Open thread

Open for discussions on any topics of your choosing.

Here’s a new twist on a much discussed topic — juggling career and family.

A Strategy for Happy Dual-Career Couples
How some working parents make a counterintuitive approach work: Both take on new or challenging jobs at the same time

This article rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe it was the suggestion that an au pair was the solution for families with two challenging careers that demanded long hours. Or maybe it was this declaration by one of the fathers featured in the story.

“There was no question that Michelle needed to be offering her talents and passions to a wider community” after caring for their children at home for several years, says Mr. Martin, 41. They met during college while both were studying in Spain, and he understands her desire to do international development work. “It’s kind of like, ‘You can’t stop the wind,’” he says.

What do you think?

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155 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. CoC, what in that quote bothers you? I agree with the assumption that everyone can and wants to hire an au pair is obnoxious, but in that passage, I see a man supporting his wife returning to the workforce, which is great.

  2. Her husband Brett also has an intense career as a psychotherapist.

    Reading between the lines it seems like a fairly typical setup. His job isn’t all that intense and he has a decent amount of freedom to adjust his schedule and he makes a lot less. She’s in a position to bring home the bacon and he, with some help, manages the home front.

  3. That quote sounded pretentious to me, as if the mom has a higher calling that must not be hindered because of the greater good of mankind. :) Maybe if I re-read it tomorrow I will take it differently.

    The au pair part bothered me because imo two demanding careers typically need someone who is more experienced and can work longer hours than an au pair. I do agree that a nearby relative can make all the difference in this situation.

  4. I think we judge people more harshly when they make choices that can be spun as selfish vs. when those choices are the result of an event that isn’t planned, such as job loss, death of a family member, etc.

    In this article, the career choices could be spun as putting the parent first rather than the children or family as a whole. If “Michelle” had been laid off and this was the best job she could find, then the focus would have been something like – while she has to travel a lot, at least the job allows them the flexibilty to hire an au pair, which was not significantly more expensive than their prior child care expense.

    Generally, you need to be flexible. While you may not always be “happy” in your job every day, sometimes it is clear you need to move on. Only you can decide if that change is likely to have an overall positive or negative impact on your family.

  5. two demanding careers

    I have my doubts. It’s just not politically correct to say you spend most of your day goofing off. It’s not that he’s slacking it’s that most people aren’t trauma surgeons in a war zone.

  6. I think we judge people more harshly when they make choices that can be spun as selfish vs. when those choices are the result of an event that isn’t planned, such as job loss, death of a family member, etc.

    It’s also sexism. If he was the jet setting executive and she was the psychotherapist with a flexible roster of clients then people would be a lot less judgey.

  7. One of my Stanford-engineer friends had to travel to China all. the. time. when his kids were little. His wife, also a Stanford engineer who never worked outside the home, is still resentful about how often he was gone, and he feels that it damaged his relationship with his kids, too. But someone had to support the family. Anyway, maybe Morocco and Myanmar could wait until the kids are out of school.

  8. Probably true about not necessarily having two demanding careers. The two psychotherapists I know the best are on two quite different tracks. One basically works part-time and adjusts her schedule as needed, and the other works in NYC with high-demand patients and travels frequently for conferences.

  9. His wife, also a Stanford engineer who never worked outside the home, is still resentful about how often he was gone, and he feels that it damaged his relationship with his kids, too.

    The grass is always greener. If he had pursued a less demanding career would she have had to work? Would the kids be paying $700/month to Sallie Mae?

  10. My DD would be petrified, so a different handle for this thread.

    We visited two universities – one each over the past two weekends – that she is considering. I’m not sure what a “typical” college visit is, but these two were very similar. As you would expect, each school talked about its strengths. Unfortunately, the first school had another event going on that most of the students in her prospective major were participating in, so she did not get very much information on that major. In comparison, at the second school, she attended a presentation focused on prospective students in that major. Overall, I think she liked the first school better, but it comes down to figuring out how their academic program compares. These are the two in-state schools being considered at the moment. We won’t get to the out of state ones until later this summer.

    I’m curious about other people’s experience on this. Among the thousands of pieces of college/university marketing mail she has received, she has received only two that were personalized. One was from Stanford and one was from Yale. For example, by personalized I mean that one letter noted that she had already taken a specific exam (not PSAT/SAT or ACT) and that her score indicated her strength as a prospecitve student. She was asking me if it is common to get letters like this as none of her peers have received them. I told her to ask her counselor, but I am not sure she will.

  11. Rhett, I’m sure your 10:20 is exactly right.

    Rocky, wait til they’re out of school?! Yikes. Wait til their in school, sure, but getting multiple kids through 12 years–that can’t be what you mean, is it?

    I’m vaguely reminded of my assumption, when DS’s godfather got a grant for a semester in another country, that the family would go with him. I bought them a couple presents to make it feel more like home. Turned out they stayed put. He went back to visit twice and they came over for their 2-week spring break. My jaw dropped at the idea of that. What a wonderful gift. I can’t imagine the freedom. Oddly, that came up in conversation with my parents recently. They interpreted the story as sad that he ldidnt see them much for a few months. So yeah, every story can be interpreted differently, depending on perspective.

  12. Those are the relevant questions, Rhett, yes indeed. He does point out periodically that if he hadn’t taken that path the kids couldn’t have all gone to private schools and colleges, traveled extensively in Europe, done all the fancy high-end music camps, etc. I still don’t understand why his wife wouldn’t let the kids go to Palo Alto public schools — that’s kind of the whole point of living in Palo Alto. But whatevs.

  13. ^they’re.
    I swear I typed theyre, and ignored autocorrect because I assumed it was adding the apostrophe.

  14. Wait til their in school, sure, but getting multiple kids through 12 years–that can’t be what you mean, is it?

    Depends what “extensive travel” means, I think.

  15. S&M – Taking the family for a semester. I would say it depends on a lot of things – kids ages, kids interests, other obligations of the adults.

  16. I still don’t understand why his wife wouldn’t let the kids go to Palo Alto public schools

    And it’s his fault for working so hard?

  17. Since this is an open thread, I’ll throw out a question. Has anyone been a foster parent? DW has had a long desire to adopt an older child. I’ve had a hard time going down that road for various reasons, so now we’ve started looking into becoming foster parents. We’re going to an info session tonight, but my sense is that it’s something more suited for families with a SAH parent. Does anyone have any experience along these lines?

  18. Denver, my friends who have done something similar suggest that you ask around about which agencies provide the most support. Some of the private agencies go above and beyond in helping the families adjust. Some just kind of toss you the kid and bow out.

  19. Denver: I’ve thought about that from time to time. Please let us know what you learn and what you end up doing. Kudos to you and your family for your willingness to open your home to another child.

  20. I have not, but a close friend has. They did end up adopting one of the boys they fostered and stopped fostering after that. They are both working parents and their son has some learning disabilities, but after a few years of therapy the two physical developmental delays have been overcome.

    My observation is the issues with working revolve around (1) age of the child, (2) the presence and severity of physical/psychological issues, and (3) work flexibility (based on item 2, foster children often have more doctor and/or various therapy issues to deal with). In this family’s case, one of them worked for local government that gives extra leave for employees who take on foster kids and that extends to adopting foster kids. However, otherwise their leave policies are rather inflexible, so if you are in the private sector, that may not be as big an issue.

    My other observation is that everyone in the family – you, your spouse, your kids, and any other family member they would regularly engage with – needs to be on board with this decision. You don’t what the kind of situation where “Grandma” is OK having your natural kids over for Christmas dinner, but would prefer that “Johnny” your foster son not come along.

  21. “That quote sounded pretentious to me, as if the mom has a higher calling that must not be hindered because of the greater good of mankind. :)”

    Yeah me too. It was the “offering her talents to a wider community” that sounds so pretentious and ridiculous. Like she is doing the world a favor as the only person who is suitable for selling wireless networks in Asia. Please. It’s great if she wanted a challenging and lucrative job, but let’s not pretend that she was saving the world with talents that only she possesses or working for Doctors without Borders in Ghana during the Ebola outbreak.

    RMS – I feel like some people can’t ever be happy. If they work, they whine about how they wish they were a SAHM. If their husband has the kind of job that can support being a SAHM in Palo Alto, they whine about how it is so hard with a husband who travels. If they downshift, they complain about having no money. Not sure what happened in this particular scenario, but I have seen that. Some people are just never content. (and I’m not talking about venting when on Day 10 of a 14-day stretch of solo parenting, which is definitely hard!) I have no idea if that is the case with your friend, but I see it with people I know.

    For me, I know I would rather have us both work more reasonable jobs than for one of us to travel a ton/work on projects with overnight/weekend work regularly. That’s the choice we’ve continually made so far in our careers/family life. I don’t want the trade off, and both of us want to be able to spend a lot of time together as a family. Even when he’s older, I just don’t have the workaholic gene – I like having free time too much to work at a job that is demanding 24/7, year round. My current role is very cyclical with high volume and low volume periods, which I don’t mind. But we couldn’t afford Palo Alto this way!

  22. We have been a dual working couple and tried having role reversal where he stayed home with the kids full time and it did not work for our marriage. Listen, my liking to work has nothing to do with my love for my children or my spouse. It just so happens that things I genuinely enjoy and am good at are fairly lucrative. I definitely tried to lean in the last few years because I noticed a trend where the prime of your career in industry moved up about 10-15 years and saw an increasing number of people in their 50’s basically forced into early retirement. If I am going to be out of the house for x numbers of hours per week might as well try to be well compensated for them. We could afford for me to stay at home if we moved to a suburb but I have no desire to do that. If I keep working, we can afford for DH to never work again and he has no interest in that either.

  23. DD – for the people I know who are foster parents of children not related, there is a SAH parent. For the ones who are fostering a family member, both parents work outside the home. If the foster child is older, there is a high probability that there could be either emotional and/or physical issues. I agree with RMS, if you go down this road try and find an agency that provides the most support if you can.

    I don’t know the reasons for your wife’s desires but the other road you may be interested in is hosting a high school exchange student for either a semester or a full year that could also meet the criteria of an older child.

  24. We met with some friends this weekend after not seeing them for a couple years. They now have two kids and have backgrounds in accounting and finance. He works for a federal agency and works 4-10 hour days and two of those from home. She works two days per week, usually 10-hour days. The kids have mom or dad full time three weekdays and a parent working from home the other two days. What a great set-up. I wish more companies enable that type of flexibility. If the economy hits the skids, the two day per week person can ramp up and still retained their skills and network. They both have the opportunity to leave the house and interact with adults a couple days a week. Great gigs if you can get them!

  25. DD, my friend with a daughter adopted from foster care works as a teacher at the school where her daughter attends. Her daughter was adopted as a preschooler and her challenges are “in the normal range” of children.

  26. Austin, yes, it would be wonderful to take those other factors into consideration, not just “child must eat”. Sounds like unbelievable luxury to me, to really go for it career-wise and know the kids would be taken care of. (His wife works, but not full time)

  27. Denver, you/she could also be CASA volunteers. You’d work with one kid closely for several years. I think frequency depends on situation.

  28. If they work, they whine about how they wish they were a SAHM. If their husband has the kind of job that can support being a SAHM in Palo Alto, they whine about how it is so hard with a husband who travels. If they downshift, they complain about having no money.

    I also think, at least in some cases, that people feel that complaining is how one makes polite small-talk. It’s boastful bragging to note how well things are going and you’re more “down to earth” if you wine and complain.

  29. Ivy, the part that sounds pretentious to you strikes me as just the marketing of ourselves that seems to be required these days.

  30. Denver, since you’re local, I can hook you up with my friends who adopted two sisters when the girls were 8 and 9. I’m not going to say that their experience was an unmitigated horror show, but…if you want your wife to hear about some of the downsides, my friends can fill you in. They’re pretty positive and upbeat and Christian, but they might tell you that they wouldn’t do it again. The girls were from a grotesquely abusive family and they never really 100% recovered, though the older one seems to be doing okay-ish at the moment. Message me on Facebook if you want their contact info.

  31. “I also think, at least in some cases, that people feel that complaining is how one makes polite small-talk. It’s boastful bragging to note how well things are going and you’re more “down to earth” if you wine and complain.”

    Oh, there’s that too. And then there are people who are just never content with anything, no matter how many advantages and how much good fortune they have in life. The second makes me absolutely crazy.

  32. Dh and I have a nice situation where he goes through small stretches of crazy hours but the norm is he’s home for dinner and only travels once or twice per year. I think he would like to travel more but I would only be okay with it if we had family nearby. We operated fine when we both worked but I had been part time for the last five years of it. I think we would both say life is a bit more relaxed with me home. My youngest has a bad cough right now so she’s home with me today instead of going to preschool. If I had been working I probably would have sent her to daycare since she’s not truly sick, so it’s nice not to have to make those decisions anymore.

  33. We have dual careers. DH has the higher powered job. There was no conscious planning on our part. Once we had kids it was difficult for both of us to work long hours and both to be available to travel if the job demanded.
    I had to go on the slower path. Grandparents have been around but they serve more as backups not primary care givers on a daily basis and did not care for our kids in their infancy.
    My parents were very busy with their careers and though I had fabulous nannies when I was little the teen years were tough. I could have done with my parents being more available. Sometimes a kid demonstrates outward achievement and be very competent but can also be very unhappy.
    I do try and stay competitive but also manage my flexibility. I may be able to ramp up but it’s not a guaranteed thing. Most days I am fine but like anything some days it bothers me.

  34. DH and I are home for dinner almost every night with minimal travel. I guess I am lazy or content but I don’t care to have the extra money, travel or presumed prestige that comes with the goal of being in the c-suite. I currently work for an awesome boss who wants to employ humans and treats them like professionals. Don’t have to ask for approval to have time off for doctor’s visits or a school event. Can work from home with a sick kid or if I am sick (in fact – highly encouraged over bringing sickness into the office). He actually picks up his kids from school some times. It is so refreshing and sadly, so rare. My last office the guys complained about their wife not taking their dry cleaning in on their preferred timing schedule.

  35. “My parents were very busy with their careers and though I had fabulous nannies when I was little the teen years were tough.”

    This comment to the linked article:
    The parents in this article all have children who are still pretty young. As my mother-in-law likes to say, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids…”

    Anne-Marie Slaughter created a stir a few years ago when she wrote about how women can’t have it all. Part of it had to do with her kid entering his teenage years.

  36. “DH and I are home for dinner almost every night with minimal travel. I guess I am lazy or content but I don’t care to have the extra money, travel or presumed prestige that comes with the goal of being in the c-suite.”

    Same here. I prefer to call it “content” instead of “lazy”. : ) I have just a few more years with the kids around. I mean to enjoy this time. I can always work harder later.

  37. In our case, we both had careers where stepping out made it difficult to step back in without taking huge steps backwards. If either of us had been critically injured or died, it would have been hard to get back to an income that supported our current lifestyle, even with good life insurance in place.

    He did become a stay at home dad (retired) and that, IME, was not the same as a SAHM. He did basics, but not much else. He doesn’t really like that I work part-time after retiring. But, it allows us to have more spending money, keeps my brain nimble, and if I needed to go back to full-time, I still could.

    His job never had travel, some of mine did. Part of the reasons I changed jobs when pregnant with DD#1 was to reduce travel. I have stayed away from jobs with more than 10 percent travel.

  38. When your kids are young, it is very difficult to project into the future and imagine the challenges of the teenage years. From the outside, it seems that those kids are almost adults who can feed and dress themselves, won’t run into the street or fall down the stairs, and maybe even get dinner started. Or drive. But IME it’s much harder to outsource the care and supervision of older kids than babies and toddlers

  39. Agreed, Scarlett. We could not afford for me not to work when my kids were babies and toddlers and now I basically am worrying about 3 hours after school max for my upper elementary kids. We now have enough savings and flexibility in our careers that we could ramp down, if needed, as our kids get into upper middle school and eventually high school.

  40. I could have done with my parents being more available.

    How confident are you that it would have been for the best? It seems people tend to compare their lived experience with an idealized alternative. If mom had been home she’d be June Clever not some caustic Amy Chau like task master for example.

  41. Rhett – I was fine with both my parents working. I never thought for a minute that my mother should stay home. However, in addition to their careers they had a busy social life as well so the time available with their kids on a day to day basis was limited.
    To get my parents attention I had to catch them when they both ate breakfast at 6 am.

  42. Hmm. We both have careers that are not balls-to-the-wall now. Before we had kids I worked about 55 hrs/week and DH similar (he also commuted, worked 4 days, then came back), but now I am at 80% and his work is intense but also sporadic (and he works a lot at night, so it is difficult for me to gauge how many hours that is).

  43. “If mom had been home she’d be June Clever not some caustic Amy Chau like task master for example”

    If my Mon stayed home she would have put Amy Chau to shame. The office was a better place for her.

  44. Neither of my grandmothers worked nor were they helpful, hands-on, attentive mothers or grandmothers. Mom’s mom was through a pitcher of martinis and usually a pack of cigarettes by noon. Dad’s mom was off working with the poor or lunching and there was help for everything (each kid had their own nanny, and household had two maids, a cook, a driver). My mom is the closest anyone came to June Cleaver.

  45. “I have stayed away from jobs with more than 10 percent travel.”

    Me too. I traveled frequently early in my career, and I enjoyed it then. I have thought that maybe I’d take on a more travel-heavy role later in my career, but these days it sounds less appealing regardless of wanting to be home for dinner.

    But the days where I traveled were mostly pre-9/11, and travel is much more of a drag these days, even if you are premier everything and all that. Or maybe I’m just old & like my own house/things more than I used to.

    I am home for dinner most of the time, but I am not available for after school activities like 5:30pm practices very often. DH goes in early and usually handles those while I handle getting to school in the AM.

    I think it all depends on your definition of success too. I think I’m doing pretty well in my career even without Leaning In 100%, but I certainly do not have a “high-powered” career, and I have no interest in the C-suite (although I wouldn’t say that out loud at work).

  46. Denver – My family took in foster kids during my childhood. Happy to discuss in detail offline. I think you have my email/ know how to reach me.

  47. I’m fascinated by families who take in foster children — it seems as if it may be one of the hardest jobs around. What are the primary motivators? Love of children and joy of parenting? Altruistic desire to help these kids? A wish to expand your family? I imagine for some it’s a way to earn a living, similar to working in childcare. Bless anyone who does this.

  48. I agree that teens need parents, and that their care is much harder to outsource. My neighbor & her ex are in a dispute over how hands-on/f2f that needs to be. Their child drives and is in high school, normally alternates months with mom & dad. The month, he planned to be out of town for a week, wanted her to stay there without him and take care of the pet, says he’ll call/Skype her every day, points out that her physical needs will all be met. Mom is a high school principal/vice principal and thinks kids need to be *with* parents, even as teens.

  49. Kerri/CoC, those concerns are why I suggested being a CASA volunteer, unless she already has extensive experience with those kids.

  50. I mean doing. CASA as an intro/way to test the water, not that that’s all she should do ever. Kids certainly need parents & stability, so good foster parents are fantastic.

  51. Thanks for the replies. DW’s desire is that she wants to help a child, and the older children are much less likely to get adopted. My concern is as has been mentioned, that most of these kids have problems, and I don’t know that I am able to handle that. The meeting tonight is with Denver Human Services, so we’ll get more information.

  52. S&M, I’m with the mom on that one. I would be very uncomfortable leaving a teen alone for a month.

  53. Some close Family members of our foster kids. They started out fostering infants because the mom felt like she had accomplished all of her bills for herself, and felt the one thing she was best hat and felt called to do was taking care of infants. So they fostered just infants for the future first few years. The dad got super attached to one of the kids, and said he just couldn’t let her go, so they ended up adopting her. The mom was also losing her parental rights to an older sister, and they couldn’t in good conscience let the sister of the one they were planning to adopt go somewhere where they would lose track of her, so they adopted her too. The birth mom got pregnant again so they were fostering the little brother, and ended up adopting him as well. Birth mom is now pregnant with twins but they swear they are not taking these two. During this, they continue to foster infants on an emergency basis, and they provide frequent free babysitting to one of the girls they used to foster because they don’t trust anyone else the dad might leave the little girl with. The two that joined their family as infants (and they had a26 yr old as well) have not had any issues. The older sister did require therapy and still has some anger, but she suffered more from neglect than abuse.

    Both parents work, and he has some side business he does some evenings. Grandparents live on adjacent property. They are not totebaggy, not obsessed with grades or SAT scores or anything like that. The elementary-aged kids play sports and they’re happy to take them to practices and activities, but it’s a very low-key household and they all seem very happy. We went on a cruise with the parents last year, and the dad was telling me he can’t believe how much he loves his life.

    I share your wife’s interest in fostering. In May, we have high school and college graduations and my DH has no interest in starting over with a commitment like that. I know I am envisioning only the rewarding part of it, and the additional loving family, and completely ignoring the potentially large challenges. Speaking with RMS’ friends, and going in with eyes wide open is probably the best route.

  54. DD, in addition to CASA, there’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters for mentoring a child. I also have friends who mentor kids through a community services organization.
    Adopting a foster child can be tough, just in terms that biological families always have preference. You can really get your heart stomped on.
    I’ve had some involvement with this through pro bono work in juvenile court and involvement with CASA, but I think we have someone here who does a lot more of this?

  55. I know I am envisioning only the rewarding part of it, and the additional loving family, and completely ignoring the potentially large challenges.

    DW is the same. I think she’s so focused on the positives and not thinking about the challenges that come with it.

  56. I’m starting to get the idea of “little kids, little problems” as every night DH and I have yet another conversation about how to solve some schooling issues for one of the kids. (Which I suppose is a medium-sized problem). However, when I had 3 kids under five, that attitude made me stabby. The sheer physical exhaustion of having somebody touching your body most of the day and night, getting up several times per night, carrying someone everywhere for years was all very hard on me. Maybe we’re in a sweet spot now. However, neither of my parents spent a lot of time or energy on any problems I had as a teen. I would have liked (and perhaps benefited) from more attention on that front, but it seems like a time where it is quite a bit easier to opt-out of being an exhausted, hand-on parent.

  57. One of my co-residents started med school in his thirties, and had young teens by the time he finished residency. I think they launched their youngest in the last few years. His wife was a SAHM during all those years (kind of a necessity for medical education and kids – you don’t usually have the money to outsource any child care, coupled with an unpredictable schedule). In the last year they have fostered and adopted 2 toddlers. We are only facebook friends now, so it all looks quite magical. I’m super impressed by people who do this – it seems like a deeply good and sacrificial thing to do.

    My impression is that you need to be mostly SAH in order to foster non-family. Outside childcare is challenging (you can’t leave them alone, other child care providers need to be vetted by the state in some cases).

  58. The sheer physical exhaustion of having somebody touching your body most of the day and night, getting up several times per night, carrying someone everywhere for years was all very hard on me.

    Yeah, I think it’s more accurate to say that bigger kids = different problems. And it’s really hard to remember, as your kids get older, how physically exhausting it was and how very quickly the one you took your eye off for a moment could slip away to find some paint to get into or dump five different kinds of powder into the sink or just climb something that shouldn’t be climbed.

    For all the worry and stress high schoolers can cause, they are champs at sleeping in on weekends and taking care of their own potty needs.

  59. We had the crazy jobs when DD was a baby and in early elementary. It was the international travel that we were both asked to do more and more frequently that caused me to say enough. We actually were making it work because we had full time live in help, plus lots of healthy grandparents. The health of our parents started to decline, and there was just too much unplanned travel to see clients.

    I’m sure we could have managed with more paid help, but we didn’t think it was fair to DD as she got older.

    I still miss some of the travel, but it seems to be the right choice for us. I would rather live in our starter home and still have this time with DD. She’s busy a lot on the weekends now, so it would be difficult if we were both gone all week. One nice thing about DH hours is that he has to be in by 7 for the London team, but he is home most of the time by 6.

    I can NOT imagine leaving a teenager home alone for days at a time. Even if you have the greatest kid in the world, other kids will “hear” that your house is adult free and drop by. It’s not good for so many reasons.

  60. “The sheer physical exhaustion of having somebody touching your body most of the day and night, getting up several times per night, carrying someone everywhere for years was all very hard on me.”

    ITA with bigger kids = different problems.

    Besides, given how sleep deprived parents of toddlers are, how much of little kid problems make it into long term memory.

  61. I will confess I find the ages of my kids now (one elementary, one middle) to be a complete breeze compared to the early years. Young enough that family life is still the center of their world, but old enough to be independent with homework, basic personal needs, etc. The characteristics that made them exhausting babies/toddlers/littles (strong willed, independent, busy, physically active) seem to make them pretty easy tweens.

    Might come back to bite me in high school years, so I’m enjoying this stage IMMENSELY.

  62. Denver Dad- my in-laws took in a foster child (teenager) when DH was a teenager. They both worked full time , but she (MIL) teaches and has summers off. I’m not sure how long this arrangement lasted. Foster child wasn’t adopted, and isn’t treated as part of the family now, but stays in touch. They also hosted a French exchange student.

  63. Denver Dad, one of my Dad’s friends had 4 kids of his own and then fostered/adopted at least half a dozen teens. I think they transitioned from adopting to long-term fostering to afford the grocery bills, but they let kids who had aged out of foster care still live with them after they had aged out of the foster system and provided housing/food for all their kids. The four biological kids all became veterinarians. The foster/adopted kids mostly became responsible, employed adults, with a few bumps along the way. The Dad ran a contract lawnmowing businesses and everyone had a first job with him along the way, which probably helped with the responsibility/employability part. None of the foster kids went to 4 year college to my knowledge; a few might have attended a community college program. The family standard for success is staying out of jail and being responsible for your children, not a 4 year degree.

  64. I’ve thought about adopting or fostering an older child (not a baby) but I don’t think I can get DH on board

  65. Parents still lose sleep worrying about grown children This may be a recent phenomenon.

    Not to hear my mother tell it!

  66. “I suggested being a CASA volunteer”

    Not being familiar with CASA, a google search led me to casa.org, the homepage of the Contemporary A Capella Society.

    Sounds like it’s more up L’s alley (and perhaps WCE’s) than DD’s.

  67. DD – how have your kids reacted to the idea ?

    The are intrigued by it, but I’m sure they don’t fully grasp it. I don’t think DW and I fully grasp it either. We’re still just in the information gathering stage.

  68. I’m starting to get the idea of “little kids, little problems”

    When our kids were little, I had a coworker who would tell that the sleepless nights when they are babies are nothing compared to the sleepless nights when they are teenagers. She had a 17 year old daughter who would sneak out at night or have her boyfriend sneak in, among other things.

    In the last year they have fostered and adopted 2 toddlers. We are only facebook friends now, so it all looks quite magical.

    I have a college friend who is now just a facebook friend who fostered a child and then adopted her at about age 8, and then fostered a younger child for a while, as a single parent. As your friends have done, she has made it look like a piece of cake, but I’m sure she has not been public with the hard parts.

    Denver – really dig into the challenges side of fostering, including the impact on your other children.

    Absolutely. That’s a lot of what we want to find out – in theory it seems so easy, but I’m sure it’s anything but.

    Parents still lose sleep worrying about grown children This may be a recent phenomenon

    I agree with Rocky, this has been going on for generations.

  69. Related to the leaving the teen alone for a week topic, do people here let their kids have friends over when the parents are out? And what ages? When I was growing up, my mom regularly left my brother and me home alone on weekend nights starting when I was 10 and he was 12, and let us have friends over. We’ve never had this come up, because DW and I don’t go out that often, and our kids don’t want to have friends over that often. DW and I are actually going out Saturday and DS (15) asked if he could have some friends sleep over (purely coincidentally). It turns out that they are going to do it Friday so it’s a non-issue. I’m fine with it, but I’m not sure how his friends’ parents would feel about it – two of them we don’t know the parents, I think the ones we know would be fine with it.

  70. I know my mom still worries about my sister and me (more her than me; just different circumstances). I am trying diligently to not worry about my two oldest and all in all I’m doing a pretty good job. They want their independence and for the most part given their stations in life they have earned it. I probably “worry” if that’s the right word about episodic things e.g if they’re driving home the 5+ hours it takes each of them, then it’s good to know their progress. I cannot worry about their jobs or social lives. And also, maybe it’s just one of those Mom vs Dad approach to life things.

  71. Lark – my tweens are easy too and this is why we are taking a big family trip while they still want to be around us. Mine are 4th and 6th and I still get requests for snuggling and daily hugs. I am going to be sad when they no longer want to have family time as frequently. I really hope we can solve most of the teenage problems once we get there. My money is on the younger one giving us grief.

  72. Denver Dad, it would depend on my child, the other family’s child and the situation. I would probably allow my child to be at another home without a (grand)parent in high school if there were a good reason, i.e. All State quartet practice requires a piano and parents are unavailable at the home with the piano. In my community, anytime you allow another child to be present in your home, if a parent is not going to be at home, it is expected that you would make the other parents aware of that, and quite likely, parents who will be at home would host whatever-the-activity is (AP English movie night, music practice, review movies of opposing team for upcoming game, robotics troubleshooting, etc.)

    I’m curious to see other responses, to see how my community’s norms relate to those in other places. Roughly the same rules applied when I was in high school, although I thought my mom’s interpretation was too strict. (She got upset when my biology partner’s mom ran out for a few minutes to buy a typewriter ribbon.)

  73. (AP English movie night, music practice, review movies of opposing team for upcoming game, robotics troubleshooting, etc.)

    Don’t kids in your area just hang out and play videogames or whatever? :)

  74. Lark, I think many parents agree that the elementary years are a break. They weren’t for us, but I think others do.

    “The sheer physical exhaustion of having somebody touching your body most of the day and night, getting up several times per night, carrying someone everywhere for years was all very hard on me.”

    I suppose there is a benefit to no maternity leave/back at the computer on day 2 and in the classroom in less than theee weeks. Getting him was usually the best part of my day, even if I did wish for literally ten minutes home alone before the hand-off. He was with the sitter about 30 hrs per week. When I had him, “sleep when the baby sleeps” was a necessity

  75. Denver Dad, probably, but not so much in my community. Parents want to know what videogames/movies their kids are watching. LDS high schoolers don’t stay up late due to before-school seminary. I have a “no videogames during playdates” rule because I want to encourage interactive play, and playdates are a hassle for me due to transportation/scheduling so they aren’t frequent.

  76. Man. And to think of all the sleepovers I had in my adolescence where all we did was drink Tab, eat oatmeal cookies (Mom’s specialty), and talk about boys.

  77. In my community it is expected that at least one parent or if something comes up another adult like a grandparent or much older siblings say a college age sibling be available to keep an eye on the kids.
    By now, I have at least an acquaintance with most of the parents of my kids friends.
    On the flip side DD is being ear marked as a potential baby sitter. She will have no shortage of baby sitting gigs once she is old enough. She is highly regarded by the neighborhood parents.

  78. And to think of all the sleepovers I had in my adolescence where all we did was drink Tab, eat oatmeal cookies (Mom’s specialty), and talk about boys.

    Did the boys ever come over and loiter around the yard while the girls all gathered at the window to wave and giggle?

    My kids occasionally have a friend over when we’re not there. This would be typically on a schoolday afternoon, after walking home together, and before the various parents were done with work for the day.

  79. My daughter is planning to work on a school project at a friend’s house again this afternoon but I think there will be a parent home — his job requires him to be out and about a lot, but the flip side is that he has a lot of freedom in his schedule, so the girls often look to him for mid-afternoon rides.

  80. Did the boys ever come over and loiter around the yard while the girls all gathered at the window to wave and giggle?

    Mom would have chased them off with extreme prejudice. Nevertheless, during daylight hours, we would ride our bikes past their houses. Amazingly, sometimes they would be hanging out in the front yard, almost as if they were hoping we’d ride by, and we could stop and chat.

  81. Sorry I haven’t been participating in stuff here for a couple of days. Something really sucky happened here which has left me very down and not feeling like my usual repartee, either here or in the political thread. I am not even posting photos of kids or dinner food or political crap on FB like I usually do,

  82. To be completely fair to Mom, who had her share of gentlemen callers in her youth, she would have waited 20 minutes or so before chasing them off.

  83. Parents’ worry about kids even after they’ve grown up was part of the dissonance between my mom and me. I still remember the first time my son was sick; she was sorry that I got so little sleep. Her entire understanding of how a sick little one is hard for the mom seemed to be based in the work involved in taking care of the child, and discounted any concern a parent might have. Staying up late/getting up early to get work done was not unusual for me; my biggest stress was worrying about my kid and wanting him to feel better. It hurt me that she didn’t share that at all, or even recognize it as something bothering me. The question I actively avoided was whether her response to my kid getting sick reflected how she felt and dealt with us when we were sick. She was a nurse and kept charts of our vitals, and if I recall anything close to a caress from her, it would be when I was sick. Was she thinking what a pain in the butt it was and wishing she could have a nap/go do something more fun?

    Denver, glad to hear your son has a friend who wants to spend the night. Does that indicate that he’s generally feeling much more a part of his school and the social fabric now? He is who I thought of when I saw your first comment about fostering. If school can give him anxiety stomach aches, etc, does he need home to be a refuge?

    I’m only hearing about this family’s issues in from one side, but there was apparently another time the dad disappeared, and the girl wound up spending the week at her boyfriend’s. Made me gasp and assume all kinds of naughtiness, but apparently it was that his family was taking care of her day by day until mom found out. The home alone/catsit/housesit for dad thing kind of seemed to me like it might be plausible if it was well set up, (my kid would want that kind of arrangement, and probably do well) but assuming the past is prelude, I don’t think anything would be set up around her needs or that he has a good understanding of the kinds of support a teen needs. The older two are around the same age as Fred and Scarlett’s olders; whether they were still together or not, I’m pretty sure the mom was lead parent for them.

    Finn, it’s a national organization–Court Appointed Special Advocates. They’re always expected to know a child’s case thoroughly and to coordinate the various programs a kid is involved in, and in some places they spend time with the child regularly, so the child has someone they know and can trust as they go through all the different parts of the system. I’m assuming you really don’t know the first thing about them, because why would you be an ass about something like that if you knew what it was? http://www.casaforchildren.org/site/c.mtJSJ7MPIsE/b.6350721/k.112A/What_Does_It_Mean_To_Be_a_CASA_Volunteer.htm

    Random question for WCE, Ada, or anyone else who knows: how similar are oxytocin and OxyContin? Is it just that they share that one element, or are the substances and their effects on people somehow similar?

  84. Mooshi, I’m sorry to hear about the negative turn. Are you all ok?

    A neighbor girl had sleepover birthday parties every year. We went bowling too. The main activity I remember is a board game. Maybe it was Life. I’m not sure. But yeah, DS has enough structured activities and can do well at them. I’d much rather see him have unstructured time hanging out with other kids. Not having video games, in my book, opens the field for all kinds of other goofiness and experimenting, not more of the same stuff adults lead. I would like adults to be around for that sort of thing, but not too close. My kid has a snaggletooth or two up front where he used a baseball bat to try to hit a basketball someone pitched to him. Not the best experiment; but I feel no regret that there wasn’t a parent outside with him and the other 7-10 year olds to prevent it from happening. In the years since, I’ve been surprised at the number of times he’s brought that incident up and said a lesson he learned from it applies to the current situation. That’s how it should be, in my book.

  85. We are leaving the kids alone for a long weekend in April. However, my in-laws will drop by to feed them and make sure that there are no parties.

  86. Argh. So the way this discussion kicked off here bugged me way more than the article. It seems like the only responses were (1) well the jobs couldn’t really have been that demanding, or (2) gee why can’t they just wait until the kids are out of the house? Seriously, we’re now jumping on people for hiring an au pair so mom can get out of the damn house and work? What is this, 1952? Frankly, I appreciated an article that didn’t pretend that the only possible solutions were either opting out entirely or one partner ratcheting way back — it’s like the ethos is “sure, you can do whatever you want — you don’t have to quit, you can go part-time.” Yeah, that’s right up there with “we got both kinds here, country AND western.” OR, you can also both work full-time and use daycare. And I was happy to see an article that said, “you know, I spent years trying to juggle taking care of the kids and working at home with no help, and, wow, I was just SO much happier when I took a regular office job and hired some damn help. And I don’t feel one bit guilty about it either.”

    I think y’all are all thinking “high-powered” at a whole different level — no one’s talking C-suite or 50-weeks-a-year travel except us. I think any one of us who has ever held a full-time professional or managerial job meets the article’s standards. Certainly DH and I have both held these kinds of jobs since the day we married. Sometimes one or the other of us had a lighter schedule (usually me), and sometimes we’ve both been so busy that whoever gets the trip on the calendar first gets to go. I’m not going to sit here and brag about how that makes me an awesome important person, because come on. But I’m sure as hell not going to feel bad that – gasp! – my kids went to full-time daycare, because, God forbid, I did not have either the patience or the desire to sit home with them until they graduated, and I’m not going to act like it was anything other than my own voluntary choice. (And please, let’s not pretend we’re talking about “well, it could have been either parent” — that’s disingenuous bullshit, and everyone knows it). I was touched to read about a husband who values his wife’s goals and happiness so highly that he *sees* her as sharing her gifts with the world — sure, it’s froofy, but come on, how in love does a guy have to be to be quoted being that froofy in a national publication? It reminded me of what I loved about DH when I met him — I had never met a guy who loved me *because* I was smart and ambitious, and not in spite of it. It was refreshing.

  87. seems like the only responses were

    You skipped mine. Boo.

    Now I’ve got a kid to get to bed, while guiding dad through adding Mail back to the home row of apps. We’ve been at it for 23 min so far, can’t take much longer.

  88. Yeah, SM, you know I can count on you. 😉

    @Mooshi — really sorry to hear that. Hoping for better for you.

  89. Laura, I love you to pieces, but I’m not sure what you’re complaining about.

  90. Isn’t there a difference between having your kid in daycare and being gone 200 days a year?

  91. LfB, I didn’t read the responses in the same way. I know you’ve been reading for almost as long, so you know that many of the regulars used day care or full time babysitters when our kids when younger to juggle full time working spouses/partners and kids. I remember a post many years ago, where I stated that we needed a minimum of 12 hours per day of childcare because of our commute/jobs. This wasn’t a c suite job, and lots of jobs with a minimum of 35- 40 hours per week plus commutes is going to require 45-55 hours of childcare. I even have neighbors and friends that have au pairs and nannies because the au pairs are limited to a certain number of hours per week. I don’t think they are ashamed, but they are grateful that they can afford to make these choices.

    I have left DD alone with one friend in our house for an hour or two. She has stayed at friends after school for a similar amount of time. She has a couple of friends that I don’t trust, but I would generally leave her for a brief period of time with one or two kids.

  92. My 97 year old grandma still worries about my dad. He can no longer tell her when he is going on a trip, instead waiting to tell her about it once he is back. Any trip, a weekend up north, a flight to visit me, a trip to Europe has her worried and scared that terrorists will kill him. She’s always been that way, as he was her only son to survive infancy, and the family name has to continue and all that jazz. My dad has living sisters, but she doesn’t worry about them.

    And my mom, she was texted me nonstop on my trip out west, including during the drive home yesterday. Her words “I’m so worried you’ll get in a car accident” (I was not the driver). I only see my parents about 6 times a year, so it isn’t like I’m a physical presence in their life, but they still worry about their little girl….or is she really worried about her grandchildren in the backseat? But, I’ll take her worrying as opposed to not have her around at all.

  93. @Rocky — “Anyway, maybe Morocco and Myanmar could wait until the kids are out of school.” Set me off; sounded pretty dismissive of the work she does and what it means to her, with a side of mommy wars judgmental thrown in.

    I mean, I was just having lunch today with a client who was talking about her many, many work trips to Asia, joking about her special-entry status because she has been so much. It never occurred to me to question how her extensive travels affects her ability to be a good mom. And then I came home to this discussion and it sort of spun my head around. It just seems like no matter what you do, someone is going to criticize it, and, damn, it’s exhausting. Like, will someone please at least specify agreed-on criteria we’ll all be judged against. Does three Texas equal one Myanmar (in which case I am in serious trouble)? Is there a special distance multiplier? Or is it just a flat comparison of days away?

    Yeah, that was supposed to be a joke, but I appear to be cranky tonight and even the humor is falling flat. Anyway, you know I love you, so I assume you didn’t mean it the way I heard it. So I am going to go to bed now and come back in better humor tomorrow. Sorry for being pissy.

  94. I didn’t take offense at the article. Or the people interviewed. Martin’s response was a little fru fru but he may be a crunchy guy. I have the “higher” career in our house and travel more frequently than DH. He believes in what I do but would never phrase it the same way Martin did. I also luck out with my mom being here. I don’t complain. We will always be dual career in volatile careers. If mom wasn’t here both boys would be in daycare. That’s life.

    MM – I’m truly sorry for you. This is a shitty situation.

  95. S&M, DS was over it by the second week of school. He just needed a week to adjust in going from a small school to a big one, along with the normal HS adjustment. The plan is for 3 or 4 of his friends to sleep over and they are all going to bring their XBoxes so they can play together. I’m not sure if we have the bandwidth to handle that many people playing online simultaneously, but we’ll find out.

    The foster care info session was interesting. It’s definitely a lot to think about.

  96. The couples profiled in the article weren’t nearly as annoying as the author, who tried to pretend that she had discovered a new way for both parents to ratchet up their careers with young children.

    “It really is possible for both parents of young children to go out on a limb professionally at the same time and come out the other end the better for it. Both can end up feeling engaged and satisfied without feeling like they have shortchanged family life.”

    But then this

    “This counterintuitive strategy can require plenty of support from other family members and, in most cases, hiring household and child care help.”

    Well, yes.

  97. To me, “challenging” jobs for this purpose would be ones that require the parent to be engaged in working or commuting about 50-60+ hours a week plus be a bit unpredictable and inflexible in having to deal with work issues and/or travel. We had those kinds of jobs, and parenting well in those circumstances almost always requires much more than an au pair. That was my point. Plus my complaint that some of the language made it sound as if the parent was Mother Teresa saving the world.

    But I agree that the article’s definition of “challenging” could be different from mine. In general I don’t judge parents whose jobs keep them away from their kids for many hours a week. It is what it is, sometimes fine and sometimes not. Sometimes parents have no choice, but sometimes they claim they have no choice when they really do. At least it may appear that way from the outside, which I realize is a dangerous way to judge. But I appreciate it when parents understand that their chosen lifestyle IS a voluntary choice.

  98. @ Mooshi – I hope things settle down.

    LfB – I think the comments on this blog took a longer term perspective on careers and family. The most famous example is Sheryl Sandburg. Her original message was good but would she have had a variation to that message had things happened earlier ? I think she would.

  99. I also may be a bit defensive because I do have some tiny regrets for not “leaning in” more and going for the bigger promotions when I was already working long hours and frazzled from managing a household.

  100. “Isn’t there a difference between having your kid in daycare and being gone 200 days a year?”

    No one is talking about leaving their kid with a sitter and leaving the country for 2/3 of a year.

    I think part of the problem here, besides the built-in gender expectations; is a narrow definition of “work” and “work travel”.There are jobs that require one to see more than meeting rooms As a geographer, I had the same set of conferences as other academics. But part of the job is learning other places in ways you just don’t do when you fly in for a deposition, maybe have time for a run, and head out. I gave one example, other than myself, yesterday. Now that he’s juggling budgets in the millions every year, he might even fit this blog’s definition of “successful”.

    Don’t mean to pick on you, Rocky. You’re just quotable. I think the general response here has been “12 hr/day in daycare (way more than my kid could handle) is fine, but no parent should be permitted to have a job that requires the travel to come in bigger chunks–even if there is a guy hanging around who claims to be the kid’s parent too.” And the scoffing around here at people who don’t work only because they are diligent but think their work matters has always been hard for me to stomach. That’s no secret.

  101. “In general I don’t judge parents whose jobs keep them away from their kids for many hours a week.”

    Exactly. Judgement is for those careers that require the “away” time to come in weeks, no matter the “together” time in-between trips or the opportunities for family to join on some travel. And of course, for those who (snort!) have a different definition of “important” work than folks here. “CEO, sure that’s important. Lawyering too. But this little worm thinking her work is worth doing? Ha!” That’s a slightly exaggerated parody. I have plenty of critiques of I ternational development, but tearing down the individuals involved is not one of them.

  102. Just left here & went to email. Here’s one of the first messages I read

    “Love the single leg. Sorry I haven’t responded. This conference has been super long days on top of trying to launch [this project]. 😵😂

    Hope you’re doing well 💪

    Going to Austin tomorrow so will have to check it out for you!”

    Acceptable level of travel? For whom?

  103. “I also may be a bit defensive because I do have some tiny regrets for not “leaning in” more and going for the bigger promotions when I was already working long hours and frazzled from managing a household.”

    Yeah, and there’s the slightest chance that I might be just the eeeensiest weeensiest defensive about full-time work. :-)

    In the cold (warm) clearer light of day, I think I reacted negatively last night because this is the place I go to get away from that sort of unspoken judgment, so I felt blindsided. But I went back and re-read the earlier stuff this AM, and it looks more like our typical discussion, with our typical smartass elements, and I think Rocky was really talking about her friend (extensive travel + complaints) more than the article (unspecified amount of travel + apparently happy family).

    So, basically, sorry to blow shit up.

  104. “international development”

    I think it’s funny how we all read this differently based on our perceptions of the value of what the mom is doing. What we know is that she is “a communications specialist to promote wireless technology in developing countries.” But what does that mean? It could mean she’s a general marketing schmo, plugging her company’s products, a/k/a salesman, in which case her husband’s “she’s saving the world” response is sort of disproportionate to the social good she provides. OTOH, from what I have read, cellphones are one of the primary modern resources that is helping poor people in developing countries, because it gives people access to loans and bank accounts and all sorts of other useful tools that are completely out of reach if you are living in a remote village somewhere. So from that perspective, if the wife has always wanted to go save the world and sees this job as helping her do that, you could see her work as “international development” and praiseworthy, in which case her husband’s response seems more appropriate in context.

    It’s funny, because the part that I picked up on in the article was also different than everyone else — to me, it was the fact that this same wife had been working, but had been trying to work at home while staying home and taking care of the kids without help. I think a lot of women do that, because they want to be there for their kids but they also want to keep working, and it’s not until you’re in it that you realize how hard it is to manage both fronts every day, and how unsatisfying it can be overall, because you’re always falling short of your expectations in one (or usually both) arenas. And I particularly think that is the trend among UMC moms who are the WSJ target audience (because most less-well-off moms don’t have choices, or if they do, likely don’t earn enough to make their family better off by continuing to work). So it’s a version of “you can’t do everything at the same time, so stop trying.” It’s just that in many cases, women who are trying to manage that juggle end up opting out of work entirely. Which is why I appreciated an article that said, “you know, you can do it the other way too, get paid help for the kids, and everyone will be ok.”

  105. @Rocky — “Anyway, maybe Morocco and Myanmar could wait until the kids are out of school.” Set me off; sounded pretty dismissive of the work she does and what it means to her, with a side of mommy wars judgmental thrown in.

    Okay, fair enough. My mental context was the family I was talking about earlier, where Dad thinks that being gone all the time wasn’t the greatest for his family, and also my own husband’s experience with being the non-custodial parent and how that played out in his relationship with his son. I didn’t mention that part so there’s no reason why you would have picked up on it. I’m just explaining my thinking process. I’m sure you’re right about there being many other contexts.

  106. CoC, I suspect all of us have tiny regrets for the road not taken. I know I do, for multiple roads not taken!

  107. Mooshi, hope things look up for you all soon!

    Finn – my group was in a CASA competition when I was in school (like Pitch Perfect but without the fancy choreography and camera work). We didn’t really fit in since our focus was more Ella Fitzgerald and less pop. :)

    I would totally leave the kids at home in HS. Their younger siblings being around will ensure that they don’t get into too much trouble, and if they did, I’d hear about it from the others. ;)

    Also, I looooooooooved the baby stage. I would totally foster infants except I’m not sure I’d be able to deal with the sleep deprivation (and DH certainly couldn’t). I don’t like the preschool/elementary stage we’re in now; it seems like all they do is fight with each other and say “NO” to whatever I ask/tell them to do.

  108. We started leaving our kids alone at pretty young ages–late elementary and middle school for hours at a time while we went to dinner or whatever. We have left them alone for weekends as high schoolers. I’ve left them for an entire week as well, at least once but maybe more. We allow friends to stay, or not, depending on which kid is asking and who the friends are. I expect the friends to let their parents know we won’t be home. All our normal rules about curfew and cars apply.

    I always thank them profusely for holding down the fort and taking care of the dogs. I think knowing they’re in charge like that makes a difference.

    And TBH, I’m not particularly concerned if they stick to the rules 100%. Part of growing up is figuring out what choices to make and what limits to push and not push. My standards/expectations for their conduct while we are away are likely far lower than they think, which makes me believe whatever they think they’re getting away with is actually not nearly as bad as I might have accepted.

    It’s perhaps what you grew up with. I lived alone at our cottage all summer when I was 16, and my parents left us alone a ton when we were young, including for many weeklong stints or more when we spanned middle to high school. It was no big deal.

  109. I think it also depends on whether the kid is ok with being left alone. My mother used to leave us alone in our apartment, but we knew half of the neighbors on our floor so it was easy to get help even in the pre cell phone days. The neighborhood where we live now is very dense, so DD feels ok when we leave her alone for brief periods because she knows so many of our neighbors are just a few feet away.

    My brother still tells funny stories about the stuff he did when my mother finally left him totally alone in our apartment. He was nuts, but we’re all still here 30+ years to laugh about, so it does work out fine most of the time.

  110. Sorry, not sorry. Not in a bad mood either. Besides the snark over someone thinking her work is somehow important and not wanting mommies to be gone for long stretches, there’s also the looking down one’s nose at someone else just figuring out something you’ve known for a while and saying “obvi”.

  111. Dad thinks that being gone all the time wasn’t the greatest for his family

    I wonder what his family would say if they could do it all over again. Wife go to work, live in San Ramon, go to public school, etc.

  112. SM sometimes I feel like I’m not even reading the same blog that you are. As you and others pointed out, it’s all context, but even when I go back and re-read the comments I think you’re referencing, I don’t hear the judgment in them.

  113. On leaving kids alone–during the day, I’ve done it for ages. He didn’t like the market & errands when he was six, so I’d leave him home for an hour or two Sat mornings and he’d play quietly. Have hilarious pix on my FB from when I came home to find him, age 7 or 8, holding a butcher knife, watermelon he’d just slaughtered spread all across the table next to him. He’d probably be fine with an overnight or a week–but if I did that, he’d start with a fridge full of fruit & frozen dinners, a bunch of carry-out menus, all clean laundry & dishes, etc.

  114. Rhett – the problem is you can’t live parallel lives so the one you are living is the only one you know. I thought that my friends households were like mine, even though I knew their Moms stayed home. It was only years later did I fully grasp the differences in upbringing and what that meant from an income standpoint, household arrangements etc.

  115. But someone had to support the family.

    The only item that struck me is that. In context, the tone seemed to indicate it was a necessary evil and it also seemed to minimize how much of a vital contribution “bringing home the bacon” represents to a family.

  116. Well, my tone was just off all the way around, I see. I managed to offend everyone. Maybe I can be the next Milo Yiannopolous. Anyway, my apologies to everyone.

  117. Rhett – the problem is you can’t live parallel lives so the one you are living is the only one you know.

    While true, it’s also wise to keep in mind how actual alternative scenarios would have played out in reality vs. some idealized version of what could have been.

  118. MBT, I won’t go into attitudes about including the value of a job to others as one criteria in choosing a career, or the relative merit of various careers, because that’s nothing new. You can read it in old posts.

    The bit about what constitutes “travel” for work hasn’t come up, in my memory, but what do you see in comments on her being gone so long that isn’t condemnatory? I understand Rocky’s context now, and her comments make sense from that perspective, but am not willing to carry those assumptions over to this family or to anyone whose work requires months of field work. My context is that during my masters, I remember someone showing slides taken during her diss research (because of course it’s a “her”), some of which included her three-year old daughter, there at the tent in the Tibetan mountains. She could’ve written a diss close to home, and left the mountains of Tibet to dads or people without kids, but to me, that just isn’t an acceptable way to divide the world. Taking her daughter along sounds like wonderful family fun time, until you remember what she’s there for. It is more like trying to do your work from home, with no help. I don’t know what the situation with the child’s father was, why the daughter didn’t stay with him, which is what most men (including my friend, who does find his work on water resources important) do. I completely botched a grant once, because of my son’s behavior during a crucial two hours in the research. Yes, I wish I could’ve taken that ten-day trip without him. There is also the option, I guess, that one of my profs took when he married a woman he met during diss research. When he takes his son to Ecuador with him (cause he’s a sensitive new-age guy), he has relatives to stay with for part of the time. This is work travel just as much as a bank inspection is, and the career stakes are just as high as people are saying the family stakes are. If you see comments that say “hey, great that she is doing work she thinks is important and that her husband is fully supportive of her, being lead parent in her absence” please show them to me because you’re right, that’s not the blog I read.

    I think you often read anger into my comments here. I’m not mad atcha, hope this post made that clear.

  119. As for when you can safely leave kids alone at home, and for how long, it’s impossible to come up with a blanket solution, other than that 5 is too young. So much depends upon the particulars of the kid(s), the house and neighborhood, the friends, and the availability of adult backup. One of my friends left her somewhat challenging teenager alone for a weekend, with the understanding that a neighbor had a key and would be popping by at random just to check in. The neighbor caught the kid having an authorized beer party and appropriate consequences followed, but it never happened on subsequent trips.

    We left college DS holding down the fort for a long summer weekend during which a storm knocked over several trees in the yard. For some reason, we had not thought to give him the number of the tree guys in case trees fell over while we were gone, but fortunately none hit the house and DS was extremely responsible and called us in a panic, but it did give us pause the next time we left teenage boys at home alone for days.

  120. “I can NOT imagine leaving a teenager home alone for days at a time. Even if you have the greatest kid in the world, other kids will “hear” that your house is adult free and drop by. It’s not good for so many reasons.”

    Yes, I agree.

    Lark – I am with you. I am constantly shocked by how much I enjoy being a parent of an elementary kid compared to when he was a baby/toddler/preschooler. We haven’t had major school or behavioral issues – but I think it’s like you. The things that made it difficult make it easier now – strong will, energy level, intelligence, etc. And family is still the center of his world, so we have really enjoyable family time together. I was never sad about him growing up in the first 4 years, but now I feel like I want time to slow down before he turns into a sullen teenager.

  121. we had not thought to give him the number of the tree guys in case trees fell over while we were gone

    Let me preface this by saying I don’t know anything about this sort of thing. That said, what is the urgency to get the trees removed if they aren’t on the house?

  122. I didn’t understand the question. I would leave my kids alone (and have started to leave DS1 alone) and I would leave my child(ren) alone with a child well-known to me if their parents were OK with it. I was referring to Denver Dad’s slumber party question- too much turmoil happens in my home to leave multiple kids alone for a late evening. But that’s my house, which is pretty chaotic.

  123. “For some reason, we had not thought to give him the number of the tree guys in case trees fell over while we were gone, but fortunately none hit the house and DS was extremely responsible and called us in a panic, but it did give us pause the next time we left teenage boys at home alone for days.”

    Yeah, my concern would be both how responsible the kid is and how comfortable s/he would be with that arrangement. I was left alone longer and earlier than I was comfortable with, and my mom will never live down the dinner out when the chimney fell in and I thought someone was trying to break in Santa-style. At this point, given where my kids currently are, I would not be comfortable leaving them for overnights, but we’re close, I think (and part of that is just logistics, because daycare requires an adult at dropoff/pickup — next year when DS just comes straight home like DD does, it might be more of an option). I would also feel more comfortable leaving them alone together — they might kill each other, but I know they’d both be much more comfortable with the other there.

  124. That Milo comment reminded me of our Milo. I hope he is ok, because I noticed he hasn’t been posting.

  125. LFB: I still want to meet you, so if you’re ever in my city again (and want to meet up), please reach out.

  126. We regularly leave our oldest if we go out to dinner in the evening. We’d also be fine leaving him alone in the evening with about 50% of his friends (assuming we were returning home later in the evening and not gone overnight). The other 50% are a little more impulsive and thrill seeking, so no go for them.

    The struggle I have with leaving both of mine together is the concern that they’ll fight (physically). They fight very rarely, but when they do, they do not mess around. I had to break one up the other day, and I was genuinely concerned about how to get in between them without getting myself hurt. I can leave them alone on a Saturday morning while I go for a run or go to the grocery store, because they’re either sleeping or playing video games, but by the late afternoon/evening, when they’re rested up and looking for entertainment, I don’t feel like I can leave them alone together.

  127. our Milo. I hope he is ok, because I noticed he hasn’t been posting.

    He posted that he’s taking a break for a bit. I hope he’ll be back soon.

  128. My cousins couldn’t be convinced to house sit for my family when they were teens because they were convinced our house was haunted.
    I was left alone for long weekends fairly frequently and I didn’t hear any ghosts.

  129. Rhett,

    In this case, the trees had crashed through the neighbor’s fence and, though he has his very own law degree, his professional expertise did not include experience with the fact that he was responsible for repairing his fence even though it was damaged by our trees. It was an awkward situation for a young adult to confront, especially as said young adult was in a sleep coma and therefore not actually aware that the trees had fallen until the neighbor alerted him.

    It was all fine — we arranged for the trees to be removed when we returned (at that time, I did not yet have the tree guys’ contact information on my phone, but I do now!) and I spoke with the neighbor. But just an example of a situation that a young person home alone for a weekend might have to deal with in a suburban, wooded neighborhood.

  130. I didn’t mean for things to sound super rosy for us – we are just in a sweet spot right now. I cried frequently over the stress of everything when my kids were little. My son had pervasive developmental delays and we worried a lot about him and I had to talk myself off the ledge on the way to work OFTEN because I was the earner and needed to keep showing up to keep our insurance and cover the cost of private therapy to keep DS on track. DH had a career sidetrack that was not fun for our family for a couple years. My job got so stressful that I had to quit to stop the panic attacks and take a year off about 5 years back. My DH has always been supportive of my career and ambition and this attitude has been rock steady for 20+ years. Do what works for your family and if it stops working, change it up.

  131. The problems between spouses are not always related to the degree of WOH vs family work or play. Some lower earning spouses or stay at homes or moms solely by reason of gender (earnings are not relevant) are treated by the other spouse as responsible for almost all domestic concerns or outsourcing thereof, with no regard to temperament or other factors. Some parents whose activities are primarily non remunerative have no understanding of the constraints of the workplace, the risk of job loss, and often what dreams the breadwinner has also given up.

  132. I get where the “little kids, little problems” comes from when it relates to obsessing over pureeing your own baby food vs buying it, breastfeeding vs formula, and stuff like that. To me, it was a reminder sometimes to tune out a lot of the BS because ultimately, a lot of that stuff really doesn’t matter much in the long run, especially in comparison to the types of issues that come up with older kids.

  133. “But what does that mean? It could mean she’s a general marketing schmo, plugging her company’s products, a/k/a salesman, in which case her husband’s “she’s saving the world” response is sort of disproportionate to the social good she provides. ”

    Seeing as she works for a Big Telecom, that is how I read it.

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