Jean Chatzky
Is it better to stay at home with your children or return to the workplace? Leslie Bennetts's new book, The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, takes a closer look at that question. Jean talks with Leslie about the struggle working women face when they have children.

Leslie says her book is sparking debates nationwide about whether women should be concerned about leaving the workplace to raise their children. She says statistics show that 95 percent of women will be alone at some point in their lives, mostly due to the shorter life expectancy of men and the high rate of divorce. Leslie says women need to be financially prepared to support themselves and that leaving the workplace to raise children creates serious obstacles to that—in fact, staying away from the workforce for just three years could reduce a woman's future income by up to 40 percent, she says.

Leslie highlights some other findings:
  • Women are still buying into the idea that a man is going to take care of them. Leslie says it is simply not the case and counting on the support of a husband is an incredibly dangerous thing to do.
  • When it comes to your children, take a long-term view of your relationship with them. Leslie says your children may make you feel guilty when they are young and you're not around every second, but as they get older, they will appreciate and respect your career.
  • A woman's standard of living drops by 36 percent after a divorce. Leslie says that's because when a man leaves, he takes one of the family's biggest assets—his career and income.
  • When deciding the best choice for you and your children, Leslie says you need to take into consideration not just the immediate future but what will happen several years down the road.
  • Educate yourself about the consequences of both staying at home with your kids and returning to work. Leslie says you should also get to know your state's divorce laws and what situation you would be in if you end up separated from your husband.
  • If you've left the workplace to be a stay-at-home mom, but you're now ready to go back to work, Leslie says you should look into companies that specialize in your situation. She says there are some employment agencies that cater specifically to moms.
The information provided here is general advice and you should always consult your own financial adviser before making major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio. The opinions expressed by the hosts, guests and callers to Oprah Radio are strictly their own.


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