We have all been there. Or, more accurately, not been there. We have missed a soccer game, an important day at school, a key doctor appointment for a sick parent.
Or we have had to make impossible choices: sending a feverish child to school, fingers crossed he won't get worse, so you can go to work; putting off doctor appointments you know you need because you don't know how to fit them into your work schedule; going back to work just weeks after your baby is born because your family simply cannot afford to go without your salary.
We feel guilty, stretched, and sometimes, utterly incapable. We wonder why we can't manage the basic rhythm of life and fit in the things we need to do to take care of those we love and ourselves.
But the truth is: It's not our fault.
In the past five decades, the face and shape of the American family and the American workforce has transformed and shifted enormously—with huge ramifications for how we raise children, care for the aging, make a living—and yet, corporations, employers, and government have not kept up with those changes.
That demographic reality comes to life in a preview of BlogHer’s upcoming 6th Annual Women and Social Media Study sponsored by Ketchum. The study reveals that the women who report the highest levels of time starvation are actually those with the most traditional family unit—two parents and children—and that what is sacrificed under such time pressure is personal health and fitness, a choice with serious long-term ramifications for the American health care system; the economy; and, ultimately, the health of future generations.
But there is positive change happening. And we can all use our voices and influence to accelerate that change.
Today, BlogHer, the Center for American Progress, and The Huffington Post are announcing the launch of “Make Life Work,” a campaign to raise awareness and promote real solutions to the difficulties faced by families across the United States.
And we want to make it easy for you to join us: tell your story, raise your voice, call for change, take specific and pointed action.
Here are just a handful of the statistics that capture the seismic changes to our society, and to our household makeup:Changing Family Structure
- Only 30 percent of children have a stay-at-home parent.
- 40.9 percent of women are the breadwinners for their families, as opposed to 11.6 percent in 1967; another 22.4 percent are co-breadwinners, bringing in 25 to 49 percent of their household's earnings.
- Fathers expect to participate and share in the tasks of child rearing, and they are doing so at a rate almost three times what it was in 1965.
Lack of Flexibility
- The lowest wage earners have the least job flexibility and the least access to a strong emergency support system, including reliable, flexible child care.
- 44.2 percent of workers do not have access to any form of workplace flexibility
- Even when it comes to the unpaid leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which provides workers with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to recover from a serious illness, care for a new child, or care for a seriously ill spouse, parent or child, 40 percent of all workers in the United States are excluded from coverage.
- Only 10.8 percent of low-income workers have access to paid parental leave, compared to 66.2 percent of high-income workers.
- If they lost a paycheck for 12 weeks, 43 percent of families would fall below the poverty line.
But there is plentyof good thinking happening around these issues, and both public and political support is shifting toward supporting family and flexibility policies: In January 2013, 80 percent of women voters and 70 percent of men voters said they favored a paid leave program; furthermore, 85 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans favored a paid leave program. And the support is bipartisan: 73 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Independents, and 96 percent of Democrats consider that congressional and presidential attention to family-friendly policies is important.
So join us! Get your voice heard! Sign up for our Action Newsletter, so we can invite you to participate and send you news alerts. And watch this space! We will also be highlighting the articles and work from both Huffington Post and the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank focused on these issues.
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