It's 2012, and still young women and girls are dreaming of Prince Charming. As the mother of a 17-year-old girl, I shudder when she tells me how her friends are evaluating potential boyfriends: "Are his parents rich?" "What does his dad do?" "I'm going to marry someone rich when I grow up!"
This is not the way I'm raising my daughter. I'm raising her to be independent. And if she wants to be rich when she grows up, I tell her to earn the money herself.
As the founder of a non-profit built on the belief that economic independence is the key to permanently ending the cycle of domestic violence, I want to ask all mothers out there... how are you raising your girls?
In the 21st century, it's hard to believe that so many girls are still brought up to focus more on getting a good husband than getting a good job. In my 24 years of working with domestic violence victims, I've seen too many good husbands go bad, and too many women that wake up one day only to discover that their Prince Charming has become the Prince of Darkness.
According to the American Economic Review, three quarters of all violence against women is committed by domestic partners. When women focus more on being attractive to men than being attractive to employers, and when domestic violence hits their homes, women all too often remain with their abusers. Why? Because they simply can't find a job to support themselves, as well as their children. Even the brave women who do leave their abusers and seek out domestic violence shelters do not have jobs, let alone fulfilling careers.
I started Second Chance Employment Services to help these women find a meaningful career -- and an independent means of supporting themselves and their children. So many of the women I've helped never dreamed of having a worthwhile career, they only dreamed of the perfect husband.
There is no perfect husband; there is no Prince Charming. And while I've been happily married for twenty years and am so proud to be a mom, I've never forgotten that as important as my husband and daughter are to me, my career is important too. By my own example, I'm raising a daughter who thinks a lot about what she wants to do when she grows up. Yes, she wants a happy marriage and children, but she sees that her dream of "happily ever after" also includes success in a career she has established for herself.
This is not to say that no woman should ever be a stay-at-home-mom. For many women, this works well. But for the women who do stay home to raise a family, they can still take steps to keep their employment skills sharp. A stay-at-home-mom can continue her education, take small freelance opportunities, and engage in professional networking through associations in order to ensure that she will remain employable, should divorce -- or worse, abuse -- ever strike home.
The media today tells us that more than 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes. If these percentages seem high, also keep in mind that thousands of abuse cases go unreported each day. Women ignore these facts at their own peril.
During the holiday season, and during one of the worst economies this country has ever seen, I'm asking all women and girls to rethink their dreams of happily ever after. I'm asking that they appreciate the importance of their own careers, and not just the careers of their husbands and future husbands. As mothers, we will be much better off, and our daughters will be much better off too. And in a way, our husbands will also benefit, for the responsibility of supporting a family would no longer be their burden alone.
If you want to learn more about Second Chance Employment Services call us at 1-888-331-7451 or check our website: www.scesnet.org. If you would like to contact Dr. Green, please visit her website: www.ludygreen.com.