The Future of Acceptance

If you’ve been here a while, you might know that my oldest child is transgender, and that it’s likely that during PRIDE, I’d mention it. We check in with our kid regularly to make sure they are ok that we share about their journey, praise them for being open and brave, letting them know they are making a difference in the world, and promote their LGBTQ pride.

In the past year we’ve gone from non-binary, to he/him, back to they/them with a male gender identity. And even though there are some days my brain gets confused about which pronouns to use, we remain supportive, aware that our child living their identity clarifies where we live, our friends, their school, and even where we travel.

One area I wasn’t prepared for the impact was my business. As a career coach for working moms, my conversations and content are gendered by nature. I understand, speak and support working mothers through their evolution and careers, in tune to the struggles of ambition, tasks and the motherhood penalty.

But as we faced more obstacles at home regarding gender (sports, camps, changing rooms), I began to wonder if I was fighting against myself by only supporting working mothers rather than working parents. Paternity leave made up 16% of the total parental leave in 2022, up from 7% just a decade ago (Chartr) and I hear from clients about the involvement of their partners. At my house, my husband regularly picks up the childcare slack, and I also hear him struggle with topics like balance, how to manage his career with our family demands, and whether his career is still the best fit for him.

But studies say that we aren’t yet equal; the Journal of Marriage and Family found that work from home has only served to increase women’s household responsibilities and their likelihood of being the default parent. Also this Pew study provides statistics that men in egalitarian marriages spend 3.5 hours more on leisure than their wives, who are spending 2 hours more on caregiving and 2.5 hours more on housework. And the more I dig in with clients, the more I find that their partners are helping with physical tasks, but the mental, emotional, and social load lands squarely with the mom.

This made me realize that we aren’t quite at the place of a working parent experience yet. But maybe we can get closer with more equity at home, with a balance of childcare and home tasks, so there are no longer “mom” or “dad” jobs. And by freeing up women from these loads, what could they do?  Would moms then fight for more equity at work? Or go after that promotion or new job at work? Have the space to figure out their dream career?

I was curious about how a gender equitable home would work, so I read a book, tried the methods – and we crashed and burned. I didn’t want to give up, so I developed my own approach that allows couples to create their own system, based on strengths, values, time, or ability, in order to find the task breakdown that worked for their family.  My program allows for considerations like culture, goals and even appreciation while creating a communication method for review, alignment and new factors, like job/career changes. (You can read more about this program, Home Work, here. I’m offering a discount right now!)

I’m not saying that equity at home will solve all of the issues in our gendered world, despite evidence that same sex couples tend to divide up tasks more evenly and feel the division is fair.

But rather that we have the opportunity to show our kids that there are responsibilities for parents, rather than for mothers and fathers, and in doing so we can move our culture forward, both at work and home. By bringing together the ‘motherhood’ and ‘fatherhood’ experiences into the ‘parent’ experience, we aren’t only creating more options for moms, but also for non-binary, transgender and LGBTQ rights.

Our kids learn from what they see and will build on the models they know. They are our future, and imagine what they could create if they are starting with equity.