The Scary Reality of the Sandwich Generation

Sandwiched between caring for young children and aging parents, “working daughters” shoulder the burden.

The Sandwich Generation is a term used to describe people who care for aging parents while simultaneously raising young kids. Sandwiched between growing and aging. Pressed on both sides by demands for time, for care, for love, for decision making.

Parenting resources are endlessly available. How-to. When-to. Why-to. Books, magazines, workshops, experts. Whatever the question, there are multiple answers covering multiple parenting styles, right at our fingertips, all the time.

But what happens when our parents also need our care? What happens when our parents need appointments scheduled, meals made, transportation provided?

What happens when we’re raising kids, working jobs, and caregiving?

For this, the resources are almost non-existent. The guidance? Unavailable. The compensation? Gurl, please. Not only can the emotional toll be huge, the financial ramifications are undeniable and far-reaching.

In an in-depth article, Eldercare: The Crisis Facing America’s Working Daughters, The Atlantic lays it out for us:

[su_quote]There are currently 44 million unpaid eldercare providers in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the majority are women. And yet there are very few support programs, formal or informal, in place to support these family caregivers, many of whom are struggling at work and at home. Working daughters often find they need to switch to a less demanding job, take time off, or quit work altogether in order to make time for their caregiving duties. As a result, they suffer loss of wages and risk losing job-related benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings, and Social Security benefits. In fact, a study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving calculated women lose an average $324,044 in compensation due to caregiving.[/su_quote]

As America ages — nearly 1 in 5 people will be 65 or older by 2030 — this issue only worsens. Not only do these “working daughter” caregivers lose income, but this begs a pressing question: what’s the greater economic impact if, particularly with a growing nursing shortage, women en masse are forced to step out of careers in order to care for aging parents?

[su_quote][The study] calculated the cost to businesses to replace women caregivers who quit their jobs because of their caregiving responsibilities at an estimated $3.3 billion. And how will society pay for the care that these women, with their compromised pensions, retirement funds, and savings accounts, will inevitably need?[/su_quote]

Yes. How indeed?

For more on this important conversation, check, a non-profit dedicated to helping women stuck in the sandwich.

Source: The Atlantic




Pantene Super Bowl Ads Focus on Dad-Daughter Relationships

Pantene’s Super Bowl 50 ads will put the spotlight on the importance of the father-daughter relationship. It’s sweet, but I wish it was more.

A handful of the Super Bowl 50 commercials will put the spotlight on father-daughter relationships, and the importance of girls spending time with their dads.

It’s good PR for an organization that puts known domestic abusers back on the field.

It’d be better PR if the dads highlighted were doing something with their daughters other than styling their little girl’s hair.

Yes, I know it’s a hair product. Yes, the spots are adorable. Yes, the interactions are sweet. People will definitely love them. I love them.

BUT. Well. It’s complicated.

On the one hand, it’s super (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) for dads to be involved in tasks traditionally left to moms. On the other, it’s a bummer to see commercials inadvertently focused on how a little girl’s hair looks.

I say “inadvertently” because in the spots, Pantene challenges the football-player dads to master the task of caring for their offspring’s hair.

Fair enough.

But anytime you hand a little girl a mirror and say:You’re the most beautiful girl in the world, you give her the message that she’ll be most valued by how she looks. Through emphasizing her appearance in the context of how other girls look, it becomes a competition.

Of course it’s fine for parents to feel this way about their children. I hope we all do. But this is a commercial broadcast to over 100,000 million viewers.

You know what? Half – HALF – of football fans are women. In fact, women are football’s most important demographic. Women are the reason the NFL continues to grow.

So, maybe help us out?

Because when that commercial airs, that’s 50 million women who’ll get yet another message that how they look is their most important characteristic. That’s 50 million women who’ll get yet another message that we’re mostly useful for admiring like an object — or not.

The trouble with the NFL, and its sponsors, is that they’re not sticking up for women how or when we need them to.

When we needed to hear a clear condemnation of Ray Rice punching his fiancé in the face and dragging her off an elevator, we didn’t. Instead, we heard Roger Goodell trying to convince us he hadn’t seen the tape.

When we needed to hear that Andrew “Pacman” Jones had been banned from the league, what we heard was that maybe the woman who provoked him “had it coming.”

Domestic violence aside, what about the cheerleaders? I don’t even mean WHYYY is it strategically necessary to have scantily clad Victoria’s Secret models dancing on the sidelines?

No. I mean why — when multi-millionaire players are arguing about whose private jet goes faster — are these women paying out-of-pocket for travel expenses and barely making minimum wage?

Oh NFL, the sound of a game on TV is a warm memory of my happy childhood. It’s an excuse to eat a pile of delicious wings smothered in blue cheese and hot sauce, it’s a reason to ignore my to-do list and sit down next to my husband for an afternoon.

But your lady fans — actually, all of your fans — need you, and the brands advertising during the game, to stop hiding behind one pink-washed month, a couple of shampoo commercials, and the occasional anti-domestic violence PSA. It’s not enough.

We need you to show us that you value women as humans, not objects. We need you to stick up for us.  For our daughters, for our families.

And we’ll stick around — hosting tailgates, buying tickets, watching games.

Ok, I’m done. For now. Bring on the trolls.

Or the wings.

Source: Refinery29, Bloomberg, NYTimes

Robots, Jobs, and Daughters

In a new report out today, the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020, 5 million jobs will be replaced by robots. The majority of those jobs belong to women.

The robots are coming for us. Specifically, for our jobs.

According to the World Economic Forum’s new report The Future of Jobs, it’s estimated that by 2020, robots could replace 5 million jobs currently held by humans. And while it’s widely understood that robots have already replaced service industry and factory jobs, robots will increasingly replace workers in white-collar positions.

Who loses the most? Women. Why? Tech Insider summarizes:

[su_quote]Firstly, it says that most of the job losses to technology are in female-dominant roles, such as administration. Secondly, WEF says that while the creation of 2.1 million new jobs will partially offset some of the job losses, the fact that most of these roles will be in specialized areas such as computing, maths, architecture, and engineering and that women have “low participation in high growth skills” then the new positions are less likely to be filled by females.[/su_quote]

That women are less likely to be working in the areas where the introduction and adoption of new robot technology will create jobs is of particular note for parents of daughters.

How do we keep our daughters from getting kicked out of science? Inspiring role models help.

Once stellar example of young women in science is Sabrina Pasterski, also known as PhysicsGirl. Heralded as the new Einstein, and featured in this Ozy article, Pasterski had built and flown her own single engine airplane by the age of 14.

As an MIT graduate and Harvard PhD candidate, Pasterski’s research focus is to better understand quantum gravity within the context of quantum physics.

While that’s big mouthful for the lay-person, the point is: inspirational role models like PhysicsGirl will help keep our daughters in science, and in paying jobs.

To understand more about this, keep reading:

The Guardian: Women to Lose Out in Jobs Revolution

Bloomberg: Rise of the Robots

Tech2: Youngsters Scared of Losing Future Jobs to Robots

Source: WEF, The Guardian, Bloomberg, Ozy, Tech Insider



On Valentine’s Day, for My Daughter

Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone. I know it’s a commercial holiday. I know it’s overwrought with last-minute stuffed animals, chocolate boxes, and grocery store flowers.

Still, I unapologetically love it.

I love that there’s a day in our calendar dedicated to love, that forces people to reflect upon those they love. It’s an annual reminder of all that is – and all that is not.

Fate has handed me reasons to dislike Valentine’s Day. A cheating college boy broke up with me one Valentine’s Day. I spent another living alone in a motel with my 22-month-old after her father left and we lost our home. I’m a high school teacher who witnesses ridiculous teen professions of love, overpriced gifts, and hopeless loneliness come February 14.

Still I can’t hate this holiday.

When my daughter was three-years-old, I came across a beautiful poem by Sarah Kay called “If I Should Have a Daughter.” I promised myself that one day I would share this poem with my own daughter.

Kay spells out the bitterness and sweetness that life can offer and how that translates from a mother to a daughter. (Watch the embedded video below.)

Like Kay, no matter what tragedy or challenge comes my way, I choose to savor the sweetness of life. I wish the same for my daughter.

I want her to know that life can be hard, unfair, and unforgivable. It will smash you to pieces at times – but I also want her to remember that life is also made of sugar and sweet.

I don’t want her to forget to taste the sweet.

This morning my daughter was full of love and hugs and Valentine’s Day declarations. She made a Valentine’s Day shrine in Minecraft.

Today is a day to bask in the sweet.