It after All”
I want to teach my daughters that you have to please yourself first. It's
the most important lesson you can give them.
—country singer Faith Hill, explaining what she learned from her divorce,
to Parade Magazine, January 20, 2000
When discussing their lives when they were in their twenties and thirties, the women who I interviewed spent a lot of time telling me how different they were from their parents and grandparents at their age. Usually that difference was marriage: “My grandmother says to me, 'I can't believe you're not married yet,'” said Dionne, a student at Fullerton Junior College in California, with ambitions of becoming a lawyer. “Every time my grandfather comes to see me, 'When are you getting married?' I'm only 23. There's school. There's a lot I want to do before I get married and have babies.”
When Lynn, 26, raised in an upper-middle-class Chicago suburban home, accidentally became pregnant during her last year of college at Illinois State University, she decided to keep the baby. Although she recognized the tremendous hardships that decision would bring, she was grateful to have had a wider range of choices than her mother did at her age, including the option to raise a child alone. “I'm not going to be like my mother and depend on somebody… . She's still dependent on my father. She doesn't have a lot of her own resources. I guess I don't want to end up like her.”
Karen's parents were married early, in their late teens. So when she told her father, a fireman, that she was moving in with her boyfriend but not marrying him, “he did not react well at all,” said Karen, 26, an accounting clerk at a hospital outside Los Angeles. “He said, 'When this doesn't work out, nobody is going to want to go out with you.' He has that very fifties mentality. It's like, 'Your reputation is going to be shot.'”