See also the article Gatekeeping Young Women
I have come across a number of middle aged women who might have made a mistake in one of life choices that can significantly impact their lives and the lives of their children. This article will spend time exploring one of these possible life choices because we see a pattern repeat over and over again and wish to alert young women about this possible problem.
The life choice pattern we are concerned about works like this. A married women is separated, divorced or the husband dies. The problem arises when the women, has been left alone through divorce, separation or death, does not have a profession and/or an employment record that helps her to find a good job. Statistics fails to support a husband and wife staying together. When a divorce takes place this places both in a lower economic rung of the ladder. The women most often suffers more. She is the one who typically takes care of the children. She is the one who has less employment history. She is the one who is removed from the job market due to child birth and rearing of children. She is the one who takes the children to school and club activities. We put the burden of children upon her but fail to balance out her rewards for doing so.
A good portion of women might lack good retirement benefits. With a good solid marriage, where both husband and wife have good jobs there is a better statistical probability that one or both will have a good retirement. When the marriage is splits the family the total retirement asset value might be cut in half. Social Security requires a number of quarters to qualify you for drawing Social Security benefits. Women are often times taken out of the job market for raising children and just might not make the necessary minimum quarters for receiving Social Security. Any women who is still married and not working in a job that offers retirement benefits is putting herself into a position where she may be forced to work the rest of her life if her spouse dies and he did not have a good retirement. These factors, not finding a job, finding a lower paying job, finding a job that is not a pleasure, obtaining a job that does not have good benefits all work to potentially placing this women in a lower pay and retirement scale. Counter to that is when a women has a mate and they both have good jobs, better chance they both enjoy a good retirement, a good life to death.
Another somewhat related issue is that some women do find good paying jobs but it is not a pleasure for them. The pursuit of happiness is a universal goal for all of us. If a women finds herself alone she needs to find a job quickly to pay bills. This some times translates into accepting a job that pays less than what her education and experience tells us she should attain.
Once a divorce or separation takes place, a women can fall lower in the social economic scale. She will be facing stressful circumstances. Children might be affected from results of this family break up and loss of purchasing power. She might also become a burden to her extended family members if unemployed for any extended time.
To solve this potential problem we must back up to viewing young girls environment to see what might have promoted this intellectual mistake. It is our opinion that an attitude comes about from and through the mass media trying to promote stories that sell well to young girls. The stories are usually romantic where a young girl meets the right boy, they date, and marry and the wedding is given major importance. The media stories might not include all those elements but typically one or more. The stories are typically light, friendly, and seasoned with obligatory romance. In middle school and high school young girls especially use special shampoos, oils, lip gloss, eye shadow, and other makeup. This is quite normal for young girls. They dress in clothes that are often eye catching and conversation starters. Girls might take special pride in hair style, nails and even body piercing to make billboard statements as to who and what they think they are. Again, this is normal behavior and it points to their sensitivity and easily being impressed by new products and fashion. Boys and girls are followers at this young age. Girls read girl magazines, go to movies that are targeted for their age group and view television in the same way. These are impressionable years for these girls and big business has each girl in their cross hairs. The girls are studied by survey groups and pandered to according. The media outlets are selling the good life as Hollywood thinks it should be sold for best return on their dollar by putting forth a dreamy life style to sell their product(s). A lot of girls and women eat it up like it is all real and if they do they may be more prone to make the same trek down into a troubled life that so many women before have followed and suffered for.
We all have images of what we want, who we want to be and who we want to be with. These images are not drawn out of thin air but we get them from watching our parents, friends and the media. The points being made here are two. First, media organizations promote an image that is typically pumping up romance and glittering the marriage ceremony. As a result some girls might put too much of their aspirations into their partner for “life”. Reality counters this with a cold hard statistic that tells us that roughly half of all marriages fail. Point two follows the first point. We recommend a solution. To solve this problem we recommend that young girls do well in school, seek out a passion to follow as a profession, complete their education for that profession, and find a job and keep it for a significant number of years so they can market themselves again after removing themselves for child rearing. It is ok to date and have boy friends but think about your profession first. This down plays the romance element quite a bit. A sociologist friend, who teaches marriage and family class, tells his students that marriage is not about romance but should be an economic union between two people, a business partnership. Personally, I think throwing out romance is a bit harsh. Instead, I recommend a balance of romance and good business sense with the scales tilted in favor for the business portion. A young women should seek out a mate that is not solely physically attractive because that wears thin shortly. A women should consider a lot of things when choosing a mate but strong consideration for a man who has a good profession and who is heathy should be valued.
Parents, you can help by talking to your daughter about what the media is attempting to do to them and why. We recommend you do not tell your daughter but have a discussion about this subject and get her input. For example, as she watches TV or reads a book or magazine, discuss what is being portrayed. What life style is she being told to lead? If she were to follow that life style, how realistic is it?
We recommend, support and encourage your daughter to participate in activities that will make her her own person and not subservient. She needs to be her own women and feel she is any man’s equal because the odds say she will be alone, on her own, if marriage dissolves at some point.
For parents consideration when your daughter is in middle and high school:
- Team sports, school and league, (only recommended if school grades are good).
- School band (also may help self discipline and school grades).
- Boy Scouts Venturing for girls.
- School debate.
- Theater and dance (only if your child is on stage as a participant).
- Drill team.
- Cheer leader.
Less important but might help if there is some development problem or shyness:
- School clubs.
- Theatre, dance, audio visual, behind the scenes, for students that might be too shy.
- Girl Scouts.
Finally, a young women should seriously consider finishing college before having children. A women should enter the job market in a good profession as soon as possible and stay long enough to brand her a good hire if she decided to quit to have children. A women needs to think, in the back of her mind, what do I need to do to ensure my life style if my life partner leaves or dies.
For a more deeply examined view on this subject, please read Gatekeeping Young Women.