The week's best parenting advice: November 17, 2020

Jessica Hullinger
A child.
Illustrated | iStock
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1.

What a COVID vaccine means for children

Two COVID-19 vaccine candidates appear highly effective at preventing the disease in late-stage trials, and many experts predict vaccinations will start early next year. But what does this mean for children? Pfizer's vaccine trials included children as young as 12, and while Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci says "there is no reason not to believe that [a vaccine] wouldn't be available simultaneously for adults and children," it may be late 2021 before kids start getting vaccinated, Parents reports. In part, that's because severity of illness seems to correlate strongly with age: The older you are, the more likely you are to get very sick, and the first vaccines will go to those most at risk. But it will also give researchers more time to study the vaccines in adults before rolling them out to children. "We will need to rely on expert guidance after the first round of trials are completed to see how best to extrapolate the data for use in pediatrics," Mobola Kukoyi, M.D., MPH, tells Parents. [Parents , ABC News]

2.

Closing the household labor gap

Research from the Better Life Lab at New America finds that fathers only do about half the amount of unpaid labor that mothers take on. In other words, mothers are still doing twice as much of the work associated with raising a family and running a household. This is especially true when it comes to helping kids with school and managing schedules, Harvard Business Review reports. How can we close this gap? "First, men need to recognize what they're not doing and add it to their to-do lists,' HBR's experts write. Take availability and capability into consideration when divvying up responsibilities: "Time-intensive housework and childcare traditionally shouldered by women shouldn't be a life sentence for one person or determined by a gender role." Lasting change is needed in the workplace: Many work environments still stigmatize men taking more proactive parenting roles. "Now is the time for men to initiate conversations with managers and bosses" about things like parental leave and flexible working, HBR says. [Harvard Business Review]

3.

Speaking of flexible work schedules ...

How can parents broach the topic of less rigid work schedules with their bosses? First, calm your nerves. Take comfort knowing "they'll never be more understanding than right now," says Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker. "Bosses are home with their own children, partners, and accident-prone pets; chances are good they're living a similar reality and recognize that now, more than ever, adjustments can and should be made." Frame the discussion around your commitment to your job: You need more flexibility so you can do your job well. Get specific with your request: You want to start work an hour earlier so you can leave an hour earlier to start dinner, for example. And agree to reconvene after a trial period to discuss what's working, and what's not. [Lifehacker]

4.

When parents are bullied

Nearly 8 percent of American children have some kind of food allergy, and unfortunately, many of them experience bullying by classmates or even adults. But a new survey finds parents of food-allergic kids are bullied, too. "We know children are often bullied about their food allergies," says Dannielle Brown, MHS, lead author of the study from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "What we weren't aware of was how many parents are bullied by multiple sources." Roughly 17 percent of the parents surveyed said they had been picked on for being concerned about their child's allergy — by other parents, friends, and even their own family members who don't grasp the seriousness of the ailment. And confronting the bully doesn't always work. A more wholistic approach would be better. For example, public charter school Washington Yu Ying in Washington, D.C., includes food allergy awareness in its curriculum. "We wanted to be as inclusive as possible of anything and everything," co-founder and principal Amy Quinn told NPR. [Science Daily]

5.

How to handle your 'eco-anxiety'

“Unlike the invisibility of the coronavirus, evidence of extreme weather and climate events ... contribute to collective 'eco-anxiety' related to the climate crisis,” writes Ariella Cook-Shonkoff at The New York Times. How can parents deal with their own climate change stress, and that of their children? Merritt Juliano, co-president of Climate Psychology Alliance North America, suggests parents start by processing their fears so that their own anxieties don't rub off on their little ones. "Having processed their emotional reactions, and accepted the situation, they can then stay present with their kids," says Juliano. Try channeling your anxieties into action, by volunteering or donating to help your community. And when it all feels like too much, stick to your family’s routine, because predictability can offset chaos, says Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, director of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: "We cannot control the outside world, but we can be intentional about creating sanctuaries within our homes." [The New York Times]