Members of the NationSwell Council recently gathered around the digital table to discuss the ways that modern parenthood as evolved, and to talk about how the social impact leaders in attendance could better support the needs of parents in the modern workplace — especially amid a pandemic that threatens the health, safety and economic stability of families.
In the hope that these might serve you on your mission to make this world a better place, we’re sharing out some of the key moments we heard from our discussion. These insights and practices come straight to you from the inspiring Council members in attendance.

  • “When we men are in larger groups, we talk about sports, we talk about business, we talk about failures at work and how we rebounded from those. But we don’t do that same kind of conversation as well as it relates to our families.”


  • “When you’re raised by a single mom, there isn’t a line of demarcation in terms of what women do and what men do. Everything was provided by a loving parent. So the benefit is that when I had an opportunity to become a parent, I didn’t go into what I believe to be my space in terms of this is what a father does. I just loved as a parent and I’m learning. I’ve had wins and losses for sure along the way, but that’s kind of how it started.”


  • “To be a successful co-parent, I treat all our agreements as a living breathing document. It’s not ironclad, it’s concepts that we agree upon, but everything else is conversation. When something like coronavirus comes, I want to be able to call my daughter’s mom and say, ‘Hey look, I know that this is my weekend or this is your weekend, but what looks best for her?’ As opposed to, “The rule says that the child is here.” For some people that works, and I certainly don’t want to negate anybody’s situation. That’s the other thing, everybody has to create a situation that works for them, but ours is founded on communication.”


  • “If having dinner with the family is something that’s important to you, or seeing your kids at the end of the day… kids don’t stay up that late, so we can’t come home at 8:30 at night and expect to see your five year old. Is there a way for the modern workplace to be flexible, and let people leave at 5:00 and then come back online at 8:00? That’s not going to work for every workplace, and that in some ways is a little bit of a privileged conversation, because I think the people whose workplaces have those kind of jobs tend to be richer and have other advantages.”


  • “As we pull kids out of school, one of the things I think is the most damaging about that is that for kids with highly educated parents, it’s going to be fine, their parents are going to spend a bunch of time trying to figure out what’s the best distance learning-this and enrichment-that, and how can we get an extra violin lesson in every week. Then there are a lot of kids whose parents are really struggling, especially given what’s going to happen to the economy, who are not going to have those kind of things. They have to keep those kids out for six months, that’s a relay significant learning loss. I haven’t seen as much discussion of that as I think that we need to be having.”


  • “[Take] the time to step back and hold a mirror up to yourself and say, ‘What do I really want to be true about my parenting? What’s aligned to my core principles and values?”


  • “Spend a lot more deliberate time making sure that we don’t let work deteriorate the safe space that is supposed to be home. Kids should to some extent be able to run and play in their home, without feeling like I’m a burden or I am a bother to mom or dad, or whoever the caregiver can be.”


  • “Make what’s called a reading island. My daughter and I have one, and it’s real simple. My bed is the reading island, so she’s able to get whatever book she wants, and I’ll get whatever my reading material is, the caveat is that we can’t do actual work. So it’s not for homework, it’s not for me taking my laptop, the only technology that we have is the cellphone timer, and she can also use snacks. For 30 minutes, we read to ourselves and she can have whatever snacks she wants, but we can’t get off the bed. We can’t get off the island — the island is surrounded by sharks, or piranhas or there’s a storm.”


  • “Look at [the coronavirus disruption that has parents working and kids learning from home] as an opportunity to engage in positive ways with your kids that you might otherwise have been pulled in one way or another. Make the most of time together.”


  • “Organize Zoom calls for your kids to talk to their friends! We spend so much time trying to get our kids to have these tools, but we don’t always create the space for them to use it. And so I think for them to have an opportunity to engage with each other in this new way that their parents are figuring out, giving them the same space and opportunity to explore it and to get some things that they may be going through off of their chest, I think that can be valuable as well for them — and it might buy you 20 or 30 minutes that you don’t have to look over their shoulder.”

Welcome to Overheard at Council, a new series capturing insights, practices, recommendations and other powerful moments from some of our NationSwell Council events. These quotes have been edited for clarity. If you have any feedback on this series, or if you attended and you’d like to add something you think we might have missed, please reach out via email. To find out more about the NationSwell Council, visit our digital hub.