Portrait of a Modern Family
There was a great article in the NYTimes this week called; Stressed, Tired, Rushed; A Portrait of a Modern Family. It was based on a new piece of research from the Pew Center survey. Nearly 50% of all children will grow up in a family where both parents work. That is a huge shift from decades ago, 30% difference compared to 1970. 60% of children now live in households where the parents work either full or part-time. The shift has a lot to do with economics but it also has to do with women pursuing their own careers and not wanting to get off the work train for life. There are also a slew of options for women that were not available 30 years ago.
Not surprising is that college educated parents had the hardest time of trying to do it all. They are finding it hard to be a caring and present parent, be productive at work and also have a relationship with their spouse. There are only 24 hours in the day. The majority of the workplace structure has not caught up to the world we live in today.
Women still do the lion share of the work in the family even though they carry half the income weight. There are plenty of companies being built to make life easier for the family such as Hop Skip Drive or Kitchensurfing or the beauty of Amazon prime. Some companies are waking up to flexibility in the workplace too. Yet this is a social dilemma that should be thought about more and pushed to change from a Government policy perspective too.
Every working mother founder that I spoke to after reading this article all said the same thing. They felt that they were not doing anything well. That they weren’t able to be the parent they wanted to their kids, they couldn’t be the partner they wanted to be to their spouse and they rarely saw friends yet they were growing companies and that is one of the hardest things to do hands down.
What is the answer? Childcare is a huge issue. How can we get all companies to have a facility at work that is affordable? Should their be tax incentives to companies to do that? How do we create environments where there is flexibility in your job as long as you get the job done. I see so many medium staged start-ups employ people who work in other places of the country as part of the team and sometimes lead a team even though they do not come into the main office every day. It works because of technology. We are probably seeing the movement to urban living because of all of these statistics. Men want the same balance in their family/work life now more than ever before.
It is complicated. It is stressful. There is not a magic bullet here but it is a huge social issue that is only getting bigger. The average age of people in the US is 37 years old and that is prime time of parenting. That means that this issue is bigger than we realize. It is time for companies to be truly innovative around this topic. It isn’t just about longer maternity/paternity leave or flexible vacations it is about help. Maybe it does take a village to raise a family and that village should be the company.