Saturday May 18, 2013
Two friends of mine recently went back to work after staying home with their kids for years. One is working part-time while her children are in school and the other is working nights and weekends.
Photo credit: Getty Images
So it was only a matter of time before one heard the complaint, "You work too much, Mom!" It came when she was headed out to work one evening, leaving the kids with their father. (Not a bad arrangement.) This threw her for a loop and I think triggered a bit of guilt.
Fortunately, I'd been hearing some variation of that complaint since my kids could speak, so I had plenty of answers to the cry, "Don't Go to Work, Mom!". But I'm always open to new ideas. How do you respond when your kids ask you to stay home from work or complain that you work too much?
Tuesday April 30, 2013
One of the dangers of being a journalist on a beat is that you start using the buzzwords and short hand phrases of your area of interest without remembering that readers may not be familiar with terms like "mommy track" or "motherhood penalty." I was reminded of this during a conversation last weekend with my parents and a couple of their friends.
Photo credit: Getty Images
My mom's friend was wondering aloud how we got to the state where families need two incomes just to get by, apparently assuming that returning to a "Father Knows Best" world would be preferable that our current gender-bending society. This is a woman who kept her own career while raising kids and whose husband was a very involved father. But the idea that a breadwinner husband and caregiver wife is the ideal scenario was so ingrained in her consciousness that she automatically went to that model.
We talked about the recent controversy over Lean In and I shared my own hope that we are moving closer to a world in which parents can choose to pursue a career or care for children regardless of their gender, and can build a strong, close family through strategic use of flexible work and budgeting. And it reminded me that it's important to define the words of working moms' lives in order for us to be understood.
What terms do you think are useful to include in a working mom's dictionary?
Monday April 29, 2013
When my daughter started kindergarten, we had prepared her so thoroughly. We'd arranged playdates with other incoming kindergarteners at our local elementary school, drilled her on reading and math, taught her the home phone number and address, and reviewed the daily schedule ad nauseum. Is it any wonder that she jumped onto the school bus on the first day with nary a glance back?
Photo credit: Flickr
Me, not so much. I was a wreck. So was her younger sister, by the way, who began to cry and reach for the bus as it drove her big sister away into this new world. As my immediate emotions over the kindergarten transition began to fade, I drew the conclusion that my daughter's confidence mean everything was going smoothly.
In retrospect, I shouldn't have been such a hands-off parent in kindergarten and the subsequent grades. By now, third grade, I've amassed quite a list of the things I wished I had known when my daughter started kindergarten. And today I'm sharing those tips for kindergarten parents with you!
What do you think is important for a parent of a kindergartener to know? Please add to my list or add your suggestions in the comments below.
Wednesday April 3, 2013
Everywhere you turn these days, people seem to be talking about how to raise successful children, the topic of journalist Paul Tough's book How Children Succeed. Clicking through the channels the other day, I caught Ezekiel Emanuel speaking on MSNBC about his new book The Brothers Emanuel, which explores how the Emanuel family produced a high-powered Hollywood agent, a White House chief of staff and acclaimed doctor and bioethicist.
The bottom line for both authors seems roughly the same: persistence and resilience. Tough documents multiple researchers and education reformers finding that the best predictor of life and career success is not academic ability but the "non-cognitive" skills of grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. Emanuel seemed to second this by talking about his parents' emphasis on hard work and picking yourself up from failure and trying again. (Unfortunately, MSNBC show host Joe Scarborough seemed to interpret this as simply long hours -- bragging about his 15-hour work days -- which any regular reader of this blog knows has been shown NOT to correlate with stellar work performance.)
This is all in the context that without other intervention, those children who succeed tend to be those who have a secure early attachment with at least one parent, non-traumatic childhood, stable homes and at least middle-class roots. If you're curious to learn more, please read my book review of How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. And I see that the next book I need to review may be The Brothers Emanuel.