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The Conversation About Caregiving And Work Has To Be More Than Just About Parents

Source  |  By|Anna Auerbach , Startup founder, flexible work advocate


Even here in the 21st century, a gender-based stereotype persists: Men are still heralded as the chief breadwinners, while women are still expected to hold down the domestic front. These societal norms negate the experiences of female breadwinners and male homemakers, whose proportions are rising in both the paid and unpaid workforces. But they also lead people to think the term “caregiver” is interchangeable with “parent” or “homemaker.”

Parenting and homemaking are indeed two common caregiving responsibilities, but caregiving takes many forms. Perhaps a caregiver tends to the needs of someone who has a chronic condition or someone who is homebound. Perhaps they’re caring for an ailing member of their extended family. Or perhaps they’re merely caring for a pet: Younger generations have started taking on dogs and cats before or even instead of children, and some progressively-minded companies have even responded to this change of family structure with pet-focused flexibility policies (I know it sounds crazy, but pets are family to many people!).

Plus, as we previously discussed on the Werk blog, millennials are becoming the new “sandwich generation,” meaning they are tasked with providing care both up and down. In fact, the average millennial caregiver already spends an average of 21.2 hours a week assisting a loved one.

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