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'Princeton Mom' releases self-help book on finding 'THE ONE'

Published: Tuesday, March 11 2014 3:15 p.m. MDT

Savannah Guthrie talks with Susan Patton on the "Today" show.

"Today"

The infamous “Princeton Mom” caught national attention nearly a year ago with her controversial letter to the Daily Princetonian encouraging women to focus their college years on finding a husband. Now Patton has moved from a letter to a book.

The book, “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE,” is getting attention in light of its publication on March 11.

The book’s overview at BarnesandNoble.com gives a synopsis on Patton’s reasoning and approach.

“Susan Patton has heard smart young women admit they aspire to marriage and motherhood but have no model for pursuing those goals; reflecting on the choices she made in her early 20s, she’s boldly turned the tables on our ‘career first’ conditioning and suggests that you seek out the golden opportunities right in front of you, right now. In ‘Marry Smart,’ she shares the wisdom of her experience with warmth, humor and very straight talk.”

The 1977 graduate of Princeton, among of the first female graduates of the university, explains herself in an excerpt from the book shared on the “Today” show.

The excerpt describes a time she attended a women and leadership conference at Princeton. While speaking with eight young women about succeeding in the working world, she felt their attention had waned. She then asked if any of the women were interested in becoming wives or mothers and was surprised to see them hesitantly raise their hands. Her letter — and now her book — was an attempt at giving the advice she wished she had heard during college.

“To avoid a life of unwanted spinsterhood — with cats! — you have to smarten up about what’s important to you and keep your head in the game,” the excerpt reads. “You have to plan for your personal happiness with the same commitment and dedication that you plan for your professional success. Honestly, what about that is so controversial? … That’s what it’s really about: understanding what’s important to you and prioritizing. … When I say, ‘Find a man,’ what I really mean is ‘Find a man who will respect you.’”

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But despite Patton’s seemingly sincere advice, her blunt opinion and controversial ideas have already received backlash. Ideas such as plastic surgery in high school, women giving 75 percent of their time to personal goals and 25 percent to career goals, and men losing interest in older, more educated women.

Lisa Endlich Heffernan writing as a guest on Forbes, rebutted some of Patton’s arguments with statistics.

“Patton’s arguments are based on outdated facts. As she acknowledges, her book is advice — not a study. ‘There are very few statistics in this book, and my research has been limited to talking with people I know, like and trust,’ she writes. "... In fact, 91 percent of college-educated women (and men) do marry, suggesting that the vast majority of those wishing to wed find a partner.”

Heffernan also questions Patton’s advice that women seek the geekiest men anticipating they offer greater financial security.

“When surveying men and women on the reason for marriage, ‘financial stability’ ranks a distant fifth behind love, companionship, lifelong commitment and having a family,” she says. “We are a nation who marries for love.”

The “Today” article, titled “Snag a husband in college? Not so fast, ‘Princeton Mom,’ parents say,” also reacted to Patton's advice. The article emphasizes college years as a time to make friends, join communities and study.

“The world is in your pocket now,” the article quotes from Diana Graber, co-founder of Cyberwise. “Why limit yourself to the men (who) may or may not be on your campus? I don’t pass judgment. Maybe your mate is at your college, but I’m not telling my daughters that’s what the goal of college is.”

Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is studying journalism and editing at Brigham Young University. EMAIL: amoore@deseretdigital.com

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