COVID-19 has thrown a hand grenade into traditional parenting methods, with Zoom sessions replacing in-school classes and stressed-out moms and dads, juggling remote work and perhaps financial hardships due to the pandemic, all sharing space in the home.
At the Power Women Summit breakout session “A Letter to My Children: The Road to a Brighter Future,” the take-away message from a panel of family experts was that the best way to make sure the kids are all right in a pandemic is to let them know their parents are not perfect either.
“The whole idea that we should be perfect or could be perfect for our kids was never a gift to our kids,” said Dr. Aliza Pressman, co-founding director and director of clinical programming for Mount Sinai Parent Center and host of the podcast “Raising Good Humans.” “They have to see that there are many different feelings and waves of experiences that we have, and that relationships have discord all the time. It’s the repair that makes us learn how to be healthy and grow.”
The panel was moderated by Tamron Hall, host of the syndicated daytime talk program the “Tamron Hall Show.” Her guests included Pressman; Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization fighting for public safety measures against gun violence; Chriselle Lim, co-founder of childcare and co-working startup Bümo; Simona Grace of Moms in Office PAC and Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Host Hall revealed that she is the mother of a 19-month-old who “has not seen another adult or child in nine months other than myself, his Dad and nanny and grandma briefly from afar…all moms and dads right now, especially those who are watching, are wondering: What is the impact of all this on our children?”
Pressman said sheltering at home has made it harder for parents to hide their problems from children, but that can be a good thing. “All the parents out there were finally like you know what, forget it, it’s out of the bag that I’m not perfect. And I think there’s a generation of kids that actually love themselves a whole lot more because they weren’t under some kind of illusion that there was this perfect thing that they could never get to.”
Some members of the panel pointed out that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women both at home and at work.
More families sequestered at home has increased gun violence against women, Watts said. “Women are trapped at home alone with domestic abusers who have easy access to guns. Millions of kids are unexpectedly at home from school again with easy access to guns. Most school shooters in this country are actually students who find guns in their homes.”
National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Poo said pandemic job losses have hit women harder than men since domestic workers are predominantly women. “We would have Zoom calls with our members and there was this one meeting where one of our members held up her phone to the camera to show us there was literally one cent left in her bank account,” she said.
Lim of Bümo said she has seen businesses run by women, particularly women of color, losing ground during pandemic shutdowns. “We all have to become intentional of where we’re going to spend our dollars,” she said. “It’s right in our pocket – where can we use these dollars to support the people who actually need it?”
Grace said her organization pivoted to digital fundraising during the pandemic to help garner support for moms who want to seek political office at the same time they are juggling financial and family concerns.
“If you are not able to have any events this year, you are not able to meet a lot of our supporters in person,” Grace said. “We actually changed our entire approach, to online grassroots fundraising and small dollar donations through our email list and social media outreach. So many people came out to support us.
“We need more moms in office, and we need their voices at the policymaking table.”
Check out the full panel above.
The Power Women Summit, presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The Summit aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s all-virtual PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe to promote “Inclusion 360,” this year’s theme.