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Discussion of the book "Getting to 50/50" by Meers and Strober

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Who has read the book "Getting to 50/50" by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober?

The books is written for working mothers (or perhaps couples) with suggestions on how to achieve a more equitable balance (50/50) with their partner for a healthy career and family life.

What are your thoughts?
post #2 of 44
I liked some things about this book. Examples include:

- Tips on how to be effective at work
- Being reassured that long hours at work is not equal to more efficiency
- General pro-family/work balance (for everybody) tone of the book
- Reassurance to women they are not ruining their families by going to work

However, I found the book lacking in other things. Examples include:

- Not a whole lot of convincing data. One research study was focused on and some of the outcomes were not discussed in detail. I would like to have seen something more comprehensive. I would love to see studies on attachment and the working mother.

- Not very practical or helpful to those who want to practice AP. There aren't a whole lot of tips about extended breastfeeding while working, how to get in extra touch-time with your baby/children, etc.

- Awful advice about letting your partner parent in his way, even if you know that what he is doing might be harmful. The book basically advocates that, if the father gets involved, you should just let him do whatever with the kids. Wrong advice in my opinion.

I have to preface this by saying that I read the book very quickly and on my Kindle, which I tend to not be as thorough with, so I apologize if I am mistaken in my analysis
post #3 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Path2Felicity View Post

- Awful advice about letting your partner parent in his way, even if you know that what he is doing might be harmful. The book basically advocates that, if the father gets involved, you should just let him do whatever with the kids. Wrong advice in my opinion.
THANK YOU. This was my main problem with the book. I nearly stopped reading it.

Ironically, DH flipped the book open at random, and found this part!! And told me later that he didn't want to upset me by bringing it up, but that that was his take away from the book. Great.

I'll post my full review in a minute...it's what I posted yesterday in another thread. I was waiting for others to chime in with their thoughts before I posted my own.

Thanks for the generating the discussion!
post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 

My review

I did like the book, but I was a little disappointed that the book was mostly for mothers, not for fathers. It had all kinds of advice for what a mother can do (most of which I've done) and not a whole lot in the end section about men. So, that was really a let down. I was hoping for some very direct suggestions that I could hand to my husband with the pages Post-Noted and say, here, read this and let's talk it over.

I do agree - the first part of the book was good for working mothers looking for validation that their choice is a good one. But I felt like for me, I didn't need data on the benefits of daycare or statistics on how keeping a career going and having two careers benefits a family and benefits a husband. I'd already considered those things and I've reconciled that I am better off in my career than not...just need practical suggestions for really getting to 50-50 and how to make my husband see that path.

I completely agree that it wasn't very AP-friendly or AP-aware.

One thing about the book is that it didn't seem like with all the suggestions a couple would really be 50-50. It sort of seemed to assume that a mother just need to give up control, let the father make mistakes, let the kids eat less than nutritious meals, overlook if directions weren't followed, etc. I don't know - do we really need to accept consistently less quality to get to 50-50? And again, it seemed like the mother would still be doing more, and as long as the dad contributed more than dads of the past that was basically 50-50. Seemed more like 60-40 to me or 70-30. Or even 80-20.

It was a good read, and I'll probably still show the book to DH, but it didn't really have a lot of practical answers for making changes in one's husband and having them see the light.
post #5 of 44
I think the advice wrt husbands was given with the assumption that the husband is a decent and basically competent guy who might make mistakes at first out of inexperience but who would soon learn the ropes. So no, I don't think they meant to accept consistently lower quality, only temporarily lower quality while the husband gains experience. I think they assume that the husband already has a goal of 50/50 and only needs some encouragement to realize the goal.

However, I generally felt that the book was a lot more about avoiding workplace discrimination than about anything in the household. I wonder if the title actually refers to 50/50 in the workplace rather than at home. The part which really matched my experience was the part about women who found that they were expected to perform better after having a baby than ever before, in order to prove that they were serious. That happened to me in my graduate program. I don't think anyone who has been treating me that way is conscious of it and I'm sure they all would deny it, but it has been very obvious and very draining.
post #6 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
However, I generally felt that the book was a lot more about avoiding workplace discrimination than about anything in the household. I wonder if the title actually refers to 50/50 in the workplace rather than at home. The part which really matched my experience was the part about women who found that they were expected to perform better after having a baby than ever before, in order to prove that they were serious. That happened to me in my graduate program. I don't think anyone who has been treating me that way is conscious of it and I'm sure they all would deny it, but it has been very obvious and very draining.
I think you are absolutely right.

This book was more about 50/50 between a woman and work, not a woman and her partner in family life.

I mean, at least 2/3 of the book was devoted to 50/50 between the woman and the work place.

It also heavily focused on making women aware of the worth of staying in the workforce. I just felt that it was more about the women themselves - the authors - than about real advice.

It also seemed like it was written for women whose husbands/partners made good money and could comfortably afford to support the families. It seemed to be geared toward advising women even if you choose to opt out (the opt-out phenomena of upper income highly educated women) it might be a good idea not to for x, y, and z reasons. I mean, the way they talked about career, resumes, leave, salary, and all that - they were clearly talking about high wage earners, not blue collar or service workers.

I would not buy this book nor recommend it, but I am glad that I read it. I wasn't a women in need of reminding that my career is important and a good thing to have. I was really looking for a step-by-step direction for my husband to read about how he can step up to 50%.



I'll find it yet, though!! Even if it's a judge. Just kidding. (Not really).
post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
The part which really matched my experience was the part about women who found that they were expected to perform better after having a baby than ever before, in order to prove that they were serious. That happened to me in my graduate program. I don't think anyone who has been treating me that way is conscious of it and I'm sure they all would deny it, but it has been very obvious and very draining.


I sort of know what you mean, and I'm sorry that you faced this. I only sort of know what you mean because in my experience, I was expected to perform in the workplace to my "old" or "previous" level, even though I was now in less than full time status and they knew before they hired me that I was a mother of a young child and I told them that I would be able to travel and attend meetings outside of my work hours only on a limited basis. We really should have set boundaries then on what "limited" basis meant because it was open to interpretation and easily forgotten a few years into the job.

I want to do the best job possibly for my employer. It's my nature, and I feel obligated to them, and I want to impress them, and I want to impress myself and feel I did a good job. Plus the issues are important to me and I care about them deeply.

But I can't do it, unless I'm a truly half-assed parent. And I'm not going to do that. So, I often feel like I'm operating at 80% - B level - as a mom and maybe 70% - C level - as an employee. And I hate it. But it's all I can do...
post #8 of 44
After hearing this book mentioned on this forum time and time again, I decided to read it for myself. I have to say, in all honesty, not only did this book not convince me that it is ok to be a working mom, but it made me want to stop my plans to return to school and continue being a SAHM.

First let me say that I can see how some women might relate to a book like this-- it gives fair justification for going back to work--but only if you are the kind of woman who wants to work. For many of us, it is a struggle to decide which path to choose-- whether to stay home, or to go back to work. For example the book argues that your sex life will improve, your marriage will improve, etc., if you work-- it seems to me that ultimately it is happiness that will make these kinds of things improve in your life. So if you are a woman that is happier in the work force, your personal life will be reflected by this. However if you are insecure about your decision to return to work, and are having a tough time, there is no possible way that your sex life is going to skyrocket!

I personally enjoy being a mother and not only that, I enjoy being home with my DS. I have struggled with the notion of going back to school, as I take very seriously my role in my DS's life. When the book makes the argument that mediocre parenting breeds perfectly decent children-turned-adults, I was discouraged. Surely they aren't meaning that working mothers naturally are only average at child-rearing. This was enough to make me want to stay home-- and my DS has an excellent father who is extremely involved in his son's life.

I found the angle of the book to be archaic in terms of feminist thought, and was surprised to find that the book was published in 2009! It screamed of the attitude that children are a burden to be shared between parents, rather than a gift to be appreciated-- this sort of "ladies, get back to work!" mentality. That women are on average more happy in the workforce (and while that may or may not be true, the interviews they seem to choose to support their arguments-- for example: "I miss the days when my wife came home with stories about her work. Now every night, she tels me whats going on in preschool...I miss the camraderie"--have a negative tone toward the act of parenting. This quote, in fact, insinuates that marriages are less fulfilled with mom at home, and not only that, it is mom's fault for being boring for dad!) A more appropriate vision of feminism today is an emphasis on being fantastic mothers, and taking our roles as mothers extremely seriously-- hence the increasing popularity of breastfeeding and attachment parenting.

I dont know, maybe it took losing 3 babies before having my DS to know what a special gift having a child is, and even if we are working and student mothers, it doesn't give us the right to have an attitude that we can just get by with our parenting. I felt this book was an insult to working mothers if we really think about it, and it is an insult to SAHMs too. Yet another reason to pin working moms against those that choose to stay at home.


On another note, one book I found particularly helpful was "Partnership Parenting" by Kyle and Marsha Pruett. While maintaining the same theory that 50/50 does with the importance of dad's involvement, this book doesn't put the pressure on to make sure everything in our lives is "even steven," but rather we just work hard to get the job done as well as we are able.

Thanks for starting this thread, I've been contemplating doing it myself, so I was happy to see it!
post #9 of 44
Great post, cakemama. You summarized well some of my issues with the book. I also found the whole attitude somewhat archaic. I think it's pretty good for many feminists, but I am not really interested in feminist ideology. My DH is into AP, I'm into AP, and I wanted something else entirely from the book. I don't need to convince my husband to put in his share at home because we are both crazy about just doing what is best for DD.

I do want to go back to work, and I feel so selfish and horrible sometimes. My DD will be 9.5 months when I go back and she will be with my mother so I'm not too concerned, but my gosh, this has been hard for me to deal with. The comfort I've received from everywhere (except, ironically, the MDC forums... thanks guys ) has been a little disappointing. I actually had someone tell me that it doesn't matter what we do when they are babies- it's more important once they are older. (They were serious.) Many people tell me that I am setting a good example for DD- I find this argument to be weak, at best (horrible, at worst). The best advice that I received was on these forums... letting me know that it's okay for DD to form an attachment to my mom.. and that communal, family settings have always been the norm and still is in many societies.

Anyway, I understand why people would find this book appealing as it does go over (some, limited) research and does have a positive tone in terms of getting everyone (men and women both) to achieve work-life balance. But, it did leave me wanting for more. It did little to reassure me, and maybe I should take it as a sign that I shouldn't be doing this right now to my DD. And then I realize that I don't have too much of a choice. So, I feel stuck.

And, as That Is Nice pointed out, it congratulates and encourages mediocre parenting. No, it's not okay for your partner to engage in less than ideal parenting. The couple's number one concern should be the child above all else. I don't see my marriage as a power struggle and my husband would respect me regardless of whether I stay at home or work full time. For women who are not in this situation, the book gives them the "ok" to let their partners do whatever they have to do to get by. It's just not acceptable to me.

Sigh. I never imagined it would be this difficult to leave DD.
post #10 of 44
Mothers and Others is a book about non-maternal caregivers that is more about what you're interested in, Path2Felicity. I've read the Google preview (or some preview anyway) and it looked pretty good.
post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Path2Felicity View Post
I also found the whole attitude somewhat archaic. I think it's pretty good for many feminists, but I am not really interested in feminist ideology.
Funny. I didn't think it was feminist ideology at all. I think one theme in the book mentioned by me and others earlier is actually not all that feminist - that working mothers need to lower expectations of their husbands and quality control for raising the kids.

Also, I didn't find the argument that if a woman works her husband has the ability to follow his passions, and perhaps take greater career risks or to change careers, to be particularly pro-feminism.

And the book certainly didn't seem to accept that a woman may choose to not work while raising her children, or to put her career on hold for a time, and to me, and to many others, feminism is about empowerment of women to make their own choices based on their own needs.
post #12 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakemama579 View Post
I found the angle of the book to be archaic in terms of feminist thought, and was surprised to find that the book was published in 2009! It screamed of the attitude that children are a burden to be shared between parents, rather than a gift to be appreciated-- this sort of "ladies, get back to work!" mentality. That women are on average more happy in the workforce (and while that may or may not be true, the interviews they seem to choose to support their arguments-- for example: "I miss the days when my wife came home with stories about her work. Now every night, she tels me whats going on in preschool...I miss the camraderie"--have a negative tone toward the act of parenting. This quote, in fact, insinuates that marriages are less fulfilled with mom at home, and not only that, it is mom's fault for being boring for dad!) A more appropriate vision of feminism today is an emphasis on being fantastic mothers, and taking our roles as mothers extremely seriously-- hence the increasing popularity of breastfeeding and attachment parenting.
Yes! This was a problem I had with the book as well.

I think it's a bit condescending to think that a mother - or a father - would have interesting things to talk about with their spouse only if they work! I mean, I work. DH works. We often still talk about mostly pre-school, daycare, our child. It's the nature of parenting a young child. I am interested in what my husband does in his career, but I'm not that interested in hearing about it every night. And most days, I'm so burned out by work, I don't want to bring it home and talk about it there, too. DH and I share things about our jobs, sure, but only when it's something interesting, and having a job wouldn't prevent either of us from following what's going on in the world, being up on news, and talking about that. Most of the interesting stuff we talk about is not work-related. The idea that a woman or a man has to be in the workforce to have their finger on the pulse of the world is old-fashioned.
post #13 of 44
Fair enough, but again, I think this book is aimed at a very particular audience and doesn't claim to be about the vast array of choices out there, does that make any sense? It is aimed at women who already have decided not to take any time off from their careers, and who already have supportive husbands; it's more of a how-to than a why-to. The how-to can be a bit scanty of course, which is the problem.

Perhaps the bit about giving the husband a chance to take more risks is the part that is meant to encourage said husband to help more at home? Hard to say.
post #14 of 44
Oops, TIN, you snuck in there-- I was responding to your first post, not your second.
post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Path2Felicity View Post
Many people tell me that I am setting a good example for DD- I find this argument to be weak, at best (horrible, at worst). The best advice that I received was on these forums... letting me know that it's okay for DD to form an attachment to my mom.. and that communal, family settings have always been the norm and still is in many societies.


and



I think it's great you are so thoughtful and reflective about this. It's not an easy, straightforward choice, even when the choice is just about income. It's so nuanced and so, so personal to one's situation.

I wouldn't under-estimate the role model factor, though. I'll share with you a story that happened to me. My son has a few friends - from pre-school - whose fathers are doctors and whose mothers do not work out of the home. I once popped in to daycare to visit my son for lunch (I try to make lunch dates for him if I have a lot of meetings or something in a week). And at the end of lunch, I said "OK, bye! I have to get back to work now." And one of the little girls said to me "You work???" She was really surprised. Really surprised. I can't read into exactly what she was thinking, but it did seem that her impression was that mommies do not work. That has always stayed with me.

Now, I would argue that a mother is a role model if they stay at home too, and that children will see many role models in the world. But I do think - on some level - that it is good for my son to see that I work, have a job, have a boss, travel for work, and that my job is every bit as equal to dad's. It's an important lesson that we use to teach him about finances. He knows that mom and dad go to work to earn money, which is then deposited in the bank, and that we draw that money when we need things or want things. He knows that the things we choose to buy and the decisions we make are directly tied to working. It's actually helped a bit when he is having a fit about something - a toy or a treat - and I can tell him - rationally - it's not in the budget and he is starting to understand that and make better choices.

And I hope that one day, he'll understand that women have careers the equal of men's and if he is a father or husband, this will breed respect for his partner.
post #16 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
Fair enough, but again, I think this book is aimed at a very particular audience and doesn't claim to be about the vast array of choices out there, does that make any sense? It is aimed at women who already have decided not to take any time off from their careers, and who already have supportive husbands; it's more of a how-to than a why-to. The how-to can be a bit scanty of course, which is the problem.

Perhaps the bit about giving the husband a chance to take more risks is the part that is meant to encourage said husband to help more at home? Hard to say.
I think that is a fair assessment. You're right - the title of the book shows it's not about the choice to work or to stay home. It's about life - work balance. I still think it was more about getting to 50-50 between a woman and her employer rather than a woman and her partner.
post #17 of 44
I agree with that.
post #18 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Path2Felicity View Post
And, as That Is Nice pointed out, it congratulates and encourages mediocre parenting. No, it's not okay for your partner to engage in less than ideal parenting. The couple's number one concern should be the child above all else. I don't see my marriage as a power struggle and my husband would respect me regardless of whether I stay at home or work full time. For women who are not in this situation, the book gives them the "ok" to let their partners do whatever they have to do to get by. It's just not acceptable to me.
Sigh. I never imagined it would be this difficult to leave DD.
Thank you. This was my main problem with the book. I don't think it's ever OK for a woman to have to accept mediocre parenting to scrape by in her career. In fact, I bet that is why many women contemplate leaving a career at all. Men can and do need to be held to high standards. They are just as capable. That is 50-50.

Secondly, do you think your husband's attitude is inherent to him as a person or was it something that you worked on as a couple (or was it shaped by other outside forces)?

Does that support come naturally to your husband?

I wonder if I can even change my husband to be something other than his natural or instinctive inclinations? I don't see a book or a thread or a magazine article - or for that matter, marriage counseling or discussions between DH and me - to be something that will evoke change.

My husband was raised by a very traditional household structure, and his father didn't even change a diaper. Now, that probably isn't very unusual, but it set a tone. My DH changes diapers and did so willingly and with interest. But to him that makes him super dad. He compares how he fathers to his dad's and grandfather's parenting, and he thinks of himself as a hero.

DH never had role models for balancing two professional careers with limited time off. He doesn't really get it, and he's too entrenched in his corporate culture and own career mishaps to ever feel comfortable being a sole provider or putting things on the line by say taking paternity leave. It works against his very nature.

DH's father was not a good role model for active and engaged fatherhood. And DH's mother was a stay-at-home mom until DH was about 10 years old. I think that she was a very hands-on mother when DH was young, but when he went to school, his mother got really into soap operas (and called them "my stories" which DH remembers vividly). His mom was probably still available to him when he got home from school in the afternoon, but I truly feel that DH thinks his mom should have been working instead of watching soap operas and that he sees no reason why I can't work during the time of day when his mom was watching soap operas. I can work - I just need more help from him!

His parents as role models definitely did have an impact on DH.

My DH would be less confrontational with me about things if I just didn't loft expectations on him. If he could be like his dad was, but with accolades and praise heaped on him for changing a diaper or giving our child a bath or dressing him in the morning, then DH would think our marriage is fantastic and he would be very, very satisfied.

It's DH's impressions about my so-called demands that cause problems. If DH could afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom easily with no additional effort or stress on his part, we'd probably have no problems (well, except that I truly do value my career and want to keep it going). DH wants me to tend to all the the things like I'm a stay-at-home mom (because he can't due to his work environment and structure) but he can't provide for us nor does he want to. And yet he won't change the work structure, either.

It really is a case of DH having his cake and eating it too.

So, I need a 50-50 book that provides guidance on transformative change. I don't know if that's possible.
post #19 of 44
That Is Nice- I just want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts and thoughts... and how eloquent you are.

You asked about whether my husband was always this way or if I had to work on him a bit. I think some things are personality based. Since the beginning of our marriage, he has always been helpful around the house. He cooks most of the time, I do dishes most of the time, but we pretty much split everything else. And it's not a "You do this, I do that" sort of thing... we just kind of fell into a "It's dirty so I better clean this" thing and don't make a big deal out of things that we get done around the house.

I can't really say it was his parents. He grew up in Iran and his dad worked outside of the house, but it was not a professional career. His mom was married at 14 and had him when she was 15. Neither of his parents were educated past elementary school. He came to America for his PhD, however, so they both understood the value of education. DH never saw his mom working or his dad helping but because he was the oldest child, he would often help his mom around the house. When he went to college, he was away from home and belonged to a very active charity organization where they had to cook and prepare meals a LOT... so he learned a lot through there too.

Anyway, neither of us were expecting to be the type of parents we are. Then, when we got pregnant and began thinking about the types of parents we want to be and looking around at what others do, it totally changed our perspective. DH has said to me on more than one occasion that he thought being a stay at home mom was easy- and he would never say that now. Some days I complain endlessly that I'm exhausted (especially if DD is going through a clingy phase) and he completely understands. He never says, "Well, I work all day and you don't" or anything like that. Because we went through this parenting journey together and he was highly involved since Day 1, we just never took each other for granted.

But, this came about because we respect each other and are both involved in things. Does your husband agree with your style of parenting? Does he appreciate extended breastfeeding? Does he understand the benefits and difficulties of AP? Have you explained it to him? Do you two have a foundation of respect for each other in all things?

I think the issues with you and your husband go beyond superficial things. There is something at the foundation of your relationship and his personality. Has he ever been diagnosed with Aspergers? I truly believe that mutual respect is the most important quality in a relationship. When I got married, my dad told me and my husband: "I'm going to tell you something that my father told me when I got married. Never, ever put your spouse down in front of other people. If you put down or insult your spouse in front of others, people will think it's okay for them to do it too." I found that advice so interesting because it really emphasizes how much respect we need to have for each other in order to make our marriage work.

I also think "50/50" means different things to people. For the authors of this book, it meant- splitting everything so there's no difference between the husband and wife. I don't think that's very realistic or practical. To me, 50/50 is about how we view each other. And that we don't take each other for granted. We both knew from the beginning that mothering is so different than fathering... and he always felt the need to be the main provider in the family so that I could take breaks from my career to be home with DD. It just kind of aligned with our values and views. But, we both know that we are not locked into gender roles. It's a balance. It doesn't seem like your husband has that sense of balance.

I feel like I'm rambling. Does any of that make sense?
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
Mothers and Others is a book about non-maternal caregivers that is more about what you're interested in, Path2Felicity. I've read the Google preview (or some preview anyway) and it looked pretty good.
Thanks so much for this suggestion. Ordered it
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