Home | Search Serendip
Serendip
Rethinking Parenting Forum

Rethinking Parenting Forum


Welcome to an on-line forum established for rethinking parenting. What do the numbers not tell us, about happiness, fulfillment, and the choices we want to make about parenting? Can we think differently about the relation between working and having kids? Can we find ways to compose our lives that are not defined by cultural images, our parents' decisions, the "ghosts in the nursery," recent studies at Yale, Penn and Bryn Mawr...? Join in a conversation about dispelling myths and defining ourselves, as we figure out how to balance work and family without the constraint of cultural stereotypes.

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

Go to last comment

why do we all work so much?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2006-02-13 15:27:40 :
Link to this Comment: 18102

Last Friday, as a follow-up to a series of earlier discussions--

--the Center for Science in Society and the Program in Gender and Sexuality hosted a conversation asking, "Can Women Have It All? And What Role does Public Policy Play?

Thanks to all who came and participated in the rich discussion surrounding Marissa Golden's presentation about her research into the lives of BMC alums (and their friends) who are mothering-and-working. As I was writing up the summary (now available on-line), I realized that what was most striking to me were three things:

Hoping you'll feel free (and know that you are warmly welcome) to continue the discussion in this on-line forum--and can join us for the brainstorming session to be conducted by the BMC President's Advisory Committee for Work-Family Balance, 2:30-4 Friday, March 17, 2006, in Thomas Library Room 223.


work vs. family, complicated by race
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2006-02-17 11:42:39 :
Link to this Comment: 18176

Quite relevant to (and extending of) our discussions here about "re-thinking parenting" was an article in last week's New York Times (2/9/06): "Work vs. Family, Complicated by Race":

" For African-American women, self-fulfillment is only part of the picture...For professional black women, debates about self-fulfillment can seem incomprehensibly narrow against the need to build sustainable wealth and security for their families. The discussions also pale in comparison to worries about shielding sons and daughters from the perils that black children face growing up, and overlook the practical pull of extended familes in need of financial support."


"an emotional cafeteria"
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2006-02-27 11:55:14 :
Link to this Comment: 18365



Strokes and Pigs: Stories and Strategies from
Scientists in a Professional Problem-Solving Group

A talk by Dr. Ellen Daniell
Thursday, March 16, at 7:30
Science Center 105
Swarthmore College

"If I'm not busy every second of every day, it seems like I'm not working hard enough."

"I feel like an emotional cafeteria, always responding to what others want."

For over 25 years, Ellen Daniell has been part of a professional problem-solving group of women (and some men) who have attained extraordinary distinction in various scientific fields. The group meets every other week to help one another with the professional and personal challenges of managing highly competitive careers and fulfilling lives.

In the talk, Dr. Daniell will describe the inner workings of the group and the experiences and careers of some of its members. She will share strategies the group devised for combating the competition, isolation and inequity of academic science. The talk highlights the importance of cooperation and of not "going it alone" in a competitive world.

Ellen Daniell is a molecular biologist working in the biotechnology industry in California. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 1969 with high honors in chemistry and received her PhD, also in chemistry, from the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies from Successful Women Scientists, released this month by Yale University Press.

Sponsored by the Departments of Biology and Psychology, the Women's Studies Program, the Division of Natural Science and Engineering, and the Alumni Office.


stretched to limit
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2006-03-03 07:34:28 :
Link to this Comment: 18441

The New York Times reported yesterday (3/2/06) that "the growth in the percentage of adult women working outside the home has stalled," even slipped in the last five years; the complex juggling they've engaged in "has hit some serious limits," and the question is "how much further increases in women's participation can be had without more reallocation of household work." See Stretched to Limit, Women Stall March to Work for more details.


That limit is sleep!
Name: Judie McCo
Date: //2006-03-05 09:53:51 :
Link to this Comment: 18450

Just had to take a quick second to respond to the last two postings. This is not very profound, but it seems to me that the limit that has been reached is not so much the 'glass ceiling' we used to talk about, but the need for sleep.

I know for me, the "emotional cafeteria" also includes a "service' cafeteria (laundry, driving, cleaning) and all of that piles in on top of the work that needs to be done- meaning a wake time of about 4:30- usually with a startle and anxiety about all the things that need to be accomplished that day, followed by moving at full tilt through the day and dropping into bed at night still trying to get the readings for classes for the week read, but often being found by my husband face down in the middle of the book. The limit is sleep- if we didn't need it, maybe we'd be the superwomen we try to be- and maybe we really need to stop trying.


work-life balance?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2006-03-19 22:33:10 :
Link to this Comment: 18605

I've just put up a summary of our conversation, last Friday afternoon, with the president's committee on work-family issues. What has stayed with me most are the questions about whether we want BMC itself to be 'family' or a 'business,' to conceptualize its faculty as 'autonomous' or 'relational,' in a relation w/ the institution which is 'maternalistic' or 'business-like.'


family vs. finance
Name: Dorothy La
Date: //2006-03-21 14:24:42 :
Link to this Comment: 18637

I don't think society is set up anymore to be able to live on one income (for the average middle class/ poor family). In the past the men went to work, and that was their responsibility while the women stayed home and reared the children and took care of the house. Families also typically had many more children than they are having now. As our economic picture changed, and it became necessary for women to enter the workforce, they do so with the expectation that their sole responsibility is to report to work, just as the men have done. If they have to also juggle the well-being of their children's lives this is looked on as weakness in work ethic/performance. Personally when my children are sick, and because we have many bills to pay, it makes more financial sense for me to stay home with them than my husband. Why? Because he gets paid more. It's plain and simple. Men in general are getting paid more than women. Now it's gotten to a point where it is fiscally necessary to have two incomes, but yet we are supposed to somehow be apologetic for having children - The very reason we ourselves are here on this earth doing the jobs that we do. Child care is another issue entirely.

Think about the e-mail that Nancy Vickers sent out regarding our 7.9% tuition increase for the coming year. Every reason she cited for raising tuition:

1)Increases in energy bills

2)Increase in Medical insurance

3)Increases in property insurance (after 9/11 real estate became the safest means of investment, with the highest returns- this drove up prices, and assessed value- this drove up yearly premiums and coverages)

All of these increases have also personally occurred in our household. Of course, we will not be getting 7.9% increases in our salaries to compensate for this. It's very plain to see how women are having a hard time advancing with promotions in general, let alone getting tenure! Our society has never been modeled on the necessity of requiring two incomes to acheive the same standard of living and so now that it is, having children (and we're not having five, six and seven children anymore like many families used to) is "problematic".

I am also not surprised by the statistics stating that single mothers receive more tenure than married mothers. The reason might be that single mothers are generally being cast into the role of a mother and a father. They simply can't afford to pass up certain opportunities, and they don't have a second, higher paid salary (i.e. a husband/partner)to fall back on. They may acheive tenure in more situations, but what are their sacrifices in the process? What are their childrens?


Dorothy Lane
dlane@brynmawr.edu


Forum Archived
Name: Webmaster
Date: //2006-10-05 12:29:18 :
Link to this Comment: 20618

This forum has now been archived and is closed to new postings. If you are interested in continuing the conversation, please contact Serendip.

We like to hear from you.