Why Do You Really Want To Go Back?

Jennifer and her husband set a budget, but they can’t agree on Jennifer going back to work. Dave tells Jennifer she needs to examine her reasoning first.

QUESTION: Jennifer in Chattanooga and her husband just started working the Baby Steps. They set a budget, but they can’t agree on Jennifer going back to work. She’s a stay-at-home mom and wants to go back to work at least part-time to bring in extra income. Her husband is already working two jobs. Dave tells Jennifer she needs to examine her reasoning first.

ANSWER: My rule of thumb is this: A lady that has babies at home that wants to stay at home with the babies, there probably isn’t much of a higher calling, and I always encourage to find a way to make that happen. Twenty-five years ago, when my wife Sharon had our first baby, we made that decision, and she’s been very happy and very fulfilled all these years. In two weeks, the last one leaves the nest. That portion of the job is completed—if it is ever completed. That’s who’s answering your question. You need to know that to be fair.

I’m also not one of these people who says if you want to be in the marketplace that somehow you’re evil or bad for doing that, if that’s what you want to do. My mom was a real estate agent when we were growing up, and I turned out okay.

The 10-month-old—in my mind—starts to give a lot of credence to your husband’s argument, and I kind of think you’re doing this because you feel you need to help pull your part of the wagon, not as much that you want to self-actualize in the marketplace. If you just want to pull your wagon at $12 an hour for a few hours a week, I wouldn’t trade that for time with a 10-month-old personally. I don’t think the economic benefit is there. But if you tell me you just love being in the veterinary office and you really don’t feel called to be at home with that child, that’s a different decision than the Ramseys made, but that doesn’t make you evil.

I think it’s hard to say that it’s not going to be at the child’s expense when she’s being kept by somebody else. It’s not the baby’s mother. It’s not an evil person; she’s fine. Lots of people were raised by their grandmother, and they turned out fine. That’s not to say you’re abusing your child, but if you were to pick the best possible thing for the kid in this list of things, we’d have to pick mom being there, wouldn’t we? If we picked a good thing but not the best, we could pick Grandma. If we could pick another good thing, we could pick a really good daycare for a family where the lady is a professional. These aren’t bad things. It’s just good, better, best. That’s all we’re discussing.

You have to really dig into your motivation. What if you worked some kind of a compromise? Just try it. His opposition is that he wants to carry all the water by himself? Maybe a little ego? I think the two of you are a good couple. You guys need to sit down and talk about your motivations and be transparent about them. You have to be able to talk that through, and then he’s got to hear that. It’s just marital negotiation, isn’t it? Make a list of the pros and cons. There’s a lot of positive things that can happen here.

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