Do you sometimes feel like screaming because you can't keep up with all that you think is expected of being a mom? If so, you're in good company. Join us to listen to our interview with Jessica Grose about her book Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood. Grose is an opinion writer at the New York Times. She writes a popular newsletter on parenting and was named by Glamour Magazine as a Game Changer in 2020 for her coverage of parenting during the pandemic.
In this episode, we cover:
Work and Role of Fathers:
Role of social media:
Is this a uniquely US issue?
Unique struggles of foster, adoptive, and kinship parents:
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Dawn Davenport 0:00
Welcome everyone to Creating a Family talk about foster adoptive and kinship care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show, as well as the director of the nonprofit, creating a family.org. Today we're going to be talking with Jessica Grose, the author of a new book screaming on the inside. Jessica is an opinion writer at The New York Times, she writes a popular newsletter on parenting, and was named by Glamour magazine as a game changer in 2020, for her coverage of parenting during the pandemic. Welcome, Jessica, to Creating a Family. Thank you so much for having me. All right. So for our audience listening, we're going to be talking just starting off kind of in general, then we're going to talk about how work impacts us as women and moms in America, then the role of fathers, the role of social media, and then the unique struggles of foster adoptive and kinship parents. So stick around to the end, because we are going to bring it down to the unique issues that we face, those of us who identify as adoptive, foster, and kin. So let me start just by asking a general question, Jessica, what brought you to write this book.
Speaker 2 1:11
So I've been covering parenting and related issues for on and off for about a decade. And I realized during the pandemic, that things that I had been talking about and thinking about, mostly the lack of structural support that parents in the United States have and how that impacts basically, everything we do really crystallized for me and I think became a lot more present in the lives of basically every caregiver in the United States during 2020. And so I wrote the book proposal in the summer of 2020, when everything really I think felt the most dire for the large, the largest number of people, not just parents, and I really wanted to kind of trace the history of how we got to that moment in the pandemic where everything really felt like it was falling apart. And I think a lot of people reevaluated other parts of their parenting lives because they realized that they were just kind of muddling through and accepting the status quo. And they realized how much that status quo was not working for them.
Dawn Davenport 2:15
Right. It's not a book specifically about the pandemic, for people who are saying I'm sick of the pandemic. You know, I don't want to read about it. It's not about that it, I think, as you say that the pandemic brought to a head, other issues and just made shone a different light on them. So it's really about well, the subtitle to the book, the unsustainability of American motherhood is what it is truly about, you know, the pressure to feel a certain way and do everything right feels just inherent in modern motherhood. But it's interesting that the question, Is it new and have things changed? I thought it would be interesting if you would read on the bottom of page 25. This is a quote from a book that Ellen Key wrote in 1900, the book was called the century of the child.
Speaker 2 3:05
A good mother of young children could not possibly work or socialize outside the home key beliefs, because she could never be thinking of anything but her baby. And this is a direct quote from the book, the child should be in one's thoughts when one is sitting at home or walking along the road when one is lying down, or when one is standing up. Key argued?
Dawn Davenport 3:24
Yeah. Do you think things have changed? Since Key wrote that in 1900?
Speaker 2 3:29
Yes, and no. I think many people still do believe that that is the only way to be a good parent. But I think fewer of them believe that I do think that there is still a lot of cultural pressure to behave that way. And so the message is about what a good mother is in the culture come from so many different places. But I want to believe that we have made some progress in nearly 125 years. But yeah, I think that those ideas still linger and affect many of us.
Dawn Davenport 3:59
I agree, I think we've certainly made progress and that we'd be foolish to even think otherwise. However, I can't help but think that that attitude influences some of the struggles we're getting ready to talk about. Because that's was considered that what we're really doing is having to shift away and yes, it has been 100, enormous 25 years. And we are shifting, but it's still the underpinning. So let's talk just in general, we are going to talk specifically about work role of fathers social media, and then the unique struggles for the demographic that we talked to. But just in general, where do you see women and moms let's say in America struggling?
Speaker 2 4:40
I mean, I think there just is simply too much to do. Before we started recording. I was saying every day I feel like I have too much to do. But I think with the majority of mothers with children under 18 at home, work outside the home or work for money since many people work at home for pay. So I think there are just really simple ways in which work and the raising of children are incompatible. Things like the fact that the school day does not match up with the work day. And because we have no systems of child care or other kinds of support, everybody sort of feels like they have to create their own structure of care and work. And there's only so many hours in the day. And there's too many things to do. And so I think that is where much of the conflict lies, which is not to say that families that have a parent who stays home don't have their own, you know, areas of challenge and conflict they do. Yes, they absolutely do. And the other thing is just expense, the expense of children, which the expense of living keeps going up for everybody. So inflation and the cost of housing. Those are things that continue to rise more than wages more than real wages. But I think it's particularly acute for people who have more dependents, just because there's, you know, less money that needs to support more people.
Dawn Davenport 6:09
Well, I also think that goes back to what are expectations of that what we as an air quotes around this good mothers, good parents really, in this case, do for our kids? I mean, do they have to be enrolled in every extracurricular activity that adds to both the expense but also adds to the time commitment and the lack of time and the feeling that we don't have. And then good mothers have kids who go to summer camp, good mothers, have kids who have certainly piano lessons, but let's throw in at least a wind instrument, you know, there is the expectation. And I wonder, when you were reporting for this book, does that change depending on the income, that parents who are not upper middle class, or even middle class, that they have a more realistic expectation of what they're supposed to provide for their child?
Speaker 2 6:59
I think this idea of it's either it's in the sociological literature, it's called intensive parenting or concerted cultivation has really it for I think, in the 90s and maybe early aughts, it was more concentrated among the upper class, but I really think that parents of many socio economic statuses feel that pressure to have their kids do all the things and have them, you know, playing sports and, you know, doing theater, whatever the, you know, dance, so I do think it has sort of crept downwards in a way that is not healthy for anyone. I mean, I think kids, especially little kids need time to just play in an unstructured way with each other and go to the park and and families need that sort of unstructured time together to create their own family rituals and feelings of closeness. And when we're all running to and fro endlessly. I just think it's, you know, there's no time for rest and connection and revitalization. So, yes, I think it's more universal among upper middle class and sort of more elite families have we want to say it, but I think that that those expectations have absolutely crept into the culture as a whole.
Dawn Davenport 8:11
I also think that the the term intense parenting first I think it's a great description. But the the intense parenting, also, fundamental to that is that every second that we are with our child, we have to be interacting, we have to be the entertainment, we have to be doing things with our child. And I get it as a working mom that partly that's because this is the only time you have with your child. But even for stay at home moms, there is the expectation that you've got to always be the one who is doing constantly interacting. This literature also show that yeah, so
Speaker 2 8:51
this statistic that always sort of blows me away is that working moms today spend as much time with their children as stay at home moms did in the 70s. And I don't think that's all bad. But it certainly creates this feeling of there's just no free time for anybody. Anyone.
Dawn Davenport 9:12
Oh, no time. No time to do the meal preps we keep reading about we're supposed to be doing. Yeah, no time to do you know, clean the bathroom. So the ring doesn't get so bad. Every time you look at it, you feel gross. All the things that have to go on in life, especially if you're not fortunate to have live in help. Who does it all for you?
Speaker 2 9:30
Right? It's funny. I was before our chat. I was on a conference call. And I was folding laundry with my camera. But I was just like, I need this laundry needs to get folded and I can do it both.
Dawn Davenport 9:45
You're not alone. Let me Yes. Let me share with you that you are not alone. Yeah, especially if you can hit mute. You could be washing dishes at the same time. Just a pro tip. Yeah, but yeah, I get it. It's intense. So let's let's show Now to talking specifically about work and the issue of how work impacts the sustainability of American motherhood. So our society's view on working motherhood I think is an interesting thing this I want you to I'm also now want you to read from the book on page 41. This is a quote from Sharon Hayes and the book is the culture contradiction of motherhood. Now keep in mind this written in the 1990s so, if you could read from the mid paragraph starting if you are a good mother,
Speaker 2 10:34
if you are a good mother You must be an intensive one argue Sharon Hayes and the cultural contradictions of motherhood. Intensive motherhood remains the dominant middle class mode of child rearing in the United States today, the organic fruit buying code class and rolling travel soccer boosting so called helicopter or snowplow mom, here's explains the very narrow options for the ideal mother. And this is a direct quote, the only choice involved is whether you add the role of paid working woman. The options then are as follows. On the one side, there is the portrait of the quote traditional mother, who stays home and dedicates her energy to the happiness of her family. This mother cheerfully studies the latest issue of family circle places flowers in every room has dinner waiting when her husband comes home. This mother when she's not cleaning, cooking, sewing, shopping, doing the laundry or comforting her mate is focused on attending to the children and ensuring their proper development. On the other side is the image of the successful supermom effortlessly juggling home and work this mother can push a stroller with one hand and carry a briefcase and the other she was always properly cuffed. Her Netherlands have no runs. Her children are immaculate and well mannered but not passive with a strong spirit and high self esteem. Though his wrote these words in the mid 90s, we have not moved past these ideas, except maybe the part about wearing nylons to wear. In the past two decades, we've simply added more expectations to the pile.
Dawn Davenport 11:57
Exactly. As I was reading it, I thought exactly that that I thought this could be written right now, except for the nice ones part. So I guess progress has been made friends progress has been made.
Speaker 2 12:07
Yes, yes. And I mean, I think because things are still too much for so many people, I think I never want to ignore the fact that I do think we are continuing to move forward. In a lot of ways. If you also look at the time new studies, men are doing a lot more childcare than they did in the 70s and a lot more domestic work. They're just it's still less than what their female counterparts are doing. But it's still, you know, again, at a societal level, it's an improvement. And I think like we can't, I sort of always tried to have an optimistic view on everything on there. Because, you know, being hopeless gets you nowhere. But I
Dawn Davenport 12:47
don't think there's reason for hopelessness that we and I would like, let's go ahead and jump into the roles of father since you brought it up. I think there's been huge changes with the expectation of what now I think you're right, the studies show that it's still not even. But the expectations for fathers, being fathers now is significantly different than it was I'm older than you my youngest just graduated from college. So I can speak to her the past was not that all that long ago. And I see it dramatically different now. Whether they're doing it or not, their expectation is they should be doing it.
Speaker 2 13:26
Yeah. And I think it's also they want to be doing it, they want parental leave, the reason that they don't take it, even if it's on offer, is because they're concerned that they're going to be punished by their employers, there is a desire to have better work. I don't like the term work life balance, but it's the only one we've got. So they I think men really have a desire to have, you know, spend time with their families and realizing, especially as we're coming out of, you know, this difficult COVID period, like family is, at the end of the day, what matters to them more, of course, they want to support their families. But what's the point of it, if you're, you know, you never get to see your kids. And so I think more and more men feel comfortable saying that, and they've deeply feel that way. I mean, every in our circle, and obviously, we're not representative of everyone in the country. All of the dads are so involved and they they enjoy spending time with their children. And they certainly would rather be with their kids than working an extra five hours a day. Like that's terrible, like who wants to work that hard? And Americans do work more hours than than many other nations in the world. Americans work very hard and don't take vacation. And so I think a lot of people just feel like it's not sustainable for them.
Dawn Davenport 14:43
I absolutely see it. My eldest son is now a parent. And I absolutely see that their the way they split labor seems from granted from an outsider's perspective, very egalitarian, and yet when I talk With my daughter in law, she tells me that yes, that is her, she sees that in her marriage, but she doesn't necessarily see it with others. So it's it's, we've made huge progress, though. It's just not that it's, it's not completely equal.
Speaker 2 15:17
And I don't know that I don't know that that's even realistic for it to be completely equal. I think that what I always strive for in my relationship is more feeling egalitarian, rather than absolutely everything equal only because my kids are now almost 11, and almost seven, and the sort of physical labor and the always on having to wash them every second so that they don't run into traffic. Obviously, we've moved past that part. But in some ways, our lives are more complicated now. Because you know, the kids, they have playdates, and they have, you know, my older daughter was just in her school play, and like, there's more kind of moving parts to everything. And, you know, we've been in different jobs that have different sort of needs from us. And so, you know, it's, it's, it's a constant negotiation. And, you know, there's times where he has to really be more present at work. And I understand that, and it's a cliche, but we're a team. And so understanding that, that different members of the team are going to have different needs at different times. just acknowledging that I think is, is incredibly important. And knowing especially you know, that just every film is gonna have different needs at different times,
Dawn Davenport 16:27
and that you have to flex with each other, as long as both sides are willing to do the flexing. In fact, it doesn't have to be equal split in time. And it could also be that for some working moms, or some moms in general, they, they want to be the one doing the cooking or the baking with the child or whatever. Yeah, that that brings them pleasure. But you could still be egalitarian, even if it's not an equal 5050 split.
Speaker 2 16:52
Yep. Exactly. And yeah, I mean, we're very, you know, in a way that I don't mind at all, we're very gendered. And the time we spend with the kids, I am always the one cooking, baking, crafting. And he is the guy who will take them to the park, and he plays soccer with my daughter, my younger daughter every night after school, and it's what we prefer to do. And so we're very, you know, again, every couple is so different and divides labor differently.
Dawn Davenport 17:18
We also were far more gender than I would have thought we would have been because we certainly, we gave a lot of lip service, lip service and not to be, but then I thought, but I'm really I love to cook. And I love to create recipes. And I like to do this. And I like to do the things that I'm also the planner of the family. I like to do that. So why would I not in you know, I really don't, I can't throw a softball. And he didn't want me throwing because he thought it would it would teach them really bad habits, which it would he didn't want our daughters to. He said honey, no offense but to throw like a girl. In fact, I do because nobody threw to me. I pointed that out. But our daughters do not thanks to their father. Isn't this conversation fantastic. I am really enjoying it. It's a it's a nice change of pace in a way. For some reason it feels that way for me. If you appreciate this content, you'll be happy to hear about the free courses we offer at Bitly slash JBf support. That's bi T dot L y slash JB F support. Our partners at the jockey Big Family Foundation are sponsoring a library of free courses that will support you and learning more about how to be a better parent to your child. Check it out today. Okay, now I want to bring our audience in because we posted some questions to our audience and asked for their opinions on this. And I thought this will not be a surprise to you, but I thought you might be interested. Here's one we're talking about work and role of fathers is what we're talking about right now. This is one quote, there is an expectation for working women to want to become moms. Then when we do become parents, we're expected to be our best at work and attend to our children. I was the first call from the schools instead of my stay at home husband. There was a reason we had him stay at home. But school still called mom first. And then someone to comment after that was somebody said that's happening to us now that we are both working from home the other day they needed to reach us three messages were left for me and no one called dad. It wasn't an emergency but still.
Speaker 2 19:28
Yeah, yeah, I once wrote a story it was during the pandemic called they go to mommy first. And so sometimes it feels like your own kids are perpetuating this like my kids will sometimes I will be upstairs and their father will be next to them on the couch and they will come upstairs to bother me and I'm like dad was right there.
Dawn Davenport 19:49
Where you open this bottle of water. Your dad was sitting there?
Speaker 2 19:53
Yeah, literally sitting right there and he gets annoyed he's like guys, I'm right here. Why are you bothering mom you tries to protect My work time too. So even when you are trying to run in and egalitarian households or or, you know, having a household where the dad is the primary caretaker, you have to train the people outside the home to understand that. And there was a woman in the book who said her husband was one who always dealt with the dentist and pediatrician appointments. And they just no matter how many times she told them, they would not stop calling her. And it just, it's, it's a lot of work. And in the defense of the administrators who are making those calls, I've talked to them, and they say, You tell us to call the dad and then the dad doesn't call back and he doesn't, you know, he's not that a lot of the dads are not doing it, or you can't answer
Dawn Davenport 20:43
Unknown Speaker 20:44
Dawn Davenport 20:46
In work, we always say, you know, go to the decision maker, it's just gonna be faster and more efficient for everybody. And that's what they're doing. But do you think exactly do we think that we women, we moms are perpetuating that as well, I sometimes wonder if we don't want either to get over our guilt or just because we like feeling needed that we on some level encouraged this.
Speaker 2 21:07
I do think I mean, it's definitely a cycle. And there's the sociological term for that is maternal gatekeeping. And so I think, yes, and it's true, it happens. I mean, and I
Dawn Davenport 21:17
did I do it? Well, not yet anymore, but I certainly did it.
Speaker 2 21:21
I do it less childcare, and more with cooking and cleaning, because I'm like, my husband will volunteer to cook, and I'm like, You're so bad at it. But like, I don't like either you'll make mac and cheese again, or it will be like you can grill. That's fine. But you know, and the thing is, if he cooked more, he would get better at it. Yeah. And I'm not letting him cook more. So like, it's definitely I am playing a part in this. And I mean, and I think I do it too, because I like it. I love
Dawn Davenport 21:53
it. Because if I'm not cooking, then if we were having to divvy up the chores, that's one I would like, you know, the some of the others, he does without complaint. And I really don't want to he happens to be the one who cleans our kitchen. He is the one every night who does the vast majority of the cleaning. Well, if I had to choose, I think that I got the better end of the deal. So
Speaker 2 22:15
that's how I feel about we street Park in New York City. So you there's all these alternate side parking rules that my husband has to pay attention to. He has to sit in the car and move it a couple of times a week. And it is a huge pain. And I don't even have to think about it. Right. Never think about the car. I don't know where the car is. I don't know what it's doing. It doesn't matter.
Dawn Davenport 22:33
Yeah, you've delegated that is his issue. And if the car gets towed, he's going to be the one who has to figure out how to get it out. 100% Yes, Yeah, same. So I do think that when we're talking about this shouldn't be a Oh, woe is me type of conversation. Because I do think there is some Whoa, that should be attracted to us. But I also think that we own part of this. And it may go back to that original thing we read about what a good mother is in the 1900s. And there's a part of us that hasn't let go of that. So being constantly the one who the school calls or the one that kids come to, you know, to kiss their booboo or whatever, it still makes us feel important. And it still makes us feel like we're playing the role of good mom.
Speaker 2 23:14
And I do think that there is an extent to which people are paying attention. And they notice when you are not doing the expected thing. So my husband usually drops the kids off at school and I picked them up. And he couldn't drop them off one time, and I dropped them off. And another parents said to me, Oh, I thought you were a daddy drop off family. And I was so pissed off. I was just like, why are you clocking? who's doing what? Like? Are you implying that? Like I'm not you know what I mean? So I do think that there is an extent to which it's not just paranoid to think that if you're not behaving the way people think a mother should behave that some people aren't going to notice. And
Dawn Davenport 23:56
yeah, and I certainly know I have friends who show up at school for something and their husband is usually the one who does whatever it is. And they look a surprise Oh, so glad you could join us and even if implied if not actually said are their perception was it was implied if not actually said
Speaker 2 24:14
exactly. Yeah, I just shrugged it off. But like it takes some sort of fortitude to say, Yeah, this is just how we do things and I don't care if you think that I'm less than as a mom because I'm not doing drop off and he does drop off, you know, gonna
Dawn Davenport 24:27
be defensive and go, you know, okay, but we're a mommy pickup every day.
Speaker 2 24:34
I just smiled and kept moving. But you know, I do think that these especially if you're sensitive to these currents, they affect you.
Dawn Davenport 24:41
Yeah. And it is not reasonable to think that we are affected by the current because again, we've also, you know, through childhood the books we read and everything you know, have have taught us that the notion of the good mommy is this part of it. Talking about work, you use the term radical, flexible Woody, I underlined it and circled it. I love that term. What do you mean by that? And how common is it in the United States, and that is in relation to work.
Speaker 2 25:09
So radical flexibility is the idea that employers really treat their employees whether or not they have kids as people with lives outside of work. And it means having flexible expectations about where the work is done. Sometimes, if possible, when the work is done. I mean, it doesn't mean missing deadlines or stretching deadlines. Even it means if my kid has a soccer game, and they're in the championship game today, at 4pm, I'm going to leave work early see the game, and then finish the work later on in the day, it means having that space without sort of guilt, or seeing people as less committed in this day and age, I think it often means a hybrid work schedule, which more and more companies have really, in the, you know, post 2020 era committed to which I think is actually really good for everybody. Just because, again, I think partisans on both sides of this issue, take it to the extreme thinking, remote work means you never set foot in a office again, and in person means five days a week, you know, nine to six, no questions. And it's like, All right, everybody needs to calm down. We all acknowledge that, like, there are lots of jobs that must be done in person, you can't have a state, you know, like, you can't have a remote working nurse like that needs like, yes. But we all learned that there are many jobs that do not require a daily commute. And I think it only takes a little bit of flexibility for managers, and I've been a manager to really support within reason, the needs of your employees. Again, if they're not, if they're not meeting deadlines, they're not getting work done on time, yes, then we have a problem. And I don't think that anyone who argues for radical flexibility thinks that means lowering standards of productivity, or shoot, you know, and it shouldn't. And honestly, like most of the data, you know, obviously, there's nuances to it, but show that people who work from home are more productive, because I mean, in my case, my commute 80 minutes a day, 40 minutes there, 40 minutes back. And so, you know, if I getting that time back in my day means I can do more reading, I can do more answering emails, I can, you know, there's a myriad things I can do when I'm not worried about you know, and the sort of mental pressure, I think, for parents, especially just, you know, after care for my kids, and that six, and I have just had so many days where the subway is stuck underground, and I am breaking out into a cold sweat, that I am going to be late for pickup, which means not only incurring a charge, which is whatever, but it means, you know, letting down my kids letting down the providers who they want to go home. Like it's just it's the worst feeling. And so just being able to not have that feeling every day or the the specter of that feeling is great. It makes my life so much better.
Dawn Davenport 28:03
I was wondering if you noticed this? I didn't see it addressed in the book, but I am curious about it. The first generation of children who were raised by the working moms who were truly, you know, involved in working are now reaching childbearing age and now in their, I guess their 30s. Anecdotally, and this is only anecdotally, I see a number of them, who are opting for a different path. They saw what that did. They, they were raised in that environment. And they're opting some of them. And again, I don't know how universal This is, or opting to either be stay at home moms or take significantly lesser jobs so that they have less expectation on them in the workplace. Have you noticed that or have you read anything about that?
Speaker 2 28:54
I have, you know, anecdotally certainly heard stories like that. I actually think it might be the opposite, which is that girls saw their mothers working and were inspired to also be working moms, and realize that they could do it all because they had seen you know, their moms. I mean, I don't like that phrasing either doing it or what does that mean? But you know, nobody does it up. I mean, I'm sort of an example. I'm my mom is retired now, but she's a doctor. And you know, it just never seemed like, I never felt a loss by her having a full time job. And I thought that what she did was interesting, and I just remember a lot of pride in her the stories that she would tell me about she was only one of five women in her medical school class. And you know, it really, I admire the trailblazing nature of the women who were working moms when she was on which, you know, millions of them so many moms worked in the 80s. Not quite the percentage that do now but I mean, it was certainly more unusual. And so I never thought that I wouldn't work. But I don't. Again, it's you know, there's so many experiences out there. And I certainly know people who, who felt their parents were not present for them in a way that they would like to be present for their kids. So I think it can kind of go either way,
Dawn Davenport 30:15
it could go either way. Now, and again, I've not seen any research on it. It's just something I have noticed. And it could be one of the situations you notice it because it is the unusual, it's not what you thought, because we certainly all thought that this next generation would be exactly that the generation before them had paved the way and so they they wouldn't be embracing it. So no, I mean, I
Speaker 2 30:35
think that they are fighting more for things like parental leave, you know, people scheduled to Yeah, so I joke with my husband that we should have had a third kid just to take advantage of the times maternity policy, which is great love my employers work on that. But that happened because a working group of women fought for it, like these awesome women got together in the company and really lobbied management a couple of years before I got there. And I'm so grateful for the work that they did. I think that is the sort of legacy. It's saying, our mothers work so hard. Without anything. I mean, my mom had zero as a doctor. And actually, this is still true for many medical professionals. She had zero paid leave should no paid leave at all. She went back to work when I was three weeks old. And I think my generation just won't accept that as a way to live. And I think that that's legacy. And I think that's great.
Dawn Davenport 31:32
Yeah, I would agree. Absolutely. Let me take a moment right now to talk to you about both the creating a family podcast and what you can do to help us word of mouth from our listeners is one of the best ways to help get our word out about both the nonprofit creating a family as well as this podcast, creating a family.org podcast. We would really appreciate your help getting the word out, please let your friends know that you listen to this podcast and you liked this podcast. Thanks. Okay, now I want to talk about the role of social media. And when we posted a question for that, we got a lot of comments. So I'm gonna start by reading some of those. First quote, it's frustrating, because so often you never see them having to deal with their kids while trying to meal prep, help with the homework, break up a sibling squabble all while trying to get out of the house for an appointment. I guess that doesn't make a compelling viewing. The other one, so many opinions, and so much facade, it's challenging to navigate unless you are seriously self confident, or already have experienced a few ups and downs that give you perspective. Here's another one, the curator reels can give such a false viewpoint. And it's easy to assume that their real life but real life is not nearly as compelling as the perfectly crafted short clips. So we have many more. I'll stop there. Yeah, let's talk about the role of social media and what it does to contribute to the screaming on the inside that we feel or the lack of sustainability of American parenthood.
Speaker 2 33:13
Yeah, I mean, I think even you know, at this point, I think most people know that what we see on social media is not real. It's the highlight reel, no one is showing like the laundry pile on the corner. They're not showing the kids fighting, but those images are seductive, and they can worm their way into you. Even if you know that they're not how you're supposed to behave, images affect people. And so I think, especially if you're inundated with them, and you're in a particularly vulnerable time, they can really make you feel bad about yourself. And I'm sort of grateful. And my older daughter was born in 2012, which was before Instagram was really a thing it existed, but it was not used like it is today. And I am grateful for that. Because I think it would have had a negative effect on me. And for myself, I really did not seek out parenting advice on the internet. I still don't. And it's not because I don't think that there's good advice to be had. I think that there absolutely is. I just think that it's such a firehose, that you are as likely to get advice that's based on nothing, not vetted, and that might actively make you feel worse about your situation. So you know, really, I think the takeaway for everybody is just understand the source. only pay attention to trusted sources. And that even means influencers so if you're following somebody on Instagram or on Tik Tok, or whatever, and they're not making you feel good about yourself, they're bringing up negative feelings, mute them, unfollow them, just, you know, take a break, because you don't need that none of us need that in our lives. It's hard enough without that.
Dawn Davenport 34:52
Exactly. Are you someone who has thought about starting or has already started? As a foster adoptive or kinship parent support group, or are you somebody whose job it is to train, foster adoptive or kinship families? If so, I want you to know about a resource that creating a family has, it is a all in one curriculum designed for either support groups or for training, it is interactive, it is distinctly different from having people sit and listen to a monologue are read a book, our roster video or whatever it is video based, there are pauses for lots of time for discussion, it comes complete with a video, a facilitator guide, a handout and additional resources, we also have certificate of attendance if you need that. It will allow you to run a training or a support group with very little preparation. So check it out at parent support groups.org. Or you can go to our website, creating a family.org hover over the word training and click on Support groups or parent support group curriculum. X. Let me ask another question kind of changing the subject here? Is the frustration or the lack of sustainability of motherhood? Is this uniquely a US issue? Do moms and other countries feel the same pressure to be perfect and to do it all,
Speaker 2 36:26
I think it's less intense in countries where the social safety net is better, because they don't have to do as many things, you know, just I think all the time about how, you know, in many European countries, you as part of the national healthcare system will have a nurse visit you in the weeks postpartum to make sure you're doing okay. So these are home visits. And they are just part of the fabric. And it's nursing support. It's all the stuff that we either have to pay for out of pocket, rely on family members to do and you might not live near family. And so starting from the very beginning, we are operating in this individualized way that leaves us at a deficit, it leaves us depleted, and then it's like finding childcare. It's not just like, Oh, there's the crash in the in your district and you can you know, there's a spot for you and they have lunch every day. It's no, it's you know, you have to find something, and it's probably it is not subsidized by the government. For most people. It is expensive, you might have to I mean, if I had a nickel for every story, I heard about people who put their kids name on a waiting list for a daycare while they were still pregnant. And I just heard a story about someone whose kid is six. So they're in school now. And they're still on a waiting list for which is not to say that, you know, the experience is a panacea in other places, but I think that there's just more support and acceptance for caregiving. And so there's a way in which American mothers, they don't just feel they have to do it all they actually do have to do it all more so than in other places. And it's not universal. I mean, there's hundreds of countries in the world and they, you know, have a variety of levels of support for, for parents. But I think in the American context, it's it's tough.
Dawn Davenport 38:15
Yeah. Now I want to shift to the unique struggles of foster adoptive and kinship parents, I realized the book is not specific to this population. But I wanted to talk a little about how the expectations of motherhood hit this demographic of families. I'll read one quote from our audience. And she says, I was told recently that my feelings about how hard it is to mom, my last three children adopted as a sibling set from foster care was, and that the person said, it was just a part of my quote, mindset, because all the moms she knew had the same struggles. So foster and adoptive moms also have unbelievably unrealistic expectations put upon them, we aren't allowed to struggle differently. Then another person told me that I quote, signed up for this, and quote, so the underlying meaning is that when you adopt kids from hard places, you aren't allowed to struggle. She raises a lot of issues in that. I think one of the unique things about our demographic, although I think it would also apply to women who struggled to conceive and were able eventually to conceive often with the help of infertility treatment, is how hard our families have had to work to get this family to become a parent to become a mom. I do think that influences how we feel as far as how much right we have to complain if nothing else.
Speaker 2 39:44
Yeah, no, I mean, I interviewed moms in the book who expressed exactly that there was one woman who was a single parent by choice. So you know, she got a sperm donor, it was very proactive thing and she didn't become a mom until she was I think, 40 or 41. And she, you know, had this expectation that it would transform her into the best version of herself. And then she found it to be obviously challenging in a variety of ways and felt this sort of added layer of guilt because she had worked so hard to have this baby. And it was what she really wanted. And she felt there wasn't space for her to express the fact that it was harder than she had imagined. So I definitely heard that from lots of moms who had a variety of of journeys to motherhood. And I think that's really real.
Dawn Davenport 40:31
Yeah, I do. I absolutely do. And one of the things that from an adoptive parents standpoint is only foster parents as well, is that we had to go through being examined and trained in our homes inspected to even get to be parents. So there's the expectation that we're supposed to be good parents, because we've gotten the you know, good housekeeping seal of approval from the the powers that be to get these kids into our home. And then that adds to that when, when you're not living up to the unspoken expectations that you're supposed to be a good parent. It makes it hard.
Speaker 2 41:06
Yeah, I mean, I think also just our definition of a good parent is weird and bad.
Dawn Davenport 41:15
Yes, a good parent is yes. Is not one who does all the things we think they do.
Speaker 2 41:20
Exactly. I mean, it's just someone who shows up and provide structure and love and, you know, is this consistent if they can be and it's not much more than that, you know, it doesn't mean always saying the right thing. It doesn't mean always making the right you know, the perfectly nutritious dinner, it's, it's, it's day in, day out, you know, loving you're showing
Dawn Davenport 41:39
up. You know, Bettelheim has a book and I have to admit, I actually never read the book, but I so love the title. It's called the good enough parent. And I love that title. It always gave me hope. I thought, Okay, today, I certainly was not the perfect parent, but I was good enough, you know, they've all gotten to bed. Nobody was, you know, nobody, there wasn't much blood, you know, was a lot of screaming, perhaps but but we still we survived. And I just I love that. And before we leave the topic, though, of unique struggles, I would be remiss not to mention that many of our kids have experienced trauma. And that's whether it's big T trauma, or little T trauma, many of them experiences and the reality is trauma impacts children and impacts their behavior. And it impacts how we have to parent them and it sure as heck, kicks in the butt any idea of picture perfect parenting, because that doesn't happen. So to all of our parents out there, who are raising kids with any type of trauma, we've got to reassess what it means to be a good parent for sure.
Unknown Speaker 42:42
We really do. Yeah,
Dawn Davenport 42:43
I was curious, have you Did you see the article by Tara Parker Pope's, in the Times, talking about, I think it was an opinion article about how it was interesting. You know, it was not written in contrast to the book screaming on the inside at all. But she was saying that we don't focus enough on the learning and enrichment that comes with parenting. And I thought that would be an interesting way to end. I think you and I, in this conversation have been really clear that it is not all doom and gloom. But what were your thoughts? Did you read the article?
Speaker 2 43:15
I mean, I think just because you're talking about things that are challenging, doesn't mean you're not also honoring the love and care that you have for your children. So I don't see it as sort of a zero sum thing. And I think also, it's a lot of the, you know, expressions of frustration, especially on the internet about kids are just funny, you know, it's blowing off steam. So I think that there's sort of a joy in that. So even if it's not, you know, earnestly extolling the joys we feel with our kids. And I think also, you know, I particularly feel a sense that, like, my relationships with my kids are really between us. And so, you know, when I write about anything having to do with motherhood, I really try to make it just from about the parents and not about my kids or any details about them. I don't ever use their names. And so I think in some ways, some parents might almost have a boundary around those sorts of more intimate experiences with their kids, because you don't want to share them for other people to judge or have an any kind of opinion about, because it's not it's just not, it's not up for picking apart, you know,
Dawn Davenport 44:27
yeah, no, I'll see, you could argue that you don't have the right to be doing that because your child's life is their life too. And whereas you might want to be exposing them exposing yourself in some ways, you don't have the right necessarily to expose them so. Well, thank you so much, Jessica gross for being with us today to talk about your new book, screaming on the inside. I truly enjoyed it. And thank you for being here. My pleasure.
Unknown Speaker 44:50
Thank you for having me.
Dawn Davenport 44:52
Before you leave, let me do a shout out of thanks to one of our partners that through there support we are able to bring you this show that is fostering families today. It is a magazine that helps Ken adopted and resource parents provide the best possible care for children in their homes. This print and digital magazine has educated and informed caregivers for over two decades, offering insightful articles, expert advice, free online events on challenging topics, and a virtual community through social media. Sign up for a one year subscription today and save 10% Just go to fostering families today.com and enter family 10 at checkout that's FA m i l y then the number 10 One zero at checkout.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai