced. For one thing, Bennetts mostly surveys her friends. She does quote some studies, but most of her argument is anecdotal and cherrypicked to reinforce her opinions and short-circuit any tendency toward guilt she might feel about her own choices. Further, every choice she has made has been borne out by her financial success and the fact that she is incredibly privileged. It's fairly easy to say how great everything is when you have a husband who DOES do most of his share (you can say you wouldn't have it any other way, but really you can't be sure you've got such a man until the children really do come along... it's amazing what kind of values or lack thereof surface--or disappear--when little Susie actually matter how many intense pre-kid discussions you may have had...). Or when you're pulling down a six-figure salary and can afford the incredible nanny Bennetts describes, not to mention a housekeeper... (I'd like to know a lot more about that salary, btw... I was under the impression that most publishing jobs in NYC and elsewhere didn't actually pay that much. I realize she had a mega mega job as a media exec, but I wasn't all that clear on what she did and how she got there, and more info on that would have been nice.) I was also extremely offended by a lot of the assumptions about the interior lives of "housewives." One editor says that because of her job she can hold a conversation on just about any topic and can be seated next to anyone at a dinner party. Whereas, presumably a "housewife" would be conversation stopper? Hm. I stayed home when my son was young... and just who does that editor think is READING her books, anyway? So, she couldn't have her conversation with, um... like, these YALE and HARVARD educated women who are opting to stay home with their kids? These women who are reading Brain, Child? Not to mention n+1 and oh, I don't know, books on string theory while Susie is napping? I used to go to the playground in my tiny mountain hippie town and women would whip out Jorie Graham or Kathleen Norris and I would have happened to have read the same books or close enough recently and off we'd go. Maybe I'm just a magnet for that shit. And then she goes on about how men and bosses and these assholes will lose respect for you, quoting, yes, these assholes saying things like "I don't want to marry a woman who does nothing but stay home all day, because she won't be very interesting to talk to." Again, who is this jerk? So, right. All this work you've done for women's lib, Bennetts, and we're supposed to define ourselves by what men want, and what they think is interesting... And nary a word about the spiritual dimensions of motherhood, or rather, parenthood, about what it's like to incarnate a child, if you're paying attention, and how going deep can enrich you, even if it IS a bit narrower in some respects. Slow and deep. I don't think Bennetts or those of her ilk are even capable of appreciating what I mean, and I won't try to go into it here. I refer readers to Ann Armbrecht's memoir Thin Places for more on that. However. I will agree that women who do what I did ARE undefended when things go awry. I was able to get a good job and make decent money, but not enough, fast enough, and I don't have the retirement savings I should have, and I didn't get to the title I should have been able to get to for the talent I had. But really, I had other liabilities, mostly in the realm of health, that I could not have foreseen, or that were hard to foresee when I was younger, so I'm not sure being more of a go-getter earlier would not have simply burned me out faster. My biggest mistake was in not choosing a better partner.As to that: I've seen people raise kids according to values I resonate with, and I've seen parents raise them with values I vehemently disagree with. Kids turn out the way they turn out. The bestest indicator of success, as far as I can tell, is having two parents on the same page. But even then, who knows. Do the best you can. And as to your own career arc, same. Half the time you don't know what you want when you're young. If you don't know, you won't get on your path in any faster time anyway. Most career counseling focuses on what you're INTERESTED in or what you're GOOD at. This is useful, but not central. What's central is HOW YOU'RE WIRED. What's your temperament? Are you a morning person? Can you sit still? Are you a people person? Do you like to sink into your work, or do you like to work at something for a while and then shift focus? Can you work inside or do you need to be outside? How physical are you? Can you stand fluorescent lights? How about loud noises or other distractions? Do you startle easily? How much stress are you cut out for? I could not have done the job I thought I wanted to do before I had a kid... I had the interest and the intellectual talent, but not the wiring or the steady temperament necessary. Sad truth, and there was no one there to advise me properly about that. No one thought in that way about such things then. I don't think many people do even today. The "feminine mistake" is in essence about not timing career well. There are other ways to make that mistake besides by having kids.

  • Jen
    2019-05-08 03:12

    This is a must-read for all women, especially those about to embark on a new career. Bennetts has performed extensive research with working women, stay-at-home mothers, sociologists, and lawyers to explore the economic effects of opting out of the workforce. Dependency is very risky and I think it's important for women to consider the whole picture before they give up their careers. Children don't need constant surveillance between birth and college. Mothers who stay home that whole time find it more difficult to get back into the workforce because they haven't kept up with technological and occupational developments over that time. Bennetts also points out how risky it is to depend upon someone else to maintain your lifestyle. You'll never know what life throws at you, whether it's illness, death, job loss, or divorce. I can't imagine giving up my autonomy or economic security. I think Bennetts's argument rings true and I think it has legitimacy because she has successfully raised two children while working as a journalist.Children are happy if their mothers are happy, and mothers will be a lot happier if they find their niche in society.

  • Alisha
    2019-05-18 07:17

    Five stars for the ways it changed my perspective, enlightened me to the possibilities in my life, and made me "smarten-up" a bit during this rough financial patch. Zero stars for her rants.This is a book review that I want to discuss. I want to sit with friends and talk about this books. Present the info to them, get their input and responses. I think there is so much valuable information in this book that can be tempered and flexible to the betterment of women. I wonder what it would have been like if my mother had had this information.Firstly there is the idea that women's impoverishment hasn't really changed. This is true. Statistically, more women rely 100% on Social Security benefits than men in the United States. However, women do have other choices and definitely more options now than in the past, but somehow women are CHOOSING impoverishment.p.136 "The professional sacrifices you may have to make in juggling family and career can require you to adjust your goals, your value system, your ego, your marriage, your sense of timing, and more. There's no question I'm not as successful as I might have been had I churned out bestsellers all these years. But the time I would have spent writing them has been devoted to raising healthy, well-adjusted children-- and I wouldn't give up the relationships I have built with my kids for any amount of success. Besides, there's always tomorrow, my book-writing career may have begun late, but with luck it will continue in the years to come. It seems to me that deferring a few goals for a while is a small price to pay for achieving most of them over the long run."p.166 "...all too many American women are in thrall to increasingly deranged ideals of perfection. We live in a culture that constantly exhorts us to improve ourselves and that assumes the perfectability of virtually everything.... Personal maintenance has become a national obsession that consumes a staggering amount of energy and resources; if American women put even a fraction of the time they spend on their appearance into working for social and political change, this country would be utterly transformed. But they're too busy torturing themselves with the endless array of idealized images we're served up by the media.....Frighteningly intolerant of ordinary human faults and frailties, we judge others as harshly as we judge ourselves."p.170 "Misguided ideals of perfection are the bane of women's existence, and their pursuit inadvertently encourages women to limit their ambitions. Instead of accepting that life is an inherently messy enterprise and that the vast, complex sweep of it is a large part of the joy, they think it's better to narrow their focus to small segments that fan be tidies up and wrapped with a big bow, even as they turn their backs on most of the wondrous possibilities that might otherwise enrich their existence."OK. So here are the things that stuck with me and that I will continue to contemplate-- most women who stay home with their children don't re-enter the workforce. We get short-sighted by kids somewhat, and we don't look at the span. For example: if you enter the workforce again at 40 and retire at 65, that is a 25 year career you could have. 25 year is a LONG time. Long enough for a retrospective on your personal work in art.because of "choice" feminisim, somehow women have locked into "I CHOOSE to stay home." I think this is valid, however, how many women would re-enter the workforce if they actually had flexible schedules to be able to accommodate the intense period of creating and nurturing a family? When we "choose" what a culture that is oppressive to motherhood wants us to choose, we aren't actually choosing. We are giving up. This applies to so many other things, birth etc. The whole criticism of choice feminism got me thinking. I completely consider myself a feminist, but Bennetts worded it in such a perfect way, the conflict about some of the ways it is applied. Makes me think about Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.Additionally, I think about the media and the way it lies to women about marriage, happiness, balance, etc. How much easier would it be without media? Also, she talked about how many stay at home moms volunteer, spend hours at the gym, etc, and are gone literally as much as working mothers. Something to consider.There was a whole section about money in relation to the marriage that made me so grateful for the egalitarian style my husband and I have. Early in our marriage I remember him getting harassed at times by friends and family that he was "whipped" because he "helped out" around the house. We were both working, me more hours than he at that point while he was finishing up his undergrad. I am so glad he didn't listen. Statistically, this book talked about depression and obesity rates for stay at home vs. working outside the home moms and both of those things are HIGHER for women who stay at home. This is definitely something to discuss.This book came into my life at the perfect time. I'm considering engaging in more work in a purposeful manner. I am so glad to have read it. In the beginning, she really is inconsistent about whether or not she despises women who stay home (basically thinks they are a bunch of idiots who don't look at divorce statistics) or if these women are justified in their choice and just need to feel valued to re-enter later, etc. Her interviews about the difficulty of re-entering the workforce were enlightening. Also, learning more about how divorce/alimony, etc. has changed was interesting and something that is important to know. Being knowledgeable doesn't mean one doesn't trust one's marriage or always has an exit plan. I really understood some of the quotes from women about how they didn't go back to work or stay at work because they weren't pessimists and weren't protecting themselves against divorce-- but its not just that! We were able to use my earnings when Todd was laid off which was so helpful. Not to mention, these early years with children ARE when people are most vulnerable financially before savings have had a chance to accrue, etc. Lots to discuss.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-06 06:19

    Bennetts, the author of this fab book, makes an airtight case against not dropping out of the workforce entirely post-children. I first came across the book when I noticed one of the women in my Research Methods class with it. I picked it up and scanned it quickly. As a Confidence Coach who deals exclusively with women on all issues related to self-esteem, i.e. everything in their life as they know it, I often encounter women who apparently “have it all” but still feel an elusive sense of something missing. Most of the time, these women are moms.In the months since I picked up the book, The Feminine Mistake has been mentioned in major media including Fast Company and Newsweek and The New Yorker. There is hardly consensus but I think that one of the most important pieces of the question is that it is being talked about: are women putting themselves at risk when they decide to opt-out of the career life completely? Unquestionably in my mind, the answer is “yes”.Who gets the raw end of the deal when the couple decides to divorce or to put it in a more ugly reality, when the husband decides that he no longer wants to be married, much to his wife’s surprise and dismay? The woman does. Who is more likely to encounter ageism and/or sexism when they finally decide that they do want to go back to work? The woman will. Who is endangering her future salary, financial independence and marketability when she decides to stay home with the kids full-time? The woman is. Who is giving away their power and control in a marriage when they stop earning their own money? Usually the woman although this could be odd Mr. Mom dad too. Who is damaging her sense of self and potential for life satisfaction when she stops working entirely? A woman is. Well, that last one can apply to men as well. As we learn in Uncommon Confidence, we must have our self-esteem in different baskets in order to be balanced and fulfilled. One basket is work, one is home, one is community, one is as a partner, one is as a member of ______, etc.In dealing with moms, I often bring them back to their kids as a reality check, “What is your daughter learning by seeing you completely dependent on the men (perhaps dad and/or husband) in your life?”. This is usually helpful. Because, in essence, what kind of message are women sending to their daughters when they rely exclusively on someone else’s money to support, feed and clothe them in spite of the fact that they have had a good, if not excellent, education and are fully capable of working? Not a very good one.I think the strongest (and perhaps the least obvious) theme in the book is that you can work and have a family too (my mom did and I certainly intend to) if, and this is a biggie, you get rid of your sense of “perfect“. working-mom.jpgMoms especially have this philosophy of perfectionism that not only gets in their way of feeling satisfied about pretty much anything but prevents them from attempting to try something that won’t ever be an exact science. As a result, they feel powerless, unsatisfied and often joyless. Women are conditioned, often initially by their families and then later by other influences like school, media and television, to be perfect. Perfect is not a good goal; in fact, it’s pretty much the worst goal that you can set for yourself. Goaling for perfect sets you up for continual disappointment, failure, exhaustion and unhappiness. Yum.Morphing the joys of motherhood with work that brings you money and independence of your own while providing for a safer, more secure future is essential for your self-esteem. It’s possible to do both. No, it won’t be perfect but it also won’t be the biggest mistake you ever made.

  • Gwen
    2019-04-25 08:25

    I have never read such a sanctimonious piece of writing. This is everything that's wrong with Boomer feminism and the third wave in general. This snotty condescension is why people don't like feminists. Leslie Bennets is the absolute embodiment of our PR problem.I listened to the audiobook, and at first I thought I might just be getting a biased read of it because the narrator was always reading the author as a sarcastic know-it-all and SAHMs as whiny, ignorant children. Then I realized the author narrated the audiobook.The message of the book, over and over, is that women who stay at home with the kids are dumb because their husbands might keel over or leave them. Over and over, she talks about how shocked - shocked, she tells you! - the SAHMs were at her suggestion that sometimes divorces happen and how would they provide for their children then, hmmmmm? And for some reason, these uninformed little girls got all offended when she said hey, your husband might die tomorrow, you should think about it! Because everyone loves talking about their spouses dying prematurely!Women who have kids and careers, however, are wonderful and fulfilled. And all of the ones that she talks to are shocked - shocked! - that not all women have super fascinating, fulfilling careers which they would love to juggle with having 2.5 children and a husband who will somehow recover from alcoholism purely because of his wife's income. (If your husband doesn't recover from his alcoholism, it's probably because you don't have an income and therefore couldn't put your foot down. Yup.)Many times, she talks about "the women I know". The whole thing is entirely anecdata and hypocrisy. She yells about how privileged businessmen ruin everything, and then it turns out that "the women she knows" are editors at The New York Times, first female partners at law firms, prominent politicians.At one point she talks about Elizabeth Warren - who she knows personally - as an example of how to juggle children and a career. I fucking love Elizabeth Warren. I want Elizabeth Warren to be president. But you know what, having kids and then buying two extra houses nearby so that you can move your aunt and parents next door and benefit from the childcare is not a realistic template for most mothers.Total trash. I'm really disappointed. If you don't know why Millenials hate Baby Boomers, particularly in feminist circles, read this book.

  • Lisa Mettauer
    2019-05-03 03:11

    I have a bunch of complaints about The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much by Leslie Bennetts. But I’m still going to recommend it to every young woman or mother with daughters.Bennetts, a journalist from NYC, writes about the recent trend of working women quitting their jobs to stay home to raise their children. Mostly well-educated and upperclass, these women devote themselves entirely to supporting their husbands in their lucrative careers and providing the best life for their kids. Yet we all know that many of these marriages are going to encounter problems, either from health problems or the vagaries of the economy, and many will end in divorce. And when that happens these women end up out of luck, money, homes, retirement funds and health care.There are even more negatives to staying at home. * The woman has no income. She loses control over your life and the respect of her husband and peers. * Her health goes to pot. Obesity, depression and heart problems increase * Her stress increases. No one likes the day to day drudgery of dishes, dinner and dirty clothes. * Her marital dissatisfaction increases. * etc.All this has been written before. But Bennett especially stresses the impact of the loss of income and work experience over the years of child rearing. Returning to the workforce is more difficult than ever with constant technological changes. Loss of benefits, retirement funds and social security over those years can have a cascading effect, leaving a woman with very little income in her old age.Complaints: It’s too long. It’s repetitive. Most of the women whose lives she describes are wealthy New Yorkers - aren’t they really the only ones who have the true option of staying at home anymore? How can the rest of us relate?But read it anyway

  • Shelah
    2019-05-01 07:35

    Bennetts explores the reasons why upper-middle-class professional women shouldn't quit their day jobs to stay at home with their kids. She makes arguments for loss of earning power, loss of sharp brain function, loss of job skills, loss of independence, and age and gender discrimination.Bennetts makes excellent points in her book, most convincingly the argument that giving up a career entirely limits women's economic freedom, putting her in "golden handcuffs" to her husband. And what if the man leaves, gets disabled or dies? I've actually made some changes in my own life since reading the book, like taking a more hands-on approach to our finances (I'm not really that interested in them, but I guess it's like eating my vegetables) and trying to put into place some long-term strategies to get back into doing what I love professionally. But Bennetts attitude really rubbed me the wrong way. She insists that she's not adding to the Mommy Wars in any way, but she's much more Howard Stern than Neal Conan. I actually think a more accurate title for the book would be: The Feminine Mistake: You're Giving Up Too Much, But I'm Not, Neener-neener-neener. She goes on and on (and on) glorifying her own life, her own husband and her own choices to be a working mom. Basically her point is that if you're a SAHM without your own bank account and your own income, your future is in peril. And if you plan to SAH after your kids go back to school, well then you're really throwing away your life.

  • Allyson Schaeffer
    2019-05-02 02:27

    every woman should read this book. scratch that -- every person should read this book. As one reviewee stated, Bennett makes an airtight case for why women (and their spouse) should consider the whole picture before opting out of the workforce when they decide to have children. Unlike some books, she doesn't simply state: you shouldn't stay home. period. I was impressed with the variety of interviews she performed and with her view that if one does stay home, male or female, make a solid financial plan for both partners so that should one leave, fall ill or die, the entire family doesn't "go under." I'm sad to find that most women I meet these days want nothing to do with this topic. What happens to them when the unexpected arises?

  • Linda
    2019-05-07 01:12

    Some very valid points were made, albeit too repetitively, concerning the economic life choices women make. The reader must also wade through an inordinate amount of examples taken from the wealthy upper class, but ultimately the author asks the questions I was waiting for. Most importantly for me, how can we contribute to societal change that facilitates truly egalitarian partnerships in marriage?

  • Corey
    2019-05-11 04:19

    This is a tiresome book. One which, though written by a journalist of some acclaim, is woefully unbalanced. From it, we mothers are to learn that staying at home with children is simply not good enough, financially dangerous, and probably a waste of our talents. While it is worthwhile to remember that happy endings don't always happen, I disagree that a penniless future awaits every single mother who chooses not to work.

  • Lacey Louwagie
    2019-04-30 05:19

    I'm glad I read this book, but it will take more than a book review to encompass my thoughts on it (a long conversation with my mom, who was both a "stay-at-home mom" and a "working mom" at different points in our lives, some chats while walking the dog with my husband, and an ongoing series of booklikes blog entries have all helped). In some ways, this is an updated version of The Feminine Mystique: a critique of women's continuing to make the choice to give up their own income to raise children, and an assumption that a woman cannot be totally "fulfilled" by the roles of wife and mother alone--or at least, she can't be fulfilled by them forever. Leslie Bennetts's argument is mainly an economic one, full of grim statistics about mothers/women and poverty and tragic stories about women who built their lives around their children and husbands, only to have the man lose his job, die, or leave them without a way to support themselves or their families. I think it's tempting to have a, "It won't happen to me" attitude about these topics, and indeed, I think that always "watching your back" is not conducive to an intimate marriage, and that constantly "preparing for the worst" makes for a grim life indeed. Still, I think that she makes a compelling argument, and that women exploring the paid work/parenthood question should at least listen to what she has to say. That's why I'm glad that I read this.Leslie Bennetts's writing is smart, sharp, and accessible. It does come across as judgmental at times, although I think that's because she believes so strongly in her agenda. But where this book fell short for me was in its assumption that all women find meaning and "individualism" through their work or their careers. For many women, who they are as individuals doesn't necessarily correlate with what they do professionally, and I don't think a woman should keep a career that makes her miserable just so she has an identity outside of that of wife and mother. I would argue that any identity based on but one aspect of your life is a fragile thing, whether as wife, mother, writer, lawyer, or doctor. What makes someone rich as an individual is the intersection of many facets of their identities, and the opportunity to explore them all, even if not all at once. The other place that the book falls short is in stories about women who love being home but who don't seem to be in denial about it -- Bennetts seems to assume that women who adhere to the assertion that being home was the "right" choice, even if they came to financial ruin, are simply unable to face the truth. Having known a fair amount of joyful stay-at-home mothers, I wished that this side would have been explored at least a bit. Still, the joyful SAHMs I knew did also have other pursuits and interests, even if they didn't have full-time jobs outside the home. I've also known SAHMs like the ones described in this book, that feel adrift and depressed once their children no longer need them as much as they once did.This is a loaded topic, and this book is meant to push some buttons. Still, for the most part I found myself open to what Bennetts had to say, and grateful that she found a way to say it.

  • Dehlia
    2019-05-18 07:32

    Okay, I am not done yet and I will finish, but I don't think it is going to change my mind. The problem with this book is that the women who LOVE their jobs and would never leave them have incredibly cushy, glamorous, financially-rewarding careers. It is entirely unrealistic and reminds me of some high falutin' white upper class woman standing on a soapbox (non-toxic, water lily scented) preaching to her underlings and for that reason, isn't relevant enough for the majority of women battling a very difficult choice. The second reason this book disappoints is that it is all about the bitter side of being a woman. True, you should not be naive, but shit happens, both wives and husbands lose their jobs, cheat, seek divorce, get sick, up and die...I hate that part about this book. Yes ladies, it's every one for themselves, balls or not, but really? Is that really how you want to go about life? Like, any minute now my husband is going to have a heart attack, or run off with his secretary, or squander our savings at the race track. Sure -- this could all happen, but it is a brutally pessimistic way to look at life. I think I was hoping for a more balanced study and discussion about raising your children and working, not a strictly financial take on the various ways your man is going to fail you. My fault for not reading enough of the reviews in advance. The bottom line for me was that there is no easy answer, and Ms. Bennetts and her various contacts don't have any better idea than the rest of us.UPDATE. I finished it. The last few chapters (maybe along with some perspective and time away) left me deciding there is some value in this book. First, as working women, we owe gratitude to those women who paved the way for us. But even more, we owe it to future generations of women to not piss all over the opportunities that our predecessors have worked so hard for. In other words, it might not be a perfect system, but it is an improvement and we should do what we can to keep that progress moving forward, not simply cash it in and say "this is too hard" -- even if plenty of days, it is too hard. Secondly, we need to ask for what we want and need, not assume that the workforce is going to fail us or reject our request for balance. After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. (A wise friend reminded me of that today.) So if it isn't working for you as a working mom, think long and hard about how it may work, then ask your employer or your family to let you try that alternative. Why not? We have nothing to lose.

  • Christine
    2019-05-23 00:29

    Ahh where to begin:I heard about this book from a married women's chat board type website. As a working woman who is pregnant and considering becoming a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) I figured this would be a good read.The author makes several good points: -A man is not a financial plan. -Just because you can stay home doesn't mean you should.-Women give up a lot of financial security to be able to stay home AND that is a stupid decision to make given that 50% of marriages end in divorce.-It is harder to re-enter the workforce than you think it will be.-Women in general experience lower income, more ageism, more sexism in the workplace and therefore it is even more important that women protect themselves with their career and financial choices.HOWEVER. The author could have made her points with half the number of pages. She is repetitive beyond belief. I also thought her word choices at times were condescending. She mentions the battles between the SAHMs and Working moms and how women in general have so many obstacles against them yet she cannot hide her distain and lack of respect for SAHMs at all. I think her points would have been taken better by the traditional women if she took a different approach or discussed them in a less disrespectful way.The other major flaw I find with this book is that the overwhelming majority of examples she provides to support her points are "older" women with exceedingly high-power jobs. Wall street stockbrokers, big law firm attorneys, high-profile journalists, millionaire heiresses, etc. Also most of the women she interviewed were local to the NYC area. When the author mentions lower/average incomes, she discusses a few women in Indiana with no college degree. Those two extremes are absolutely not comparable and are useless examples for the vast majority of career women struggling with career/motherhood choices. Aside from those glaring faults, I think the book brings to light some very harsh truths that many people do not talk about. I myself was raised in a conservative traditional gender role type household, my mother never worked and therefore I do not have a successful female working mom role model in my life. It was refreshing to read that it is worth the trouble and guilt to find a job you're happy with and stick with it when your children are young. It is reassuring to read that working women's children respect their mothers for maintaining a life outside of the kids and that it IS difficult during those early years but it's also very do-able.

  • Kathryn
    2019-04-26 01:26

    Firstly, I will say that this is a truly thought provoking book. The crux of Bennett's book is concerned with the recent trend of highly educated women deferring (and perhaps unknowingly derailing) their careers to devote themselves full time to motherhood. She stridently argues that a woman's decision to place her entire financial future into the hands of her husband is a recipe for personal disaster, and interviews a host of women who can attest to the havoc the loss of a spouse's job, or the breakup of a seemingly happy marrriage has wreaked on their lives. She interviews women who had intended to re-enter the job market once their children were of advanced school age, only to find that their resumes and skill sets are too outdated to be competitive with their peers. All frightening and probably real stuff, which made me feel pretty good about my own decision to keep one foot firmly planted in the professional realm whilst raising my own son.That said, this book is assuredly not an unbiased study of the economics behind the single income family. Absent among the voices in Bennett's book are women who made the choice to stay home with their children, and bore absolutely no regrets or women who found a way to reinvent their careers after taking time off. Also absent are women of color or women of a disadvantaged socioeconomic level, for whom the decision to work must be balanced with the very real problem of the high price of childcare. I found Bennett's own discussion of her own decision to keep working in her chosen field of journalism interesting, but at times, a bit self-serving. Her zealous castigation of the stay at home mom also, at times, seemed to reveal a bit of compensatory guilt on her part. Regardless of her biases, I do think Bennett's book is an important contribution to any new mom's (or mom to be's) library.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-13 07:16

    To put it mildly, this is a divisive book - though I believe it should not be. Bennetts' thesis is that many women make the choice to stay home with children without adequately protecting their own, or their children's, financial future. Stay-at-home moms are up in arms attacking it, and without reason (says I). Bennetts does not condemn the choice to stay home; she questions the wisdom of doing so without protecting oneself financially - e.g., keeping up with industry trends and maintaining relationships so that one can reenter the workforce if need be. She recounts having heard the same story again and again - "and one day he up and left me" - and notes these women's capacity to be shocked, just shocked, when the same old story happens to them.That is not to say there are no good reasons to critique the book. There are. Like many feminist books, this focuses heavily on upper class women and gives short shrift to middle and lower classes. And some of her advice seems too pat. By playing off the feminist classic, "The Feminine Mystique," Bennetts sets up high expectations, and probably has bitten off more than she can chew. That being said, for me, this was a motivating read. I doubt it will change many minds, but it should.

  • Cara
    2019-05-22 06:34

    Leslie Bennetts makes a very compelling argument against women giving up their careers to support their families, even if they are financially able to rely on their husband's income. What a woman gives up when she leaves the workforce, even temporarily, is much greater than just the lost income. I do have friends who are stay-at-home moms (though I do not personally expect to ever have that choice, much less actually make that decision), and I do support their choice to live their life as they choose. I really hope, however, that they read this book and really make an educated decision about what they are missing out on. Women and their children, so much more often than men, come out on the losing side when a divorce happens, and though nobody enters a marriage expecting a divorce down the road, divorce does happen. Often. Really, really often, in fact. Women who don't prepare for the worst, whether it's divorce, widowhood, a spouse's lost job, or just the fact that they are more often than men the victims of age discrimination, can suffer really terrible consequences.

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-15 05:08

    I can't agree more with the premise of this book. The subject matter gets me so riled up that I had to read something else before I turned off the lights or else I would have never went to sleep. I see this happening all around me yet no one even bats an eye at it.

  • Katelyn Joy
    2019-05-24 04:19

    This book's overall message is wonderful, but it starts to feel like there is a mandated length about 3/4 through. She has a lot of good interviews and research pieces to support her points, but it gets redundant. Still - worth a read for women!

  • Leila Runyan
    2019-05-12 03:13

    The points were good. However, I found the message to be redundant.

  • Michele Minor
    2019-05-18 00:17

    This book is a must read for young men and women who are looking at getting married and having children. The author takes a hard look at the reality of staying home with the kids and the negative consequences to the parent staying at home. She goes over the positive effect that having both parents working can have on children. She takes the emotion out of it and looks at the cold hard facts based on her personal experience with her grandmother and mother. She dispels the myth that a man is a plan which is something that conservatives buy into even today. In today's society it isn't a good idea to have a parent stay at home with the breadwinner in the family leaving the nonworking spouse, dying or even becoming disabled where they are unable to work. Today with a possible reduction in food stamps and a work requirement for able bodied adults to receive them, a time limit on welfare payments, possible work requirements for someone to receive disability payments from the government and a shortage of affordable housing makes staying at home and not working at paid employment a bad option. I have seen the double standard in a Conservative Church where married women are praised for standing up for their family by refusing to get a job even if their husband is underemployed or unemployed while a single mother on government assistance is demonized for needing the assistance though she could have been the married woman earlier who refused to get a job but is now unable to get one due to her time out of the work force or is working a job that is unable to meet her bills. This book gets men and women to think if their bread winning spouse died or left them could they support their family. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church where you would be asked if you would go to heaven or hell if you were killed that day, but they don't ask their non working able bodied adults if they could support their families if their breadwinner died or left them which does happen to Conservative Christians also. This also educates men that if they do have a stay at home wife that yes they are setting her up to fail even though they may deny it or not face facts.

  • Ashley
    2019-05-09 08:34

    I LOVED this book! I think it should be mandatory reading for every teen girl, young woman, old lady, and enlightened husband. Bennetts point is this: women are putting themselves in a precarious situation when they choose to stay at home. Putting all your eggs - your entire life - in the hands of another person (no matter if it's your husband) is not the wisest move one could make. The divorce rate is 50%, young seemingly healthy men die, accidents happen, people get sick, people lose their jobs, etc. No one wants to think it's going to happen them... but it's going to happen to SOMEone. Isn't it best to be prepared? By "opting out" of their careers, smart, bright, and intelligent women are forsaking not only their current salary and benefits, but also future earnings, raises, contributions to retirement accounts, networking opportunities, job skills, and a resume with no gaps. Then there are the less obvious sarifices - the sense of satisfaction and confidence that comes from workplace achievements, a more diverse social circle, the freedom from bringing home your own income (and we all know money = power, even in a relationship - yes, it's an ugly truth), and the knowledge that you have something interesting to talk about. Let me be clear - Bennetts does not make the argument that raising children is not an important role. Rather the opposite - it's important, but women shouldn't have to give up a fulfilling career or the ability to be independent in order to raise children. Kids have fathers for a reason. Bennetts also avoids bashing men - she relays a few horror stories (husbands who up and left, left with another woman, died, got very ill, lost their jobs, etc.) - but her intent is not demonize men. It's to show women that it's never a bad idea to be self-sufficient. And the problems facing stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) don't just revolve around their husbands. Kids grow up - teenagers don't want a hovering mom (or dad), young adults go off to college and get married. At it's heart, being a stay-at-home mom is a temp job. Rather than ramble on, I'll summarize with a few bullet points of things I found particularly interesting and thought-provoking:* Bennetts quotes a writer discussing choice feminism, saying that "choice" is really just a euphimism for unpaid labor: "no job security, no health or vacation benefits, and no retirement plan. No wonder men are not clamoring for this 'choice'. Many jobs in the workplace also involve drudgery, but do no leave one financially dependent on another person."* Middle and lower class women have always managed a work-life balance; elite women seem to struggle with this issue. "The best and the brightest are somehow incapable of doing this - I mean, hello? I just think it's such a myth."* People who work 44 hours per week make, on average, more than twice the pay of someone working 34 hours a week. * Opting out, even for a brief while can have permanent monetary consequences. In one survey, women who opted out an average of 2.2 years lost 18% of their earning power. In the business field when the average time out was only 1.2 years, women lost 28% of their earning power. Across all sectors, when women spend 3+ years out of the workplace they lose a staggering 37% of their earning power. Opting back in doesn't work nearly as well as most women expect.* Mothers are 44% less likely to be hired than non-mothers who have the same resume, experience, and qualifications. Mothers are offered significantly lower starting pay (an average of $11k) for the same job as equally qualified non-mothers. Non-mothers with an average age of 30 earn 10% kess than their male counterparts. Mothers earn 27% less and single mothers earn between 34 - 44%. This totally sucks, but we sort of only have ourselves to blame. If women are making up 50% of MBA, law, and med school classes but 5 years later only make up 25% of the work force, schools are going to quit admitting so many women. Employers are going to quit investing time and money into young women workers assuming that when they have kids, they'll just head for the house.* Women's standard of living drops 36% when their marriages are disrupted, where as men's standard of living rises by 28%. Having a child is now the single greatest predictor that a woman will end up in bankruptcy. Women who are reliant on their husbands and/or have no strong prospects to support themselves are more likely to stay in an unhappy marriage. While assets may be split when a couple divorces, women still struggle to support themselves and their children at the same standard living when they have no money in their own name and no strong job prospects after being out of the workforce for several years.* Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson and numerous other psychologists and sociologists agree that love and work are the cornerstones of a mature adult life, no matter one's gender.* By age 54, those who combine multiple roles as employee, parent, and partners are significantly less likely to report ill health than those whose lives did not include all 3 roles. While it may feel more stressful in the short-term, the most stressful activities are domestic chores that we have little control over (i.e. dinner must be eaten every night). Staying home won't make these stressors go away. Bennetts advises that having a kid is a 15 year project, at max. Instead of opting for instant gratification and staying home, take a long-range view of how having children will impact your career. If you start working at age 25 and retire at 70, that's a working career of 45 years. In the grand scheme of things, the hectic years of raising kids are relatively short to what one would be giving up.* The current system costs men nothing to continue to allocate domestic responsibilties to their wives. On the contrary, they have someone to handle all mundane tasks that a household requires, which allows them more time to focus on their career which enhances their earning power. Demanding that men step up and take a more equal role will be the only way lasting social changes will be made that make the workplace more hospitable for working parents of both genders.

  • Amelia
    2019-05-21 02:20

    Clearly written to support working moms and justifies the juggling act

  • Ali
    2019-05-19 05:26

    I liked the book and I wholeheartedly agree with the argument within it but it was just too long. It started out as a series of articles, I think, and it should have stayed that way.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-21 07:32

    I really liked this book - it is very thought provoking. It helps to validate my current position and makes me feel better that I have no choice in working.DISCLAIMER 1: This book does not really go into detail about the affect on the kids. There have been numerous studies on the impact of childcare or staying at home on kids - this isn't one of them. It is all about the mom. Supplement to this disclaimer is that the book does not take into account stay at home dads, which are increasing today. DISCLAIMER 2: My review of the book doesn't have anything to do with my personal feelings on working or staying at home. It certainly isn't a critcism of stay at home mom's. Even after reading it the fact remains that I would totally stay home with my kids more if I had the option. Pros: The author makes some very good points. You may not think your husband is going to leave you, and he might not. But there's no guarantee that he won't get laid off, get sick, or die. The author makes a good point that when the woman stays home to support the husbands career, she is helping to build an asset FOR HIM that he will carry throughout his working life. She is helping to build an asset that she can never benefit from in the long run. If he were to leave her, for example, she may get alimony and child support for 10 years. But then what? When that alimony runs out, she has been out of the workforce for a while, and he can carry on his career making money without interruption.The also talks about the financial things women give up: economic independence, credits toward social security, possible ability to contribut to employer sponsored (and maybe matched!) 401k, healthcare options, etc. But then there are the non-monetary things as well. Loss of identity, less adult interaction, etc. On top of that, she points out that many women fully expect to re-enter the workforce when their children are of school age. But the statistics show that the barriers to re-entry are enormous, even after an absence as short as 6 months. Not only will you have to "explain" a gap and any lapsed skills, but those who wait long enough may be faced with things like age discrimination. The author could provide no examples of a woman who re-entered the workforce and ended up being as successful as she would've been had she not left. The only one who came close was a mom who studied throughout her time at home, and worked hard to be published in those years - allowing her to point something special out to potential employers upon re-entry.Another thing she points out is what women who stay IN the workforce also give up to have kids. It is not my husband who is trying to find part time opportunities. It is not my husband who is asking for work from home days, or increased hour flexibility. It is not usually him who schedules and/or attends doctors appointments. Women with children prioritize those children whether they are in the workforce or not, and our careers definitely take a hit over it.Cons: the book almost exclusively focuses on upper middle class/wealthy women. It's women who's husbands make millions of dollars. It's women who had very high powered careers that had the potential to make boatloads of money. It's women who found their careers to be immensely satisfying. The author hardly touches women who make minimum wage. She hardly at all mentions those who are miserable in their positions and only work to bring home a paycheck. She pretty much ignores those who would have a net loss in income after paying for childcare. She also doesn't go into a lot of detail about the social protections we have in place - disability, life insurance, alimony. She mentions it a bit, and those aren't perfect solutions, but they are helpful protections if something were to happen to the breadwinner.She also seems to paint women as all or nothing. Many of the moms I know who have decided to stay home with their kids have some sort of side revenue that keeps their skills up to date and/or income coming in. Many of them work part time - or even full time at their personal businesses in the "off hours".And two small criticisms - the book is SUPER repeptitive. She spends 384 pages saying what she could say in probably 100. It was just over and over - although the interviews she has with different moms is very interesting.And lastly, I can't stand the phrase "full time mom" which is what the author uses to describe those who choose to stay home with their kids. Sorry, lady, but I am a full time mom whether I am with my kids or not. I can't "turn it off" just because I go to work.Overall, though, I really could relate to this book. I think it makes some very good points and I would recommend it to any woman who is considering mommyhood. The author claims she is not adding to the mommy wars (yes, you are, just admit it, any strong opinion about parenting decisions is). She claims she is not trying to tell people not to stay home with their kids, just that they be informed of the consequences before they do so.

  • Ann
    2019-04-25 03:13

    A very challenging read based on content for me. I enjoyed it and really learned a bunch from it. My only complaint was that most of the examples of women professionals who can "do it all" were writers of some sort and lawyers. That made it difficult for me to see where I would fit into the picture. However, I have lots of quotes from the book that I want to remember so I have included some here:"...women often decide to give up their careers rationalizing the choice with the thought that they would be working only to pay for childcare, and that their work therefore would be pointless. But this argument completely fails to take into account the long term development of any worker's earnings potential. Your own career is an investment you make in yourself, one that unless it is interrupted or derailed - will pay dividends throughout your life. Some benefits are financial, some intellectual, creative, and others involve different kinds of personal growth.""When I wasn't working, I felt that I was a nonperson," one woman confessed. "As a nonworking spouse, I remember standing in a group and not being spoken to. When I did get the chance to talk, I had nothing to say. I wasn't doing anything that anybody wanted to talk about, except nonworking women. Working women have more to talk about.""Chatsworth sees her biggest mistake as having opted out of the labor force rather than continuing to work, at least part time. "In the end it is a lot harder to build something from nothing, than something from something. Women do not realize that they have to be self-sufficient; that is the most important lesson of life, and the most important thing you have to teach your children - how to take care of themselves.""In my experience, people who have taken time off neglect three things that are critical to any job market. The first is to stay connected to the business; keep your network up. The second is to stay informed about what's happening. And the third is to not lose the fire and passion that are required to succeed in business these days.""A recent study by the Massachusetts-based compensation experts at found that stay-at-home mothers would earn $134,121 a year if they were actually paid for the 91.6 hours of domestic work they provide every week. (These calculations assume an average pay of approx. $22 an hour.) The survey also found that employed mothers put in a weekly 49.8 hours of domestic work in the infamous "second shift," which would earn them an extra $85,876 on top of their actual wages if they received additional pay for those services.""My children's pediatrician told me, 'I have taken care of thousands of children from all sorts of backgrounds, and the one consistent thing in raising well-adjusted children was parents who were happy with their choices.' "" Policies can support families with working parents in three main ways: by ensuring parents have the right to take time off to care for their children at particular times or when certain events occur; by providing, or supporting, nonparental care for children while parents work; and by providing financial assistance with the costs of raising children. In each of these three areas, the role of government policy in the US is fairly minimal, compared with what is typically the case in other developed nations.""Some activists are specifically targeting the needs of working mothers. Some propose a sweeping social agenda that includes paid maternity and paternity leaves, flexible work schedules, subsidized after-school programs for children, health care for all children, fair wages, and high quality child care, among other measures.""So the main thing I want to say to other women is this: Protect yourself. Given the likelihood that you will have to fend for yourself at some point in the future, protect yourself against economic hardship by maintaining the capacity to support yourself. Protect your children by making sure you can take care of them financially should anything happen to their father. Protect your future happiness against the nagging doubts harbored by frustrated stay-at-home mothers who can't shake the guilt and regret they feel about failing to explore their full potential. Protect yourself against the desolation of the empty nest, which inflicts the deepest sense of loss on full-time mothers with no other identity or outlets to sustain them. Protect your older self against the feelings of uselessness and isolation experienced by so many women who didn't cultivate meaningful work that would nourish them in their later years."