top of page

Resource: External Articles for Parent and Caregiver Support

Parent Artist Advocacy League for the Performing Arts (PAAL)

Articles: Parent + Caregiver Support

Updated: 1 March 2019


Motherhood + Social Impact/Government

“The common thread in every conversation was that the parents had to solve their problem themselves, no matter how piecemeal the solutions. That all makes perfect (if outrageous) sense: The United States has the least generous benefits, the lowest public commitment to caregiving, one of the highest wage gaps between employed men and women, and among the highest maternal and child poverty rates of any Western industrialized nation.” - The Real Mommy War is Against the State

“The American Journal of Sociology finds that Americans with children are 12 percent less happy than non-parents, the largest “happiness gap” of 22 rich countries surveyed. The main sources of parents’ unhappiness are the lack of paid vacation and sick leave, and the high cost of child care, the authors said.” - The Perpetual Panic of American Parenthood

“The lack of family-friendly policies in the United States — such as paid family leave and subsidized child care — most likely plays a role [in fewer women returning to work], too. Although policies have improved somewhat since the early 1990s, women’s labor force participation in countries that have more generous policies has continued to increase, unlike in the United States. - The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard

Motherhood + Employment/Professional Opportunity

“[B]y the time American women are 40 to 44, 86 percent of them are mothers, and unless they are affluent — or have a retired but still energetic grandma who’s willing to pitch in full time when the kids are little — the child care crisis hits families hard.

How hard? As any parent can tell you, child care is one of the biggest costs a family faces. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s state-by-state tables, in Alabama it’s $5,637 a year for an infant and an only slightly less daunting $4,871 for a 4-year-old. That’s 69 percent of the average rent and 33.7 percent less than the cost of in-state tuition at a four-year college. At the other end of the alphabet, West Virginia parents are worse off: For them, infant care, at $7,926, is 32 percent more than the cost of college. Pick a state at random and the results are no better. New York: $14,144, or double the cost of a year of college. Illinois: $12,964. California: $11,817. No wonder child care is affordable for only a small minority of families, meaning they pay 10 percent or less of their income for it: 17.8 percent of families in Minnesota, 18.7 percent in Massachusetts, 37.7 percent in Georgia. And that’s for just one child. Most families have more.

…In any case, the decision to quit working has more implications than loss of a paycheck right now. Think lost Social Security, fewer promotions, rusted skills, lost contacts and social isolation. Lack of child care also promotes the less quantifiable but real tendency of parenthood to turn previously egalitarian couples into gender stereotypes. He becomes the chief breadwinner, she’s responsible for children and home, and it stays that way even if she goes back to work.” - Day Care for All

“Yes, life is a complicated equation, and each of us will weigh the factors differently. What resonates for me about Ms. Hewlett's research is that it codifies what we have all known for a long time: a woman's equation, whatever its particulars, contains more variables and fewer straightforward answers than a man's.” - LIFE'S WORK; Motherhood, and Defining Success

Motherhood + Cost

“The share of women in the United States labor force has leveled off since the 1990s, after steadily climbing for half a century. Today, the share of women age 25 to 54 who work is about the same as it was in 1995, even though in the intervening decades, women have been earning more college degrees than men, entering jobs previously closed to them and delaying marriage and childbirth. The new analysis suggests something else also began happening during the 1990s: Motherhood became more demanding. Parents now spend more time and money on child care. They feel more pressure to breast-feed, to do enriching activities with their children and to provide close supervision.

...The cost of motherhood fell for most of the 20th century because of inventions like dishwashers, formula and the birth control pill. But that’s no longer the case, according to data cited in the paper. The cost of child care has increased by 65 percent since the early 1980s. Eighty percent of women breast-feed, up from about half. The number of hours that parents spend on child care has risen, especially for college-educated parents, for whom it has doubled.” - The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard

Motherhood + Gender Pay Gap

“It is deeply puzzling that at a moment when women are more prepared than ever for long careers in the labor market, norms would change in a manner that encourages them to spend more time at home,” the researchers wrote.

One possible reason is that increasingly, people who work long, inflexible hours are paid disproportionately more, Ms. Goldin’s research has found. More women with degrees and these kinds of demanding jobs are having children, and they’re likely to be married to men with similar jobs, as Marianne Bertrand, an economist at the University of Chicago, has described. A result is that dual-earning couples may feel the best choice is for one member, usually the mother, to step back from work so the other parent can maximize the family’s earnings.” - The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard

“Despite generous social policies, women who work full-time there are still paid 15 percent to 20 percent less than men, new research shows — a gender pay gap similar to that in the United States.

The main reason for this pay gap seems to be the same in both places: Children hurt mothers’ careers. This is, in large part, because women spend more time on child rearing than men do, whether by choice or not.

A series of recent studies shows that in both the United States and Europe, the gender pay gap is much smaller until the first child arrives. Then women’s earnings plummet and their career trajectories slow. Women who do not have children, by and large, continue to grow their earnings at a similar rate to men. There are still differences because of discrimination and other factors, but researchers say that motherhood explains a large amount of the gap.

...Two studies of college-educated women in the United States found thatthey made almost as much as men until ages 26 to 33, when many women have children. By age 45, they made 55 percent as much as men.” - Children Hurt Women’s Earnings, but Not Men’s (Even in Scandinavia)

Motherhood + Flexible Work

“Subsidized child care helps shrink the pay gap by enabling women to spend more time working. There is also evidence that mothers whose employers let them work flexibly or telecommute are less likely to reduce their work hours.” - Children Hurt Women’s Earnings, but Not Men’s (Even in Scandinavia)

Motherhood + Caregiving

“[Fathers] were less likely than women to say that parenthood was harder than they expected. (Women still do the bulk of child care, even in two-earner families.)” - The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard

Fatherhood + Caregiving

“But policy alone would not be enough to overcome gender inequality. It would require changes in behavior — including by men. There is evidence that the gap would shrink if fathers acted more the way mothers do after having children, by spending more time on parenting and the related responsibilities.

… ‘If you know that both men and women will go off and take care of children, not just women, what that does is remove the motherhood penalty,’ said Heejung Chung, a sociologist at the University of Kent.” - Children Hurt Women’s Earnings, but Not Men’s (Even in Scandinavia)

Motherhood + Career Planning

“For many women, the researchers show, stopping work was unplanned. Since about 1985, no more than 2 percent of female high school seniors said they planned to be “homemakers” at age 30, even though most planned to be mothers. The surveys also found no decline in overall job satisfaction post-baby. Yet consistently, between 15 percent and 18 percent of women have stayed home.” - The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard

Single Motherhood + Social Provision

“What really differentiates rich democracies is the penalty attached to single motherhood. Countries make political choices about how well social policies support single mothers. Our political choices result in families headed by single mothers being 14.3 percent more likely to be poor than other families." - Single Mothers Are Not The Problem

“All of the liberal concern about single motherhood might more usefully be channeled into protecting single mothers, rather than the elaborate clucking and exquisite condescension that get us nowhere. Attention should be paid to the serious underlying economic inequities, without the colorful surface distraction of concerned or judgmental prurience.” - In Defense of Single Motherhood

Motherhood + Activism

“With the blessing of Our Lady of Aparecida, I hope this pregnancy leads to a good, angry, disobedient mother. It might not leave much time for baby showers, but I prefer it that way.” - I Want to Be an Angry Mother

Motherhood Experience

“Here, in these photographs, are my frustrations, joys and insecurities with the choices I’ve made as a journalist and a mother. Here is the drama, beauty and humor of my backyard.” - The Conflict Zone of Motherhood

“Today the internet is awash with essays by women bravely asserting child-free desires. They talk of mothering their nieces, nephews and the offspring of friends. Their words remind me that nothing is black and white. Even motherhood.” - My Almost Motherhood

“Generations of girls have been told they can achieve anything they aspire to, including having both a career and children — and many women have done so. But at the same time, both work and parenting have become more demanding. The result is that women’s expectations seem to be outpacing the realities of public policy, workplace culture and family life.” - The Costs of Motherhood Are Rising, and Catching Women Off Guard

“Being a mother is part of who you are, but it should not be all of who you are. There is no parenting secret that ensures that your children will grow up and be successful adults. So why would you want to sacrifice your career, your financial security and oftentimes your happiness all in the name of motherhood? To me that is putting all your eggs in one basket, pun intended.” - Working Moms Are Right to Be Realistic

“For her part, Adele exposed the vulnerability and struggle to reclaim the self that many mothers endure but are ashamed to admit. ‘And in my pregnancy and through becoming a mother I lost a lot of myself,’ she said. ‘And I’ve struggled, and I still do struggle being a mum. It’s really hard. But tonight winning this kind of feels full-circle, and like a bit of me has come back to myself.’

It was a bald admission of emotions that remain, by and large, taboo. To admit that you can drown in motherhood, that you can mourn a loss of freedom and worry you do not love your child enough, is still a brave act in a society that often airbrushes this reality.” - At the Grammys, Beyoncé and Adele Talk Up Motherhood

Postpartum Experience + Time Away

“‘I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son and it frightened me,’ she said. ‘My knowledge of postpartum — or postnatal, as we call it in England — is that you don’t want to be with your children; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate. I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life.’

Adele said the depression lifted only after she openly admitted it, discovering that many of her friends shared her despair. She still worries, she said, about the nights she is not there to put her son to bed, or her desire to have time just for herself, but has learned she cannot be a good mother without some time away.” - At the Grammys, Beyoncé and Adele Talk Up Motherhood

Motherhood in Art + Beauty

“‘It is important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty,’ she said, ‘so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families — as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys — and see themselves, and have no doubt that they are beautiful, intelligent and capable.’” - At the Grammys, Beyoncé and Adele Talk Up Motherhood

Motherhood Harmony/Community

“For too long, mothers have been set against one another: working mothers versus those who stayed home, women who reveled in motherhood versus those who battled ambivalence, while loving their children no less. Onstage, Adele, 28, said she wanted Beyoncé, 35, to be her mother — a tribute to an artist she has always admired and a salute to Beyoncé’s grand staged vision of maternity. She said that ‘Lemonade’ should have won best album, while Beyoncé mouthed ‘I love you’ to her from offstage.

By transcending rivalry, Beyoncé and Adele offered a rebuke to an institution that still has a long way to go in confronting racial discrepancies. And they offered another gift — a fully rounded portrait of women as artists and as mothers, trying their best to do both at the same time.” - At the Grammys, Beyoncé and Adele Talk Up Motherhood


Motherhood + Institutions/Workplace Responsibility

"Pelosi credits that chapter of life with making her into the leader she is today: perhaps the most powerful woman in American history and the first to hold the speaker’s gavel. And she hopes that society will begin to view parenting as “a gold star” on any professional résumé."

BBC News

Theatre Culture Change

“‘It does need a culture change, otherwise we are losing huge swathes of wonderful, creative people who have really important and interesting life experiences to talk about,’ she said.

Ms Harvey has discussed her concerns on social media, where she has posted updates about her return to work using the hashtag #workingmum.

She said the public response to her tweets had surprised her.

‘People were tweeting me back saying, this means a lot that you are talking about this.’” - Theatre world needs a 'culture change' for parents


Motherhood + Call to Action

“Many thoughtful articles and interesting books are exploring new levels of anger in the public sphere – and there’s been a lot of attention on exploring our current renaissance of women’s rage. While mothers today are rightfully involved in all sorts political organizing and public protests, I think we should also make space to be truly pissed about what it’s actually like to be mother in 2019.” - American Moms: Let's Stop Feeling Guilty and Start Getting Mad


Motherhood + Institutions/Workplace Expectation

“Though it may differ from woman to woman, the checklist for professional mothers returning to work generally looks something like this: - Childcare with enough extra padding to cover early mornings, evenings and sometimes even weekends. - Top of the line breast pump with all the bells and whistles, parts and storage accessories. - A plan to return to work without missing a beat, taking on just as much, if not more than when they left. Even after a new working mother checks off all of those boxes, she’s often met with unforeseen challenges and roadblocks that impede a smooth transition back to her former professional self. And while more American companies are developing ways to accommodate and retain working mothers by offering parental leave packages (although at least 25% of them are missing the mark), they often fall short when it comes to helping mothers integrate work and family life. Instead, companies somewhat indirectly (and at times directly) insist that mothers set up their life in a way that revolves around work. The problem isn’t that working moms are unwilling to show up and work hard; it’s that when they do jump through hoops and plan their every waking hour around work, employers and managers often pull back.” - Working Moms Are Doing Their Part. Employers Need To Do Theirs.

Motherhood + Work Inflexibility

“To add insult to injury, working mothers are expected to be overly flexible and available for all evening meetings, make every weekend deadline, and drop everything for a client. Yet when we request the same flexibility in return, it leaves employers and even co-workers wondering if we’re really up for the job. It becomes a one-way street, and when we need to leave work early due to a sick child, people start whispering around the office and questioning our ability to meet client’s expectations.” - Working Moms Are Doing Their Part. Employers Need To Do Theirs.

Motherhood + Re-Proving Capability

“In the book, What Works for Women at Work, feminist legal scholar, Joan C. Williams and her daughter, Rachel Dempsey, found that working mothers are repeatedly forced to prove their worth and competency to their colleagues and employers, and that this syndrome is apparent most often when women return to the office after maternity leave. Where men are valued based on their potential, women, especially working mothers are judged on their past performance. Working moms become locked in this cycle of proving their ability and re-proving their ability to the point where it undermines and devalues their perceived worth. Managers then unconsciously demand that working mothers work even harder to prove that they’re as capable as they were pre-baby and then test them to ensure that they are genuinely dedicated to the work.” - Working Moms Are Doing Their Part. Employers Need To Do Theirs.


Motherhood + Work Stats |

“Welch's recently commissioned a study of 2,000 American mothers with children ages 5 to 12. It aimed to discover the useful tools, resources and techniques moms use to keep their lives and their family's lives afloat. Their most astounding finding: the average working mom clocks in a 98-hour work week, with her day typically starting at 6:23 a.m. She doesn't end up finishing her work or family duties until 8:31 p.m., meaning she works 14 hours per day.”

Improving Motherhood Experience |

“Outside the family context, mothers with larger social networks may be able to draw on resources from those networks that alleviate some of the burdens associated with parenting,’ the study co-author Kaja LeWinn told Reuters.” - It’s science: There’s a connection between mama’s support system and baby’s brain development

Women + Elder Caregiving |

“When a woman takes time off to care for a sick relative—and it is usually the woman who takes time off—the potential cost in terms of lost wages and Social Security benefits averages $324,000 over her lifetime. Women not only earn less than men but also invest less—and then they live longer. That, writes investment expert Sallie Krawcheck, is "the gender gap that's really hurting us." Meanwhile, the safety net is vanishing; in 2040, the Social Security trust fund is due to run out—right as many of us hit retirement age. ...some 63 percent of us have both parents alive, and they're living longer than ever before, often needing help with chronic conditions. "The average age of a family caregiver is 49," says AARP's family and caregiving expert Amy Goyer, who notes that many of our aging parents are divorced, and because birthrates were low in our generation, we are less likely to have multiple siblings who can help out.” - The New Midlife Crises

Women + Freelancing |

“The majority of freelancers are women, and some people predict that half the workforce will be freelance by 2020. But for those who like going to an office, or having decent health insurance, or who thought their hustling days were behind them, it can feel like a demotion—and it can make a full-time position more elusive. A résumé gap is still seen as a liability, even though some 30 to 40 percent of highly qualified women take time off at some point.” - The New Midlife Crises

Lack of Social Support + Eliminating Choice |

“They thought about sperm donors but looked at their no-maternity-leave job, their no-second-bedroom housing and their no-viable-companion love life and waited. They married just under the wire—or so they thought. But no matter their path, suddenly it was too late.” - The New Midlife Crises

Experience of Miscarriage |

“One single 49-year-old woman I know explained that she'd comforted a married friend through a miscarriage. For months after, her friend felt stalked by pregnant women—wherever she looked, there they were, plump and radiant. The pain was overwhelming, but then her friend got pregnant again and had a healthy baby. ‘I was happy for her, truly," the single woman said, "but sometimes I want her to imagine what it's like to live in that world, surrounded by glowy pregnant women—but to do it forever. And to be utterly alone while doing it.’” - The New Midlife Crises


Caregiver Support + Inclusion/Accessibility Conversation

“The answer to erasing the silence around [parent artists] lies in addressing caregiving as an inclusion issue…making sure that all voices that a theatre’s mission calls to the stage feel they belong there, and that they can access the support systems they need so they can remain in the theatre as long as their passion for it inspires them.” - Invisible Leaders and Creating Support for the Parent Artist

Caregiver Support + Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Institutions

“When an institution does not evolve with best practices that include parent support, it risks suppressing, isolating, and driving out the most socially vulnerable regardless of their high professional capability and artistic potential...Initiatives such as all family leave and flexibility of children in the space with intentional equity create opportunities for caregivers to share responsibilities more equitably and increase race and gender diversity in terms of professional accessibility, sustainability, and promotion.” - Who We Harm When Parenting Isn’t Considered, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Motherhood + Changing Culture

“I shouldn’t feel ashamed to say no to certain networking events. I shouldn’t be embarrassed to struggle with the cost of child care. And I definitely shouldn’t answer to the ways in which my son has been an obstacle in my career—because he hasn’t. He has only deepened the person I am.” - Pack and Play: Theatre Parents Find Strength in Numbers, American Theatre Magazine

Children + Greater Community

“[B]ringing people together to experience something communal is important; that children are real facts (sometimes theatre parents kind of have to hide that we have them or pretend they are no big deal)...” - Ilana M. Brownstein: Dramaturg’s Dramaturg, American Theatre Magazine

Motherhood + Financial Strain

“An off-broadway contract can be as low as $566 per week. An experienced nanny starts at $500-700 per week (not including overtime for tech hours). The lower range may not get you someone with the references or experiences that make you comfortable, but hey – it will mean that you’re making a whopping $66 profit per week. Put that money toward your metrocard alone, and you have $147 left for the MONTH. With off-broadway contracts, no housing is provided, so rent is on you. Your only option for buying groceries then is to sleep on the subway, and the lights keep your baby awake, so it doesn’t come recommended.

A second job on top of successfully booking a theatre job is what most actors have to resort to when working off-broadway in order to have somewhere to sleep and food to eat. Add an extra person to that, and you will either never see them or not provide for them.” - Hold My Baby, Homeless Man, I’ve Got An Audition |

Motherhood + Gender, Race, and Work Culture

“Where is the culture that says ‘Women who have children are now masters of something’? The culture where motherhood means something more—not less?...We should change or value system; we must recognize and acknowledge and embrace that about ourselves as mothers—we are masters...By my account, becoming a mother felt as if I shattered any professional foothold I was looking forward to. Changing my complete focus from a full career in theatre to having a family caused me to feel “reduced” in theatre. My feelings toward my career had only gotten stronger, but I felt my strengths as a stage manager slipping away while my new mother skills were rapidly developing.” - Fighting for Gender, Race, and Motherhood in Theatre, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Motherhood + Visibility in Creating Art and Performance Structures

“After birthing a healthy human, I got a $750 disability check from the government. When asked to declare the reason for my disability, I checked “pregnancy.” Unseen. When asked to participate in an exciting workshop with a director I was dying to work with, the theatre called to say that their housing did not accommodate artists with children. So they asked a childless actor instead. Unseen.” - Harnessing the Heroic Narrative of Creative Motherhood, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Becoming a Family-Friendly Theatre Organization

“From artists to administrators to production staff who are parents, the struggle is career-threatening, it is exhausting, and for theatre mothers, it is intrinsically tied to gender equity in our leadership and in our programming...Even if you put some or all of these changes into effect and they seem rarely utilized, at least you’ll be the kind of organization that made them.” - Creating a Family-Friendly Work Environment, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Parent Artists + Work Culture Silence

“In the performing arts industry across the country, mothers are being silenced. Mothers are getting fired. Mothers are afraid. Mothers are falling away. …Parents, caregivers…are cut off from the theatre due to archaic structures and inflexibility.” - Re-Defining Motherhood and Advocating for the Parent Artist, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Motherhood + Diversity and Visibility On and Off Stage

“At a time when we desperately need more diversity and inclusion in and behind our productions, we have to hammer out better methods of supporting parent artists...We need to talk about our kids and our needs more openly. We need to normalize motherhood. We need more women behind and in our productions. We need women in decision-making positions. I challenge every theatre to examine how many mothers they’ve hired for their next season—and if the answer is little to none, to determine why that is. Is it because you unconsciously decided these women weren’t up to the task? Or because you deemed their family situation too ‘complicated’ to figure out?” - Working Like a Mother, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Parenting + The Wellspring of Art and Playwriting

“Mothers, unlike all the writers I learned about in English class, don’t get to Walden Pond. We have to manage inside the noise. Art and parenting require an intense amount of focus and attention. Most often, my attention is pulled between my two loves. I’ve learned to live with interruptions...When I first became pregnant eight years ago, everyone said I would stop writing. ‘You’ll be too tired and drained.’ But the opposite happened. I wrote my most personal play shortly after giving birth. While I was tending to newborns and in between nursing breaks, two characters started talking to me. So I nursed my babies, wrote, and then went back to sleep. Because of all the emotions I felt as a new mother, I had a well of creativity that wasn’t open to me before I became a parent. This wellspring has never ceased.” - A Mother Who is a Playwright / A Playwright Who is a Mother, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Parenting + The Search for Balance in Playwriting

“We end our year of including the baby on all of our adventures and endeavors, happy that we’re still playwrights, happy that we’re still married, happy that the baby is still alive, happy for all the opportunities and open doors and kindness bestowed upon us, but also even more aware of the need to find balance within the juggling act.” - Playwright-Parents, Part One, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Motherhood + Breaking the Silence “The long-standing advice to actresses about pregnancy has been secrecy and silence. This ‘don’t tell anyone’ mentality to protect your career in our industry has created a culture where women are left feeling alone, ashamed, and afraid of losing their jobs.” - Don’t Tell Anyone - A Call to Action for a Healthy Work-Life Balance in the Arts, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Theatre + Leading the Charge on Parent Support

“Throughout cultural shift, the theatre is meant to be a leader of thought and sanctuary of progress and inclusion not just in content but also in practice, and the fulfillment of that call includes taking care of its contributors whose own lives include taking care of others.” - Gender Disparity, Hidden Carers, and Employment Opportunities, HowlRound Theatre Commons

Recent Posts

See All

Resource: National Statistics on Caregiving Impact

Find this resource helpful? Consider making a donation to PAAL or becoming an Insitutional or Individual Member. “Subsequently we turned to seasoned theater professionals to understand the meaning beh


bottom of page