Thursday, May 28, 2009

Double the Income, Quadruple the Work

Elizabeth Coffman writes this morning about the myth of the two-income family. She says:
we need to have a broad, political discussion asserting that the two-income family is not working for many people. This economy, our government, and our own illusions have failed us.
We used to have the "where are the women bloggers" conversation every few months. Now we have the work-family balance is a dream conversation every few months. It's a conversation we need to keep having, I think. In addition to the government deciding that paid maternity/paternity leave, daycare, and other family friendly policies are a national issue, they need to encourage the business community to provide flexible work schedules for both men and women at no cost to their careers. If people do good work, they do good work, whether they're around for 20 hours/week or 60. We need tax policies that support all kinds of work-family arrangements. We need schools that accommodate working families better and reach out to working families more and that outreach can't just be "contribute to this cause" or "volunteer for this event." It needs to be an effort to make them feel a part of the community, that they're welcome even if they don't have the time to volunteer.

It's embarrassing enough that the US as a whole fails so miserably in its support for families. It's even more embarrassing that higher education is not more progressive when it comes to supporting dual income families. Like the corporate world, higher ed still has a work load that assumes a wife at home to handle the details of life while the husband slaves away at his teaching and research. We need to figure out a way to make that work more balanced without causing problems for those without kids.

I've already decided that if I take a job while my kids are still in school, it either needs to be flexible or we need to do some serious talking within my family unit to make the dual-income thing work for us. I think it was okay for Mr. Geeky, but not so okay for me, and at times, not okay for the kids, which makes it even less okay for the kids.