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Daughters (now Mothers)

If you’re somewhere in your twenties, thirties, or even your early forties, you are probably a lot like the daughters we interviewed. You may not fit each descriptions exactly, but you probably recognize yourself in these statements.

You grew up when all the rules were changing. Because you were the first daughters affected by the women’s movement, you were raised to be who and whatever you wanted to be. Growing up in a time when equal access to sports was mandated by law, you got dirty and played to win–on girls’ and boys’ teams. For all your new freedoms as a kid, though, half of you also had to deal with your parents’ divorce. Maybe you shuttled back and forth between two parents’ homes or were raised by a single mother. Even if you just watched as your friends’ parents split, an avalanche of reality-based movies and TV shows about family problems taught you that not every story had a happy ending. And even if you charged through puberty with a vengeance and unleashed your raging hormones on your mom, by the middle of your twenties, you probably looked up to her and were proud to say so.

You cared more about finding your passion in life than finding Mr. Right. You always knew you would be something other than wife and mother. Once out of school, you didn’t want to abandon the career track no matter how many Prince Charmings stood at your door. You felt free to pursue careers in math or science, drive a truck if you wanted, or otherwise engage in behavior that once would have been considered “unladylike”. You also took time to spend a few years after college doing transitional activities –traveling, skiing, holding odd jobs, and dating the wrong types of guys.

You kissed a lot of frogs before getting married. You had to work through your skepticism about men and marriage before committing to any one man. (Or any one woman). Chances are, you delayed both marriage (and parenthood) until your late twenties or thirties, waiting both out of independence and financial need. You probably married a man who loves to cook and knows how to change a diaper (though he doesn’t always choose to do so!). And he’s not the only one who wears the pants. However you make your relationship work–juggling it with kids and career, working part-time at home, or focusing all your energies on your children (despite having an advanced degree) –the important distinction is that you do so by choice. You look to your partner for help and advice when it suits you, and you might even have taken his last name when you married (much to your mother’s surprise), but you define yourself.

You’re part of the best-educated, most well-read generation in history. Your generation went to college in droves (three times the number in your mother’s generation), maybe to grad school as well, and your mom was in your corner. Today, you probably have stacks of parenting books on your night table, belong to at least one mothers’ group, and are influenced daily by information on the Internet. You can talk to mothers around the globe. You believe that children are like little scientists, and they need to explore. Instead of confining your child to a “playpen” –a word you wouldn’t even use–you child-proof your house. The fact that you use your Pack N’ Play primarily for travel, is perhaps an indication that you not only have no desire to confine your children, but also that you prefer to schlepp them everywhere!

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