Flexibility: Not Just for Work
The latest issue of the online magazine Mothers Movement Online has an interesting essay on flexibility. Author Arthur Emlen makes the argument that the quest for flexibility shouldn't be confined to flexible work arrangements. Instead, real family solutions arise from flexibility at work, with childcare arrangements, and at home. His writing is generally momcentric, but not overly so. He says, "When it comes to jobs and child care, mothers have the amazing ability to make the best choices possible. And their success depends a lot on how much flexibility they can squeeze from their work schedules, family arrangements, and accommodating child care." Substitute 'mothers' for 'parents' and you've got something that an ESP family can appreciate.
Emlen's main point is that policy change to help families cannot be concentrated only on one area - say, subsidized childcare. He argues that every family's needs are different from their neighbors' and no one solution will work. He wants families to have choices - choices about which childcare and how much, what work schedules, how to divide up the care of the home. All areas of our lives need enough wiggle room - aka flexibility - to give us the freedom to make the best choices for our families and ourselves. I can buy that.
When the world thinks about how to accomodate the needs of families, I'll bet they aren't thinking about the demographic of ESP families. The focus is probably on the breadwinner dad and the mom trying to balance a job with primary parenting duties. Subsidized childcare won't do the average ESP family too much good; we'd probably opt for reduced schedules for both parents or better leave options for fathers instead. Emlen is right that one size doesn't fit all.