Looking Ahead to 2021

Practical Tips for Addressing Stereotypes & Setting Boundaries

Children’s Reading List that Address Stereotypes

I can’t remember ever being this excited for a New Year. Like many of you I am eager to bid farewell to 2020 and look ahead to 2021. I am not one to commit myself to a big resolution that starts January 1, but I am drawn to fresh ideas; practical tips for small changes that do not take much time or extra effort. (Because let’s be honest, it’s already taking everything we have just to get through each Covid day.)

For this reason, I very much like the Better Life Lab website. I like their policy briefs that tackle topics such as paid care leave and universal child care. But I especially love their “Experiments” section with simple ideas on how to practice gender equality in the home. I know that not every suggestion will resonate with each one of you, and they acknowledge the same. But perhaps there are one or two that you might find helpful. (My personal favorite is #17: The Ruth Bader Ginsberg.)

Needless to say, I was pretty excited when I was invited to write the December 2020 experiment. You can read the whole blog here , but the gist is that in order to truly recalibrate household responsibility, we need to tackle gender stereotypes.

“We must normalize women in power — not just for little girls — but for little boys, too. Because boys who grow up loving and respecting strong women often transfer that respect to future partners, colleagues, friends, neighbors and/or children.”

Books are a great way to role-model alternative narratives for kids. So, the Better Life Lab team helped me put together a fantastic resource of titles that do just that. (See the PDF at the end of the blog post for the full list.) And I like that the list does not stop with normalizing strong women for boys.

“White children need to see power and knowledge role-modeled by biracial, indigenous, and people of color; able-bodied children need to see strength in those with a disability; books from the LGBTQ+ community should be made available to all.”

Our family has already started; we have kid-approval on Hidden Figures, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Let me know what you think about these books, and please suggest other books that inspired you or the kids in your life.

Couples That Work Set Boundaries

Jennifer Petriglieri wrote a great book in 2019 called Couples That Work. Although based in academic research, Couples That Work is easy to read and gives plenty of useful advice for two people who are both committed to working outside the home.

Recently Petriglieri posted this great 4-minute TED Talk to highlight some of her new research. (Thanks to Jennifer Collins-Foley for sending me this link!) My favorite take-away from this TED Talk is the idea of setting boundaries before decisions need to be made. Petriglieri suggests that when a home is balancing two careers, two incomes and two sets of expectations, compromises are a must. And it is easier to make those compromises when each person has previously agreed to some terms.

Setting some 2021 boundaries is another practical tip I like. Petriglieri suggests that couples consider topics such as overtime hours, travel and budget. I also think a couple could consider boundaries around work/home balance or the number of hours each person commits to household chores and/or child care each week.

My genuine thanks for starting this Substack journey with me this year. I am just finishing my interviews for Equal Partners and can’t wait to share the tidbits with you that don’t make it into the book.

Happy New Year!