Thursday, May 09, 2002

I appreciate all the level-headed feedback to my Detroit Free Press op-ed yesterday. For the curious, the positive is edging out the negative roughly 60-40. The most common complaints are that 1) I belittled full-time mothers and 2) I underestimate how sacrifices are necessary for parenting. The Freep's subtitle and cartoon that ran with my article may have set the wrong tone for what I was trying to say, so let me try to clear it up:

I said in the article I don't criticize Hughes for doing what she felt she had to do. That's her call; I'm not running her life nor wish to. What irked me, as I said at the beginning, is how American culture in the 21st Century still accepts the recent assumption that such a move is logical for a woman but not for a man. Why are only women expected to make these kind of moves? Why is it seen as natural for a man to put his career over the kids, but not for a woman to do so, and not for a man to put kids over a career (I say this expecting to be a full-time Dad at some point in my life, so don't accuse me of being numb to family).

Of course, in a truly balanced world, society would function so that neither career nor kids loses out much more than the other, and neither man nor woman is expected to have unique responsibilities inherent to their gender. As for parental sacrifice, America should be much more tolerant of the need for it in a healthy society, and the Church should be much more tolerant of those who feel they are called to serve in certain jobs that may require them to sacrifice some or all of their family capacity. In the meantime we need to change the conventional wisdom that men should worship careers and that women are ineligible for one at all. And here I guess it is relevant to point out that Hughes will still be pulling it major dough as a part-time consultant to the President. Sitting in the family room with phone in hand, the bucks piling up...maybe she's found an effective balance between work and family after all.

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