A question that seemingly always arises when successful Women are in the spotlight is whether Women can “have it all”. In other words; whether Women must choose between a successful career and a family. The outcome of such a question is normally either outrage that Women should suffer such a question at all (as it is not normally asked of men), or a confirmation that yes, Women can have it all. But I disagree with this. Not only don’t I think Women can have it all, on multiple counts I don’t believe anyone can really have it all.
For starters, if one parent stays home with the children, can the working parent really have the same relationship with the children that the stay at home parent does? The working parent will have to have a job that can cover all the expenses – a job which is safe to assume will involve long hours and a fair amount of stress. As a result, not only will the working parent have considerably less time with the children, the time that is spent will also be time normally dedicated to relaxation and winding down; and when the child is younger, time when children are tired or not as playful. There is also the matter of business hours – the working parent is unlikely to be the one picking a child up from school, or looking after them when they are sick. When children have holidays (which far exceed the number of holidays the average worker receives), it is the stay at home parent who will have lots of bonding and play time, not the working parent. All in all, the stay at home parent will have more time and probably a better relationship with the children, so how is it possible to say that the working parent “has it all” in this scenario? Yes they both have a career and a family, but isn’t one suffering in light of the other?
Similarly in the “having it all” scenario, where both parents have their full-time careers and look after their children; it is hardly any better. Unless at least one parent has flexible or unorthodox working hours, it seems unlikely that children could be picked up from school or seen to when they are sick without time being taken off. Children will possibly spend considerable time in after school supervision, and babysat by friends, family or professionals; neither of which allow the parents to enjoy or bond with their family to the extent implied by “having it all”. Unless of course the parents work less in order to accommodate this scenario, but in what career can you achieve your maximum potential through part time employment? There certainly aren’t many of them.
We are all constrained by time. In an average job, which can demand upwards of 10 hours a day (including transportation), where is the time to fully enjoy or appreciate your children? If you consider “having it all”, which implies striving for the pinnacle of your profession, work could demand even more of your time. Just like everything in life, work and family are a compromise. There is simply not enough time in the day to equally devote yourself to your career and your family. If you concentrate too much on your potential career, your family life will suffer. If you concentrate on your family life, your career will suffer. Not only is “having it all” an insulting proposition when directed solely at Women (let alone anyone) it is a fallacy.