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 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

SHE SAYS: I want to go back to school for a master’s degree

This is the best plan for our family moving forward, and it will benefit everyone. Anthony is being short-sighted.


HE SAYS: I won’t have any free time between taking care of the kids and my job

I support the idea, but Brianna will be gone most evenings. We both work full time, so I will be responsible for meals and homework duty during the week.

What we’re hearing is that you, Anthony, are squirming about the discomfort of having to spend more time taking care of your children. But try to think less of how you will be inconvenienced and more about how your children will be having less time with their mother.

More on that in a moment, but first, Brianna, make doubly-sure that getting this master’s really is the right choice. It’s good to want to grow your talents, but only if it leads to a more decent quality of life for your family. Think big picture. You will be sacrificing time away from your children in the short run, so make sure you’re confident this decision will lead to more and better time with them in the long run.

Do a sincere self-check together to ensure that your motivating goals are not just gaining for your family more money, prestige or stuff, but rather opening up better ways to love, protect and prepare your children before they launch into the world. As Pope Francis put it in Amoris Laetitia: “Only if we devote time to our children, speaking of important things with simplicity and concern, and finding healthy ways for them to spend their time, will we be able to shield them from harm.”

Assuming you’ve passed this self-check and it’s a go for the master’s, you might need to do another selfcheck: gender role assumptions. Consider this scenario: For the good of their family, a father must go to work for long stretches of time while a mother is left alone to care for their children. You’d admire both for making sacrifices, right?

Now switch around the words “father” and “mother.” If this leaves you feeling not only that both would be making sacrifices, but also that the father would somehow be making an even greater sacrifice, then it might be time to re-evaluate your gender role assumptions.

These cultural assumptions run deep. Studies show that even in double-career households, women bear a disproportionate share of child-care and other domestic chores. That’s fine if both parties are good with it, but it sounds like maybe that’s not the case with you. If so, have an honest and humble talk … and be willing to change.