Category Archives: ACYIG Blog

Can We Have It All? The Challenges of Grad Student Parenting

by Kate Raphael, Erica Kocher, Wayne Zhang, Chase Reeves
(Feature Image photo: Graduating Yale University post-baccalaureate students. Credit: Wikimedia Foundation https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yale_University_Commencement_Procession_2007.jpg)

The question of “having it all” has long plagued parents (mothers in particular), becoming increasingly salient as parenting, work, and education opportunities conflict. Student parents are forced to navigate a difficult balance between academic and parental responsibilities in university institutions that are not designed for their needs. This matrix of competing demands necessitates a negotiation of labor divisions at home, but in our study of post-bac Yale parents, parental responsibilities are (no surprise!) unduly placed on women. So, in a society where more mothers are entering/re-entering the workforce after pregnancy and the attitudes of parents about home and workforce roles have become increasingly progressive in recent decades, can parents really have it all? Our small study suggests no, as our female participants still bear the brunt of childcare—a trend echoed for household labor in larger research studies. To better understand this continued gender imbalance, as well as the demands faced by student-parents regarding “fair” time/labor-allocation, money, and social connection, we examined the specific challenges faced by Yale University graduate and professional (Law and Medical school) school parents and how these challenges influence their childcare practices.

We conducted an online survey of current Yale graduate and professional students with children under 5 years old. Twenty-one respondents (recruited through personal student connections, Yale graduate/post-doctoral student Facebook groups, and Yale law student daycare services) answered multiple choice and open-ended questions about household divisions in labor and childcare.

Respondents voiced many student-parent challenges: moving away from family and friends to attend school, diminishing support networks that alleviate childcare responsibilities; navigating financial pressures of financing school and childcare while subsisting on a small salary/stipend. But the biggest challenge of all? Resoundingly: time allocation—respondents simply did not have enough time to be both students and parents. Partnered respondents expressed that it would have been almost impossible to parent alone, and the two single respondents confirmed the difficulty of single parenting as a student, voicing frustration that the university had few resources and programs to support them. One single mother explained that, despite Yale’s purported commitment to diversity, single parents aren’t set up for success here, saying, “I don’t know anyone else here with an older kid, let alone a single parent grad student. I sound bitter…. I am. It says something about who gets into Yale and who doesn’t and I’ve often felt extremely alone here because of the uniqueness of my situation.”

Even partnered parents said that parenting in graduate school could be incredibly isolating, when most students fresh out of college life are forming close bonds with their childless peers with no associated parenting limitations.

With respect to division of labor, respondents in professional programs were twice as likely (80%) as those in graduate or post-doctoral programs (40%) to report that their partners were primary caregivers. This discrepancy may reflect greater schedule flexibility of graduate and post-doctoral students. However, the majority of professional school respondents were men with female partners, while the PhD and post-doctoral students better represented an even split between genders. It is possible that the observed difference in who identifies as the primary caregiver is more attributable to traditionally assigned gender roles than to the specific demands of different Yale programs. Across both types of programs, female respondents were more likely to identify as primary caregivers of their children.

We did not have a large and diverse enough sample to draw conclusions, but we suspect that the occupations of respondents’ partners may have further factored into the division and negotiation of labor. For example, the three respondents in student-student households who were primary caregivers, or had an equal division with their partners, were also all women with male partners. It remains unclear whether having a student partner provides increased flexibility in dividing childcare responsibilities, and/or if female student-parents are more likely to enroll in graduate school if their partners are also students. It’s also possible that female professional students might delay childbearing until completing school, further reducing the number of women in professional school with children, and possibly skewing our gender ratios. The partners of professional school respondents who were primary caregivers all held occupations other than students, and were all female. We didn’t see a similar correlation in a mixed gender sample of graduate and post-doctoral students whose partners held occupations other than students.

In undertaking this project, we expected more professional students than graduate students to report that their partners did the majority of the childcare, due to the less flexible schedules characteristic of Law and Medical School. To some extent, we did observe this pattern, although it was not clear if it was attributable to differences between graduate and professional school. In fact, several respondents reported that Yale Law School’s many parenting resources for students created an environment that made parenting and academics relatively compatible. Graduate students also reported accessible support and resources, but medical students did not highlight this aspect of their experience.

Throughout this project, it proved difficult to tease apart gender and the associated “traditional” roles of mothering from other factors that also likely contribute to domestic divisions of labor. Still, it is important to understand why parenting and education opportunities are not made available to everyone. Even in 2017, we are far from a progressive world of egalitarian childcare responsibilities, especially when additional educational responsibilities are in play. We believe this egalitarian world is possible, but we have work to do. Let’s get started.

The authors are seniors at Yale College studying Anthropology, Sociology, and American Studies. The research project discussed in this post was completed as part of an Ethnopediatrics class, taught in the Spring of 2017 by Dr. Claudia Valeggia and Dr. Melanie Martin, Yale University Department of Anthropology.

 

From Mogadishu to Istanbul: An auto-ethnography on childhood, migration and education

By Eda Elif Tibet
(Originally posted on August 7: reposted here with permission from Youth Circulations)

Prior to a radio broadcast, I asked youth residing in a shelter for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Turkey to draw his dream of an ideal life. Showing them the outline of a world map with no country names and no borders, I asked them to draw their dreams of living any place they wanted. Below is an excerpt from my conversation with Caadil.

Elif:          Caadil, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Caadil:     My name is Caadil, I am from Somalia. I came in 2012 into Turkey. I am living in Istanbul and I am a student. Would this be enough?

Elif:          Sure, thank you. Today, I asked Caadil to draw his dream. Could you tell us something about what you drew?

Continue reading From Mogadishu to Istanbul: An auto-ethnography on childhood, migration and education

The Social Fact of Racism Persists, Even if Racial Categories Aren’t “Real”

By Elizabeth Chin

In the current context of the United States, it is more important to talk about race – and to deconstruct it — than ever.  Our culture, unfortunately, is dominated with “common sense” notions of race that owe much too much to eugenicist thinking, false biology, and plain old wrongheadedness.  These notions of race are, from a scientific point of view, incorrect.  However, their clear social power is undeniable.  Just a few months ago, one study documented that a startling proportion of white medical students hold spurious ideas about biological differences among races, including the ridiculous notion that Blacks feel less pain, a belief that has had direct and measurable implications for how the medical profession has responded to the physical pain reported by Black people – for centuries.

The social reality of race, then, is inescapable. For me and for many others, it is also terrifyingly personal.   Continue reading The Social Fact of Racism Persists, Even if Racial Categories Aren’t “Real”

Threatening Parents?: What DHS Policies Remind Us About Unaccompanied Youth

by Michele Statz and Lauren Heidbrink
(Originally posted on July 20: reposted here with permission from Youth Circulations)

Migrant youth in the U.S. encounter competing media and institutional discourses that cast them as delinquents, ideal victims, or economic actors (See Heidbrink 2014Statz 2016). Youth Circulations is largely devoted to the politics of these impossible representations.

What is often less considered is how the parents of young people are implicated in such narrations. In many ways, this is a more subtle though surely consequential process, with family members pathologized as neglectful, violent, poor, or otherwise deficient for presumably “sending” or being complicit in youths’ migration journeys. As our work reveals, these discourses are prevalent in legal accounts, popular portrayals, and migration studies scholarship. By implicitly dismissing the ongoing transnational connectedness of “unaccompanied” youth, they contort and fracture valued intimate relationships over time.
Continue reading Threatening Parents?: What DHS Policies Remind Us About Unaccompanied Youth

Visualizing Immigrant Youth in Phoenix

Kristin Koptiuch
Arizona State University-West
(Originally posted on July 8: reposted here with permission from Youth Circulations)

Though largely unrecognized by official planning instruments and unacknowledged by the public in anti-immigrant Arizona, immigrants are transforming metropolitan Phoenix. Visualizing Immigrant Phoenix, a student-faculty research collaborative I direct at Arizona State University, explores these transformations by engaging its audience through vibrant visualization of immigrants’ imprint upon the Phoenix urban environment. This project occurs at a time when immigrants are increasingly demonized, criminalized, and denied due process. Our work responds by according due importance to migrants’ creative and deliberate impacts on everyday urbanism in transnationalizing cities.

Continue reading Visualizing Immigrant Youth in Phoenix

From Undocumented to DACAmented: Can Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing?

re-posted from youthcirculations.com

June 15 marks the 5-year anniversary of the DACA program. For the first time, a recent study analyzes DACA’s impacts on recipients’ psychological wellbeing. The results are clear: DACA can make you feel better, though it may not resolve concerns about deportation.

by Caitlin Patler and Whitney Laster Pirtle

Original art by Liliana Alonso and Andres “Rhips” Rivera.

Undocumented immigrant youth in the United States face a host of challenges that impact their psychological wellbeing. Many experience hopelessness, shame and self-blame, anxiety, fear of deportation, and concern about blocked social mobility. One recent study found that undocumented youth experience a loss of “ontological security,” or the inability to count on the stability of the future. Another study led by immigrant youth at the UCLA Dream Resource Center found that undocumented youth struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, and emotional distress related to their status. There have even been reports of suicide among undocumented young people who felt they could not overcome the barriers imposed by their status.

Continue reading From Undocumented to DACAmented: Can Changes to Legal Status Impact Psychological Wellbeing?

#BeyoncéMatters

 

Why the Politics of Representation is Crucial for Black School Girls

by: Candice Mason
(Feature image credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Continue reading #BeyoncéMatters

‘Uncertain Futures: Communication and Culture in Childhood Cancer Treatment’ reviewed by Cindy Dell Clark

Childhood Cancer: Powerful Words

review by Cindy Dell Clark, PhD.

Uncertain-Futures-209x300Uncertain Futures: Communication and Culture in Childhood Cancer Treatment
by Ignasi Clemente
Wiley-Blackwell, 248 pp, October 2015

With regard to our kids, words we hope never to hear or have to say include “cancer” and “death.” We hope to avoid these words altogether, and when they arise, there is a tendency to shower the children involved with charity, pretense, and diversion: visiting clowns, get-well toys, or, as a last resort, wishes-come-true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation or Kids Wish Network. Justin Bieber alone is said to have participated in some 250 wishes-come-true for children with life-threatening conditions.

Continue reading ‘Uncertain Futures: Communication and Culture in Childhood Cancer Treatment’ reviewed by Cindy Dell Clark