More Than Money
Issue #41

Selections from 2001-2005

Table of Contents

“Excerpt From: Surprised by Joy, MTM Issue 36”

Finding Your Real Work

When people ask me about the choices I’ve made around money, family, and work—specifically, my decision to resign from a tenured faculty position in the Department of Counseling Psychology at Boston College in order to take care of my children—they always frame it as a loss. They say, “What did you give up?” No one talks about the gain. But I don’t think of it as having given up my career, as people often suggest. I think of it as having decided not to continue doing a particular kind of work so that I could balance my work and family. The result is that I’ve gained something that’s forever. ... When I was raising my children, I felt anxiety about how I was going to meet my family’s needs and still be somewhat active in the work world. ...[But] I am so glad now that I spent the time I did with my children, caring for them and learning to know them as individuals. The connection I feel with my nowadult children is so strong. Some people think that if you can pay for someone to take care of your children, why not? But I say, wouldn’t it be better to pay for someone to do the other things that need doing, so you can spend time parenting? Children need different things at different ages, and you only find out what those are by spending time with them. Dropping your children off at soccer practice is not the same as having their friends over to your house; when you’re around while they’re playing dress-up there is a whole different kind of intimacy that develops. Taking a walk with your children and seeing the world through their eyes is different from pushing them in a three-wheeled stroller so you can take your morning run. It’s the difference between integrating your life into your children’s lives versus taking your children along as an add-on to a pre-existing life that will not stop for anything. It has become counter-cultural for us—both women and men—to make parenting a priority because we live in a product-oriented culture, and parenting is not a product, it’s a process.

— Diana Paolitto
Diana Paolitto, Ed.D, is currently a psychologist in the Wayland, Massachusetts public schools, and department chair for counseling and special education at Wayland Middle School. She is coauthor with Joseph Reimer and Richard Hersh of the book Promoting Moral Growth: from Piaget to Kohlberg (Waveland Press, 1983).


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