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I have been accepted into two PhD programs and I need some input to help me weigh the issues clearly and fairly. One program is where we currently live - Place A (Vancouver) another where my parents live - Place B (Ottawa). The money offer is similar, but it seems there is more funding potential with Place B.<br><br>
I am visiting Place B right now (they flew me and my nursing son out) and spent the day with faculty, students and met with other departments. The program is so absolutely in line with my interests that it blows me away. They are so keen and so connected not just academically, but with the government and organizations. There would be an incredibly rich support system for me in numerous departments and they proudly introduced me to the chair of a very prestigious department that is very related to my work and told him all about me. I met with the women's studies centre and the woman I spoke to was very honest and she said that the university has a very large and diverse and supportive feminist community, which is important to my work. Also, my focus has partly to do with Africa and the chair of the dept. said that being located there (nation's capital) ensures that a trip to Africa (to do some oral histories) is only a grant away. The employment opportunities in my dream field (aid/development) are endless here and the people I met are incredibly connected and have seen many of their students do well in this field after their PhDs. The average student finishes in 5years.<br><br>
My kids love Place B. My oldest son is a hockey fanatic and never stops talking about the outdoor rinks across the street from grandma's. They love the snow and cold. They love their grandparents., who love them back equally. I love my parents. They are also very connected and fascinating people. My grandfather died recently and has passed on his veritable museum of artifacts, journals and documents collected over generations of our family to my dad, who knows their stories and meanings. I want/need to learn this to keep it alive. My parents are very open-minded people who travel and have friends from all over the world and are a great influence on my kids. We could also buy a house in Place B immediately. I have friends in Place B and most of my family is nearby.<br><br>
Place A, however, is beautiful. I run year round, H fishes lots (it's known as the best fishing place in the world), ds1 is in a great little local community school, ds2 is set up in the wonderful univeristy daycare program. H has a job that he likes, but wants to change schools (he's a teacher). We live in student family housing which is nirvana for us and our kids (but only temporary). We go to the beach (ocean) lots and go camping (few bugs) whenever we can. H's parents live about 4 hours away and we see them once every few weeks, which the kids love (I can't stand them, but perhaps or perhaps not that's another story). We could never afford to buy a home in Place A, so we would have to move to the suburbs.<br><br>
The program is not very enriching for me. There is no interest in Africa and my would-be supervisor only indirectly shares my intersts (yet, she is well-respected and I get along great with her). No one else in the department even comes close to sharing my intersts. There is a great women's studies centre. H's little cousin also lives on campus and we're close to her (she lost her mom when she was young and she really looks up to me ) No one finishes the program before 6 years. All my research would take place in Place B,so I would need to find ways to fund my travel there, but it would mean lots of trips to see my parents. My after-school employment prospects in Place A are only within academia and not in my true field of interest.<br><br>
So, as I continue with this novel... I need to add a few more points. H has a side job that he does from home on his own time, which he loves and pays extremely well. He can make it as busy as he wants. He could make it f/t. The teacher job market is apparently not very good in Place B right now. H hates the cold and snow. Living close to his parents, hwoever, has been making him more like them (racist, judgemental, close-minded, never wanting to travel) even though he complains about their views sometimes. When we lived with my parents when ds1 was little, h was far more openminded and we even backpacked through Europe with ds1. It has been my life-long dream to study what I could study at Place B. H is a teacher, which means he can get a job here, but he would lose the seignority he's gained since he started (4 years), and he's not guaranteed a job... but he has that side job that he could turn into something bigger at least temporarily. I love the ocean and mountains and lucious green forests. I love to run. Both H and I would/could have summers off and could spend summers in Place A if we moved. H would not spend summers in Place B.<br><br>
AHHHHHH!!! H doesn't want to move. He's very stuck in his ways and after years of telling me I couldn't do so many programs, this is my last chance. But, I'm not sure what I want to do. I scared that if I don't know what I want to do, then H's wants will dictate what happens, yet again. We are married and have to make this decision together, but I want to be able to come to a decision fairly. I want to be able to lay out the pros and cons without a power struggle associated and I want to be clear about how I feel, because, just like he is going to communicate how he feels, I want to communicate how I feel and not be scared to tell him.<br><br>
What are your opinions? What are your thoughts? How should I approach all this with H (who thinks, like me originally, that I just came here because it was a free trip)? How can I try to get him to open-mindedly discuss this with me so that we can calmly and fairly talk about the issues at hand and be confident in the decision we make?<br><br>
Thank you so much!
 

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Two things stand out to me, but they may cancel each other out. First, I don't know the geography of Canada well, so bear with me. When DH and I met, we were going to college in Georgia. I'm from the South; he's not. He swore he loved it and wanted to stay forever. We're now in Kentucky (the Upper South, technically, but still...). I hate it. The cold is a huge, huge issue for me and one that DH doesn't understand. So, while it may seem silly or trivial, I would take your DH's concern for the weather seriously (not saying you aren't) because it could mean a lot of misery.<br><br>
With that said, I went to a graduate school that didn't entirely align with my interests, and I left before I finished. I found it incredibly difficult to find an advisor but then to find one who could/would assist me in MY area of interest. I got frustrated that though my interest was Southern women's history (which I was clear about in my application and sample), the department was moving to a Caribbean/Latin American focus. I felt left out and miserable. So, that's one point for your side - I'm not sure that trying to make yourself enjoy something because it's more convenient otherwise is the best idea.<br><br>
With that said, would you live in Place B forever? That makes a difference. Right now, I'm considering applying to doctoral programs for fall 09. I will consider places outside my climate/cultural comfort zone because I know I won't be there forever. So, the permanency of the situation matters. FWIW, DH and I sit down (separately if necessary) and draw up a list of pros and cons. We assign numerical values to each. We often really get a better sense for who feels more strongly or for what's best for us. It's dorky, yes, but it works.
 

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It seems to me you're thinking sort of short-term, here. Your program will be, what, 5-7 years? I'd say it's a no-brainer -- go with the program you love. Once you get that PhD, you're almost certainly going to be moving again anyway, unless H is not committed to moving for your career, in which case you'd need to rethink the whole plan anyway. If H doesn't want to move now, what's he going to do once you're on the market and finding that your options are Alberta, Grand Rapids, and Little Rock? (I'm assuming your goal is academia, but even if it's foundation/think-tank work, you'll have similar problems.) What will happen if you don't find something t-t the first year out, and spend a few years VAPping around?<br><br>
Keep in mind that as a doctoral candidate, you're going to spend significant amounts of time being miserable and making your family miserable. So if you're going to be miserable wherever you are, you may as well make it worthwhile, and do the academic part right. Your parents will likely be a very good cushion through this process for your boys, not to mention a wonderful part of their childhoods.<br><br>
But yeah, it's the "H doesn't want to move" part that raises a flag for me. For you, place B is pretty obviously where it's at.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mama41</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10721024"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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But yeah, it's the "H doesn't want to move" part that raises a flag for me. For you, place B is pretty obviously where it's at.</div>
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I agree. It seems clear to me, too, that place B is for you. Getting a PhD is *hard* (which I'm sure you know!) -- harder than you can imagine, especially with kids. Going to a place which is ok, but in which you don't get a lot of support and doesn't really align with your interests will make it all that much harder and you'll feel lonely.<br><br>
You'll also need help . . . . a lot . . . Sounds like having your parents nearby could be a major help, and sounds like place A only has grandparents four hours away . .. which is a bit too far to come over to look after the kids on a Saturday while DH works and you have to finish up an important paper.<br><br>
Lastly, I've read a lot of your posts over the past year about your DH. He was formerly abusive and now is confronting the fact that he may be an alcoholic, right? (forgive me if I'm confusing you with someone else!). Maybe making a new start somewhere else could help him further with recovery? And, if I could just be snarky here on your behalf, it sounds like he's put you and your kids through hell and that, basically, he kind of "owes" you, big time! (i know, I know, you shouldn't think like that, but I can't help it!)
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mama41</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10721024"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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Keep in mind that as a doctoral candidate, you're going to spend significant amounts of time being miserable and making your family miserable. So if you're going to be miserable wherever you are, you may as well make it worthwhile, and do the academic part right. Your parents will likely be a very good cushion through this process for your boys, not to mention a wonderful part of their childhoods.<br><br>
But yeah, it's the "H doesn't want to move" part that raises a flag for me. For you, place B is pretty obviously where it's at.</div>
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I think B is best for you and ultimately your family, but it sounds like your DH will not be that supportive, but if it is only for 5 years, surely you can talk him into it. Good luck with your dreams!
 

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I vote for Place B.<br><br>
This is about PhD programs, yes? Clearly Place B is the right program for you, based on what you've said.<br><br>
Both cities are wonderful (at least from the standpoint of the short visits I've made). Having your parents nearby will be a huge help to you during intense periods.<br><br>
Surely H knew upfront you were applying to both places? Why is he balking now?<br><br>
....but that belongs on a PAP thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
(I also posted this reply to the pap post) Thank you all so much for your thoughtful input. I broke the news to H that the decision is not nearly as clear cut as it was before my visit. He was upset, but then agreed to have an open discussion about when I get back. We agreed that we don't want either of us to end up as the bad guy or with a ton of regrets. (btw... yes, you've got the right person, Dariusmom, but of course I just can't stand up for myself like that)<br><br>
There has been a development, however, in my personal deliberations over this matter. I met this morning with my parents' neighbout who is a senior faculty member in a related department at the other university in Place B. We had a very long talk about all the pros and cons and he concluded that staying put was probably the smartest move. i respect him tremendously and he has a family as well, so he took that into consideration in his input. He said that hands down it would be a smart move for me to stay where I am because the university is so much better respected (one of the best in Canada). He did agree that making the contacts I would by going to Place B would be extremely helpful if I want to get a job outside academia when I'm done (which I think I want to do). But, he just kept coming back to the reality that Place A is a bigger and better institution and the contacts I will make even among my peers will likely be more substantive generally and offer the best and most potential in terms of networking and opening doors for opportunities. He said that if I stayed put, the one thing I would have to work hard on, is creating my own personal program geared toward my specific interests. He said that's totally doable, but I would have to remain focused because there isn't the automatic interest around me.<br><br>
So, if I stay put, I would have to still spend a lot of time in Place B. If I agreed to stay at Place A, I could bargain with H that I would need to spend at least a month each summer in Place B and then come for several 'research' trips.<br><br>
But, I'm still torn at the thought of possibly digging myself deeper into a life that I don't really want (ie. a career in academia). I'm scared that I won't be able to create a personal program that will cater to my needs. I'm scared that when I'm done, H will be even more resistant to moving somewhere where I could get the kind of job I really want. I'm scared that I'll end up having to work at the university close to his parents (that's scarry!). I'm scared taht something will happen to my parents and I'll wish I'd been here to know them better and to save all their stories. I'm scared that I'll end up in some big anonymous suburb doing a job that means nothing to me. It's all so hypothetical, though. I'm scared that I'll never get to travel.<br><br>
if I were able to convince H to come to Place B, though, I'm petrified that I'll get all teh blame for everything. I'm scared that he will end up being a SAHD because he won't get work and we won't find suitable daycare and then we'll split (our marriage has been very rocky) and he'll consequently get custody. I'm scared that I will hate it here. I'm scared that I won't get out of it what I had dreamed. I'm scared that my mom will start to drive me crazy and H will tell me more than he does now that I'm just like her. I'm scared that H would not be happy, which would make our marriage nasty again. I'm scared that I would have to put off having another child. I'm scared that when we do have another baby that I won't be able to go and nurse and play with him/her every lunch like I do with ds2. I'm scared that I'll get depressed because I won't be able to run (I was injured for 2 mos this winter and couldn't run and it was hell because I regulate so much through running). I'm scared I won't like my advisor (everyone says she's 'tough') and that I'll realizee that I want to stay in academia and my chances of succeeding would then be virtually nil.<br><br>
I'm so rambling... this is silly now. Sorry, I sincerely hope you didn't suffer through all of that. I suppose at this point this thread is more like a personal thinking through exercise.<br><br>
Whew. This sucks. At least H says he will openly discuss with me. Thanks again everyone!
 

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?<br><br>
OK, a few things:<br><br>
1. If your marriage is rocky and you don't trust the guy to pitch in wholeheartedly anyway, don't have a third child. Really don't. Two on your own is tough to manage with a career and research interests, esp. if you mean to travel. Three...you'll take years off your life, and make things much harder than you must for yourself and your family. Check the story of the intrepid single-mom-of-four researcher in the Chronicle a while back -- she had to cut short her Fulbright and come home. It just wasn't possible on her own.<br><br>
2. If you don't want academia, why are you getting a PhD? There are a few other things you can do, but for making money, and it sounds like you must, a PhD can actually be a liability.<br><br>
3. Place A may be a bigger and more prestigious institution, but in your actual field, where is the prestige? I got my degree at a not-particularly-impressive university, but the program itself is number one, and that's all that counts. Also, if the connections are not directly related to your interest -- and you're saying that at Place A they're not -- it doesn't matter how good the connections are. You'll always be tangential to them. You need to deal with the people who are really in your area of interest, and that means you need to be their direct responsibility.<br><br>
Please take professor recommendations about these things with a mountain of salt. Older tenured faculty are often very far removed from job market and expense-of-PhD realities, and they happily encourage thousands of bright young people to drive off cliffs every year.<br><br>
4. Also, have you thought carefully about how you're going to take care of your studies if your husband goes kablooie? If he's that unstable, you should be planning to do this with no help from him -- if he's helpful, terrific, but have your backup in place and ready to go.<br><br>
I have to warn you, a spouse that's not apprised of academic realities and genuinely on board for them is not likely to be a keeper, if you do this. I don't think that should stop you, given the unappealing man described here, but really, "spouse" is a miserable academic job. I've yet to meet an academic spouse who really digs it. Academia will take up all your time, and if you're easily bullied, you're going to struggle to get your work done, because you won't have an obvious job to go to yet will have insane amounts of work to do. Is he going to clean house? Take care of the kids? Cook? Schlep children to activities and playdates? Do laundry? Do a lot of wife work, basically? Is he going to be a pain in the ass about the fact that you don't have time to do all these things, and are always flying off to conferences and to do fieldwork, but are also not bringing in big bucks? Does he understand that after you get the degree, there will be very few jobs available, and that moving is almost certainly unavoidable? Possibly several times? Give it to him straight. Let him figure out what he wants. If his answer is "no", then you have a choice to make.<br><br>
It sounds like you're genuinely excited about this work and really raring to go. I'd say go do it. If he wants to stay in Vancouver and travel out to see you guys, wonderful. But do not let him stop you from doing this thing you love, especially if he's been a miserable drinking bastard to you.
 

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Mama 41 is so so right!<br><br>
Luckily, I've got a spouse who is super onboard with my academic career (and makes a good living himself which helps take up some of the slack so we can hire a housekeeper, etc.) and is proud of me and helps me in so many ways. *But*, with upcoming job searches in the Fall, things have become a bit difficult. He wants me to find a job and supports me *but* he also needs to work and be satisfied and the places where he can do that are limited, which limits my job search. For a short-term post-doc which I got for the Spring of 2009, it seems like it will work out, but we'll really have to see longer term . . . .<br><br>
I also wanted to re-emphasize what Mama 41 said about older, tenured faculty and their advice. Get advice from two or three other people, please, before you make any decisions!<br><br>
Lastly, I say this as gently as possible Lilgreen, and I alluded to it in my earlier posting, but it sounds like your DH and your marriage have *a lot* of issues (abuse, alcoholism, selfishness). I don't question why you have chosen to stay with him, but I do think you should think long and hard about making decisions that will help you be an independent mama able to support her kids by herself in the future.
 

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mama41 says it beautifully.<br><br>
I'd just like to reiterate that being at an institution where you constantly have to create your own network or even your own program could be exhausting and demoralizing. There's a lot to be said for being surrounded by like-minded people who genuinely share your passions. If you're not really interested in being permanently in academia, think very hard about *why* you want the degree and if it would really open the doors you want it to. There may be another way. Don't get me wrong...there are <b>all kinds</b> of good reasons for getting a PhD. But with a less-than-supportive husband and a couple of kids, it's exponentially harder than if you were single and childless.<br><br>
Big life changes are scary. Hopefully writing it all down it made it seem less so.
 
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