Linda & Richard Eyre: What matters is in 'your house'

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

The goal to strengthen families is one we share with so many of our readers.

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The goal to strengthen families is one we share with so many of our readers.

We feel close to you, parent to parent, as we try to share ideas and insights on marriage, parenting and grandparenting.

We believe the key to everything is what happens inside our homes and families. Perhaps we can emphasize that point by taking issue with an article by Keli Goff that appeared recently in the Guardian and was quoted by Deseret News writer Devon Merling. According to Merling, Goff’s premise was that “a woman who obtains an elite education has an obligation to use it pursuing a high-powered career outside the home.”

In her article, Goff makes what we think is an outrageous statement. She says, “There's nothing wrong with someone saying that her dream is to become a full-time mother by 30. That is an admirable goal. What is not admirable is for her to take a slot at Yale Law School that could have gone to a young woman whose dream is to be in the Senate by age 40 and in the White House by age 50.” The telling title of Goff’s article is “Female Ivy League Graduates Have a Duty to Stay in the Workplace.”

Really? A duty to whom? To their university? To business? To politics? Wait a minute — don’t we need to ask ourselves where our most important duty lies?

It just so happens that we have four daughters who went to so-called “elite” colleges and universities — Harvard, Columbia, Wellesley and Boston University — and they have all made the decision that one of the contributions they will make to society is to be stay-at-home moms, at least while their children are small. (And hey, these are our grandchildren, you know, who will surely change the world!) Would anyone seriously accuse our daughters of some kind of dereliction of duty, some kind of traitor-ism to society or to the greater good?

When are we going to learn that most problems can be traced back to the most basic unit of society — the family? And when will we understand that all the best and most economical solutions — and the best chances for any society’s future — are also found in the home?

Is a “high-powered” mom thinking clearly if she delegates the care of her small children to a nanny or a maid so she can be out in the “more important” workplace? Or would she be wiser, if she can afford household help, to delegate everything but the parenting to someone else so she can maximize her time with her children and use her education to help them become all they can be?

A similar question could be asked about delaying pregnancy and kids in favor of the workplace. If a woman has an elite degree and wants to have a career, is her only option to work full time for 15 or 20 years after college and then try to start her family in her mid- to late 30s? If the second income is not essential, might it not make more sense to raise the children first, staying at home or working part time, and then pick up or continue a career after the kids are gone?

With today’s improved health and longevity, some women can have a 30-year career after raising their children.

By the way, at one of these “elite” colleges, at our daughter’s all-women Wellesley graduation ceremony, First Lady Barbara Bush was the commencement speaker — and we will never forget the best line of her speech: “Your success as a family ... Our success as a society depends not on what happens at the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

Right on, Barbara! Right on!

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com.

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