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Successful parenting is “sending happy, productive, kind young adults into the world”, with Drs. Katie B. Garner and Ely Weinschneider

Success is about improving the lives of people around me while not over-depleting myself. Starting my nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of mothers certainly embodies this; yet, it also means that I sometimes don’t have enough time for the people I’m closest to. I believe that success means leaving the world in a better place. […]


Success is about improving the lives of people around me while not over-depleting myself. Starting my nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of mothers certainly embodies this; yet, it also means that I sometimes don’t have enough time for the people I’m closest to.

I believe that success means leaving the world in a better place. Sending happy, productive, kind young adults into the world is a big part of this, but it’s tough because there is so much in the process of parenting that one can’t control. We can influence our kids — but only so much.


As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Katie B. Garner:

Scholar. Teacher. Mother. Wife. These lines blur and intersect in Dr. Katie B. Garner’s life as a first-generation woman who was raised in Chicago on the margin between working and middle class. Her mother quit her job as a secretary shortly into her first pregnancy and her father worked two or more jobs as a house painter to pay their bills.

This upbringing narrowed her focus on roles of mothers (and fathers), labor equality, and feminism in a changing world. She attended Illinois Wesleyan University for her undergraduate degree and University of Illinois at Chicago for her Masters in English Education and Ph.D in English with a gender studies concentration.

After nearly a decade researching intensive mothering, globalization’s impact on childcare, and class and race as they impact the mother/nanny relationship, she is focused on shifting the conversation regarding these topics with an eye toward building political will and ultimately changing US policy.

She has been fortunate enough to be an educator at the high school level (Downers Grove South High School), then as a lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago in gender and women’s studies, and currently as an adjunct professor at North Central College. She has served on editorial boards for organizations such as the Journal of Motherhood Initiative and have led several conferences focused on mothering.

Her goal is to enact social change when it comes to the role of childcare and advance the national conversation about mothering.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I was born and raised in Chicago in a working-class family with a first-generation dad and second-generation mom. Libraries, travel, and puttering filled my days. In this traditional home and as the last of three kids, I loved spending time with my stay-at-home mom, who still says it was the best job she could have had.

I earned my MA in English Education and secured a job as a high school teacher, which I left a few years later in order to stay at home with my first baby. With unmet dreams still whirling, I went back to UIC for a PhD — having two more kids along the way — and completed my doctoral degree in English and Gender Studies in 2014. I remain indebted to my village of care providers (including my husband, mom, and sitters) who made it possible.

Today, I am an adjunct professor at local universities; I lead workshops for mothers via my company M(o)ther Space, LLC; and I’m a sought-after speaker, blogger, and commentator on the issues modern mothers struggle with. I have contributed to several international conferences and media outlets. My work can be seen at: https://drkatiebgarner.com.

This April, I assumed the role of CEO-Executive Director of a non-profit, International Association for Maternal Action and Scholarship (https://www.IAMAS.com), which is open to all people interested in feminist mothering and who want to contribute to positive, lasting change.

The roots are in an organization for maternal scholars called MIRCI that my mentor started two decades ago in Canada. As a non-profit membership-based service, IAMAS permits scholars, politicians, media, and others who are interested in reforming the culture of motherhood in the United States and beyond to brainstorm, share knowledge, and help activists connect. One of the most pressing concerns is childcare since in all fifty states childcare costs more than housing and based on a recent online survey of more than 600 women, 65% of these women are deeply stressed about the cost of childcare

I am also working on a book that advocates for deep reform of motherhood-based one-on-one interviews with nearly 100 women, who are the true examples of extremely busy Americans making time to be great parents in an outdated system.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

A Joycean epiphany regarding women in my peer group has brought me to where I am right now. Before writing my dissertation, I looked around at the women I knew — all bright, formally educated, engaging, and ambitious — and compared their career successes to those of their husbands. In person after person, I saw a chasm in prestige and salary.

Despite being told that we women can do anything (and everything — including a great career, involved motherhood, and a fulfilling marriage), becoming a mom has derailed the careers of too many of us — myself included. We are women who worked hard our whole lives, have PhD’s, MDs, JDs and so on, but either step out of work, don’t move up the corporate ladder, or try to do it all and pay the price with our health. Worse, many of these same women who did let off the gas believe it results from personal failures. Most construe their current life of circumstance to one of “choice.”

I’m not convinced that choice is the right word here. I think of it like playing a card game with a stacked deck. Yes, we have free will, but when one of the options is hands-down the best one, it would be asinine not to choose it even when it ultimately may lose the game.

For instance, many women earn less money than their partners because pink-collar work (i.e., fields like teaching and nursing that are predominantly female) is undervalued. (Studies show that pay stagnates once a field reaches majority women even when it was previously well paid. See: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html) IAMAS’ goal is to change what choices are available to mothers.

Right now, women’s work is undercompensated, which means more women either step out of their career or can’t justify working in light of childcare expenses, which only furthers the pay gap and ultimately keeps women from reaching the decision-maker level at major companies.

If just a handful of women experienced lags in their careers or extreme difficulty managing work and family, we could ignore it, but the issue is so rampant that it was (and is) impossible for me to ignore. Mother after mother shared a similar struggle. I could not help but ask, why?

Biological predisposition may (or may not) play a role, but it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all answer. Because it is regarded as innate, women are perceived as natural caregivers even while this skill set remains woefully underpaid and undervalued. This mindset affects how women treat one another, too. I read a great piece by Joan Tronto called “The Nanny Question in Feminism,” which asks how we can resolve the issue of women’s waged work when childcare is often foisted upon underprivileged women of fewer means. In essence, she argues against trickle-down feminism, which is too often the easyfix suggested by some feminists and many politicians.

This is why I continue to research

1.) the culture of motherhood,

2.) labor habits and compensation,

3.) childcare policies,

4.) immigration,

5.) mother/nanny relationships, and

6.) feminism.

Importantly, I doggedly question how these are interconnected in a matrix of default ideologies that restrict women’s lives and strategize on what needs to happen so more mothers can thrive.

Motherhood has always been hard, but at this point, it is simply unsustainable.

Moreover, in light of the increase of single mothers and inadequacy of a single wage to support families with children, it’s only getting harder. Isolating this work to academia is inadequate, though; this impacts us all!

All mothers can benefit from the work done through IAMAS.com. We connect scholars and experts in the field of maternal studies with the people who need the data, including moms, politicians, and the media. We take a wide-reaching look at the interplay of economic, psychological, sociological, cultural, and legal issues facing mothers in order to create smarter policies that support families. We welcome new members to this important cause.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

Most days begin with me cooking breakfast for the family, checking the news, and doing a crossword puzzle with some tea while I organize my thoughts for the day.

I am in full work mode from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with current efforts focusing on writing my book (and book proposal), preparing for conferences, brainstorming marketing ideas, blogging, and getting the non-profit up and running. Work midday is like climbing a mountain, blending the scarcity of time with smart planning, disciplined goals, and hard work. I know that the view will be amazing at the summit!

At 3 p.m., I’m back in mom mode — fetching the kids, chauffeuring them to various afterschool appointments and lessons, nagging about homework, checking school schedules, getting dinner on the table, and so on. I’m a stickler about trying to have us all together for a tech-free dinner.

My nights vary the most based on a few factors: if I’m leading a workshop or seminar, have a conference call with board members (who are in the US, Canada, and Australia), doing final edits on work that didn’t get done before school pick-up, finalizing travel plans, and, if my husband and I are both free, spending some time catching up.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be beneficial to their development?

I laugh sometimes about the fact that I think my kids will put on my gravestone, “Go find something to do.” I’ve said this A LOT over the past 12 years. While some of it is because there’s so much that needs to get done in a day, a lot of it relates the proven research (and mom-approved) outlook that benign neglect is best for kids. (See endnote.)

I am a big believer in the Power of Boredom. Since my kids are 13, 10, and 7 now, I’m happily (mostly) out of the woods when it comes to finding that five jars of glitter have been dumped on a child or that the couch had been yarn-bombed with three large skeins of yarn (both true stories!) I tend to be very aware of what the kids are doing, who is where, what argument might be developing, who has been in their room for too long, etc., but I don’t think I need to be — or should be — their source of entertainment.

The Power of Boredom isn’t necessarily the best approach for all kids, but it works for mine. When kids figure out ways to amuse themselves and structure their own time, they develop “muscles” related to self-knowledge, curiosity, problem-solving, and patience. Moreover, it fits into my philosophy that motherhood shouldn’t be oppressive. That means that even though mothering will always involve lots of self-sacrifice, tending to one’s own needs can be an essential part of good parenting.

With that said, I am very accessible to my kids and try hard to put down whatever I’m doing if they need help with anything or want to talk about something important. If I can’t, I explain why. Kids get more than we give them credit for.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is important to make time to spend with your children?

Like most parents, I think time with our kids is invaluable, even when there is a lot of squabbling and whining. I’m guessing most people reading this are great role models for their kids and their kids benefit by seeing the joys and challenges of adulthood through our experiences. While it is easy to forget, our kids are watching us closely — too closely sometimes!

I do find it interesting, however, that these questions are posed back-to-back since they highlight the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” quandary so many moms find themselves in.

One on side, the cultural message for the past 80 years or so, has moved progressively toward increased involvement by moms (despite — or perhaps because of — a simultaneous increase in mothers working outside the home).

On the other side, mothers who are very involved are criticized for being too invested in their kids’ success, being needy, stalling the growth of their kids, and lacking a robust life of their own.

Quite often the rules change based on a mother’s class, race, and marital status. White, middle-class mothers are expected to put their careers second and be heavily involved in the rearing of their kids, while working-class women and women of color are encouraged to get low-wage jobs instead of raising their kids. Both are criticized for not conforming.

Unfortunately, our government and economic institutions are not stepping up to support sustainable family life for either set of mothers. Even as dual family incomes becomes the new normal due to stagnating wages, little has been done to support the children in these families or protect workers from exploitation. Parents often deal with burnout, stress, and guilt all while they struggle to stay afloat financially. This isn’t good for anyone except those on the tippy top of the pyramid. Meanwhile, mothers who earn less than what childcare costs are still forced into the labor market.

Motherhood is hard. Always has been, always will be. Does it have to be this hard while simultaneously putting our careers at risk? Should it bankrupt us? Should good care only be given to those who are wealthy enough to afford it? In Becoming, even Michelle Obama says it’s hard to work and have kids at the same time. And honestly, if she is struggling, the rest of us know it must be damn hard!

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

With three very different kids who are at different stages in their development, finding ways to have quality time with each is based on who they are and what they need at the time.

Our oldest and I tend to enjoy many of the same things: reading, eating out, crafting, and going for walks. Our quality time is often more introvert-friendly since she isn’t one to pour her heart out. We often connect just by being in the same room together.

Our middle one is the most philosophical so far and we tend to have meandering conversations about equality, capitalism, humanism, religion, and our treatment of animals and our environment.

Our youngest loves to play card games with me, so that’s what we do. In other words, it’s really about finding a place that they feel comfortable and is (ideally) something that we can enjoy together. It’s never easy with multiple kids though.

Like many moms, I often feel that I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids, particularly one-on-one, but I try to remember that “quality” doesn’t have to mean intense or planned or expensive. My clearest childhood memories are of daily, seemingly inconsequential, moments — sitting in the back seat of the car talking to my mom and going to the grocery store together. I think it will be the same for my kids. Our kids look up to us, and they want to learn to be self-sufficient. These banal moments are just as important, if not more so, than going to a big musical downtown.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 7 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

Wow, this one is hard and certainly brings to light some of my flaws as a parent who likes to be productive, isn’t particularly suited to parenting little ones, and can be very cerebral. These traits make it hard for me to be present for my kids, yet here’s the list I try to adhere to.

  1. Be willing to put aside productivity — at least a little bit. That’s something we Americans find challenging; at least I know I do. The sun will continue to rise and set if a deadline is missed and most people are a lot more understanding of delays resulting from “life getting in the way” than you give them credit for.
  2. This one won’t shock anyone: put down your phone. The Power of Boredom philosophy applies to adults, too!
  3. Remember that our system of work is unrealistic, unhealthy, and unsustainable. Setting clear boundaries around your personal time isn’t a sign of inefficiency or ineptitude as an employee, but a means of respecting your humanity. Personal time might be time with your kids, or it might be time alone so you can be fully charged when you are with your kids. Put your own oxygen mask on first so you can help others later.
  4. I find that it very easy to let my mind wander when my kids’ stories hit the seven-minute mark and all they’ve covered is a dodgeball game or Pokémon cards. I try to think of questions that I would want to be asked about my hobbies as a means of keeping myself focused on the conversation. I also remind myself that this is one more phase that will pass and to soak up the moment exactly as it is.
  5. Try to remember how important it was for our own parents to pay attention to us. Whether they did this well or not, it has impacted us accordingly.
  6. On busy days, by default we tend to eat out with my husband meeting us straight from work. I often try to go home — whether walking or driving — separately with one of the kids so we can get just a few minutes alone. It’s short but sweet and the kids will sometimes even fight over who gets to go home solo with one of us. (This too will pass, I’m sure!) Quality time can be five minutes of really listening to your kid.
  7. Never underestimate chore time as being quality time. Taking the dog for a walk, filing papers while a kid does homework, or washing/drying dishes can all be “quality” moments that permit less forthcoming kids to fill up the blank space with things they are thinking about. While they are learning important skills they don’t get at school, we can get one more task off our to-do list. I love win-win situations like that!

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

I actively resist the notion that there is a single version of a good parent.

The media sells the idea of the “good mom” as a rather stock image: a woman who works part-time (ideally from home) but always has time for (and wants to be with) her kids, makes healthy family meals, is self-sacrificing, empathic, wise, patient, creative, joyful, loving, and attentive, bakes treats with their kids — often teaching both kitchen skills and life lessons along the way, and has time to be fit and well-grounded; and never drops the ball. The “Instagram” mom can fall into this category.

Few of us can achieve that more than a few moments a year. The reality of what motherhood really is can be quite different for most moms in terms of how it differs from the idealized notion of motherhood and how it differs from their own expectations of themselves as mothers.

Dads, I think, have more flexibility in terms of how they shape fatherhood, and to be quite frank, society tends to have lower expectations for their parenting skills. My husband and I frequently laugh about the little old ladies who commend him on taking the kids to lunch and have yet to congratulate me when I do the same thing.

While far from easy, it is important to be the parent your child needs — not the one society expects you to be. Still, there are some universals: kids want to feel that we are there for them, accept them for who they are, will cheer them on to be their best selves, and can help when life gets tough. The permutations of this are endless, and that’s where it all gets tricky, but kids who know they are loved will forgive a thousand of our “mistakes.”

One of the flaws of the current model of parenting is that each of us is called on to be everything to our kids and do it perfectly. This is impossible, full-stop, but especially without a partner or strong community of co-caregivers. I often think about the many single mothers I’ve interviewed who have no relief pitcher to step in when they are sick, overwhelmed, or just plain tired. A depleted mom has little to give her kids, let alone herself. It simply doesn’t make sense to have these women so under-supported since we know that their success typically carries forward to their kids’ success. In other words, a “good” parent is one who is supported by her community: financially, emotionally, and physically.

How do you inspire your children to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

My kids are very bright, but they are not overachievers and I previously aimed to change this in them. Eventually I realized that my efforts were understandably burdensome. Kids these days are more aware than ever that the world is waiting for them to be great. They are too aware of how much talent is out there. Growing up before the internet became commonplace, this was not part of my generation’s outlook. I can’t imagine the pressure kids experience, and I don’t think they need us as parents to add to it.

We still have many conversations about giving back to the world, assessing one’s own quality of work — not everything has to be perfect, but knowing when something is good vs. mediocre is important. We also discuss what taking care of yourself financially looks like, but I’ve shifted how I approach all of this with them.

Now, I am much more willing to ask them what they want out of their lives and help them brainstorm ways to make that happen.

Short of making sure they are aware of how their actions impact others (i.e., quitting a team mid-season is something we strongly discourage), they ultimately need to be happy with themselves. With that said, I want to influence them to see the joy in helping others.

While personal philosophies are ever-evolving, I have decided that 1.) our kids will let me know what they want to pursue and to what degree, 2.) they will become the people they want to be with or without me, and 3.) being who they are is enough. The last one is the most critical.

As a classic overachiever, I struggle with this and moms tell me privately that they also struggle with “being enough” so that’s why IAMAS.com will be a hub for all mothers to connect and learn how to re-form their self-image, hopefully seeing how their work is not only good enough, but essential to the world. It is only from this place that we can better advocate for ourselves and get the support that the job requires.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success is about improving the lives of people around me while not over-depleting myself. Starting my nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of mothers certainly embodies this; yet, it also means that I sometimes don’t have enough time for the people I’m closest to.

I believe that success means leaving the world in a better place. Sending happy, productive, kind young adults into the world is a big part of this, but it’s tough because there is so much in the process of parenting that one can’t control. We can influence our kids — but only so much.

With IAMAS.com, the measure of success is to improve the lives of mothers — through education, securing critical government protection, and advocating for deeper support from businesses. My hope is that the next generation — perhaps even my own daughter or yours — will be more empowered as a result of our work.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

While pregnant with our first child, I was already scouring the local bookshops for parenting “how-to” manuals. I love research.

Most books that focus on parenting convince new parents that they have the “magic potion” to fix the problem du jour. Ultimately, these require parents to: 1.) align philosophically with the approach; 2.) have the resources to consistently implement the change; and, 3.) have a child who is receptive to that specific method. That trifecta can be quite rare in my experience.

A few years into the motherhood thing, after reading a couple of bestsellers, I was frustrated to realize that, while knowing the basics is certainly helpful, it’s more valuable to lead with what aligns with one’s own values and fits the needs of your kid.

My favorite “parenting” books tend to be ones by feminist mothers who offer insight about the culture of motherhood. Ultimately, I think understanding the bigger picture of why we strive to parent certain ways and what cultural norms shape our thinking is really important.

Adrienne Rich, Andrea O’Reilly, Ann Crittenden, Marilyn Waring, Sara Ruddick, Shari Thurer, Sharon Hays, and Susan Maushart are just some of the amazing thinkers and writers that fill my overflowing shelves. These women offer important critiques of the institution of motherhood (not the act of mothering) and show us ways to see beyond our current framework, which we tend to think must be the way it is because it is our reality as we know it.

Fiction, too, I believe shows us truths about ourselves that are vital to our self-understanding. My Hollywood by Mona Simpson, Men and Angels by Mary Gordon, Sans Moi by Marie Desplachin, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver have been some of the most thought provoking.

Many of these authors draw attention to the ways in which women feel oppressed by motherhood and the ways that society prevents mothers from being empowered. The novels often focus on ways that this message becomes internalized.

A goal of mine is to raise awareness that motherhood in the United States is at a tipping point. The good news is that I believe women are finding like-minded advocates in each other in part due to an increase in honesty about their own ambivalence, struggles, and inability to be what society thinks they should be as moms. Candor helps us see that many of the problems we face are not a result of personal failures but systemic issues.

Much of the progress depends on sharing information. Feminist mothering very much adheres to the mantra, “the personal is political and the political is person,” and that means acting for the good of mothers everywhere, not just ourselves as individuals. There is no way even a mid-sized group can create the change that is necessary; we need to reach all moms. so I encourage you to contribute to this work by joining IAMAS. You can also find out more on Facebook at https://facebook.com/drkatiebgarner or https://facebook.com/iamafeministmom.

My website also has useful information, https://drkatiebgarner.com.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

BElieve

THEre is

GOOD in the world.

What I love about this quote is that it is just as much about mindset as it is about action. We have to believe that a more idealized version of us and our culture exists in order to fight for it but only envisioning it will never be enough. We are each responsible for being the good that we envision.

Being a Feminist Mother means working together for the good of the majority, not each of us individually. It means putting people’s well-being ahead of profits. And, it means making the world, and the U.S. specifically, more equitable via our guiding beliefs, legislation, and financial investments.

As mothers, we are often counted on to be “the good” in our society. This extends beyond parenting and means helping caregivers be stronger together.

Being “the good” can mean withholding judgement on someone, helping a neighbor shovel a sidewalk when she has little ones or sick kids, giving your partner an extra half hour to relax on a Saturday morning, watching a single parent’s child so she can go out with a friend, or any number of little (or big) things.

IAMAS.com embodies this quest on a national and international level because in many ways it takes the “help a neighbor” approach to a bigger community. I see this as 1.) loudly supporting family leave policies; 2.) subsidized child care; and 3.) family-friendly work reform.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m in the midst of doing just this! I put together a short video that outlines the mission of IAMAS, which you can watch here: https://drkatiebgarner.com/2019/03/01/meet-iamas/

We need to rethink motherhood in major ways. A key way is having motherhood be a place of empowerment rather than oppression so mothers are thriving, not just surviving. Motherhood is oppressive for many women right now because they are doing too much with too little support — emotionally, financially, temporally, and physically. When we, as mothers, reframe our work as something that the world needs us to do, that businesses and governments require us to do well, I think we will have a clearer voice and can then demand the respect we deserve rather than make do with the reverence that is cheaply offered from too many political podiums.

The five reforms mothers in the U.S. need right now are:

  1. Universal Childcare. This is economically feasible when businesses and governments wise up to the stakes of women choosing not to have kids, which is what’s already happening. Childcare shouldn’t cost more than housing; women shouldn’t have to quit jobs because they can’t afford childcare; childcare workers need to earn a living wage; and children should have caregivers who are able to remain in positions on a long-term basis and are trained to be stellar providers.
  2. Family Leave. Currently, only 50% of women aged 18–34 qualify for FMLA. My guess is the percentage will drop as more companies embrace the gig economy and automation increases. Already, many women if given the opportunity to be self-employed do so due to the inability of companies to adjust to new models of work and reimburse employees adequately. Women need ways to have healthy pregnancies, supported postpartum phases, and the ability to complete waged work AND be caregivers. Universal childcare will help relieve women of some of their caregiving responsibilities, but women will likely remain the primary parent in most cases, whether due to her being a single parent, pressure from on cultural norms, or because women’s work is underpaid. (This doesn’t even factor in the increasing amount of elder care that will fall on women’s shoulders as the Baby Boomers get older.) Importantly, family leave policies need to a.) be federally supported so businesses do not feel that they are putting themselves at risk by hiring women, and b.) require men and women to take time off after welcoming a new child to the family.
  3. Equitable part-time labor laws. The EU has already adopted laws that protect part-time workers from getting gouged and we need to do the same. Many women with kids find part-time work to be the most suitable way to have time to fulfill the “requirements” of good mothering and still contribute financially. Part-time work, though, is often grossly underpaid, tends to be erratic and exempt from many labor laws, tends to disqualify workers from traditional benefits such as healthcare and FMLA, and is seldom truly part-time in terms of the scope of work expected or hours put in. This must be fixed. We cannot continue to have so many highly skilled women out of the labor force and we can’t continue to have those working part-time to be doing so inequitably.
  4. Work Reform. The way work is currently designed is based on a single breadwinner, nuclear family set-up. This is not how most families live now and it is unlikely that patterns will revert again. With the advent of technology, workers are on-call in unprecedented ways at all hours of the day, but physical work hours themselves have expanded rather than contracted alongside this. Presenteeism, or the notion that the more face time you put in at work equates to how valuable of an employee you are, needs to change. Dual working families and single parents need greater flexibility, and businesses need to be realistic about time vs. productivity, acknowledging the data that shows us that more work hours do NOT equate to more work being done.
  5. Men to Step Up. Men ARE doing more childcare, but time-use studies indicate that they still are not doing much housework and tend to take the “fun” tasks of parenting. Needless to say, most men are quite happy as parents, while the same can’t be said for most mothers. Again, I don’t think biology can explain this away. We also need to put much more legal pressure on men to pay for the offspring they are responsible for creating. Women are still blamed for unplanned pregnancies, and too often men do not make nearly the same sacrifices financially or personally for these outcomes.

Source: https://blog.dol.gov/2017/03/01/12-stats-about-working-women

These reforms are possible! Many countries have them in effect and are thriving economically and culturally. I think we can make these reforms a reality by changing the way we see ourselves as mothers and the work we do and then working proactively with other mothers in smart ways. I personally invite all mothers to join www.iamas.com and contribute their unique strengths to this cause.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!


About the author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment. An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits. Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”. When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.

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