Best of Both Worlds podcast: Adoptive parenting, academia, and independence

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

First, some big Best of Both Worlds news: We officially crossed 1 million downloads last week! This is really a big milestone for an independent podcast that isn’t affiliated with any network. Thank you so much to everyone who’s listened over the past two years.

Today’s episode is very much in keeping with our mission to share the stories of women who love their careers and their families and to talk about how they succeed in making it work.

Myleen Leary is a professor of management at a Montana university. She is also the mother of 9- and 11-year-old girls, who she adopted from Ethiopia when they were little.

Leary got quite a baptism into parenthood. Flying with two small children from Ethiopia to Montana is no joke. The family also faced language barriers in the beginning that made communication challenging. Adoption is difficult to time, and Leary wound up going up for tenure within a few months of welcoming her daughters.  She was very matter-of-fact about this; while it required her to get the girls adjusted to childcare relatively quickly, making it through this career hoop meant she’d have more career security, seniority, and flexibility. So it needed to be a family priority.

Fortunately, she got tenure, and the girls are thriving. Leary talked about raising independent children. As a single parent, she’s needed to rely on her daughters to learn some skills relatively early — which is not a bad thing. In the intro, Sarah and I talk about raising independent children, and strategies for pulling this off. One of our favorite phrases when a child complains or worries about something: “Wow, that sounds tough. What are you going to do about it?”

In the question section, we tackle another planning query — how a listener can protect time for planning amid other priorities. Please give the episode a listen. And we’re always looking to grow to our next 1 million downloads! If you enjoy Best of Both Worlds, would you please tell friends about it? And rate/review us wherever you listen to podcasts? Thanks so much.

One thought on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Adoptive parenting, academia, and independence

  1. I really liked this episode! Would have loved to hear more about how she makes logistics work for trips and conferences, etc. Does she have family in town? Does she have reliable babysitters, etc? How does she make time for herself when she’s the only parent?

    Re: independence, I’d like to put in a plug both for toddler group daycare and Montessori preschools as they heavily stress kids doing things for themselves I never thought they could do at x age. Especially for my first child, it never even occurred to me to ASK her to do the things daycare was asking her at 13 months, like throwing her trash away or taking her bowl to the sink or putting toys back in a bin. I feel like we got off to such a good start with daycare, and that idea that kids are responsible for picking up after themselves just became a part of our expectations for them as they grew.

    Now at almost 7 and 10, they do the dishes daily (one loads dishwasher, one unloads), they sort their clothes for laundry, and “fold” and put away all their clean laundry (mostly it gets shoved in drawers but I’m fine with that). The 10 year old gets the mail (mailbox is down the street), the girls take out the recycling when it’s full and generally know they need to pick up after themselves after meals or when doing something in a common space of the house. Life feels so much more relaxed now that they can ACTUALLY help lighten the load around here 😀

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