When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples

By Carolyn Pape Cowan; Philip A. Cowan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Beyond the Doorstep: New Problems, New Solutions

WOMEN MAKE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHOICES about whether, when, and under what conditions they will return to work after having a baby. We found a substantial number who were relatively happy with their choice to stay home while their babies were young, and others who felt sure that they and their children were benefiting from their decision to return to work. Whatever their ultimate work/family arrangements, every woman we talked with continued to think about the possibility that perhaps she made the wrong choice. "In my mom's day they said, 'To be a full-fledged woman, you've got to be a mother and not a career woman,' and now it's switched. I'm expected to have a career and not be a mother. Or be a mother, but keep my career on track. So I'm at home looking after little John, but I keep wondering whether I ought to be at work. Meanwhile, my friend Abby is back at work feeling desperate because she feels she ought to be home!"

We are talking to Shannon and John when their baby is six months old. One of the most up-beat women in our study, Shannon is in a couple who were Planners (chapter 2) and had a fairly serene pregnancy (chapter 3). Despite their surprise at how "traditional" their arrangements of who does what have become, John and Shannon are still feeling quite positive about their relationship as a couple (chapter 5). Compared to other couples in our study they are feeling less strain, yet Shannon's deliberations about staying

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