With a record number of women running for president in the U.S., it’s no surprise that the concerns of working parents are on the 2020 agenda. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan for universal childcare, Kamala Harris is a co-sponsor of the Child Care for Working Families Act, and several other candidates have voiced support for similar policies.
The prominence of these issues on the campaign trail reflects a growing awareness about the needs of working parents in the U.S., particularly working mothers. We’re having more open and honest conversations about topics like maternity leave, return to work, and pregnancy and breastfeeding in the office.
Yet much of our public discussion around working parents focuses on the needs of new mothers, as if the challenges of integrating work and parenthood evaporate once a child enters school (not to mention that working fathers are often ignored completely). In reality, as children get older, working parents experience new joys and stresses. Without effective supports, later-stage working parents are just as vulnerable as new parents to feeling pulled between career and family.
In our research and interviews with hundreds of working mothers, as well as our own experiences navigating work and parenthood, we’ve learned that motherhood isn’t a linear, uniform path. Just when you think you have it figured out, your family or your career shifts and you have to create new work/family patterns. As we argue in our new book, Maternal Optimism, it’s time for working parents and organizations to look beyond pregnancy, birth, and infancy to address how work-family demands shift as children grow up and careers mature…
Read the full article at Harvard Business Review.