I am an older mom who is busy supporting a family and working as an ICU nurse.  I don’t want my daughter to repeat my lifetime of mistakes.  She is bright about many things but in school I feel she is an underachiever and does just enough to get by.  I have had many financial setbacks.  I lost my home, lived with in-laws and now live in a house that was a fixer-uper and I was never able to do the fixing up. I could go on and on. But enough about me.

How do I guide my teen to choose a career path that will be suitable for their abilities and potential. I have depleted all my savings just keeping the family going so its going to be a community college to start out.  She is 16 and very responsible.  She has had three jobs in three months. Now she’s working at her third, job as restaurant hostess.  How do I be the guidance counsellor, where do I start?

Also, as a woman in her late 20’s contemplating parenthood, the responsibilities of parenthood are daunting. The more I try to rationally consider whether or not to have children, the more confused am. Maybe this is a silly reaction.

I probably shouldn’t decide not to have kids because I might have to homeschool them someday, but I can’t help it. If you homeschool how do you have time for anything else? I saw my mom lose herself parenting my sister and me. I know if I decide to have kids I want to also take care of myself.

It all comes down to choices. I often think having all these damn choices is debilitating. Do you agree or think that’s just an excuse for inaction?

I am 38, my husband is 42. We have a 4 year old son. The last four years have been seriously challenging. My son has some medical issues (not life threatening, but requires lots of time with doctors and a lot of sleep deprivation for his parents). He is also has challenging behavior issues, which we are working on with the help of his pediatrician and most likely some counseling. Your previous posts on the challenges (the reality) of parenting really resonated with me.

Given the challenges that you have outlined in your previous posts..I often wonder why people have more than one kid. The only reason I am even considering another child is to give my child a sibling. What do you think? Should we try for another child?

My husband and I will both finish graduate school this year — he in [high-earning field], me in law. I have a job lined up to clerk next year, but after that, I’d like to have kids, and I’d like to stay home — either full or part time — to raise them.

My problem is this: I’m fine with sacrificing the lost income (and the years worked toward a promotion, the raises that I’d earn, and the subsequent raises that follow after that, the retirement contributions, health insurance, etc. etc.) but I’m not okay with bearing the brunt of our choice for me to stay at home in case of a divorce. It doesn’t seem fair to me that if I take five years off to have kids, we could later get divorced, and he will continue making six figures after he has enjoyed the benefit of having a stay at home wife, while the statistics — both about the legal field and about women — show that I will have a hard time getting a job, let alone a well paying one. And this will be because I took the time off to raise our kids.

Maybe the distinction I’m making between the lost income and the shared cost of childbearing is nebulous — in the case of divorce, I wouldn’t want my husband to have to pay me whatever I would have earned as a working lawyer in those years — I/we already chose to sacrifice that. Instead, I want him to share with me the financial burden I will bear for having made that choice. I don’t know how to calculate that cost — maybe I’ll have to hire a mathematician.

I’ve heard some suggest that women in my position should make a legal contract that would dictate how assets will be divided in case of divorce, that would somehow equalize partners’ positions. Do you know anything about this, or have any links to any such sample contracts? Do you know how to calculate the shared cost of the decision to stay home? I’m having a VERY hard time finding any good information about this online.

I quit my job to be home with my kids. I loved my job but the type of law I practiced required my full focus and long hours, and I am not good at juggling home and work responsibilities. So now I am home, things are less hectic, my kids are getting the time and focus they deserve, and…I often miss my career. To be clear, I would not change any decision I have made about my career or my kids. But my question for you is, do these feelings of career longing go away eventually? As you devote greater amounts of time to educating your own kids at home, do you ever feel that you are leaving something behind, or do you just assure yourself that you are doing the right thing and get on with it?