Girl and mother look at laptop computer
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Families, children might benefit after COVID-19 scare has ended

Abby McCloskey and Angela Rachidi explain in an Institute for Family Studies column how economic disruption tied to the coronavirus pandemic could produce one beneficial long-term change.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many workers have traded in their corporate offices for a makeshift workspace at the kitchen table. It’s been an unexpected adjustment, but the new rhythms of teleworking point to a promising future for families—one where flexible work practices support parents and their children alike.

With millions of working parents becoming “remote employees” overnight, outdated workplace norms are being pushed aside. Child care options dwindled and employers had to shift their long-held expectations around work and family. Employers are realizing that their workers do not always need to be in the office to get their work done. And workers are finding that less time spent commuting means more time for personal and family needs.

Children stand to benefit the most from this shift. A majority of American parents with children work, most full-time. This is a dramatic shift from 50 years ago, when nearly half of two-parent households had a stay-at-home mom. Furthermore, almost a quarter of children today grow up with a single parent and no other adult in the home—another significant departure from the past—which concentrates all the responsibilities of working and parenting under one person.

It’s no secret that the workplace has been slow to adjust to these changing family dynamics. Studies find that American moms are uniquely stressed in our work-focused culture where family-friendly policies like flexible work schedules and paid parental leave are the exception, not the rule. And kids bear the burden, with almost 40% of full-time working moms and almost half of working dads saying they spend too little time with their children.

The John Locke Foundation’s researchers have developed their own proposals for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll find the latest ideas here.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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