Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kin Stability

I am sitting in on a course at Dalhousie University.  The class is called "Good Jobs, Bad Jobs".  If there is a subject you are interested in, but haven't studied yet, I encourage everyone who can to sit in on classes at your local university.  Most universities receive at least some public funding, they belong to the community as well as those who formally study and work there.  You don't get the formal feedback of graded essays or tests, but you do get access to knowledge and a platform to express your thoughts.  The endeavor is only free if the course books are at the library, but for $50 - $100 dollars you can expand your knowledge without the typical anxieties of taking a class or tuition.

The class is offered by the sociology department and primarily revolves around work and how its changed (and changing).  While in class on Tuesday we discussed family work conflict and it raised a question for me.

How do women's career achievements affect kin stability?  Now I made up the term kin stability to refer to the ways in which extended family and life-long neighbors/friends support the work family balance of working parents.

My question stems from two observations:
First, if not for my aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, godmother, etc., my mother would have had a significantly harder time raising my sister and I.  It is stressful to work two or more jobs to support one's family, I can only imagine what it would feel like to have to choose between working to survive on your own or not working to insure the safety and well-being of your children because you can't find adequate childcare.
Second, pursing a post-secondary education takes many women away from their home communities and while some return home at the end of their studies, many others find jobs, friends, partners, in their new communities.

Do you have to trade kin stability for career, and what does that mean for parenting among first generation college graduates?

My mother did her job as our mother, and did it well, in the face of many challenges.  I find myself comparing our lives, seeing the advantages I have (in large part because of her hard work) and hoping I can do as good a job as she did with fewer resources.  I get stuck though, I did the right thing, I went to college, I got a Masters degree, I found a career, I got married and now I'm a mom, but there is no family member to watch Aminata while I work.  No family to take care of her while I go to a movie with my hubby.  I find myself privileged enough to have a career, but unclear on how to pursue it without as much kin stability.

What is adequate childcare when your only frame of reference is the safety, security, love of family and life-long friends?

No comments: