Brigid wrote the book “Overwhelmed”, Josh wrote “All In”, Julie in charge of The Portrait Project, Chris of National At-Home Dad Network, Guy works with NPR.
Brigid: when my husband and I got married, we promised we’d be equal partners. Twenty years later, 18 people coming over for Thanksgiving, husband pulls out a 6-pack of beer to go to a friend’s house. Brigid was busy cooking and was furious. How did they get into such traditional roles after swearing to be equal? What happened is that everything switched when their child came home for the hospital. “Maternal gatekeeping”.
National surveys: women are still doing twice the housework, twice the cooking. That’s “the cultural narrative”
Josh: What we know is that moms and dads are putting in equal time for our family, it just breaks the cultural narrative. Guys are just putting in more of those hours in the workplace, while women are doing it in the housework. Starts with absence of paternity leave, most important is the stigma of a man taking time off for family time and needs.
Female gatekeeping: “that’s not how you change a diaper”
Julia: the third pillar is “the stigma pillar”. Portrait project is born from the idea that we wanted to stop and listen to parents and their experience parenting in the United States, not just talk about it. The Portrait Project is a mosaic, a collection of individual stories. We asked what happens to your primary relationship if your work environment is completely inflexible. 88% of people felt that their partners work culture had a negative effects on their relationship, 86% affected by their own work culture.
We have a very toxic work culture here in the United States, all up and down the socio-economic spectrum. Top management response: I don’t want to talk about the “b word” (work life balance) because I’m too busy, I don’t want anyone else in my business to be working less. Most top bosses have a stay-at-home spouse to enable their work schedule.
Chris: NAHD has had a thorn in its side forever, US Census counts “stay at home” as not counting if you’re looking for a job, so every SAH Dad is counted as “unemployed”. Meanwhile, stay at home moms work for Mary Kay, Avon, etc, and are still considered SAH. About as many stay at home dads as there are female CEOs.
Josh: At least half of what’s reported about fathers are just straight out wrong. Which feeds this false view that women are doing everything at home, men are slacking off.
Guy: I used to host All Things Considered, working Wed-Sun. His dad would then ask “are you babysitting the boys?” when he wasn’t working. The notion of male privilege: Anything you do, you get high-fived for. Talked about how he was told what a great dad he was for making cupcakes but no-one goes up to his wife and tells her she is doing a great job with the laundry. Dreams change when your children appear: He wanted to be an NPR evening news anchor, but realizes now that he can’t do that and also be a parent.
Guy: The thing that I draw my identity from more than anything is my role as a parent.
How do you change the larger, the cultural narrative of traditional gender roles? Laws can help change culture (example, California’s paid family leave program). “The fifth trimester” you come back to work and have a different perspective on time, priorities, health, etc. So how do you empower the private sector to make it flexibile enough. For example, companies helping pay for child care. But how do you ensure that people’s jobs are still there when they return from extended maternity or paternity time.
Chris: journalists discussions about stay at home dads always talk about the recession, a built-in assumption that dads are only at home because they can’t find work or good jobs. But that’s bogus, it can just be the best decision for your family.
The hours stigma: guys get raised up the ranks based on the number of hours they sit at their desk. Let’s instead make sure that we are all sharing the same mentality.
Why does having a child have to be a major economic decision? Why don’t you just have a child when you want to have a child. And their driver for going back to work is economics. Suggestion is that this perspective is wrong and broken. [ed note: though some of us think that it’s just a mature and reasonable perspective to plan ahead before you have a child, not just react -Dave]
Audience question: Where can we get good stats and data? Josh: “my book!” [All In, by Josh Levs]
Audience: “I’m working for a living, not living to work.” The story should be about our stories and about the families, not the statistics themselves.
Too much talk about the white collar sector, need to also talk about blue collar, unemployed, etc.
Discussion of “Amazon Moms” and how words matter: Use parent instead of mom. Even if there are more mothers in childcare roles, dads just won’t feel included.