4 Reasons Why Sacrificing Your Career Is The Worst Way To A Happy Family

I used to think before I had kids, that as soon as I had a baby, a Mary Poppins like nanny would pop up from the ether to ease my transition back to work. Working Women up and down the country face a difficult decision whenever they have a baby: To give up work and be the ‘good mother’ to their children or to take on the ultimate juggle of work and family, and perhaps risk burnout.

This unfortunately leads some women to make the ultimate SACRIFICE of giving up on their career and dedicating themselves full time to their family. I know I am heading into controversial waters here and need to tread carefully but bear with me, I promise I will dig myself out of this one.

Don’t get me wrong, giving up your career for your family is a truly noble thing to do, people die for less noble causes, so trust me, you are making a fine choice, if that is, what you truly want to do. Because if you don’t, then there is nothing noble about it and what you are indeed doing is locking yourself into a life of unhappiness and inflicting it on your children as they are forced to be grateful for your huge sacrifice that they didn’t ask you to make. 

Then there is the small matter of the partner who constantly gets in the neck for having the temerity to carry on with their career and enjoy all the perks and status that go with it. You cannot look at them without seething with resentment. Heaven forbid the relationship doesn’t work out and they move on and you are left holding the baby albeit they would have grown up by then. At this point you feel you have been out of the work place for far too long to have the confidence to pick up from where you left off. Technology has moved on. You have to retrain and you are not sure you can be bothered.

When this happens, the last thing you feel is noble. Yes you were the one that made the sacrifice but everyone else has taken advantage of said sacrifice and moved on. In fact they were not even aware of the privilege that you afforded them. You were mum, that was your job and that was that. Is it any wonder that more women than men are on antidepressants in both the UK and the US based on studies from both countries? It is not easy being a mother, never mind being a working mother.

So why can such a noble thing as sacrificing your career for your family be such a bad idea? 

  1. Because you should only make that choice if that is what you truly want to do, if it is your calling, if that is what you think is your main purpose. I know for a fact that for a lot of women, being a mother alone, as great as that is, is not enough.There should be no shame in owning up to that, it doesn’t make you a bad mother. Just like how men are allowed to be fathers and still carry on with their careers without anyone thinking they are bad fathers, that same level of respect should be afforded to women. If you make the decision for any other reason, then it ceases to be a choice, it becomes a sacrifice that is where the problems set in.
  2. Why? Because implicit in sacrifice is a two way obligation. You feel obligated to make the decision and the people you are making the decision for will feel obligated to be grateful. This makes for problematic relationships further down the line with everyone being frustrated and you feeling taken for granted. Happy families? I think not.
  3. Some women make the sacrifice because they are afraid of the consequences of not making it. That makes you a hostage. This means you are acting out of fear and given half a chance, you will make a different decision. The consequences you are afraid of are most of the time what you think society will think of you, rather than what you know works for you. That is no basis for life decisions.
  4. This brings me neatly to the point about your boundaries. Your boundaries are made up of your values and your identity. If you haven’t worked these out for yourself then you will put your life on the back burner, and resign yourself to a life of antidepressants. No one wins here.

Simply because you haven’t worked up the courage to decide that your life is just as valuable as everyone else’s in the family doesn’t mean you should be held hostage by their needs. Your needs are just as important. If there is a sacrifice to be made for the family to work now that there are children in the mix, then all responsible adults need to go back to the drawing board and make the decision that best supports all the family members, and that includes you.

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