If They Can Get Along Why Can’t We?
Recently,just after I returned from a book tour/signing in Vancouver I was reading some other blogs I follow from time to time and came across one that was really quite different from many others I had read. It was from a young woman, a mother, who was talking about how she had embraced the title of ‘a stay at home mom’ and was enjoying the freedom it provided her. She also said that she felt good about being able to determine her own day to day living experience with her baby. Having mentioned that to a family member she was dealt a hurtful response about how she had ‘sold out’ and how she was being taken advantage of in so many ways. She also talked about how dismaying this was for her and how she felt like she had let people down. She had risked talking about how much she enjoyed her life at the moment and had been criticized for her trouble. My question is at what point should other people shut their ‘cake hole’ and let people decide for themselves what type of life they would like to live?
Lets face facts. There are a growing number of folks, mostly women, who are beginning to look at their lives from a different perspective and deciding that they would like to live their lives as home makers–that there is something very important and satisfying to them about creating a learning environment that is specifically made for their children; that they can create an environment that is safe and secure for their kids and one where she and her husband can be sure of the life lessons that their children are more likely to be exposed to. Some mothers have gotten into home schooling and really enjoy that experience. Unfortunately, to some, having children is a burden to be survived rather than a privilege with which comes an opportunity to direct or be an integral part of a process that will guide the development of another human life.
Perhaps if more fathers took a more active role in the parenting process or better yet stuck around to be a necessary part of their children’s lives, especially their sons life, that the male perspective concerning women and the respect that many women do not get from some men would be far less an issue. Perhaps women would be seen differently in the work place and the issues around opportunity and equal pay, for instance, would not be as big a deal as they remain.
So how about this: Why don’t both feminists and masculists stop trying to recruit, influence and generally kick up dust whenever and wherever they can. How about allowing people to make up their own minds as to how they would like to live their lives according to what they believe is in their best interests and those of their children and their families. It seems a simple concept. If we work with the premise that ‘this life is my life’ then we need to respect that and allow folks to direct their lives in a manner that suits them instead of being berated, belittled or have their commitment to the ’cause’called into question because they don’t seem to understand the ‘party line’. How many women and men would find less conflict in their relationships and have fewer regrets with their life choices if they took the time and the initiative to have the important conversations before commitments were made. These questions really need not have anything to do with feminism or anything else. One thing that is good for women and for men, for that matter, is the freedom to make their own decisions free of guilt or ridicule or coercion of any kind by or from anyone. Both the feminists and the masculists need to find other things to discuss besides other peoples life choices.
So what are some of the questions that need to be asked? (perhaps both partners need to answer these):
1. Do you want a family? How many children are you thinking about?
2. How soon?
3. Do you want a career? How important is that to you?
4. Is there anything that I can do to help you achieve your goal(s)?
5. How do you feel about being a stay at home partner?
6. Do you want to travel before we have a family?
7. What are your goals for us? What do you want for you?
8. How do you like to spend your down time?
9. Got any hobbies?
These are the basic ones. Cover these off before anything else happens. If you don’t feel good after you hear the responses you should figure that this isn’t going anywhere that you want it to go and if the thought is that you can change the other person into someone you want them to be once the ‘wedding bells ring’ the courts are full of these cases.
So let’s stop trying to run other peoples lives and concentrate on doing a better job of running our own. Let’s recognize and accept that, although we may not like the choices or decisions others make, they are free to make them.
Most importantly let’s continue to encourage women and men to stand up and tell their truth whether it is popular or not.
That’s how I see it anyway, Jim