Latest Posts

Are You “Successful”? Saying “Yes” May Mean Thinking Outside the Box

We Americans like to believe we are independent thinkers. But when it comes to the way we think about success, it can be hard to leave behind the powerful influence of our peers, colleagues, parents, spouses, bosses, talking heads, not to mention your dentist, and that elderly lady who judged your three-year-old for opening the crackers in the checkout line.

Everyone has an opinion about how to be successful, and everyone’s opinion seems to point to you doing it wrong. (more…)

Podcast Episode on Straddling a Meaningful Career and Parenthood

I was delighted to be interviewed for an episode of a wonderful podcast series exploring modern research and practice in clinical psychology. This episode focuses on modern ambitious and loving parents can effectively choose both a meaningful career and parenthood.

Dr. Yael Schonbrun and podcast host Dr. Diana Hill review research suggesting that pursuit of meaning in both work and parenting can be the cornerstone of happiness. However, the act of straddling an ambitious career and being a parent can be overwhelming and destabilizing. With research and personal examples, this podcast provides insights into how you can successfully choose both. Click here to download the episode.

Friendship Across a Religious Divide

Trailing after my 1-year-old wingman, I spotted a promising looking mom-and-child duo working the firetruck slide. She smiled at me and I went in for the opening. Thankfully, my eagerness wasn’t too off-putting, and our random playground encounter evolved into a friendship. Leigh and I were delighted to discover that we both had small kids, were both therapists, and found New England winters disagreeable. It didn’t occur to me to ask about her religion because who really cared?

Just a few weeks later we were watching our kids play and congratulating ourselves for finding each other when the conversation took an unexpected turn. Leigh said she didn’t think our meeting was a coincidence. “It was,” she told me, “God’s plan”. Um… what? (more…)

A Simple Way to Improve Communication With Your Partner

Communication—the blessing and the curse of most relationships. Words like “those pants are stunning on you” can bring peace and joy into your life; words like “we need to talk” can feel like a death sentence.

Because it’s so foundational to relationships, and because it’s so complicated to get it right, communication is among the most common of marital problems. It’s also the problem that couples often highlight when they first come into couples therapy. Couples therapy offers lots of specific strategies to tweak communication and this one is simple to get your head around, easy to implement, and has good returns on your effort investment. (more…)

When You’re On Maternity Leave, Ambition’s a Pain in the Ass

The battle between two competing desires—the desire to achieve and the desire to engage with loved ones—rages within many working parents. But on my recent maternity leave, I hoped I might get a reprieve. After all, I’m not just a mommy (a few times over), I’m also a credentialed psychologist specializing in the treatment of new parents.

Yep, I naively expected my third maternity leave would be smooth, psychologically and otherwise. Yet my reality turned out just like that of every ambitious parent in love with their delightful young children: I’m spit-stained, dog-tired, and faced with a barrage of conflicted thoughts and feelings about who I am as a mother and professional. (more…)

The Working Parent and Too Much Choice

Working parents blessed with flexible jobs have it all… but the “all” that they have comes with never-ending choices between prioritizing one role over another role. Why is having flexibility so stinking hard and what can we do about it?

The classic working parent’s quandary: realization hits late. You have an important work meeting the following afternoon…and your kid’s fall play. Torn up, you fantasize declaring that you can’t make either engagement. Maybe you’ll head to Target to peruse the latest seasonal décor instead. But with maturity—and awareness that you’d probably get caught ogling a tufted pillow—you quickly put that thought away. (more…)

Including Scale-Backers in the Conversation About Women and Work

The Atlantic recently published a seven-part series exploring what happens to women’s ambition after college. By virtue of their attendance at Northwestern University (a raised eyebrow here, but… ok) the interviewees were all identified as ambitious women. The women followed similar trajectories of pursuing ambitious professional paths after graduation from college, but once children arrived the women’s paths diverged.

Three unique pathways were identified among these women. First, high achievers remained focused on careers after children. In order to remain successful, they were likely to deputize a chunk of the parenting responsibilities; in so doing were able to stay highly successful in the workplace while having families. (more…)