Chloe I. Cooney: The Parents Are Not All Right (Gen)
The coronavirus pandemic exposes how even the most privileged households, with two working parents, are struggling to make it work.
Viruses, or in this case, global pandemics, expose and exacerbate the existing dynamics of a society — good and bad. They are like a fun-house mirror, grossly reflecting ourselves back to us. One of those dynamics is the burden we put on individual parents and families. We ask individuals to solve problems that are systemically created.
This cannot be solved by tweaks to the schedule, helpful routines, and virtual activities. We have to collectively recognize that parents — and any caregivers right now — have less to give at work. A lot less. The assumptions seem to be that parents have “settled into a routine” and “are doing okay now.”
It exposes everything from the lack of paid sick leave and parental leave to the fact that the school day ends at 3 p.m. when the typical workday goes several hours longer — yet aftercare is not universally available. And that says nothing of our need for universal health care, irrespective of employment. Parents pour endless energy into solving for systems that don’t make sense and don’t work.
This current situation is almost prophetically designed to showcase the farce of our societal approach to separating work and family lives. We are expected to work from home full time. And care for our children full time. And we cannot have anyone outside our immediate household help. It can’t work and we all are suffering at the illusion that it does.
Our kids are losing out — on peace of mind, education, engagement, the socialization for which they are built.
Our employers are losing out, too. Whether the office policy is to expect full-time work or whether, like in my experience, we are offered a lot of flexibility — work is less good, there is less of it, and returns will be diminishing the longer this juggle goes on.
What to Do When You See Unaccompanied Black Children in Public Spaces. (Beyond Baby Mamas)
Single parents across race and class lines struggle to secure safe and affordable childcare on short notice, and often those parents are faced with hard decisions. They can take the children to work or to a job interview with them and risk violating company policy (and, by extension, their chances of maintaining or securing a position with the company). They can leave the children at home, if they’re old enough, in “latchkey” situations. They can leave them with a childcare provider they don’t know and haven’t had time to vet. Or they can cancel their obligation, risking much-needed income. No decision is without its consequences, but black mothers find themselves making these decisions (and facing legal and penal consequences) disproportionately. These institutional consequences compound the economic stress and hardship one-income households already face.
I’m worried about those things but more worried about getting you out of bed and dressed in the morning. I’m worried about looking out the window one day and seeing a column of fire but more worried about teaching you to be sad when I could be teaching you to be happy. I’m worried about the college teacher writing for the New York Times who also works as a waiter. I want you to have careers and cats; I want you to have apartments without roommates in your thirties.
Allison Benedikt: The mean-girl advice of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. (Slate Magazine)
‘”What To Expect” is, then, finally, a self-fulfilling prophesy, because what to expect as an expectant mother today is to be bombarded with information about how you are doing it wrong—whether it is carrying a baby in your womb, pushing it out, or raising it.’