03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Shriver Report Shows the Importance of Being a Real Cougar Woman

The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," is a comprehensive study examining a social transformation unfolding right now. For the first time in history, one-half of all U.S. workers are women, and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families.

This report contemplates what a new America should look like after we finally embrace this important new dynamic and address the challenges not as 'women's issues' but as fundamental issues important to the livelihood and well being of both men and women.

Real Cougars have already begun to embrace this new dynamic. We understand the importance of financial independence, the importance of being treated as equals in and out of the workplace and the importance of teaching younger women how to stop listening to what other people are saying and start living life on their own terms.

NBC has dedicated the week of October 19th to the changing roles of women and that inspired me to conduct my own research. I polled the thousands of women in my Real Cougar Woman community to find out what challenges they are facing.

From their responses I began to see firsthand how many women in this country are living parallel lives. See if you agree with what they had to say.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced and now overcome?

Raising a child on my own.

Being left alone made me have to gather up the pieces and restart my life as a single woman. As women (mother's, care-takers, worker's, friends, etc.) we sometimes get lost in the mode of taking care of everyone but ourselves. Maintaining our own voice, goals, and existence outside of the family should be as important. I never truly understood this before my divorce. I had to grow up.

Redefining what it means to be a woman.

I was held back because of my old fashioned ideas of what it meant to be a woman. I believed that women cannot lead, cannot invent, and cannot ask for help when they need it. When you can let go of the Superwoman ideal and allow others to share your domestic domain, then you can finally reach you own, individual potential as a human.

Taking Care of aging Parents.

This is a challenge both emotionally and financially. It was a very hard decision to move back home but I did it. Now I'm glad I did it because it made our relationship stronger and helped me to realize I can be independent and strong and still nurturing even in difficult circumstances.

The biggest challenges women still face?

The need to get equal face time in Corporate America.

We are expected to fully participate (in the same capacity) as our male counterparts, yet still do not receive comparable salary levels. It's time for the scales to balance as more and more women are responsible for maintaining households, just like men.

Adopting a new attitude.

We are still walking around complaining about how we are mistreated. Get rid of the attitude and focus on making life better. We are treated how we allow people to treat us.

Women have to stop seeking approval.

The only person you have to face every single day is you. When women start to treat themselves better and believing they can do things their way and be successful then the paradigm shift will occur.

Resolve Our Issues Around Money.

Women have to learn the importance of being financially independent. We need the confidence to place a monetary value on what we do without feeling self-conscious, guilty, or non-deserving.

Yes, a woman's nation would change everything, but we can only do that if women are ready to take on the responsibilities that change will bring.

Linda Franklin