by Nina, Nici, Tordis und Sunny
We are parents – trapped in patriarchy – trapped in capitalism – trapped in the pandemic. Today we want to talk about our challenges in life with children. In doing so, we speak here as white cis mothers in heteronormative family constellations. We are aware that we can only make a small part of the complex issues around parenthood visible and also only our own perspectives.
We begin with the birth of our children.
The ability to bear a child is something great for many – but it also makes one extremely vulnerable. In a patriarchal and capitalist health system like ours, we depend on meeting people at the crucial moment who are willing to and are able to provide birth care tailored to the needs of the person giving birth. For people who give birth, childbirth can feel like a loss of control, hurtful and even traumatising. That is why competent, trauma-sensitive 1:1 support is important here!
And what is giving birth under Corona like?
The pandemic is like a burning glass that exacerbates already existing grievances.
Partners are often excluded from examinations and prenatal talks during pregnancy. The fear of infection with the virus is great, the fear of giving birth without a partner even greater.
After pregnancy and birth, the non-stop parental responsibility begins. It is de-bounded and de-limiting and makes vulnerable in a way not known from other kinds of work. FINTA cannot escape the care situation – especially with young child(ren).
The social perpetuation of the „mother myth“, which says that the fulfilment of care is in the nature of women, leads to a classic distribution of roles: FINTA do the majority of the care work and receive only little social recognition for it – financial remuneration is almost completely absent. This has to change!
The separation strategy of capitalism promotes the withdrawal of young parents into the nuclear family. Trapped in the nuclear family, we have less time and resources to do voluntary and political work to fight for our interests and goals.
And what is it like under Corona?
Quarantines and the disappearance of our networks of supporters put further strain on people with children. Many are on the verge of exhaustion.
We demand more solidarity and support from childless people! Especially cis men have to use their privileges to stand up for the interests of FINTA and fight alongside them!
After parental leave, which only a quarter of fathers take at all, for an average of only 3.7 months, parents may get a day-care place at the time they want, so that the way is free into the part-time trap.
Against this we demand: A maximum of 30 hours as the new full-time for all! A reduction in fathers paid working hours demonstrably leads to them taking on more care tasks in the family. Care work must be equally distributed among all genders/gender identities? and be considered economically in the sense of a new concept of work. Equal parenthood is only possible if we finally close the gender-care and gender-pay gaps!
We demand the long overdue abolition of spousal splitting, which subsidises wage differences in the partnership the higher they are! We demand a higher tax relief for all people with children and absolutely independent of marriage!
The current figures on the distribution of care work prove it: every fifth mother has reduced her paid working hours in the pandemic. So while „dad“ continues to work full time and thus secures his career advancement, „mum“ sits in quarantine with the children. She is unlikely to be considered for the next promotion – unless she is already employed in a precarious job with no opportunities for advancement. This is the backlash of the mothers!
After nursery school, the struggle for a good place at school continues. Parents‘ evenings, school materials, homework, clothes, doctors‘ appointments, birthdays, holidays.
Who-when-what-where? Organising everyday tasks with and for children is a full-time job from which there is no escape. The mental load (i.e. the mental work) lies predominantly with mothers/ FINTA! Care work is nowadays seen as a permanently available, female connoted resource that society helps itself to. Emotional work is NOT a „natural“ characteristic of women. It must finally be perceived as a task for society as a whole!
And how is it under Corona?
Home office, homeschooling, communication with care facilities, authorities and employers have increased the psychological burden on mothers even more. Now even more so and more often: we listen, we comfort. We settle disputes. We put up with all the noise, the tantrums and the emotions.
What if we were to strike care work for even a single day? Children are not an individual luxury, raising them is a task for society as a whole!
We don’t need meagre pension points either, we demand financial recognition of unpaid emotional and care work! Because what remains at the end of a life full of unpaid care work? Mothers/Finta form the group of people most affected by poverty in old age. In 2019, the gender gap in pensions was 49%! In the gender pension gap, then, ends the gender inequality that begins with gender ascription shortly after birth…