December 16, 2012

"[P]eople who want to take care of people and can’t stand doing work that doesn’t relate to that should probably be parents."

"There are very few jobs that are truly just taking care of people. And most of them pay very poorly, if at all. So you may as well do it for your own family, where the pay is not so important. It’s ridiculous that we don’t think of taking care of a family as a career path. That’s a good path for some people. Just like earning a shit-load of money is a good career path for other people. In fact, those two types of people should marry each other."

Penelope Trunk writes the smartest thing I've read in a long while. The post is titled "Secrets of successful yoga studios, and tactics to examine ideas that suck."

57 comments:

David said...

The real gem is the part about marrying a rich guy who will take care of you. It's very good advice.

Shouting Thomas said...

That's pretty funny.

In Woodstock, you'll see a sign outside somebody's house every half mile or so announcing that the owner offers yoga classes.

I took yoga classes in the city for a couple of years, developed a practice that serves my needs, and I've never felt the need to take a class since. I do yoga at home. Works fine.

I've always wondered whether all those yoga studios were making any money.

Shouting Thomas said...

In my hometown in Illinois, the wisdom of this article is summed up in the stock phrase...

That's why they call it "work!"

Translated... people generally pay you to do things they want done, not things you want to do.

mccullough said...

This was a great blog post. It's very hard to communicate these points to younger people. There's a certain amount of living you have to do before something like this sinks in.

It seemed to me growing up in the 70s and 80s that people did more volunteer work and had day jobs. The non-profit desire to do good or to open up a business of something you like to do, like Yoga, instead of running a business that you think will meet people's demand is a very bad idea.

I've known good people who became public defenders to help the downtrodden, which is worthy in theory but a terrible idea. The ones who are good at it are the ones who love to win and hate to lose but don't like to have to drum up business or deal with the customer service part of paying clients.

Shouting Thomas said...

You could elaborate on this article by pointing out just how miserable people become when their dream of doing what they love goes awry.

The political anger of the left is heavily fueled by this misery. Artists are powerfully attracted to this political anger and misery as an explanation for why they can't make a decent living as an artist.

Take musicians. An incredibly lucky few hit the lottery when they are kids and become media darlings. For the rest, the ugly truth is that doing what you love, i.e., being a creative musician, is likely to lead to a life of dire poverty, bad personal relationships and general anger at the world.

No wonder that musicians often feel that the world is an awful place and that employers are usually vicious bastards. That's the world they live in as a result of their choices. This is reflected in the tendency of musicians to produce leftist rants.

pm317 said...
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pm317 said...

marriage and procreation should always have a societal component to it -- how does my little world impact the larger society and humanity. Love is not enough. But a commitment toward harmony and greater good endures -- you never fall out of love with the person you made the commitment to that way. Most often men and women fall into some whimsical trap and do not take marriage and bringing new life into this world, the enormous responsibility and obligation that go with it seriously.

Rustling Leaves said...

With three young children, it would cost me more than I have the potential of making in salary to put them all in daycare. I don't love having a career enough to pay for the experience. I am thankful to have a husband who prefers me being a stay at home mom. We aren't rich, but we make it work. It's win win for us and our children.

Renee said...

Taking care of your children is not a career.

The dishes sitting in the sink can't fire you and the laundry can't order you to get it folded. The bills get paid by the other spouse, even if your the one balancing the checkbook. This stuff needs to get done, but not in the same framework as work in the way business has to get done.

One can have dress-down day at work, but you can never have pajama day and do nothing, except for the changing of diapers and calling out for pizza.

Every stay-at-home parent should be doing something outside the home, even if it is 6 hours a week volunteering your non-domestic skills to a charity.


I say that as someone who currently doesn't have a career.

ambienisevil said...
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Shouting Thomas said...

Thanks for introducing me to Penelope Trunk. She's good.

But, a whole lot of her posts are dealt with in a much more blunt, albeit sometimes cruel, way at Heartiste.

pm317 said...

It’s ridiculous that we don’t think of taking care of a family as a career path. That’s a good path for some people. Just like earning a shit-load of money is a good career path for other people. In fact, those two types of people should marry each other.

A presidential campaign was built around excoriating this idea.

Rustling Leaves said...

@Renee- Who is supposed to take care of the children when you are out having fun at your hobby?

EDH said...

Lots of really interesting comments on this thread so far.

Ann Althouse said...

Why isn't managing the household a career? This is what everyone once did. You have a household and a division of labor. I think there is no better arrangement, if you have children, than for one person to keep the home front in great order, with serenity and good cheer and economical spending, and the other to go out in the world to get the money to provide for all of the rest of what the household needs.

Renee said...

@ Rusty.

Grandparents have a day off here there.

Ann Althouse said...

And if managing the household isn't a "career" in the sense that you want to define the word, then "career" is not a useful word for analyzing the problem.

Trunk's blog is called "Brazen Careerist," so "career" is her key word, but she is about defining it. If she says being a stay-at-home parent is a career choice, she's putting her authority behind a definition of "career."

If you don't like her definition, I dare you to challenge her brilliance and say why.

Renee said...

Professor,

Washing machines and food that needs less prep. Baking a whole chicken well isn't that hard, it isn't like I have to kill it. People sew for hobby, not necessity to make their own clothes.

somefeller said...

From what I've seen, Penelope Trunk is a self-promoting drama-queen freak who is an prime example of the sort of odd celebrity one can create on the internet. But she is correct on the point cited here, though it's a fairly obvious one. Blind squirrels finding acorns and all that.

Shouting Thomas said...

My strategy for enjoying my life has always been...

Find a way to make the most money possible working the number of hours I'm willing to work.

Two things drove this. When my kids were young, I wanted them to be well cared for and I wanted to be with them as much as possible. And, I wanted as much of my time available to do what pleased and benefitted me.

Throughout my life, high tech offered me the opportunity to work 25 to 30 hours a week and make enough money to take care of myself and my family. I could generally forget about the job as soon as working hours were over.

I want control of my own time to the greatest extent possible. That's an achievable goal.

edutcher said...

We've forgotten parent is a noun, not a verb.

Ann Althouse said...

Why isn't managing the household a career?

It is, as anybody off on their own for the first time found out.

Rustling Leaves said...

A division of labor is more efficient. When both my husband and I were working we were sucking at everything. I saw my son an hour each day (other than when he woke at night to breastfeed). Everyday when I picked him up from daycare he was confined in an excersaucer crying hysterically (for some reason the women who made money off of keeping him confined in an excersaucer all day is considered a career women). My sick time was negative two weeks from doctors appointments and sick kid days. That was before I had two more children. Even on my worst days, my kids are living better than being stuck in an excersaucer and crying all day. My husband can put more energy into making money, he comes home to a nice dinner everyday (even our pizza nights are usually homemade rather than ordering it because it costs a lot for delivery in our rural area, there are no other options for takeout here). I used to work in a nursing home making $9 per hour doing pretty much the same thing taking care of the elderly. Baby diapers are much better to change than depends. I do miss having people to socialize with though.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

Ann Althouse:

Managing the household is no longer considered a career because it does not produce a taxable event.

Incidentally, this is why people who survive their birth are so desirable, while others are considered disposable. The seeming paradox is explained through a reconciliation of democratic leverage and capital diffusion.

Rustling Leaves said...

@Renee- So are you saying we should seek out ways to make our lives more difficult because we have it so easy not having to kill chickens and we have dishwashers? If I was doing exactly the same thing everyday but the children were my neighbors kids and I was getting paid for it, that would be a job wouldn't it? So then why isn't the arrangement made between my husband and I enough to keep busybodies from demanding that I must be doing something else with my time? I'd love to have a hobby, but I'd hate to put the burden on my husband to watch the kids while I go out to socialize (volunteer).

Renee said...

My volunteering isn't a social event, it is putting to skill to use.


I totally understand the division of labor aspect, it doesn't pay for one spouse to work after third is born. Having a larger family is a trade off, to having a career. Housework IS minimal comparatively, and hands on child care decreases when they can wipe their own bums and dress themselves.

One parent always needs to be on call, when both parents work and live close to home, it is do-able with one or two children.

Balfegor said...

I'm not sure that her advice is really going to work for the people she's directing it to -- she writes:

Direct action is a word people use in the nonprofit world, mostly to convey frustration with the fact that they sign up to help people but they are so far removed from the people they help, writing proposals, grants, research, and so on—everything but helping directly.

That sort of person -- the sort of person who works at a nonprofit and gripes about not getting to help people -- might dream about the ideal "helping others" experience, but few of them, in my experience, are the sort who would be able to derive much satisfaction from running a family. Many of them have a romantic, even grandiose image of "helping others." They're modern Mrs. Jellybys.

Re: ambienisevil:

Cute fantasy. Here's the snag in it: the very rich aggressive guy is often (not always) an asshole. That's why he is successful at the kind of high-earning jobs he likes. He's smart and ruthless. If you pair him with a very caring person, the very caring person will get stepped on and abused over the long run.

Obviously, I don't have a direct window into the domestic circumstances of the rich people I meet. But I will say this has not been my impression at all. Just because someone is a sharp businessman/banker/lawyer/doctor/whatever doesn't mean he's incapable of being caring and considerate among family. Not every rich, successful man has that "New York" personality.

kimsch said...

@RustlingLeaves and @Renee,

I had kids in daycare for a while but it isn't worth working only to pay the daycare costs. I'm much happier at home. I'm involved with the parent teacher group and scouts. I just spent three days at the middle school selling candy canes at lunchtime. The kids were able to buy for themselves or to send to other kids or teachers for delivery next Friday as a "candy gram". I'm also the book fair chairperson. With scouts I used to be the Cubmaster, but The Little Guy is in Boy Scouts now. I'm now the webmaster for our Cub Scout Pack, Boy Scout Troop, and Venturing Crew. I get to use my skills in these endeavors and see The Little Guy at school too.

Rustling Leaves said...

@Kimsch- when my children get a bit older, I look forward to being involved in those kind of things. Most likely centered around my children's lives in some way. As much as the feminists want to shove it down my throat, I just don't desire a me centered space outside of my motherly purpose. That will probably change some when my children grow, but I still hope to be involved in my grandchildren's lives. I would work to make money if needed and a hobby would be great, but I don't need some kind of purpose outside of my family.

Renee said...

I have a hard time seeing my children in anyway comparative to having a career. Both are fine, and choices we have, but they have little in common. We hold no obligation to having a career, but we do to our families young and old. You can change careers or go in another direction, but you can't quit on your kids.

Rustling Leaves said...

@Renee, it really depends on one's definition of career. If "career" just means making money, then no it is not a career. But, to some, a career is purpose driven. Often though, I think referring to motherhood as a career is just a defense against the Linda Hirsham's of the world who insist that we must work outside the home. It is a way of saying that my choice is just as valid as another women's choice. I'm sorry that many thousands of public dollars were spent to pump me through the public school system only for me to choose to be a stay at home mom. Was it really worth it for a $9 per hour job anyways? Did they really think they could stamp out the maternal desire in my heart? Should I live my life just to please the expectations of the feminists? It is almost like the feminists want to be a controlling "husband" who decide how I can live my life.

Methadras said...

I already have a career that makes the world a better place. I'm an engineer.

Eric said...

Cute fantasy. Here's the snag in it: the very rich aggressive guy is often (not always) an asshole

That's probably true, but there are a whole lot of guys out there who make $150k or so and aren't assholes. You can make that just by getting a decent degree in college and working hard when you get out - no need to step on anyone. And that's plenty of money to raise a family in most places.

Is "rich" that much better than "comfortable"? I don't see it.

Petunia said...

Running a household and raising the children IS a perfectly valid career choice.

I can't read anything by Penelope Trunk without recalling her tweeting about being glad she was having a miscarriage so she wouldn't have to undergo the waiting period for an abortion. Brazen careerist, indeed.

Rich B said...

Penelope Trunk (not her real name - she has a post on that) is a very interesting writer. She is a bit weird - read some of her posts on the Farmer.

kentuckyliz said...

She has Assburgers, if that explains any of her rather flat perceptions of the human world.

I believe that volunteer work should be done by volunteers. No coercion or guilt tripping or busybodying. Ever volunteer alongside someone with that motivation? Yuck. Just stay away.

And: it's not an easy job, perpetuating civilization.

Jake Diamond said...

Penelope Trunk writes the smartest thing I've read in a long while.

That's a very revealing and sad statement about the crap you read.

Jake Diamond said...

Why isn't managing the household a career? This is what everyone once did.

Sorry Althouse but that's not much of a supporting argument. You could say the exact same thing in support of wiping your ass with dried leaves. Have you ever considered the fact that there might be a GOOD REASON why practices change?

mrs whatsit said...

Renee, washing dishes, folding laundry and paying bills are all taking care of a household, not children -- tasks everyone must manage whether they have children or not. You did not mention a single job that pertains to raising a child, such as listening, reading stories, carrying, putting on bandaids, teaching and teaching and teaching, patience, cleaning up messes, pointing out, explaining, changing diapers, helping with homework, answering questions, teaching manners, disciplining, driving all over the map, staying awake and staying awake long past exhaustion, comforting, loving of course, paying attention -- and often, of necessity, leaving the dishes in the sink and the laundry unfolded whether or not there's also an outside job.

I don't understand why anybody doubts that doing such work is a career at least as valuable and significant -- and interesting, for that matter -- as writing a legal brief or standing behind a cash register or keeping a business running or whatever. I have never understood what could be more valuable than raising a child well and according to one's own lights. I did notice, though, that the rise of the societal insistence that raising children does not constitute valuable work coincides, more or less, with the rise of the insistence that the life of an unborn child has no value and need not be respected or preserved.

Jake Diamond said...

I did notice, though, that the rise of the societal insistence that raising children does not constitute valuable work coincides, more or less, with the rise of the insistence that the life of an unborn child has no value and need not be respected or preserved.

I've noticed that the use of the term "unborn child" correlates well with dumbfuckery.

Freeman Hunt said...

Cute fantasy. Here's the snag in it: the very rich aggressive guy is often (not always) an asshole. That's why he is successful at the kind of high-earning jobs he likes. He's smart and ruthless. If you pair him with a very caring person, the very caring person will get stepped on and abused over the long run.

It doesn't really work that way. In fact, I'd say that there are just as many poor, listless jerks as there are rich, aggressive jerks. Also, you're assuming that the caring stay-at-home parent is a doormat, something not in evidence. Formidable stay-at-home parents are legion.

Rustling Leaves said...

@Freeman Hunt, I've noticed there is a romanticized illusion that poor people are saintly by default.

I've noticed that the name Jake Diamond correlates with asshattery. Definately the kind of guy I hope to train my daughter to avoid.

Crunchy Frog said...

I'm sorry that many thousands of public dollars were spent to pump me through the public school system only for me to choose to be a stay at home mom.

How much money is wasted on finishing schools and MRS degrees?

Crunchy Frog said...

I've noticed that the use of the term "unborn child" correlates well with dumbfuckery.

And the typical JD douchebaggery continues unabated.

Anyone who's lost a child in utero knows the pain involved.

My wife and I lost our baby girl at 4 months. She wasn't just a clump of cells, you twit. She was our baby girl, who never got to see the light of day.

Then (to add insult to injury), for the necessary D&E, Blue Cross sent us to a damned abortion clinic.

mrs whatsit said...

I've noticed that the use of the term "unborn child" correlates well with dumbfuckery.

I love it when people help to prove my points by demonstrating that they can't refute them with anything more coherent than profane name-calling.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you are not putting your full mental capacity to use in parenting, you're probably doing it wrong.

Similarly, if you think that cleaning is the main point of stay-at-home parenting, you're definitely doing it wrong.

(In this pretend scenario where the family is rich, why would they want the stay-at-home parent to be spending any significant time on cleaning? That's something you can outsource inexpensively with no difference in quality of outcome. Not so with parenting and facilitating education!)

Joe said...

Hello ladies. I'm a young man half-way through college and I find that I'm not particularly satisfied by the direction this is taking me. I've found that I think more and more about finding someone special to have kids with, and to stay home and care for and raise them, and to take care of the home. I really do aspire to make a home for someone and would like to do that for the rest of my life. I do know that this will require that I find someone with a good career to pay the bills, but I know that women have made such amazing advances in recent years I can't see why that would be a problem. When I bring this up with the girls I'm dating though, there never seems to be another date. Could any of you offer any advice as to what I'm doing wrong?

jamesbbkk.com said...

The best way to "help people" is not join some "non-profit" it is create something very useful and sell it to willing purchasers and possibly become quite well-to-do. The more folks are willing to pay, the more valuable the product delivered. Voila: the richer the inventor is evidence of the helpfulness of his endeavors. Creating value and wealth helps the most folks across generations.

kathleen said...

Managing a household is a full time job, trust me. There is laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, doing dishes, overhauling kids wardrobes for seasons and/or growth multiple times a year, music lessons, karate lessons, homework supervision, trips to library, trips to see friends, trips to see family, personal exercise time, decluttering, gardening, gutter cleaning, lawn mowing, hiring/payment/supervision of others to do same, furnaces breaking, dishwashers breaking, washing machines breaking, modem breaking, cable box breaking, fuses going out, junk Mail sorting, bill paying, doctor visiting, dentist visiting, house painting, clothes shopping, shoe shopping, extension cord finding .... Shall I continue?

Unknown said...

@Joe

Sorry Joe. I don't know what's wrong with the girls you're dating, but I'd go out on a second date! Maybe don't bring it up on the first date? Wait until you think marriage is a viable decision.

Ariadne Umbrella said...

Joe, you are looking for a girl with a price above rubies. It takes a miner years to find a diamond. You'll find her.

May I suggest spending a summer as a camp counsellor? Healthy young women who ko
Love children?

Jonathan Silber said...

“It [feminism] is mixed up with a muddled idea
that women are free when they serve their employers
but slaves when they help their husbands.”

--G.K. Chesterton

Ariadne Umbrella said...

Dear Rustling Leaves, your education was not wasted. The argument for educating women in America,from the beginning, has always, always, always, been to make competent, educated, canny wives and mothers.

We had to import German professors to get the idea of a non- applied degree. That was mostly after the Civil War, and mostly to provide chemists and physicists. The philosophers were mostly to keep trustafarians harmlessly occupied.

Louisa May Alcott, and the war widows after the Civil War, were most of the argument about women needing to be self-sufficient.

The not-trusting of men- and the general disparagement of marriage- is from bohemian lifestyle types in Greenwich Village, and in the bohemian outskirts of major cities. The women who advocated for this were generally eye-wateringly acrid with horrible life-choices- Simone de Beauvoir was a bisexual child molester- seriously, she went for a degree after being fired for molesting students. Her espousing femininism was as much a method of grooming young women to come to her, as true philosophical position.

That your education cost thousands of dollars- that's how your community laid out its money. That's not you. You can advocate for more careful accounting, but if you raise your children with care and concern, you've repaid, in full, everything your community has invested in you.


Ariadne Umbrella said...

And Joe, when you are in college, you are meeting girls who are stocking up their dowry, more or less. They can't "hear" you just yet.

First date- do something fun. A wet-blanket breeder is not what you are after- you want a life-mate. Leah had 10 kids, and they mostly sucked. Rachel had two, and they are still heroes.

One fun date, one interview date, and then toss or keep. You might want to finish your degree and get a job- so go out with a group of friends, have friends, etc. But don't shop for her until you've been at work one or two years. Then, get serious. A pragmatic girl wants to see what you are bringing to the table-not just hopes and dreams, but proof. Once you've got proof, go shopping for her. You might get lucky and have her land in your lap senior year- I've seen it happen with engineers- their girlfriends get pregnant over spring break of senior year quite a bit- for the rest- get your career in order-ish (on the right track, not complete- I married a guy with a bachelor's and an interest in an MBA- He's got the MBA, and three kids) and then go hunt. Match.com works just fine- we went to a banker's wedding last summer. His wife adores him, and they just welcomed their first child two weeks ago.

The Millionaire Next Door has a chapter on marriage- including what to look for- siblings, state college, homemade clothes, religion, all of it backed by research. I've made my husband's lunches for nearly two decades, from that book's advice.

Micha Elyi said...

...the very rich aggressive guy is often (not always) an asshole. That's why he is successful at the kind of high-earning jobs he likes.
--Ambienville

You're being over-aggressive in your characterization, Ambi. You're exhibiting the very behavior you're criticizing.

For readers interested in the grain of truth obscured by the harsh characterization Ambi has put on it, I recommend Warren Farrell's book Why Men Are the Way They Are. Dr. Farrell also points out the behavior of the common female hypergamous who foolishly imagines that the Mr. Ambitious she is attracted to for his aggressive winning ways outside the home on the job (oh, was I supposed to call it a 'career'?) will instantly turn into her pussycat inside the home.

Outside-the-home jobs worked by someone under pressure to be the family's primary support do focus the mind wonderfully, as Glenn Reynolds put it, but living in that focus has a cost. The cost is heavy yet hardly measurable in dollars, it is most often borne by men and few females even recognize that the burden exists.

Micha Elyi said...

Dear Rustling Leaves, your education was not wasted. The argument for educating women in America, from the beginning, has always, always, always, been to make competent, educated, canny wives and mothers.
--Ariadne Umbrella

The argument is part of early America's concept of Republican Motherhood. Not just the frontier mothers were expected to be capable of homeschooling their children in reading (enough to understand the King James Bible, which isn't easy reading), writing, basic reckoning (not just the 4 basic operations of arithmetic but their practical uses too), basic American citizenship and history.

Also recall that the education generally referred to at that time was - at most - completion of primary school.

You probably know Ariadne Umbrella, but most folks don't, that from early on in U.S. history, the average girl completed more years of formal schooling than did the average boy. His average formal schooling was less than 3 years, then he was out doing hard labor on the farm or apprenticed out to learn a trade. This average didn't increase until late in the 19th century and it never exceeded the years of schooling girls were given.

At this point, some people ask "What about college, didn't more boys go to college than girls?" Sure, but such a tiny number went to college then that the average years of schooling for boys wasn't budged much. And by the latter decades of the 19th century, more girls went to college than boys - a trend that was only reversed when the GI Bill was available to veterans after WWII and then for only two decades, roughly 1950 to 1970. Here's another little noticed fact, the craze of establishing Women's Centers on college campuses didn't really get underway until after 1970. (Men's Centers are not now and have never been a similarly ubiquitous fixture on colleges as Women's Centers are and the few that do exist do little men's advocacy, they are generally co-opted by feminists of the victimist and man-hostile persuasions.)

...That your [Rustling Leaves's] education cost thousands of dollars- that's how your community laid out its money. That's not you. You can advocate for more careful accounting, but if you raise your children with care and concern, you've repaid, in full, everything your community has invested in you.

Still, Ariadne, the community (read: taxpayers, mostly men) were likely made to overspend on that education - that's the point I understood Rustling Leaves to be making. And some of that education may have been misdirected by the community in an attempt to push young ladies like her into feminist-approved PC lifestyles she was uninterested in.

Really, did Rustling Leaves require more than what a high school with what until the 1970s was a common home economics program could offer? Likely not. Today, because those home ec courses have been chased out of the high schools a prospective homemaker careerist will have to add a two-year junior college degree in Early Childhood Education to her schooling. A 4-year degree is unnecessary; as evidence I offer that the quality of day care workers with a 2-year Associates degree exceeds that of ones with a 4-year Bachelors degree. (Yes, there's an actual study demonstrating this but, alas, I don't have it to hand.)

Micha Elyi said...

And Joe when you are in college, you are meeting girls who are stocking up their dowry, more or less. They can't "hear" you just yet.
--Ariadne Umbrella

That and your other remarks in the comment are all good advice to most young men, but I wonder if you read Joe's comment a bit too hastily. He wants to be the stay-at-home parent it seems.

If a man earning a college degree in a profession or learning a skilled trade wishes a traditional marriage of he's the breadwinner and she's the homemaker, he might also consider young women earning a home economics or early childhood education AA degree at one of the local junior colleges as possible dates.

P.S. Judah who rose to the leadership of the house of Israel and its tribes was Leah's son. I feel Leah was poorly treated - the eldest child often loses out in Bible history, I've noticed.