The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
Back in 1942, anthropologist Margaret Mead noticed something intriguing about America's parents: The subject of childrearing — so uncomplicated in other countries and settings — left them feeling anxious, unstrung and vulnerable to fads. More than 70 years later, parents are still grappling with these same feelings of uncertainty. In this talk, Jennifer Senior explores some of the unseen forces that are making parents so anxious, including the historic transformation of the child’s role; the liberating-yet-confusing introduction of personal choice; and dramatic changes to how we live and work. In so doing, she hopes to make parents see that their challenges, which they so often assume are of their own making, are in fact part of a much larger picture, and that they are by no means struggling alone. She also talks about what can be done to help think differently about raising children, examining the distinction between happiness and joy, and ultimately sheds light on why most parents still say that raising children is the meaningful thing that they’ll ever do.
The Unshaming of Motherhood
Ask the average mother how she’s doing, and the odds are pretty good that eventually, she’ll start cataloguing all the mistakes she’s convinced she’s making. A number of forces have conspired to make us feel this way: Deceptively curated social media; a widespread misconception that there's a right way to parent; an impossible mandate that we need to create happy kids (a recipe for heartache, which Senior talked about briefly at TED); and most important, a widespread cultural ambivalence about women working, even though mothers are now the sole or primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 households. Senior unpacks each of these ideas, shows how they're spurious and dangerous, and talks about ways to beat back maternal guilt.
Why Mom’s Time is Different From Dad’s Time & What Can Be Done About It to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance
Today, mothers and fathers both work roughly the same number of hours per week, if one takes into consideration both paid and unpaid labor. Yet mothers still feel more rushed and anxious. The question is: Why? Among the many explanations: When women are at home, they task-switch far more frequently than men; they assume far more deadline-centered burdens; they consider child care a much harder form of labor than any other. Yet they are not the only ones who are struggling: Today, fathers are reporting as much work-life conflict as mothers, suggesting they, too, feel anxious and strapped for time. Any attempts to address work-life balance, therefore, must in some ways begin at home, says Senior, and must involve a combination of behaving differently and recalibrating our expectations. She’ll talk about ways for mothers and fathers alike to address work-life balance, both psychologically and practically, using a blend of data, philosophy and life hacks she’s learned from marriage researchers. She will also talk about ways to address work-life conflict through changes in corporate culture and government policy.