More or Less Overwhelmed? Tug of War Between Career & Family

Based on my question, “Do you have a sense that academic women are more overwhelmed (or underwhelmed), less overwhelmed (or underwhelmed), or about the same as they used to be?  Please offer your own explanation as to why you think that is,” here is one academic’s response:

I would say that 100% of academic women with children that I know would appreciate help with being “just whelmed”.  I’m not convinced that the help they need is really organizational, though: most are succeeding at their jobs and in their families.

Rather, it seems help is needed in identifying and managing the emotional/mental tug-of-war between career and family.  It took me many years bludgeoning my way through each week before I finally sat down and reckoned with what “I” wanted and could deal with. This was helped by good literature demonstrating that children do not need helicopter parents to be happy, successful adults; nor do they need a warm and fuzzy Martha Stewart.

At the same time, I began talking casually with other faculty members and reading LOTS of blogs written by female academics (check out “Female Science Professor” for some great insight into one academic’s wrangling with family/job) with many different job descriptions…and realized that plenty of women were succeeding in their professions according to personally crafted plans and were not following a “male-oriented” academic model of total job immersion as the only possible lifestyle.

I’ve often wondered if more academic women with children wouldn’t reach places of relative peace much sooner if they were provided blunter, more obvious strategies for thinking about how they wish to relate to family “versus” job. To some extent, this idea falls into “general mentoring” which is phenomenally rare in academics overall.

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Let’s hear from some people dealing with this tug of war.  Click on “Comments” at the top of this post and the box will appear for your comments.

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