Thursday, March 12, 2020

Book Nook: My Mom has Two Jobs and Dads for Daughters - How Fathers Can Give Their Daughters a Better, Brighter, Fairer Future

Michelle Travis, a law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, has written two books for parents.

My Mom Has Two Jobs shows children describing their moms job
of parenting, as well as the work they do outside the home. There are a variety of professions displayed in the book, and it provides a way for parents to talk to kids about jobs they do.

Dads for Daughters provides guidance and advice for fathers on how they can support their daughters and give them a strong future. It's not just about actions they take with their daughters, but also in their communities. (Available in Audiobook form June 16 - get it here).

I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

About My Mom has Two Jobs
Why did you write this book?
I had the idea to write a children’s book about working moms at the end of my two maternity leaves. Each time, I searched for children’s books that could help me talk with my kids about why I would soon be putting on a suit and heading out of the house each day. I was looking for books that would encourage my daughters to be proud of the work that I do outside our home and that would help them connect my mommy identity with my professional identity. I didn’t find as many books as I had hoped with this kind of positive message, so I decided to write one myself.

How did you choose the occupations to feature in the book?
Because working moms play such a wide range of important roles, it was challenging to select just a few careers to represent all working moms in the book. I wanted the book to help disrupt some of the gender stereotypes that bombard young children. So I selected both careers that are commonly associated with women—including a teacher and a nurse—and also careers that are still more frequently thought of for men—including a pilot, an engineer, a police officer, a firefighter, and a military sergeant.

I also wanted the book to showcase the important work that women do at all ends of the economic spectrum—from waitresses to lawyers—because we all experience the same joys and struggles of being working moms. I hope that the book will give all women a much-needed platform to talk with their kids about whatever job they do, even if their specific careers are not illustrated in the book.

Why is it important to recognize that being a mother is its own job?
The caregiving that we provide as mothers is certainly a labor of love—but it is indeed labor. That’s true whether we also work outside the home or not. Recognizing being a mother as its own valuable, rewarding, and challenging job validates the incredibly important work that all mothers do in raising our next generation of children. It’s important not to allow that work to be devalued, which is a goal that all mothers share.

Why should parents talk with their kids about being a working parent?
It’s important to talk with your kids about being a working parent to help them understand how we can bring the same love, passion, and dedication to both our parenting jobs and our professional jobs. This can be particularly important for working moms, who often feels a sense of maternal guilt from our societal expectations of what it means to be a perfect mother. I wrote My Mom Has Two Jobs in part to reinforce the message that moms can do important work to make the world better, while still being a loving, caring, and very special mommy.

Having a platform to talk with your kids about being a working parent can also fuel kids’ curiosity about their parents’ careers. I hope that My Mom Has Two Jobs will inspire children to imagine themselves in exciting careers as well.

About Dads for Daughters
Why did you write this book?
Dads for Daughters is a call to action for more men to become advocates for gender equality to make the world better for our next generation of girls. I wrote the book after seeing how the father-daughter relationship has motivated many men to take action to level the playing field for girls and women in their workplaces and communities. The book shares inspiring stories of dads of daughters who have already had an impact, and it offers encouragement, resources, and concrete advice for other dads who want to get involved.

How can dads be strong advocates for what their daughters need?
There are many ways that dads can become allies for their daughters both inside and outside of their homes. This can include supporting their daughters in arenas where they may face gendered expectations—for example, developing their STEM skills, engaging them in entrepreneurial endeavors, fueling their athletic goals, and sparking their political ambitions. 

Dads can also support their daughters indirectly by advancing gender equality in their workplaces to improve the world their daughters will enter. This can be done by mentoring women colleagues, supporting workplace flexibility and family leave, and advocating for women’s leadership advancement. Dads For Daughters offers tips and suggestions for taking small but important daily steps in all of these areas. 

Why is it important to have a strong bond between girls and their fathers?
Having a strong bond between fathers and daughters pays dividends in both directions. In a recent survey, dads rated strength and independence among the top qualities they hoped to instill in their daughters. That’s a wonderful foundation for empowering girls to follow their dreams. Engaged fathers also build their own empathy skills, while learning valuable insights about unequal treatment that their daughters may face. This empowers dads to be influential allies for advancing women’s rights.

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