A few weeks ago Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced that all telecommuting is banned at Yahoo. All the major US newspapers covered the story on the front page – New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times – those are just examples of the hoopla surrounding this topic.

Most people think the debate is about the ethics of canceling telecommuting. But I think Mayer’s honesty about how people deal with work-life conflict helps us all to see ourselves with more honesty.

Because look: Marissa Mayer is the CEO, she gets to do whatever she wants. If it’s a bad recruiting policy then she will have to change it. But for now, what Mayer is saying is that she only wants to work with people who don’t have a personal life. She doesn’t have a conflict between work and home because she puts work first, and she wants to work with other people who do the same.

That seems fair. If she is working 100 hour weeks, why shouldn’t she get to choose to only work with other people who want to work 100 hour weeks?

The real problem here is that she is telling most people they are not good enough to work with her. She’s telling everyone who wants to spend time raising their kids that they can’t work with her.

So people taking time to raise kids feel devalued. But the truth is that corporate America has been increasingly adamant that people devote their lives to work, and at this point, family historian Stephanie Coontz writes that families can only handle one person working at a time because jobs are so demanding today. The Harvard Business Review reports that if someone works 60 hours a week, they are three times more likely to have a stay-at-home spouse.

This seems right to me. By and large, families need one parent focused on family. There is plenty of research that families function better when there is a stay-at-home spouse. This research shouldn’t be controversial, but it is.

The problem, as I see it, is that we don’t value parenting. And the problem is with school. We tell kids in school that they need to pay attention and do their homework so they get a good job when they grow up. Their adult life depends on good grades.

This is how schools keep kids in line. This is how schools get kids to follow rules. What would happen if you told kids, you could grow up to be a parent, so you don’t need to study this stuff if you are not interested. There are no gatekeepers to parenting. Just be a good person.

You know what would happen? Kids wouldn’t  work as hard in school. Because it’s hard to tell kids you need to memorize the kings of Medieval England to be a good parent. If you told students they will grow up to be parents then the students would ask why they can’t just learn what they want to learn. And then there would be mayhem.

So we tell kids they have to study so they can grow up and have big jobs and then everyone is torn apart internally when they realize they don’t want a big job because it conflicts too much with family.

The problem is not with Marissa Mayer, the problem is with schools. If you were raised to work as hard as you can and get the best grades you can, then you are crushed to hear that you are not good enough to work with Marissa Mayer.

But instead of taking it out on her, solve this problem yourself, by taking your kids out of school. Stop telling your kids that their reason for learning is to get a good job and have a good adult life. Their reason for learning is that they are curious and that learning is fun. And maybe they will grow up and be parents. Maybe their will not need one little bit of the US core curriculum. That’s okay. Because we all have choices. We just need to use them.

43 replies
  1. Tim
    Tim says:

    This is kind of a side note, but you really haven’t addressed Mayer’s hypocrisy in building a nursery in her office. If hands on parents can’t perform than why doesn’t she take the lead and resign? It’s a terrible leadership failure on her part to say that she can’t see her child whenever she wants but the peons cannot.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think it’s a non-issue. If you don’t like that she gets a nursery and you don’t then don’t work for her. She wants to have a nursery next to her office and she does not want to work with people who have a nursery next to their office.

      So what? She’s honest. Lots of people think the way she thinks but they hide it.

      It’s her job to do whatever she has to do to get Yahoo’s stock price to go up. No one hired her to save the world. If you want a nursery in your office then get your own company. Then you can make your own rules.

      Penelope

      • Tim
        Tim says:

        I don’t see how you can say it’s a non-issue when in your first post on the topic you pointed out how she was “giving up everything” to run a big important company, as evidence that other should be willing to do the same. You say “Mayer can tell anyone that they are not putting in enough hours” since she works so hard, but that’s BS because she’s giving herself a lifestyle that she’s denying to others because of a belief that they will not be as productive if they operate under the same rules.

        The commenter below points out in their example of the Queen staying in London during the air raids of WWII as an act of solidarity with the British people. Those kind of acts are galvanizing and the kind of example style leadership that gets people produce.

        Mayer’s “do as I say, not as I do because I’m the CEO so fuck you” style of leadership doesn’t really inspire anyone to do anything other than get a job where they might feel respected.

        Because at the end of the day, that’s what Mayers double move is: disrespect.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          She is not denying anyone anything. She does not control anyone’s life. Everyone is a Yahoo employee by choice. And she is under no obligation to respect other peoples’ choices in life. There are a lot of people I read about whose choices I don’t respect. So what? We each choice for ourselves (and our kids!) that’s enough. Do a good job for yourself.

          It’s amazing to me that people are upset about Mayer closing options for people who work at Yahoo yet people send their kids to school where options are being closed off at a much much higher rate for much worse reasons.

          Penelope

          • Tim
            Tim says:

            “She is not denying anyone anything.”

            Actually she is. She is denying them the ability to continue at their current place of employment under the conditions that have been available to them, in some cases for many years.

            Glibly insinuating that the Yahoo! employees who don’t like it can get another job, ignores the largeness of that task (especially in this economy with the U6 rate over 14%), and will involve a signficant restructuring for many in the mean time. My partner currently enjoys working under Flextime at her job, which allows her to put in enough hours on my days off that we can have a seamless transition with our baby on the evenings when I work. Were it eliminated it would amount to a pay cut for us.

            Which brings me to my next point: Working conditions go hand in hand with compensation, this is why teachers at private schools are often willing to work for less money and inner cities have to entice them with more. Mayer has essentially changed this formula, and given many the equivalent of a pay cut. It’s understandable why they’re pissed. Her nursery is just even more obnoxious, because she saying to her employees “take one for the team. Oh me? No I’m not going to do that.” It would be like Jamie Dimon removing performance bonuses at JPM for everyone in the company, except himself. He could do that, but few would think it a wise move. It’s the kind of elitism that causes people to squat in a Lower Manhattan park for 3 months.

    • channa
      channa says:

      She also only took like a week-long maternity leave which is why she needed a nursery. I don’t know Yahoo’s policy but I’m certain all the rest of their employees get at least 3 months and likely closer to 6 to stay home with their newborns, and likely some flexibility to WFH in the first returning months if needed.

      Also I haven’t been to their campus but I’d bet there’s a Bright Horizons or similar daycare very close by. This is true on most large corporate campuses I’ve been on – new moms can walk over at lunch to nurse. So if employees want to pay for it they can have their kids close too – not as close as hers, but then again they don’t make as much money as she does either.

      • Tim
        Tim says:

        Her one week of maternity leave might allow me to throw her a bone, and if she had removed the nursery 11 weeks later I might ignore it. But that didn’t happen. Her one or two weeks of maternity leave was short, but it’s not like there was any real chance that they head of a Fortune 500 company (one hired while pregnant especially) with less than a year on the job would ever then take 6 months to a year off for maternity leave. Hell, I doubt there was even more than a couple of days that went by before she made a few business phone calls.

        The campus proximity to a daycare is really irrelevant to a nursing mom, unless it’s close enough to allow her to nurse the baby multiple times a day. Yes, nursing on a lunch break is nice, but a baby requires many more feedings than that through out the day, so it’s not like that serves as any kind of replacement.

  2. Mark Kenski
    Mark Kenski says:

    This post is a great example of the combination of insight and honesty that keeps me reading your blogs, Penelope.

    To me, parenting is the most important and impactful thing most adults will ever do in their lifetime. How it came to pass that we now view children as an accessory, instead of the primary point of living, is beyond me.

    The moral inversion that has become all-too-prevalent today reminds me of the story of Tom Sawyer being punished by being made to paint a fence: he cleverly paints the fence in a way that makes his friends jealous, so they end up painting the fence for him after paying him for the privilege.

    Evolution does not just shape bodies, it shapes cultures. Sure there is such a thing as progress, but that is very different than just discarding whatever has been the fittest way of doing things, for whatever the passing fad may be.

    How many people are changing the world as much in their jobs as they would by raising healthier, happier, more creative and curious kids?

    Anyway, Thanks Penelope. For me, this was spot on.

  3. redrock
    redrock says:

    I have no idea whether the ban on telecommuting will turn out to be a good move or not. But while a CEO has the right to make any decision they want to make, this does not mean that you should make them. It reminds me of the coal mine owner who says we need to make more profit, so go work more hours in the mines and at the same time makes life for his employees (or at least some of them) more difficult. If you want your employees to give up their live for the company – you better show integrity yourself or they will resent their work. Which is not the best way to get them to sell their souls and work productively. If you have a privilege it does not mean that it is always a good thing to use it.

    The queen of England stayed in Buckingham palace in the center of London during the air raids in WWII – which brought her tremendous support and love from her citizens. Did she need that support? Probably not, she would still have been queen without it. But it sure allowed her to retain some respect and most likely influence which would have been lost otherwise. Having a privilege is fine, the art is to know when to use it.

  4. Drifting
    Drifting says:

    You do realize that you come across as “It’s okay if children are under-educated because they are only going to be stay at home moms anyways,” right? Since there is no real academic requirement to be a mom, (and it’s almost always moms who stay at home) they can learn whatever random things they like, in elementary and secondary ed. Since the focus of this is homeschooling, as opposed to say college.

    I don’t think this is healthy. Yeah, it’s impossible to become Marissa Mayers for many women who care about having children, but it’s better for women have a broad base of general knowledge so that they aren’t limited to solely being someone’s wife. Those women can always become parents, but if you educated a kid poorly on the basis she will just be a SAHM, if that ever changes, she may be unable to even survive in the case of divorce or father disability.

    • Jeanine
      Jeanine says:

      I don’t think this comes across like that at all.

      Have you read http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com/2012/04/27/top-universities-want-you-to-homeschool/ ? The whole premise of this blog (in my eyes) is that homeschooling gives you a competitive edge in the workplace. That it’s beneficial to your intellegence, not detrimental. Nowhere is it suggested that homeschooling will train you in less things, or random things, it’s stately pretty obviously that homeschooling will train you to be really good at what you like (which will probably result in you being really good at your job, as you’re usually good enough to make what you like your career).

      You must be reading a completely different blog then me.

      • Drifting
        Drifting says:

        I don’t think this follows. Her point is more “You more likely than not will end up being a SAHM, so why work so hard?” You’re saying that homeschooling is more likely to produce a Marissa Mayer. Two different arguments.

        I have read the other posts. I disagree with many of them, but she does raise parallels that make me think. This though if anything is atypical from what she says in them, enough to make me blink.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m saying it’s messed up to tell kids they should learn in school so they can get a good job when they grow up. Too many kids in their 20s say they feel bad that they don’t have a big job because they wasted their education.

      We don’t tell people they are getting educated to stay home with kids. And why not? That’s the question. Why not “go home and study so you can grow up to be a housewife.”

      We subtly tell kids that being home with kids is not a goal for an educated person.

      Penelope

      • Drifting
        Drifting says:

        But you’re talking homeschooling here. Your advice is better geared towards an adult woman seeking advanced degrees; then, she would need to be realistic about whether or not being Ms. Mayer is possible, or desirable. I can’t see this even being a factor for a homeschooled child. Raise her with a broad body of knowledge, and then, when she is of adult age and deciding her career, mention this.

        Otherwise you raise a child who is betting everything on being a parent, and will struggle hardcore if she can’t get married, or loses her husband due to divorce.

        • Tim
          Tim says:

          “Your advice is better geared towards an adult woman seeking advanced degrees.”

          The problem is that by the time you are in your 20’s your own expectations of how your life should be and what your goals should be are very ingrained. It’s far better to be open to a wide range of possibilities than to have something that feels like a second-best alternative thrown up as an option when you meet a series of obstacles.

          Telling a woman that it’s acceptable that she can’t get a successful career after she’s invested so heavily in an (ever more) expensive education, basically sounds like sour grapes.

          “Oh, you don’t need a career, you can be a mom. Besides you didn’t really want to be a CEO an work 120 hours a week, right? That wasn’t the job you ever wanted.”

          It comes off like a Jedi mind trick. “This was not the life you wanted.” It’s much easier to accept alternative paths when you’ve been shown their existence at a young age.

          • Drifting
            Drifting says:

            Tim, there’s a difference between broaching the subject and allowing it to shape a homeschool curricula. By all means, do so. Just don’t let the child grow up neglecting her education because she plans only to be a SAHM. This is the passage which worried me about that:

            “What would happen if you told kids, you could grow up to be a parent, so you don’t need to study this stuff if you are not interested. There are no gatekeepers to parenting. Just be a good person.

            You know what would happen? Kids wouldn’t work as hard in school.”

            They still need to study this stuff, in homeschooling. They may still even need to go to college, as there’s no guarantee they will be SAHM for some time.

          • Tim
            Tim says:

            “They may still even need to go to college”

            I’m gonna break this down for you.

            In 20 years, college as we know it will be dead. Why? Because of Stein’s Law: Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.

            The current model of higher education is unsustainable. We see rocketing tuition, and burgeoning student-debt loads. This path cannot continue on its current trajectory, and something will come along to upset the status quo.

            If I could tell you what that something is, well, I wouldn’t. I’d be too busy investing every cent, and every hour of my day into it.

            Our current model is like the Thanksgiving Turkey (h/t Taleb), every year it squeezes out a nice bundle of cash for itself and this confirms the perpetuity of its plan, just like each new feeding for the turkey endears it to the farmer. But like that turkey, each day merely bring Universities one day closer to their own demise.

      • victoria
        victoria says:

        “We don’t tell people they are getting educated to stay home with kids. And why not? That’s the question. Why not “go home and study so you can grow up to be a housewife.”

        We subtly tell kids that being home with kids is not a goal for an educated person.”

        My mother was a reasonably good student in high school by all accounts. Her mother’s take on that was, “Well, that’s nice, dear, but you don’t need to spend so much time on that. After all, you’re going to have a husband for that.” She was told exactly what people aren’t told today.

        She was a SAHM while all of us were growing up. And a damn good one. She loved (loves) us; she was involved; we all stayed out of major trouble and are stable adults. She and my dad are still smitten with one another. He’s retired and they’re financially comfortable. She’s not lived any of the horror stories you hear about SAHMs finding themselves divorced and penniless.

        And yet she still pushed us girls very hard academically. The boys too, but especially the girls. Later in life she said it was because she felt like her choices had been quite constrained. It’s fine while you’re at home with the kids and they’re still young enough to really need you, but once the last chick has left the nest, it’s a different story. (I think that’s going to be even more the case for the current generation of SAHMs, personally, since people tend to have fewer children now.) And it ended up being the absolute right thing for my sister, who does have a big career and almost certainly will never have kids (and is pleased with that state of affairs).

        You may see the pendulum swing back towards encouraging people to stay at home with their kids, and to think about that while they’re still young. But if it does I think it’ll swing back the next generation.

    • Rea
      Rea says:

      Agreed. Sometimes I have to check and make sure I haven’t stumbled upon a fundamentalist Christian blog, where girls don’t need a real education because they’re just going to stay home and have babies, so yay!

  5. Lance Murray
    Lance Murray says:

    Hi Penelope,
    Love how you put down your thoughts. I have helped many
    with careers now for almost 26 years in recruiting. I agree
    with your sentiments 100% in this article. If we all fit corp.
    profiles life would be a drab existence. Alternate paths are
    out there more now than ever!! Life has risks no matter
    what…choose to take them!! Cheers,Lance

  6. MichaelG
    MichaelG says:

    I was struck by how many comments on your original post didn’t get the point. What I read from you was “If you want to make the Olympics, you spend your life on your sport”. What they seemed to get was “anyone who isn’t in the Olympics is a loser” and “all people should be expected to perform at this level.”

    That said, tech companies aren’t really Olympic teams where every person has to perform at peak levels to win. Whenever you build anything, there are creative parts and routine parts. There are parts where you need feedback from others, and parts where you close the door and just work without distractions.

    Given how crappy commutes are in Silicon Valley, telling people they can’t work from home just chews up hours of their week sitting in the car. That’s time that would be very valuable to the company.

    Telling tech people to be in the office 80 hours a week with no breaks means you literally never see the sun for months at a time. It really messes with your mental health. That will also cost the company in the long run.

    Olympic performance in bursts can do wonders for a company. Doing it day in, day out is a dead end.

    • Noah
      Noah says:

      That’s a great point and you’re absolutely right–she can’t possibly sustain Olympic performance indefinitely. I think as the new CEO of a struggling company, however, she has to demand that everyone batten down the hatches and lean into their work. There are a lot of eyes on Marissa Mayer right now, and unfortunately the yardstick that will be used to measure her is how much she can influence Yahoo’s bottom line and how quickly can she do it. I remember in 2008, Starbucks went through a similar struggle with a load of bad real estate decisions coupled with a big dip in demand for their product. Employees lost a lot of perks and benefits. It felt like betrayal from a corporate culture POV but made perfect sense in terms of sound business thinking. When the ship is capsized, all hands on deck and everyone who wants a job had better be prepared to make sacrifices. In Starbucks case, as the economy got back on the horse and business increased, they relaxed their grip a bit and returned some of those benefits, piece by piece. Maybe the situation at Yahoo! is similar and telecommuting will be back on the table when all of the obligations that Marissa Mayer is responsible for are fulfilled.

  7. Sarah LeDoux
    Sarah LeDoux says:

    This is good point. The most important thing a good education can do is teach you how to think. The have the ability to think critically and intelligently. This is the BEST kind of parent a child can have!

  8. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    I wonder how many Yahooligans are going to stop homeschooling now because they can no longer telecommute like Penelope does.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      Remember, Penelope is her own boss, so she makes her own rules.

      Those telecommuting homeschoolers need to go marry a breadwinner, have their wifehusbandpartner quit their job and stay at home, or start their own business (like Penelope!).

      amirite?

      • Commenter
        Commenter says:

        For a moment, with the title “The hoopla about Marissa Mayer is really a homeschool issue,” I thought she was going to talk about how this might affect, you know, actual homeschoolers. Who might not be able to homeschool now, because now they can’t be, uh, home.

        But the conclusion of “this is just why you shouldn’t teach your kids anything, just like I don’t…” I didn’t see that coming.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          The connection is that people are upset to hear that high performers don’t want to work with you if you are taking care of your kids. This upsets people who think they went to school to be a high performer. My point is that the only reason you care about that Marissa doesnt want to work with you is that someone told you – probably at school – that placing yourself with the people who have big important jobs is what you need to do.

          School brainwashes kids to think they need to earn respect in corporate life.

          Penelope

          • Julie
            Julie says:

            It is one more nail in the coffin for “you can have it all.” Telecommuting is not going to solve the dilemma women who want kids and a high powered career face when it comes to prioritizing. I think that is why people are upset. Nobody wants to believe that. Although I wonder if the women who are really ambitious are choosing telecommuting anyway. That seems unlikely to me. I have two daughters and I want them to be well educated and do what they love. My older daughter is already telling me she is going to marry someone who wants to stay home and homeschool. So I think that is probably the best solution for women who want the really high powered career, marry someone who wants to be home with the baby. Look for a starving artist to marry lol. There are a couple homeschooling dads in our group so maybe it is already happening. Maybe women will achieve equality, not by having it all, but when the numbers of primary caretakers of children is evenly split between men and women.

          • Commenter
            Commenter says:

            There’s that big leap in logic again.

            From “people are upset to hear that high performers don’t want to work with you if you are taking care of your kids.”

            to

            “School brainwashes kids to think they need to earn respect in corporate life.”

            I think it’s frequently true that high performers don’t want to work with you if you have significant child care responsibilities (like, say, homeschooling). A lot of women who have reached the executive floor in corporations have stay-at-home husbands.

            But tracing this problem back to the worker being so immature as to want to have her cake and eat it too, and that back to her being “brainwashed,” and this brainwashing being an essential function of school… that’s not an argument, it’s just assumption piled on top of speculation. It’s not reasoning, it’s make-believe.

            The idea that somebody who homeschooled and now considers herself a high performer, but would still like to play a significant role in her children’s lives and uses telecommuting to accomplish both, would be less upset at this decision than someone who came to her high performance through school, is absurd.

            “The only reason you care about that Marissa doesn’t want to work with you is that someone told you – probably at school – that placing yourself with the people who have big important jobs is what you need to do.”

            This amounts to calling everybody who works in a corporation a sucker. It really sounds like you think you don’t work in a corporation not because you’re smarter than the rest of us. Have you considered it might be because nobody in a corporation wants to work with you either? And that what you’re doing is just sour-graping all over the moms at Yahoo, with a thin tissue of pretend reasoning?

            Is it pleasant when someone does that to you? Or does it smell like your pig farm?

  9. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    Why don’t people view Mayer’s decision as a business decision? It was something that needed to be done to cut costs. Would we have asked the same questions if Mayer had been a man?

    It seems that every woman in power is expected to start a social idealism revolution too. Just because Sheryl Sandberg and to some extent Oprah Winfrey took on to changing social dynamics for women, that does not mean Marissa Mayer’s has to do that to.

    Marissa Mayer is an outlier- she’s not just your average working executive. So why the expectation that she has to look out for the average worker?

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      it is clearly a business decision – people just doubt it was the right one. And there are arguments for making business decisions with the welfare of your employees in mind. Not that you have to – but the pay-off might be substantial if you do not neglect the well-being of your employees. That does not mean that you need to pamper them or allow misuse of a generous policy.

  10. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I suppose the retraction of telecommuting at Yahoo could be a temporary measure, but the greater issue is that Yahoo may actually be missing out on hiring or retaining core talent in a time marked by an aging workforce/ declining birth rate. It’s clear that companies are using flextime to attract talented workers when many are approaching retirement. Cutting off flexibility greatly reduces who you can hire, although that is likely what Marissa wants. Us and Canada both have declining birth rates and more retirees than workers and at least in Canada most regional governments are doing what they can to keep parents working and having more babies.

    Here in Canada what she has done may actually be a human rights infringement as family status (married, parent) can not be used by an employer to prevent someone from obtaining employment, according to our Human Rights Code. An issue that was confirmed by a recent ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. I wonder what will happen at Yahoo Canada (I assume they have one). A human rights claim here may mean that Yahoo Canada would have to retract that order here are accommodate their workers with families.

    I agree with much of what Penelope says but from what I see the bigger the job the more flexibility one seems to have to do what they want.

  11. karelys
    karelys says:

    Hey, here’s a link about a school trying out a new thing where kids make the curriculum. Instead of posting the original article I posted the one I found at Jezebel because it’s a good example how most adults (including college educated ones) believe that if you give kids the opportunity to self direct their learning they will have 6 periods of pizza.

    By the way, if a kid will chose to have only pizza and hanging out as their entire day of school then maybe we shouldn’t spend so much money as a country in their education (that they are not getting anyway because if they are not learning by choice in a free curriculum they won’t either in a forced one).

    http://jezebel.com/5988798/high-students-design-curriculum-surprisingly-its-not-seven-periods-of-pizza

    As for the issue with Marisa I think it’s funny. So many other companies don’t do telecommuting but the higher up individuals do have the flexibility to make their own schedule and no one calls them hypocritical for it. Many times, while working at the office, I wish I wasn’t caged up by a schedule so going to the doctor or to take care of personal issues during office hours wouldn’t be hell. My bosses could come and go. Also, my bosses worked until midnight.

    No one said to the boss “you’re a hypocrit for not being at the office from 8-5 and I can’t” but we worked around it. If Marisa is going to bring her baby to work, whatever. Those who think that staying in constant companion to their child equals good parenting or whatever are wrong and if their personality makes them long for it then they are probably in the wrong career.

    Also, this is way different than the coal mines!

    It is apparent that people were given certain freedoms and it didn’t workout because people abused it.

    Way different than coal mines.

  12. BB
    BB says:

    “The problem is not with Marissa Mayer, the problem is with schools. If you were raised to work as hard as you can and get the best grades you can, then you are crushed to hear that you are not good enough to work with Marissa Mayer.”

    Only home schooled kids are good enough to work at Yahoo? Mayer herself went to public high school, apparently without permanent harm. And seriously, this is at least 4 Mayer posts in the past few months.

  13. Julie
    Julie says:

    I have thought quite a bit about this issue, because while I am not Mormon, I live in a Mormon town. Basically, all the kids here are growing up knowing they are going to be parents, knowing they will be married; the boys know they will have to be breadwinners and the girls know they will be stay-at-home moms (for at least a while; contrary to popular belief, *lots* of Mormon women work outside the home, especially as their kids get older). They grow up with this mindset, and yet no one is telling the girls (homeschooled or otherwise) that they shouldn’t learn as much as the boys do or worry about their grades.

    I have boys, and I know that I am implicitly raising them with this idea as well, and I think they already have a notion that they want to be fathers and husbands and have wives who stay home and take care of the children, because they feel that having that is a great benefit to them. If I had girls, I think that I would educate her the same (I am actually teaching my boys home-ec type life skills, and my older boy really likes to sew, oddly enough), but with the implicit understanding that she would probably also want to be a mother who was home for her children. That doesn’t mean she shouldn’t know math or science, but it would inform later choices. And I don’t think that’s wrong.

    I know I always felt like a burden to my own mom and a hindrance to her obvious career ambitions, and I grew up not wanting to be a mother at all. She had a lot of ambition for me as well and never so much as mentioned that I might want to stay home and take care of kids someday. So, when I did want to become a mother, I was totally unprepared. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with preparing your children for the conflicting goals and desires of adulthood or teaching them that it’s OK to stay home and take care of your house and children. You can teach that that is a worthwhile goal and still teach other things, too.

    • CL
      CL says:

      I love that you are teaching your boys home ec skills, because those are very important. I learned stuff like how to wash dishes and how to scrub potatoes in home ec in middle school. My parents didn’t teach me that.

      I’m actually writing my final paper for my feminism class in part on Mormon gender identities. On the surface, it sounds fine to have a difference between the two genders, acknowledging that there are some strengths and weaknesses for men and women. However, it’s used as an excuse in some Mormon societies to subjugate women and deny their rights and freedom. And that, to me, is wrong.

      And that’s why I’m happy that your boys are learning home ec – so that they at least value their partners equally. It’s definitely something that I want to teach my children.

  14. Laura
    Laura says:

    I don’t think the hoopla is really a homeschool issue – it’s a childcare issue and a condemnation of our society and its complete lack of support for families. If we all had great after-school care that 92% of the kids attended (and yes, this exists, in Denmark), we could all work full-time and not telecommute.

    I agree, we educate girls and boys equally and give girls and boys the same career expectations. To pull the rug out from under some of them once they have children is cruel — and incredibly old-fashioned.

  15. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    It’s not surprising that most readers would turn this into, “you’re saying girls don’t have to learn anything because they’re expected to make babies…” This is the knee-jerk reaction, but it shouldn’t be the honest one.

    The fact is that no one is prepared enough, by school or society, to raise their children at home, if they decide to do so. There are really no options. Ms. Meyer’s stance to disallow telecommuting proves that. She doesn’t believe there is any option for the woman who wants to earn an income while raising their own child.

    This is because this is what society believes. We give kids the option of neglecting the family to climb the career ladder or nothing.

    What I think is best is training a child for the option of working from home if they decide to do that. There are many options for working from home, if your properly trained in that field. Why not say, “Hey, my child may not want to climb the corporate ladder the rest of her life while neglecting the kids. Maybe I could give her the opportunity to find the skills that would make her be needed in the economy, from home”.

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