A mother and author is admitting to the world that she feels no shame in sometimes choosing her work over her kids.
Lara Bazelon, a lawyer, law professor and writer, wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times titled, “I’ve Picked My Job Over My Kids.”
In the buzzed about article published Saturday, Bazelon writes, “I prioritize my work because I’m ambitious and because I believe it’s important. If I didn’t write and teach and litigate a part of me would feel empty.”
Bazelon, a mom of two, told “GMA” she often struggles with balancing helping her clients whose lives are on the line and doing what’s best for her kids, “who deserve a really present and engaged and loving mother.”
She also said the pressures placed on mothers are different than the pressures placed on fathers.
“We’re held to a different standard, and so when fathers, for example, go grocery shopping or show up in the middle of the day for an event, everyone thinks it’s so wonderful and fantastic,” Bazelon said. “If a mother, for example, misses the midday event, there’s a sense of, well, ‘Why weren’t you there?'”
But Bazelon admits her choice to choose work over family sometimes comes with a price.
“I’ve missed my daughter’s 7th birthday, I’ve missed my son’s 10th birthday party, I’ve missed two family vacations, I’ve missed Halloween, I’ve missed recitals,” she said.
Bazelon said a moment at her son’s Thanksgiving potluck at school reaffirmed her choices were not in vain, writing in the NYT that in front of his class, her son said, “I appreciate my parents for being lawyers because they get people out of jail. This really helps me reflect, do the right thing and have positive role models.”
“I think we need to support each other in the choices we make rather than being judgmental and then understand that there are so many ways to raise healthy successful resilient children,” Bazelon explained.
Rachel Simmons, a parenting expert and author, said the idea of work-life balance is a “fool’s errand.”
“As a parent, when I’m working, I feel like I should be with my daughter. When I’m with my daughter, I feel like I should be working,” Simmons told “GMA.” “Millions of moms feel that constant guilt like nothing we can do is ever enough.”
Simmons went on, addressing how Bazelon’s NYT piece might not have been as controversial if it were written by a man.
“We’re expecting them to be everything to their kids all the time and women are never going to be equal to men as long as there’s that double standard in effect,” Simmons said.
Simmons said that by going to work, parents are showing their children that they have something else in their lives that gives them purpose.
“I also want to add that this is a very privileged choice,” she said. There are millions of women every day who don’t have the choice to miss work, to go see an event for their children who could be fired if they did that.”
Here, Simmons offers tips for talking with your child when you have to miss an important event or travel, due to work.
Avoid minimizing what your child is feeling. Steer clear of responses like, “It’s not that big a deal” or I’ll go to the next one.” Don’t make them feel guilty for being unhappy, either.
Instead, acknowledge that this is hard. You might say, “If I were you, I’d feel sad, too” or “I understand why you’re disappointed. I would be too.”
Explain why you need to be away.
If the reason is financial, say so: “I have to work so that I can support our family. I work so I can provide us with food, clothing and the fun things we like to do.”
Stay focused on explaining your absence, not making your child feel guilty about the fact that you have to work.
If you love your job, let them know.
Explain why you care about your work. Perhaps you help others, or make their lives better. Maybe you make a difference in the world. Let your child know why this matters to you.
When your children see you engaged in purposeful work, you model the importance of finding meaning in what you do — and you can encourage your children to do the same.
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