Our favorite Bethenny Frankel recently sat down with Moira Forbes to discuss “choosing” her career over children. Except Bethenny doesn’t really look at it that way. When asked what the biggest sacrifice for her career was Bethenny said, “It would be easy for me to blame the career path on why I had children so late but it’s honestly not true. I could have had kids 10 years ago but I hadn’t met the right person and I didn’t feel it was the right time. I didn’t have the financial means to do it so I just kept going on with my life.”
Bethenny does say that now that she is 41 and may not be able to have more children (she recently had a miscarriage) that that it can feel like a sacrifice but she says, “I can’t really attribute that to my career because it’s just the way the whole path went. It wasn’t like I was always so focused on work. I just didn’t have the financial means.”
I find this to be a really healthy perspective of looking at it. There is often this very black and white mentality when it comes to women and careers versus children and it’s not that simple. And it isn’t even really a versus. Like Bethenny said she wasn’t actively thinking “I don’t want to have kids. I must focus on my career,” (in a robot voice), but that there were many other factors in the mix.
A lot of studies do show that women who do put off having children name pressure from their work and career ambition as reasons this is happening but other studies show, like this one from The Guardian, that both men and women believe it is more important for women to enjoy themselves than to have children – with 64% of men and 51% of women agreeing. A majority also thinks that doing well at work and earning money count for more than bringing up children.Other social pressures also appeared to be a factor: 48% agreed that couples do not stay together these days In a sign of the way male attitudes have changed after feminism, only 32% of men think women should put children before work. Both men and women say it is more important to live comfortably than to have children. Of those surveyed, 61% thought this against just 32% who said bringing up children came ahead of material success.
Amanda Haddaway told The Grindstone:
“A job doesn’t keep someone from having kids. It may be an excuse or a crutch, but there are plenty of successful businesswomen who make it work. I think the greater issue is that society “expects” women to have kids — whether they have a demanding job or not. If a woman “chooses” to not have children for whatever reason, she is made to feel as inferior in some way. It’s a choice, people — an accident for some — and “not” a responsibility of all women of a certain age to bear children. This isn’t 1700, it’s 2011. Choosing a career over children, children over career, a family of just husband and wife, being single, whatever are ALL acceptable choices. Do what works for you and don’t give in to what society thinks you should do.”
Basically, it is not always this one big choice, sometimes it is just the path your life ends up taking. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And I think Bethenny’s path turned out pretty well.
Watch the rest of the Forbes interview below.