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Rikki writes.

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Parenthood

Why I’m Not Upset about “Meternity Leave”

The social sphere is abuzz today with responses to Meghann Foye‘s first book, Meternity.  The novel focuses on a woman who fakes a pregnancy in order to take a “meternity leave,” an opportunity to decompress and reflect on her career and life.

Foye’s own life apparently inspired the book. Foye writies in the New York Post, “As I watched my friends take their real maternity leaves, I saw that spending three months detached from their desks made them much more sure of themselves. One friend made the decision to leave her corporate career to create her own business; another decided to switch industries. From the outside, it seemed like those few weeks of them shifting their focus to something other than their jobs gave them a whole new lens through which to see their lives.”

Naturally, mothers across the internet became enraged. “Maternity leave is not a vacation!” they shouted from their mobile devices. One user in my Facebook feed responded, “I honestly want her to take my kids for a day and then tell me how she feels. Horrible!” and another furiously explained, “Maternity leave is not a time for lunch and getting pedicures. It’s a 24/7 selfless time to care for a brand new human being making sure you keep them alive that is totally helpless.”

Continue reading “Why I’m Not Upset about “Meternity Leave””

3 Semi-Famous Single Moms You Can Actually Relate To (And Learn From)

The needs and rights of career-loving parents continue to be part of our cultural dialogue on a daily basis, thanks in part to a number of working moms with celebrity status—think Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Jennifer Garner, and Jessica Alba. We can learn a lot from these women, and their contributions to the conversation about the rights of mothers in the workplace are important. But, of course, we all know that their lives are not exactly representative of a “typical” parent. They have resources that many of us won’t ever have.
Continue reading “3 Semi-Famous Single Moms You Can Actually Relate To (And Learn From)”

4 Women Who Are Redefining the Concept of “Working Mother”

In her speech introducing her husband at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama told the audience that, during her first term as First Lady, her most important title was “mom-in-chief.” This statement was met with extended applause.

I love Michelle Obama. I love the causes she stands for, from fighting against childhood obesity to supporting women’s rights abroad to addressing poverty. When I go for runs around DC, I often jog past the White House and imagine Michelle Obama doing 50 push-ups and then rewarding herself with a homemade bowl of lobster mac and cheese, and this image inspires me for another two miles. I simply adore her. There’s no question that Michelle Obama’s work is a significant force in the fight for equality.
Continue reading “4 Women Who Are Redefining the Concept of “Working Mother””

4 Ways Even the Busiest People Can Be More Mindful

It was Thursday evening at 6:30, the second hour of the period of time that many working parents begrudgingly refer to as “the grind:” the three or four chaotic hours between our arrival home from work and bedtime, in which we must make dinner, eat dinner, and relish our limited time with our children before bathing them, wrangling them into their pajamas, reading umpteen bedtime stories, putting them to bed, and preparing for tomorrow morning.
Continue reading “4 Ways Even the Busiest People Can Be More Mindful”

3 Work-Life Balance Lessons I Learned from Men

For many career-loving parents, the holidays come as a welcome reprieve: a chance to enjoy a few slow weeks at work, unwind with the kiddos, and stuff their faces full of seasonal treats. Many parents look forward to the holidays.

But not me. And it’s not because I don’t love my family. It’s because—and there’s really no nice way to say this—I suck at the holidays. My weaknesses as a parent and a professional woman seem to become more pronounced when combined with the smell of a newly cut Christmas tree or a freshly baked pie. I over-plan, over-commit, and shop at the last minute. I worry about work when I’m at home and worry about home when I’m at work. I essentially spend the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years looking (and feeling) like a tightly wound ball of tinsel.
Continue reading “3 Work-Life Balance Lessons I Learned from Men”

5 Habits Working Parents Should Ditch to be More Productive

My latest column for the The Muse has been picked up by Inc. Check it out here:

5 Habits Working Parents Should Ditch to be More Productive

3 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Work-Life Balance In The U.S.

I’m thrilled that my most recent column for The Daily Muse is now featured on Forbes Woman and has been generating an insightful social conversation on Twitter.

You can read the entire post here:

3 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Work-Life Balance In The U.S.

How Feminist Mothers Can Raise Feminist Sons

Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree in Isla Vista sparked a national conversation about the pervasiveness of misogyny in American culture via the #YesAllWomen hashtag. And although it’s clear that Rodger suffered from mental illnesses and was facilitated by easy access to guns, the guiding principles of his “manifesto” and the worldview that led him to target and kill young women are terrifyingly mainstream.

Sasha Weiss said it best in the New Yorker: The #YesAllWomen conversation demonstrates that “Rodger’s hate of women grew out of attitudes that are all around us. Perhaps more subtly, it suggests that he was influenced by a predominant cultural ethos that rewards sexual aggression, power, and wealth, and that reinforces traditional alpha masculinity and submissive femininity.”

Like many of the other women and men expressing their outrage through #YesAllWomen, I’ve been ruminating on the persistent belief that sexual aggression is a natural male condition for a long time. During my research for my graduate dissertation, which focused on sex ed in schools, I was flabbergasted at how often the question, “How do I say ‘no’ without hurting his feelings?” appeared in sex ed books and teen magazines alike. In college, I was perplexed at the number of programs designed to teach women how to defend themselves, walk in groups, and avoid date rape, and the lack of programs designed to teach young men to simply not sexually assault people. And as my career has developed, I continue to see how men who demonstrate aggression and volatility in the workplace are called passionate leaders, while women who do the same are called hysterical control-freaks.

But as I read through the insightful #YesAllWomen tweets, I thought not about my own past experiences with sexism, but about my son’s future. I blinked and he was 18 months —I’ll blink again and he’ll be 18. As a feminist and as a mother, how will I raise my son to embrace equality and to rebuff a hyper-masculine culture that celebrates violence and shrugs off misogyny?

So I turned to the experts—hitting the books and soliciting more experienced parents for their advice. Specifically, I wanted to know how parents can set the stage when their sons are very young—establishing a healthy foundation for an open mind that thinks critically about the stereotypes around him. He’s what I learned.

Keep reading.

Paternity Leave – Why We Need it and How to Do it Right

You probably know that paternity leave is becoming much more common, and that it’s been shown to be beneficial for the whole family. But I was recently surprised to learn why it’s so advantageous—and who reaps the rewards.

A few weeks ago, Liza Mundy of New America Foundation and the author of The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners is Transforming Our Culture helped push the concept of paternity leave into the ongoing national conversation about “having it all” as working parents with her Atlantic article, “The Daddy Track.”

Mundy points out that fathers who take paternity leave and play an equal role in the difficult first few weeks with a newborn tend to stay more active in the child’s life as he or she grows up, creating a more even distribution of household and baby responsibilities and avoiding the “second shift” paradox (when working mothers do most of the household work, even though they work full-time). Mundy further concludes that the true beneficiaries of paternity leave are women and the businesses and nations that employ them, since paternity leave has been shown to “boost male participation in the household, enhance female participation in the labor force, and promote gender equity in both domains.” In other words, it’s a smart economic strategy for governments, because it shrinks the gender pay gap and helps ensure that women, who, in many countries, are often better educated than men, return to the workforce after having children.

Read more on Forbes Woman. 

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