2010 Workplace Is Perfectly Designed for 1960 Workforce

Baby boomers are discovering that elder parent/work conflicts are even more challenging and last longer than children/work conflicts. They often arrive with no warning. You get a call from the hospital, and your life changes dramatically.
If you read nothing else today, please read The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict–The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle by Joan C. Williams and Heather Boushey, posted to the excellent  Center for American Progress Website.  I highly recommend Williams’s Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It.
 I don’t usually quote this extensively from another site, but this is too important to attempt to paraphrase.  Download the full report.
An American Workplace Perfectly Designed for the Workforce of the 1960s
 In 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked, and only 18.5 percent were unmarried. Because the most common family was comprised of a male breadwinner and stay-at-home mother, employers were able to shape jobs around that ideal, with the expectation that the breadwinner was available for work anytime, anywhere, for as long as his employer needed him. Even then, this model did not serve the small but significant share of families who did not fit this mold, yet the model stuck.
 This model makes absolutely no sense today. Now, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed. Nearly one in four Americans—more every year—are caring for elders. Hospitals let patients out “quicker and sicker.” Yet employers still enshrine as ideal the breadwinner who is always available because his wife takes care of the children, the sick, the elderly—as well as dinner, pets, and the dry cleaning. For most Americans, this is not real life. …
 Work-family conflict is much higher in the United States than elsewhere in the developed world. One reason is that Americans work longer hours than workers in most other developed countries, including Japan, where there is a word, karoshi, for “death by overwork.” The typical American middle-income family put in an average of 11 more hours a week in 2006 than it did in 1979…
 So it should come as no surprise that Americans report sharply higher levels of work-family conflict than do citizens of other industrialized countries. Fully 90 percent of American mothers and 95 percent of American fathers report work-family conflict. And yet our public policymakers in Congress continue to sit on their hands when it comes to enacting laws to help Americans reconcile their family responsibilities with those at work…
The United States today has the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world due to a long-standing political impasse. The only major piece of federal legislation designed to help Americans manage work and family life, the Family and Medical Leave Act, was passed in 1993, nearly two decades ago. In the interim—when Europeans implemented a comprehensive agenda of “work-family reconciliation”—not a single major federal initiative in the United States has won congressional approval. 
Shockingly, neither Obama or Clinton made this a major focus in the campaign. Yes, Michelle Obama talks about it, but we need legislation, not talk. This is a bipartisan issue. Republicans have children and families too.

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About maryjograves

Children are my passion. I have 4 daughters, 5 grandkids under 5 with another on the way, 5 younger brothers, 11 nieces and nephews, 8 great nieces and nephews. I advocate a revolution for a child friendly US. I have been an editor, public librarian, social worker, and internet educator. Tweet @RedstockingGran @ChildrensWings
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