Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This is true, I think

The issue of two-parent working families is handled far better and with a lot more fairness in the following column than it has been in others... I also like how this column by Eileen Gunn does not devalue the contribution of Todd Palin to his family. This column is an example of how this issue COULD be discussed without gotcha bad mommy! sexism.

Of course, Palin's family matters have no relevancy to Palin's ability to lead, it's really none of our business how she and Todd balance family with career, and the questions aren't asked about male politicians (even those with working wives).
I wonder how Sarah Palin does it all.

Or more accurately, I wonder how Sarah and Todd Palin do it all.

Let's face it: You don't get where Sarah Palin has without a dependable and flexible spouse manning the home front—either that or a really good nanny. So I’m curious about the logistics of the daily work-life-family juggle in the household of Sarah and Todd Palin. But they aren't talking about it, and that bugs me.

I’m part of a generation that sees infinite options and flexibility for following life’s pursuits, especially when a household has two income-producing adults. You can have kids or not. You can have two high-powered careers, two low-key careers or one of each. Or, like most of us, your careers can fall somewhere in the middle.

For those of us in that vast middle, when kids come into the picture, there's usually a lot of ratcheting up and cutting back, taking turns and trading off.

One parent (often but not always the mom) stays home for a while, or one or both cut back on their commitments and ambitions temporarily. If a once-in-a-career opportunity comes along for one, the other says go for it and picks up the domestic slack. When the other has a too-good-to-resist offer somewhere down the road, they swap roles.

But in writing about and observing all kinds of careers for several years now, I have to say that the more high profile and all-consuming one career is, the more likely it is that the other partner plays a largely supporting role. When one has a really high-powered job, such as a CEO or CFO, governor or a national politician, there typically is either a stay-at-home or work-from-home spouse (or no kids).

And it works both ways. Fortune magazine ran a feature a few years ago about accomplished women and the stay-at-home hubbies who make their careers possible.

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