by Joan K. Peters
Perseus Publishing, 2001
Review by Barbara Wright on Apr 30th 2003
Balance is perhaps the most sought after goal of all workingwomen
worldwide. In Not Your Mother's Life
Joan Peters attempts to show us how it is possible to achieve the dream that
evades so many. In this
well-researched, well-written book, she holds up as examples of this balance,
career women who have discovered ways to have it all. We see strong, independent women who have made pre-planned
choices about careers, work locations, husbands, and children. It works great and they have "picture
perfect" lives. The only problem
is, most women don't plan. The greatest
virtue of this book is that if the reader learns nothing else, they learn the
value of planning early in life. It is
a fact that one must make decisions early in life so that when the decision
point comes, there is no decision to be made, it was made long ago. If young people, female and male, could
grasp that idea and put it into practice, we would live in a much different
individuals would take time early in life for self-discovery, determine what it
is they truly want out of life, and develop a plan, there would be few who
would end up in dead-end jobs, or mismatched careers. As the author says, "You can let life happen to you, or you
can design your life so that you'll end up with what you really want. The trick is to be proactive, to understand
the consequences of each choice."
Unfortunately, no more than a chosen few will ever reach that
target. Work, marriage, and children
are a difficult balancing act and not one to be undertaken lightly.
author believes that woman can have it all - husband, children, and fulfilling
career. The fact of the matter is that
to successfully have it all, every factor in a woman's life must work
together to further the goal. In
actuality, after a woman has children, the children should take precedence over
her desires. Creating a triple win
situation is possible only in the best of circumstances and in most lives, it
just doesn't happen. Someone in the
equation is always ending up feeling neglected, overtired, discouraged or out
of sorts. We are programmed to "fall
in love" and then work our life and family around it. A lot of times it ends in disaster. The children are the ones who suffer
most. Children need LOVE, TIME, and
concentrated ATTENTION. They would
prefer to get it from their parents. In
the successful examples the author describes, there are ample extended family
members, high quality child care givers, nannies, agreeable spouses, flexible
employers, etc. In actuality, it doesn't
work out that way unless you have lots of money, are a high-level executive/CEO
or have planned extremely well. Most of
us don't fit into those prime areas.
there is the factor overlooked by the author, that a lot of women, once they
have children, discover they would truly rather be with the children than at
work where they may be unappreciated and pretty much unknown. While men may have to put up with those
facts of work life, most women do not.
They see that they can serve a greater need by spending the time with
their children. The author feels that
women aren't giving up positions because they want to be with their children,
but because they feel trapped into it.
While that may be true in some instances, I don't believe it is true in
woman truly wants to run a company and devote many hours per day to her work,
she should not have children. When you
have a great passion for something and want it more than anything else, it is
really hard to let anything or anyone else get in the way. If a woman knows herself well enough, she
will make the decision that is right for her.
I do believe that the one who wants to run the farthest, the fastest,
will be the one who carries the lightest load.
To work the most intently, you need the least distractions. But then, life is game of tradeoffs. Each person must decide what he or she is
willing to trade.
economy has changed considerably since the book was written and employers are
now in the driver's seat in obtaining and retaining employees. Therefore, it is more an employer's market
and employees are much less likely to receive concessions and special
arrangements than they did when the book was written. However, the author does a good job of stressing that planning
and self knowledge are the keys to success.
This is a great book for young women (and men) of high school, college,
or early career stages. It is an
invaluable guide to showing what is possible with proper planning.
2003 Barbara Wright
Barbara Wright is a former Director
of Human Resources with Master's Degrees in Human Resource Planning and in
Organizational Behavior. The last 15 years of experience have
been in the Telecommunications Industry. She has a wide
variety of reading interests and is a member of Reviews International