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See our guest post at the New America Foundation: Equality and Justice for All Families.


The Washington Post fails families - again

on January 6th, 2013 at 5:50:05 PM

We sent this letter to the editors of The Washington Post:

Right from the first line, Janice D’Arcy’s article Can parents share child-raising responsibilities equally? was deeply disappointing. “The new parenting ideal…” Whose new ideal is this? Does the author have any evidence to support this claim? Toward the end of the article D’Arcy states “…reinventing the wheel is necessary for families that need two incomes or have partners who want to be equal.” Is D’Arcy defining equality for us all? Many couples with one parent at home (mother OR father) consider themselves equal partners in raising their children. Is D’Arcy claiming that she knows better? Does she decide the meaning of “equal” or is she equating equal with income-earning? Many of us know better: unpaid work has value and couples can have an equal marriage with one parent at home and one in the paid workforce.

D’Arcy’s portrayal of “traditional” families is terribly biased, and her statement that having one parent at home “doesn’t work” for same-sex couples is just plain wrong. Although experts on working families were consulted for the article, D’Arcy failed to seek expert comment on “traditional” families. This was all the more disappointing to me as I’ve taken the time to communicate with D’Arcy several times in the past year on issues related to families with an at-home parent. I’m the executive director of Family and Home Network, a nonprofit organization focused on helping families spend generous amounts of time together and on speaking out to correct misconceptions about families with an at-home parent. 

Our organization is committed to all families, not just the mid-to-upper income families represented in this article. D’Arcy mentions a few “family-friendly” policy issues that “pushed the United States down the list” in rankings in Save the Children’s report on the “State of the World’s Mothers.” But she fails to acknowledge other, more significant issues that determined the U.S.’s ranking of 25 among developed nations. These include: maternal death rates as well as dramatic disparities in support for pregnant women and for breastfeeding between low-income mothers and middle and higher income mothers. Referencing the Save the Children report while failing to acknowledge the U.S.’s high rate of maternal and child poverty is not acceptable journalism.

As a first step in improving The Post’s reporting on families, editors could remember to avoid stereotyping and disparaging “traditional” families.

Catherine Myers

Executive Director, Family and Home Network

(A shorter version of this letter was submitted to the online comments.)

Numerous times over the years, Family and Home Network has written to The Washington Post to object to misinformation and disparaging stereotypes about families with an at-home parent. It's maddening to do it yet again. We'll be thinking about what action to take next. We want The Post's editors to set acceptable journalistic standards about reporting on families.