When I was in grad school, I wrote a thesis on whether it was good state policy to deny additional funds to a mother receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children when she had another child. (I believed the policy was, in a word, flawed.)
See, there was this idea out there, in the early 1990s, that single mothers who were not earning money–or at least, not enough money to knock them off a state’s welfare roll, would have another child simply because they could not pass up an extra $64 a month.
Moms. They’re always thinking about their kids and money. (Tiny, negligible amounts of money.)
And now? There’s a tide of regret among women who did not earn any money while raising their young children… and end up single. Or unemployed. Or both. (See this: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom | By Ashley Nelson for The Nation. She didn’t “lean in.” She “leaned out.”)
In case you missed it, when a woman makes a decision to earn nothing and remain home with their children, she puts herself at a distinct and pervasive economic disadvantage upon her attempt to return to the paid workforce.
Moms. They’re always forgetting to think about the effect of their kids on their money. (Huge, life-altering amounts of money.)
Look, no matter what choice a woman makes, when it comes to her kids, or the very fact that she’s capable of bearing them–she’s going to deal with an economic consequence.
But, as Jessica Grose points out, this consequence (discrimination) is not a moms’ or women’s issue. This is a labor market issue.
Labor markets are slow to adapt–even with progressive public policy that Ashley Nelson recommends and Jessica Grose and I support. Labor markets will not evolve any faster with our collective regret over the expression of our individual preferences.
Our preferences matter. We should express them, and act on them, and yes, avoid rookie mistakes by keeping our eyes wide open–focused on our professional and personal lives, as they are now and as we want them to be.
Regret requires you to look backward. My neck is too sore.
I’m looking ahead, and around. I have no other choice.