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Lean in, Granny!

A friend just passed along this article about working mothers leaning on the grandparents for full-time child care so the mother could continue to work.

All that’s needed is a simple cultural shift, and China can show them how it’s done. There, 51 percent of positions in senior management are held by women, and about 19 percent of its chief executives are women. In the United States, just 20 percent of senior managers and 4 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives are women. The explanation for China’s striking numbers is not the effect of some persuasive TED talk, best-selling book or even better access to affordable child care. Instead, it’s because, in China, the grandparents lean in.

The author, Kelly Yang, goes on to describe how her mother voluntarily moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong to help Kelly with childcare when she became pregnant, and that enabled Kelly to continue working. She describes what an adjustment it was for both her and her mother, and the pros and cons (and the guilt) stemming from that arrangement.


As an Asian American woman with a demanding career, I was nodding along as I read this. Even though I am at least a couple years away from having kids, my parents are already talking about moving to my city to take care of the kids. My mother has reassured me that she will do this because she wants to, because she loves little kids and she wants to be a part of her grandchildren's lives and my life. And I am 100% okay with this. I feel like it is an enormous blessing to have my mother care for my children - to be in a place economically and emotionally for that to be a viable option. And my mother can't wait! It is what my grandmother did for my mother, and it is what my fiance's mother is doing for his sisters. Culturally, it is not "expected" of a grandmother to do this, but it is common.

So when I clicked on the comments section of the article, I was surprised by the viciousness of the comments.

There were so many people calling the author selfish and exploitative for having her mother take care of her children. Then of course, you have the ones insinuating that she's a terrible person for working rather than raising her kids personally. And SO MANY of them could not get past the fact that the grandmother moved away from her husband for those years when she cared for the grandchildren. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ, they shouted. While the absence of men in child rearing is a whole 'nother issue, the absence of men in this article does not invalidate the point of the article, which was, in the conversation about work life balance, grandparents can be helpful (regardless of their gender).


What do you think, GT? Am I just so culturally primed that I never once thought that having my mom take care of my kids (as long as she's offered to do it) could be seen as exploitative? If/when you are a grandmother, would you offer to move to help raise your grandkids?

Most importantly, will you hadouken your grandchildren?

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