heard around ccf

Now fully updated just in time to plan your Spring 2021 syllabus, the below links will take you to all the blog posts we published in 2020 related to the Covid-19 pandemic and families.

Covid-19 and Romantic Relationships

Covid-19 and the Gendered Division of Paid and Unpaid Work

Covid-19 and Children

Covid-19, Telecommuting, and Working from Home: 

Covid-19 and Family Ties

Arielle Kuperberg is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is the editor of this blog. Follow her on twitter to get updates about new blog posts @ATKuperberg or contact her directly at atkuperb@uncg.edu.

As summer comes to an end and professors plan their fall schedules, this week we are featuring a roundup of posts from this blog on Covid-19 and families that can be shared in the classroom. These pieces cover research on a range of issues, and are written to be accessible to students and the general public.

Covid-19 and Romantic Relationships

Covid-19 and the Gendered Division of Paid and Unpaid Work

Covid-19 and Children

Covid-19 and Family Ties

Arielle Kuperberg is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is the editor of this blog. Follow her on twitter to get updates about new blog posts @ATKuperberg or contact her directly at atkuperb@uncg.edu.

Most Americans applaud the prison sentences given college admissions scandal parents like actor Felicity Huffman and “fixers” like tennis coach Michael Center for manipulating outrageous claims and exorbitant “donations” to get coveted college admissions for unqualified students. A new study hints that similar kinds of pressures start early,  are widespread, and are difficult for well-meaning educators to resist.

Last year’s college admissions scandal was shocking. But in a briefing report released by the Council on Contemporary Families, Indiana University’s Associate Professor Jessica McCrory Calarco shows that the roots of such excesses can be traced back to parent-teacher dynamics that are evident as early as elementary school. While not focusing on such extremes, Calarco’s report, When “Helicopters” Go to School: Who Gets Rescued and Who Gets Left Behind?, documents problems in ordinary elementary schools that carry the seeds of future abuses.                

Teachers and schools rely on helper helicopter parentsIn a three-year study, Calarco spent approximately 500 hours observing at a suburban elementary school, and interviewed 21 students, 24 parents, and 14 teachers and administrators. She documented how educators, trying to supplement unequal and inadequate resources for high-quality education, come to rely on a set of privileged helicopter parents who contribute substantial amounts of time and money to the school. These parental volunteers allow schools to offer enrichment activities and supplemental staffing they could not otherwise afford.

Some teachers are deferential, others just feel obligated to bend for these helper helicopters. Calarco shows how teachers’ and administrators’ dependence on these parents makes them yield to those who expect their children to receive special consideration as payback for the time and money they contribute. Some teachers willingly bend rules for these kids, reasoning that children whose parents don’t or can’t be highly involved in their education haven’t “earned” special consideration. Others, Calarco shows, feel compelled to violate their sense of what is fair and best for the students’ own development.

Don’t kid yourself: It isn’t the children of helicopter parents who suffer, it is the other students who are harmed. Most criticisms of helicopter parenting focus on how such parents hurt their own children by their over-protection and coddling. However, Calarco shows that the kids who actually get hurt by this are not the ones who gain an edge in their school records and college applications but the ones who don’t.

It is easy to blame ambitious, over-engaged moms, but helicopter parents aren’t so much a cause of inequality as a consequence. For the past forty years, economic inequality has grown: Benefits of economic growth have been gobbled up by the top ten percent, and the bottom half of the population has seen wages stagnate while costs of schooling have soared. Over this time, the intensity of parenting has increased—and parents with more resources are spending those on their children at an accelerating rate.

The policy recommendations aren’t complex. “Adequate and equitably distributed school funding (particularly if coupled with redistribution of funds raised by Parent-Teacher Organizations) has the potential to reduce schools’ dependence on higher-SES ‘helicopter’ parents,” Calarco writes. In America we have a deep belief that education leads to social change. This work shows such change could be towards equity, but has instead been towards growing, persistent inequality that leaves some children and their parents stymied in school and beyond. These inequalities exacerbate the unresolved racial and ethnic disparities that plague our education systems.

“It’s perfectly natural to want your kids to do the best they can,” Stephanie Coontz, CCF Director of Research, notes.“But in societies with high levels of economic inequality, parents often want them to do better than everyone else. And when schools are unequally funded and must rely on parents’ contributions of time and money, it creates patterns of entitlement and exclusion that pave the way for the abuses we have seen in the college admission scandals.”


Jessica McCrory Calarco, Associate Professor of Sociology at Indiana University, www.jessicacalarcojcalarco@iu.edu; Professor Calarco is author of Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School.

CCF Research Director Stephanie Coontz discusses sharing your research with the media (Photo by Arielle Kuperberg)

Last Friday, the Council on Contemporary Families convened for our biennial conference in Austin Texas.  The theme was “Raising Children in the 21st Century.

The morning keynote speaker Dr. Christia Spears Brown, a developmental psychologist, started off the conference by speaking about gender development in the 21st century and how parents are helping or exacerbating gender inequalities among children. She noted that despite increases in women in STEM fields and sports, there is persistent inequality in confidence in math ability and political representation. Girls are sexualized in the media and taught to focus on appearance, while boys are pressured to conform to rigid and narrow masculinity expectations. A new challenge is that adolescents spend a lot of time on social media and have access to the internet almost constantly, which can help to reinforce these gender binaries.

Her research finds that after showing a picture of non sexualized vs. a sexualized girl to children, they interpreted the sexualized girl as more popular and the non-sexualized girl is rated as more athletic and smarter. Girls tended to highlight these differences- boys made fewer distinctions.  Girls who bought into these stereotypes felt they did worse in school, made less effort to learn in school, and were more likely to say they hide their intelligence (for instance, saying they do not raise their hands even if they know the answer).  Many adolescents, especially boys, admitted to sexually harassing other young adults, and the more they endorsed sexualized stereotypes, the more they were likely to also sexually harass their peers.

Next, a panel of speakers discussed how their research has been put into practice. Dr. Cynthia Osborne discussed a “prenatal-to-3” program to strengthen policies aimed at children in the important early years of childhood development. Dr. Julie Maslowsky discussed her outreach to health care providers to help develop family planning programs for teen mothers in order to prevent “repeat” teen motherhood (having multiple children as a teen).  Dr. David Yeager discussed his research on adolescent mindsets and belief systems (such as their beliefs about their own abilities) and how it impacts motivations. His research found that teaching students that the brain as a muscle that can grow (a “growth mindset”) can change how adolescents approach learning and lead to an increased GPA. Finally, Dr. Delida Sanchez talked about efforts to increase academics’ and practitioners’ knowledge about Black and Latinx youths’ experiences around sexual health.

We next heard from Rachael White who works in public affairs at UT Austin, and CCF research director Stephanie Coontz, who discussed strategies for taking your research public and translating research for a public audience.  Rachael emphasized starting with the ‘why’ of your research before going to the ‘how’ (you did it) and ‘what’ (you found). The why tells you- why should we care? What is the impact? She also emphasized that discussing stories is more compelling than discussing facts (so use stories to display your facts), and to keep your message to 1-3 points.  She also recommends being concise and using visuals.

Stephanie suggested drawing on research to show how your research fits in to a larger story, but cautioned that everything you draw on should be about a single organizing idea.  She advises to find a way to frame your research that is interesting to others. If it’s data driven, you also need to humanize that data- and you can draw on other research to do that. Tell them your point right up front, don’t bury the lead under a lit review.  If you are going to disagree with someone make it very obvious (“The big lie about x”). Avoid jargony words like intersectionality, postmodern, agency, heteronormativity, logistic regression, correlation, “net of”, hazard, and  words that end with “ity” “ism” and polarizing words like “microaggression” and “privilege” which can alienate people in your potential audience. Don’t try to tell too much- you should have a single sentence that can be a takeaway. It has to be interesting and repeatable.  Good sentences will put a spin on conventional wisdom (“what people get wrong about…”) or will help form an interesting headline. Come in at an angle- try to find a new take on a familiar issue. Use short declarative sentences and find simpler words. “Due to the fact” can become “because.” You can start with anecdotes about yourself. Above all, accept editing.

During lunch a number of researchers gave short presentations about their research for a “flash session.” Topics covered included an educational program for homeless parents, stepfamilies, the higher child death rate of boys and how it’s related to parental supervision of boys, parenting in the “experience” economy, in which consumers value memorable experiences over products, and how parental employment instability impacts children.

After lunch, the afternoon keynote speaker, Dr. Cecilia Menjivar addressed how immigration law can impact immigrant families.  She outlined the current detainment and family separation policies, noting that these systems do not only impact Latino families; Asian and Pacific Islanders make up 1.7 million of 11 million undocumented immigrants, and are the fastest growing group being detained. The expansion of enforcement of immigration rules creates fear, which in turn reduces contact with institutions such as the police and health care. The stress of potential deportation can impact prenatal health; one study found that Latina women who experienced an immigration raid had children with a reduced birth rate. Children of immigrants and immigrant children experience increased bullying, and decreased parental involvement at schools.

The next panel had three papers addressing raising children in difficult circumstances.  Dr. Kathleen Roche discussed her research on Latinx adolescents in the new immigration environment, finding that their parents have high psychological stress and often experienced discrimination. Adolescents with a foreign born parent had an increase in suicidal ideation, e-cigarette and alcohol use, and depressive symptoms and anxiety in response to recent immigration news. Dr. Lori Holleran Steiker discussed youth substance misuse and rising drugs deaths in the US, and her efforts to educate and prevent overdoses in schools.  Dr. Germine Awad addressed prejudice towards Arab/MENA Americans, a group that is “othered” in US society and US media.  She notes that Muslim Arabs experience more discrimination than Christian Arabs, and that Arab American students have the highest rates of depression among racial minorities in the US.

During the last panel of they day Dr. Karen Fingerman discussed her research on young adults, finding that intense support from parents and “helicopter parenting,” while disparaged in the media, leads to better results for children, and is not as common as described. Many young adults live with parents and receive income help, but many pay rent and help in return. Dr. Stephen Russel discussed parenting of LGBTQ youth, and that while parental acceptance does not alleviate all the harms of growing up in a prejudiced society, parents matter greatly in terms of making permanent policy change in schools. Dr. Ellen Wartella discussed how many adolescents have experienced violence, and while social media is often cited as a problem, it is not the cause of the problems among the respondents she interviewed.  A lively discussion followed the panel.

After the speeches ended we gathered for a reception, where the award for the 2020 CCF Media Award was presented to USA Today for outstanding coverage of family issues.

Arielle Kuperberg, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UNC Greensboro, and the editor of the CCF Blog, which you are currently reading. Follow her on twitter @ATKuperberg or email her at atkuperb@uncg.edu.  

The recent CCF Symposium, Parents Can’t Go It Alone, introduces you to important new work about what parents need to meet their goals and successfully raise the next generation. The essays range from a comparison of social supports across nations to what worries Latinx parents for their children’s safety.. Other essays highlight the strengths of community support for mothering in the African-American community and the need for change in how we structure low-wage work to support parents who work in those jobs. The symposium also provides evidence that most Americans want to live in families where both parents share the work of making a living and raising the children, so it is vitally important that we don’t leave fathers out of our demands for workplace flexibility.

We have so much in this country, so why is parenting so hard? An online symposium convened by the Council on Contemporary FamiliesParents Can’t Go It Alone—illustrates that parenting today is harder because working mothers and fathers are going without the help they need. We are neglecting parents.

Why now? CCF asked scholars who study families to write about the most current research on the needs of parents. We heard that parents have diverse priorities, and that many parents worry about how racism is affecting their children. Some worry about the lack of time for their kids, and others struggle with jobs that seem to demand their attention 24/7 jobs and so interfere with giving children enough attention. These problems are significant, and we see their consequences: The birth rate is falling throughout much of the world.

The symposium offers descriptions of how hard parenting is—and potential solutions to reduce the consequent discouragement for diverse American parents. Each essay suggests possibilities for how our society might come to the aid of today’s parents.

How do families “do it all?” They don’t.

New York University sociologist Kathleen Gerson busts the myth that there is such a thing as “having it all.” On the basis of interviews with 120 young adults (33–47 years old), she found four patterns for managing the conflicts between the workplace and child rearing. Some workers are hyper-traditional, while others remain single or childless. In some families, women “do it all” rather than have it all. A third of her sample can be described as egalitarians, experimenting with building an equal partnership at both work and home despite the obstacles. Only the egalitarians prefer the choice they have made; most of the others would prefer egalitarian relationships but have not found a way to achieve them in today’s world.

It isn’t just time or just autonomy. Both matter for parents.

Maureen Perry-Jenkins from University of Massachusetts Amherst interviewed 360 low-income working families and found that a shortage of time is nearly everyone’s complaint. Parents needed time to sleep, care for babies, and connect with their partner, but they also needed predictability in their schedules. Control over their time makes it possible to have last-minute doctor appointments or a needed sick day. Beyond that, Perry-Jenkins reports that conditions at work affect parents’ mental health and their relationships with their children and partners. One way to support the next generation is to improve the conditions of work for their parents. Work matters.

Parents report fear of violence (from police as well as gangs).

University of Illinois at Chicago’s Lorena Garcia interviewed 68 middle- and upper-middle-class Latinx parents in the Chicagoland area. She found both optimism and worry: The parents had the knowledge and financial resources to help their children pursue their dreams; yet they worried, especially about their sons. They worried about the vulnerability of Black and Latino boys to gun violence in the city. They gave their sons a version of “the talk,” to help them reduce their vulnerability to police racism. Despite economic privileges, the Latinx parents in her study had serious concerns about their sons’ physical safety. Garcia shows us that good family policy must include reducing gang violence and police racism.

African-American communities support employed mothers

Dawn Marie Dow, from the University of Maryland and author of Mothering While Black, offers a view of African-American mothering that contradicts the presumption that all mothers feel a conflict between paid work and parenting. In interviews with middle- and upper-middle-class African-American mothers, Dow found that for African-American mothers, working outside the home is part of mothering work. Unlike other American mothers’ view that parenting is at odds with work, they felt supported by their families and communities for their paid labor. In their communities, being a strong, independent woman is seen as a virtue. Dow’s research reminds us that not only must we change the structures of workplaces to support parenting, but we must support cultural expectations and communities that validate parents’ ability to combine earning a living with caring for others.

Fathers are parents too.

Although some of the essays in this symposium are all about mothering, Stephanie Coontz reminds us that dads count too. She suggests that a major obstacle to the successful coordination of work and family life is the assumption that the problem belongs only to mothers. If fathers were not expected to focus solely on earning a living, mothers would never be required to “do it all.” Coontz provides data on the kinds of parental leave available to U.S. fathers and shows the inequity of providing more or better leave to mothers. Coontz suggests that feminists must work as strenuously for fair and generous paternal leaves as we do for maternal leaves.

How and why work–family policies matter

Caitlyn Collins, author of Making Motherhood Work, takes us on a deep dive into the social policies that make it easier or harder to be an employed parent. She interviewed 135 middle-class working mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the United States, and learned that while European countries have wide-ranging approaches to social policies, all have more substantial family-related policies than does the United States. Those policies make employed mothering less stressful in those countries than in the United States. Collins suggests that the lack of such policies in the United States sends the message that our families are on their own—that the community owes nothing to those raising the next generation of citizens.


FULL SYMPOSIUM PDF: CCF Parents Can’t Go It Alone Online Symposium 2019


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  Children Are Now Back at School, Time to Focus on What Their Parents Need by Barbara J. Risman, brisman@uic.edu




Why No One Can “Have It All” and What to Do About It by Kathleen Gerson, Kathleen.gerson@nyu.edu


Work that Works for Low-Wage Workers by Maureen Perry-Jenkins, mpj@psych.umass.edu


Fears of Violence: Concerns of Middle-Class Latinx Parents by Lorena Garcia, lorena@uic.edu


Mothering While Black by Dawn Marie Dow, dmdow@umd.edu


Dads Count Too: Family-Friendly Policies Must Include Fathers by Stephanie Coontz, coontzs@msn.com


Raising a Village: Identifying Social Supports for All Kinds of Families by Caitlyn Collins, c.collins@wustl.edu


A briefing paper prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families’ Symposium Parents Can’t Go It Alone—They Never Have.   

Low-wage jobs may not be anyone’s ideal for a career, but they are not going away anytime soon. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shown (Figure 1) show that nearly one out of four Americans works for low wages. Many are parents. It is critical for the quality of family life in America that we understand how working conditions, including hours and flexibility, affect parents’ well-being, the quality of parenting, and, of course, the well-being of American children.

What are the problems for family life created by working conditions at low-wage jobs and what are some of the solutions to solve them? To understand what about low-wage work hurts families and what helps, we conducted interviews with 360 low-income, working families coping with new parenthood and old jobs.

Time was a theme that came up over and over again in our interviews with new parents. They talked about needing time to sleep, work, care for babies, connect with their partner, or simply to be alone. Parents also needed predictability in their time, meaning consistent and set hours. Parents with whom I talked also expressed the need for some control over their time, such as being able to make last-minute doctor appointments or take a needed sick day.

Parents need access to caregiving leaves, sick time, personal time, flexibility, and predictability—issues currently being addressed by policy initiatives across the country. But they also need better conditions of employment. In our efforts to support families by providing flexibility, predictability, and time away from work, we often overlook the impact of what happens during the 40+ hours per week spent “on the job.” Experiences on the factory floor, in the nursing home, or on food service lines that occur hourly, weekly, monthly, and year after year affect workers’ mental health, emotional well-being, physical health, stress, and energy. Such experiences can either enable or disable workers’ abilities to be engaged and sensitive parents. The question of how we “create” low-wage jobs that provide autonomy, meaning, and support requires listening to the workers themselves and understanding what about their work matters to them.

Recent interventions aimed at improving workers’ control over their schedules and enhancing supervisor support have shown that efforts to provide greater control and autonomy to workers produce better mental and physical health in workers and less employee turnover. But how control and autonomy might look in low-wage jobs is not obvious. My research suggests that what actually matters for low-wage workers is being able to take some initiatives and being recognized for doing so. For example, one woman I interviewed, Linda, who worked in a candle-packing factory as an order packer, reported extremely high levels of job autonomy. We learned that when she first started packing orders for customers, she would slip in some new candle scents with each order with a note to customers about how they might enjoy this new product. Slowly customers began to specifically request her services. Her boss recognized her creativity and “autonomy” and had her train new workers on how to connect with customers. She felt valued and respected for her work. Others parents have described autonomy at work as having their opinions valued and having a voice in decision making.

Conditions on the job affect workers’ mental health, and that affects their relationships at home. Having autonomy and some control at work translates into more engaged parenting at home: Parents are more involved with their babies and exhibit more responsive and sensitive parenting. Jose, a young father who works as a line cook at a steak house, talks about work as fun and energizing; his boss lets him try out new recipes, plan items for the menu, and learn more about budgeting. He works long hours for minimum wage, but feels valued and sees a career trajectory ahead of him. He wants to succeed now that he is a father. When Jose walks in the door at home he completely engages as a parent, holding his son, singing and laughing.  It is a pattern we saw time and time again. We also saw the other side: parents working at jobs that are rigid, boring, and disempowering—experiences that can translate to disengaged or often harsh and insensitive parenting at home.

Often when we evaluate the effectiveness of a new policy in the United States, such as the current paid leave policies popping up in states across the country, we demonstrate its success by proving to employers or policy makers that there was no financial fallout from instituting this policy. What if—instead or in addition—we measured success by a reduction in working parents’ stress or in the improved well-being of parents and children? Or what about happiness? A provocative study by Glass, Simon, and Anderson found that parents in the United States report the lowest levels of happiness among the 22 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries studied. We must continually solicit feedback from workers themselves about what policies and supports are most important to them. Their voices matter. Once a policy is instituted, we need to hear from them about the consequences. Did it help? Did it help some workers more than others? Should we try something new?

As we consider the solutions to better support working families in this country, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the economic and social inequality. Many of us feel powerless, seeing solutions embroiled in the slow-moving wheels of policy and government action. Yet my data and those of others suggest that today each of us could create ways to improve workplaces and build cultures of respect and support that hold implications for workers and their families, especially their children. Such simple interventions as giving workers some control over day-to-day operations, soliciting their feedback, understanding the challenges they may face at home, and respecting their contributions are concrete ways to improve work settings. If we are truly invested in giving the next generation of children in this country a healthy and equal start, perhaps the first place to look is at workplace. Work matters.

Maureen Perry-Jenkins is Professor of Psychology and Director at Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts, mpj@psych.umass.edu.


Picture featured in the Conference Program

If you couldn’t come to CCF’s 19th conference, Conceiving American Families in the 21st Century: Reproductive Policies, Practices, and Technologies, you don’t know what you were missing. So I’m here to tell you. Held on March 2nd in our new single-day format, it was a great success and the theme could not have been more timely. Individual rights, freedoms and immunities are being fiercely debated globally and locally, and if, how and to whom babies are born are part of that debate. Throughout the day, issues of positive and negative rights related to reproduction were a recurring theme in lively presentations and discussions.

The theme of individual rights influenced the conference even before it began this year. Traditionally, we convene at our organizational home, which has been UT Austin since 2015. However, Texas has recently implemented a campus carry law, which gives individuals the right to carry licensed concealed handguns in public university conference rooms. Some states have since denied travel funding to presenters invited to speak at these institutions. Considering safety and funding concerns, our diligent co-chairs, Adina Nack and Josh Coleman, changed locations to the DoubleTree hotel nearby, where firearms are prohibited.

Our flexible co-chairs continued to work around hurdles shortly before the conference began. Illness prevented keynoter, Mary Mason, from coming at the last minute so her Babies of Technology co-author and son, Tom Eckman, took the podium alone. We heard startling stats on the $100 billion worldwide assisted reproduction market, and examples of how the rights of the child can get lost in the for-profit designer baby marketplace. We learned about new technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing techniques that can snip defective disease causing genes and keep them from being passed on to offspring. When or if this technology is ready for prime time, who will have the right to decide what genetic defects will be permanently removed from family lineage? What will be the unintended consequences of permanently altered DNA?

Our second keynoter, Carole Jaffe, gave us stunning examples of coercive reproductive policies, and how denial of access to adequate family planning services disproportionately affect poor, black, and brown women. She noted that maternal mortality is three times higher for black women than white women, and fifty-five percent of births today are to mothers receiving Medicaid. These women are trapped in a system with insufficient birth control choices, lack of access to termination of unwanted pregnancies, and inadequate healthcare after birth. In her talk, Amanda Stevenson also pointed out the coercive state policies that result in disproportionate distribution of IUDs and implants to Medicaid recipients in Texas.

Lisa Ikemoto and Sharmila Rudrappa eloquently illustrated how laws banning commercial surrogacy, which are intended to protect working-class women’s rights to fair compensation and treatment, can backfire. In some countries, women end up even more vulnerable as they move across borders to places where state immunity decreases their control over compensation and care. We learned how regulation rather than outright banning can protect women’s rights and give women more control over their surrogacy.

Teresa Morris raised questions about who is protected and who is vulnerable during prenatal care and delivery. For example, although 99.8% of the problems detected via continuous fetal monitoring are false positives and expose the mother to additional radiation, continuous monitoring persists to lower malpractice risk. Since the C-section is the “gold standard of care” in malpractice court cases, a dramatic rise in U.S. C-sections may also be attributed to provider liability concerns that trump maternal health considerations.

I could go on. All our presenters brought something new, enlightening, counter-intuitive, or clarifying to the table.

A hallmark of all CCF conferences is the generous time devoted to Q & A. Negative and positive reproductive rights dominated these lively discussions as well. Some hot topics were: How will legal and ethical codes regulate the eugenics of commercial surrogacy, when cryobanks broker higher prices for “fair complexion” “Ivy League”, and “celebrity look-alike”? How are babies being treated like commodities rather than a public good? What complex immunities and injustices will the new Conscience and Religious Freedom rule usher in? For example, under this rule, what happens to frozen embryos when the private hospital that stored them is taken over by a Catholic hospital?

As you know, CCF’s mission is to disseminate robust family research and best practice findings from diverse disciplines to a broad audience. This year we expanded our reach by including two non-academic speakers who founded community organizations that educate the public about family issues. Mo Cortez is an intersexed, trans, Latino man who co-founded the Houston Intersexed Society for this purpose. His personal stories about reproductive injustices and denied rights in the intersexed and transsexual communities hit home viscerally. Marsha Jones, co-founder and executive director of the Afiya Center, shared stories of black women who are not supported for fertility control, pregnancy termination, healthy pregnancy or healthy baby. Both speakers contributed such rich additions to the human rights and justice conversation that we will hopefully be adding more community educators to our rosters in the future.

Several features that make CCF conferences special were brought back by popular demand. Flash Sessions, which allow budding researchers to present their work in five minute summaries, were thought-provoking and left us wanting more. We were also left wanting more at our fabulous Media Workshop. Stephanie Coontz, CCF Director of Research and Public Education, gave us cutting edge tools for producing op-eds that stand out. Board member Philip Cohen, who founded the SocArXiv.org open archive for social sciences, and the popular FamilyInequality blog, brought us up to speed on social media and blogging do’s and don’ts. Board member and UMass economics professor, Lee Badgett, shared her insights from her latest book, The Public Professor.

The CCF Media Award went to noted ProPublica and NPR reporter, Nina Martin, for her outstanding reporting on abortion, pregnancy, and maternal health. Two 2017 pieces, Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth, (NPR audio here) and The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth are brilliant examples of her recent work.

Hat tips to all who made the 2018 CCF conference possible – our phenomenal organizers Josh Coleman and Adina Nack, CCF Executive Director Jennifer Glass, her above-and-beyond grad assistant Rachel Donnelly, and all of our UT co-sponsors. And special thanks to Pam Smock, for her generous donation that allowed CCF to fund an early career student scholar travel award. This year’s award went to Elizabeth Nalepa, of Case Western Reserve with honorable mention to Maurice Anywie, of Bowling Green State.

This report is a conference tasting menu. For more on this year’s content, go to this link. If you missed this year, another theme is already in the works for 2020. Manage your FOMO (fear of missing out), stay tuned and hope to see you next time!

The Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) presents its Thirteenth Annual Media Awards at 5:30 pm on Friday, March 2nd at the DoubleTree Hotel, Austin, TX, at the CCF annual conference, “Conceiving American Families in the 21st Century: Reproductive Policies, Practices, and Technologies.”

The 2018 Award for Outstanding Media Coverage of Family Issues goes to Nina Martin for her body of work on abortion, pregnancy, and maternal health. Ms. Martin has a long history of reporting on these issues since beginning with ProPublica in 2013, including at least 45 articles, nearly half of which were published in 2016 and 2017. Her piece entitled “Nothing Protects Black Women from Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth” is a salient example of the outstanding quality of her work. This article expertly marries the personal and specific to the national and typical, drawing the reader into the story of one woman while drawing attention to the often-overlooked plight of the whole. Another high-impact piece, “The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth,” combines careful reporting on the staggering details of a vital issue – the U.S.’s  shockingly poor record of preventing maternal mortality – with the powerful details of a heartrending story that serve to make the abstract very concrete and real, and piercing.

About the CCF Media Awards: The CCF media awards were established in 2002 as part of the Council’s commitment to enhancing the public understanding of trends in American family life. “All too often, changes in U.S. family patterns are painted in stark, better-or-worse terms that ignore the nuanced and complex realities of family life today. The Awards Committee looks for articles that put individual family issues in larger social context. This kind of coverage offers the public a balanced picture of the trade-offs, strengths and weaknesses in many different family arrangements and structures,” explained Stephanie Coontz, CCF’s Director of Research and Public Education.

The CCF media awards committee will call for nominations for the 2020 awards in the fall of 2019. Please visit www.contemporaryfamilies.org for information. This year, I chaired the committee and worked with committee members Arielle Kuperberg, Allison Pugh, and Alicia Walker to select the recipient.

The CCF media awards honor outstanding journalism that contributes to the public understanding of contemporary family issues. Honorees are invited to speak for five minutes on emerging issues affecting American families and how CCF members and supporters can help the media cover these stories effectively.

The Council on Contemporary Families’ 19th Annual Conference: “Conceiving American Families in the 21st Century: Reproductive Policies, Practices, and Technologies,” convenes leading scholars and practitioners who are experts on US reproductive health topics and reproductive rights in a global contextThe conference will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Austin, TX, and is hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. Follow CCF at @CCF_Families to get live updates from the conference.

Christie Boxer, Assistant Professor, Sociology & Criminal Justice, at Adrian University, has been Chair of the CCF media awards committee since 2012. She first joined the committee in 2010.

photo credit: Tumisu via pixabay

On September 9, as the first of two record-breaking hurricanes barreled down on the Caribbean, and North America, President Trump wreaked legal havoc on families through rescinding a program to help young people whose parents brought them to the United States without proper immigration documentation. He followed up on September 24 with new immigration bans that added heat and intensity to the experiences of global citizens. During this maelstrom, I have searched for links that narrate in more detail how the policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and its potential demise, affects families.

Some reading addressed Why is this happening? What could people be thinking? Work I read suggested answers: “They” are here to steal our jobs, why not get rid of them? Why don’t they just get their citizenship? Throughout September, after President Trump announced canceling DACA, these writers focused on debunking myths about this program.

  • Vox’s Dara Lind gives DACA’S history, recalling that Obama created the DACA executive order as a way to protect those who came here illegally as children, for the sake of their future. As Lind points out, it is a lot harder for people with US-born family members to get their citizenship than ever before.
  • At Rolling Stone, Tessa Stuart highlights the myths of individuals under DACA. Stuart discusses how some people believe that DACA is a gateway to citizenship, even though it is not. She also clarifies that DACA is not a shortcut to get federal benefits.
  • CNN focuses on how these DACA youth are protesting this decision and discusses how some critics view the decision as unconstitutional because of lack of due process. CNN, as many others, highlighted that the decision, if it holds, will have a negative impact on the economy over the next decade.

Other articles focused on: What will rescinding DACA mean to families economically and socially? For starters, families will be torn apart, making the U.S less diverse even as it creates an unstable environment for many immigrant families who are citizens with DACA relatives. Economic contributions from DACA are substantial. DACA recipients pay a total in $2 billion in taxes per year in the United States—the loss would be great to the government, the economy, and also to families benefiting from that productive income

  • The removal of DACA will harm 800,000 individuals and their families. On fivethirtyeight.com, Anna Maria Barry-Jester notes that removing DACA will generate unemployment for young workers who support their families and relatives. More than 200,000 people would be unemployed if this decision is made final.
  • Roque Planas, in Huffington Post, shows us the fear felt by people made vulnerable by this decision—much of it fear for the family. Karla Pérez, interviewed by Planas, noted that the removal of DACA “…always weighs heavily on my mind.” Pérez continues, “My biggest concern right now is my parents because DHS has my information… I’m not so much worried for myself as for my family.”

Still another theme in coverage of the DACA announcement is whether this is just about Latinx families. Reporters asked, why are we ignoring Asian families, the fastest growing immigrant group?

  • The Washington Post’s, Vanessa Williams brings up how the fastest growing immigrant groups are not particularly highlighted in the DACA conversation. Williams mentions that Asian immigrants have more than tripled since 2000. Asian immigrants account for 1.6 million out 11 million immigrants in the U.S.
  • Newsweek’s John Haltiwanger profiles these dreamers and discussed the nearly 15 percent of Asian immigrants in detail. His work begs the question, are we ignoring this immigrant group because of their stereotype as the “model minority”?

Luilly DeJesus Gonzalez is a senior sociology major at Framingham State University and a CCF Public Affairs Intern.

Years ago, the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) gave the United States a “Gentleman’s C” in terms of family policy, and not much has changed since then. CCF scholars have used the international variation in work-family policy to look at how families are doing – inside and outside of the United States. For International Women’s Day, here is a review of CCF research using international populations and the international media that reported on the research.

Supportive work-family policies foster women’s entrepreneurship

UC-Santa Barbara sociologist Sarah Thébaud’s investigation into “What Helps Women Entrepreneurs Flourish?” found that women in countries with more generous work-family policies like subsidized childcare and paid parental leave have more successful entrepreneurial endeavors: they “employ more workers, express more ambitious growth intentions, and are more likely to report introducing a brand new product or service to the market” than in countries without such benefits. There are higher numbers of women entrepreneurs in countries without progressive work-family policies, like the United States, but they don’t really succeed like those in the more generous countries. Their lack of success led Thébaud to conclude that these were cases of entrepreneurship as a “fallback” option in situations where balancing work and family was not possible otherwise.

Supportive work-family policies help men and women split up housework and childcare:

Economist Ankita Patnaik reports in “’Daddy’s Home!’ Increasing Men’s Use of Paternity Leave,” that in Quebec, after the implementation of a new non-transferrable, paid five-week paternity leave policy that paid parents seventy percent of their income (Quebec Parental Insurance Plan), fathers were more likely to take advantage of paternity leave than were fathers in Quebec before the policy implementation in 2006 or in provinces without the new policy. Eighty percent of fathers eligible for the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan utilized it, compared to less than twenty percent of those taking advantage of the previous policy, which paid fifty-five percent of income and was transferrable from fathers to mothers. After participants’ paid paternity leave had finished, participating fathers and mothers had a more egalitarian division of household and market labor than couples in which the father did not take the paid paternity leave. This research was profiled to Canadian readers in the National Post, and to Sri Lankan readers in Viva Lanka.

Patnaik’s encouraging finding is important, because in the United States – where paid paternity leave is not guaranteed—parents tend to revert to “traditional” family roles after the birth of a child. Arielle Kuperberg’s research, outlined in the CCF brief “First comes love, then comes…housework?” was profiled in the Australian edition of the International Business Times. Kuperberg, a sociologist at UNC-Greensboro, reported that it was not the transition to marriage, but the transition to parenting that increased gender inequality in household labor among couples.

Balancing market and non-market work leads to happier couples and families:

What are the implications of policies that allow parents to share work and family obligations? Well, for one, couples who share housework have more sex, and couples who share childcare have better sex, according to Cornell’s Sharon Sassler in her CCF brief, “A reversal in Predictors of Frequency and Satisfaction in Marriage.” This report was covered by The Daily Mail in the U.K., The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, and Edizione Italiana in Italy, among others.

More broadly, variation in work-family policy accounts for the “happiness gap” between parents and non-parents. Jennifer Glass (UT-Austin), Robin Simon (Wake Forest University), and Matthew Andersson (Baylor University), in “Parenting Happiness in 22 Countries,” review that in the United States, where work-family policies are lacking, the happiness gap is wide – parents tend not to be as happy as non-parents. But in countries with “good parental policy ‘packages,’” made up of paid parental leave, guaranteed time off, affordable childcare, and “work schedule flexibility,” the differences are less stark. In Norway and Hungary, where there are generous parental policy packages, parents are even happier than non-parents. In addition to many English language articles around the world, this report was covered in a Spanish-language article entitled ““La paternidad y la infelicidad” at Proexpanción, and in “Un buon welfare può rendere felici i genitori,” in the Italian news outlet Internazionale.

Braxton Jones is a graduate student in sociology at the University of New Hampshire, and serves as a CCF Graduate Research and Public Affairs Scholar.