When it comes to raising our children, Bill and I have always agreed that our goal is not good kids. Our goal is competent, God-fearing adults who are capable of being happy. They aren’t necessarily the same thing, you know?

I’ve come across a couple of things in the last day or so that have me thinking. First, Penelope Trunk wrote about how we need to spend at least as much time teaching our kids how to find a spouse as we do helping them pick a career. After all, a happy marriage is a huge component of a happy life, at least if not more important than the choice of career. One interesting bit of research shows that a breadwinner should choose a non-breadwinner.  According to Penelope, shared duties almost never work. And yes, I know Penelope is prone to sweeping statements but there is research to back her up.

My take-away from Penelope is to help my children know themselves and to understand what they are looking for in a spouse.

The second was a new study from American Enterprise Institute about family structure and economic outcome. It was discussed on Bill Bennett‘s radio show this morning, and I’ve read through it now. There is a ton of interesting information there, but it is only data and doesn’t try to identify correlation vs. causation. For example, the premium associated with growing up in a home with an intact marriage, and then being in an intact marriage yourself, is $40,000. That is a huge amount! But it doesn’t look at which comes first, the ability to be in a successful marriage or the ability to earn more money. But the differences are there and they are stark.

One little piece of information that got discussed on the radio show was that economic outcome of children increased with the educational level attained by the mother–even if she did not work when the kids were at home! As a stay-at-home mom with a master’s degree, that was interesting to me.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a big family, and I wanted to be the mom. But when I was growing up, deep in the heart of the feminist era, that was really the one avenue that wasn’t open to me. “Oh, you want to do more than that” was something I heard often, not only from my mom but from my extended family. I was smart and got good grades, and I imagine everyone thought I was bound for high achievement in the work world. But what I heard was that being a wife and mom wouldn’t be enough. And that if I did really leave my career that I would have wasted my education.

In other words, I wanted a breadwinner but was trying to hide behind a breadwinner label myself. It didn’t go so well. I am lucky to have found a man who recognized my heart’s desire.

It has taken me a long time to feel like I don’t have to justify myself. Some days I forget all I’ve learned! But Bill will be the first to tell you that his success wouldn’t have come without the stable, comfortable home we’ve created together.

Education is never a waste. I am always informed by the thought processes I learned and used as an engineer and actuary. I bring some of that with me as I keep house and parent my sweet kids. No matter what my kids choose to do, breadwinner or not, their education is important and has implications for their lives, not just their work.

I can hardly believe it’s taken a couple of blog posts and an AEI study, of all things, to give me an “atta-girl” today. There’s definitely a lot more to think about, but I just wanted to share this one thing today.

I’d love to know what you think about this. Was your experience like mine growing up? What do you think about these studies?