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Abueland: ‘The nuclear family model has overburdened grandparents’ | Society

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For families today, having grandparents nearby is a lifeline. Even more so if they are present and “active” grandparents. Because parenting, especially in urban settings, has become a complex challenge in a society that only understands childcare as an individual issue, and one to be addressed with privatization.

Through the cartoon project Abueland (or, Grandparentland), journalist and illustrator Joly Navarro seeks to highlight the value of caregiving departing from the premise that “the personal is political.” In her 40 vignettes, she depicts “what seems insignificant and yet is essential for life to move forward” in order to make us reflect on the unseen work of grandparents – without whom it would be even more difficult to raise children in a world in which productivity takes precedence over quality of life. For the illustrator – who has launched a crowdfunding campaign to publish Abueland as a book – the way to find balance is to reconcile ourselves to a more sustainable and slower pace of life, but also to turn generational conflicts into a learning opportunity for one and all.

Question. Your first cartoon was inspired by your own journey into motherhood in 2018. Did your personal experience change your view of raising children?

Answer. I worked in the social sector for over 10 years, and that is where I learned about caregiving and where I began to come up with theories on it. However, the experience of motherhood definitely made me understand it. It’s not so much that my vision changed, but that I began to digest what I had assumed. Suddenly, all the people who had taken care of me throughout my life emerged very clearly and I experienced an intense need to appreciate and give value to what they had done.

I would say that in my case, motherhood connected me with all the women in history who have cared and continue to care for me. I felt part of it. And I discovered the way to contribute to this feeling of sisterhood was through illustration and reflecting on the crisis of caregiving.

Q. Abueland is a collection of 40 cartoons that focuses on the social era we are living in from a feminist perspective. How much is personal in these vignettes?

A. Each cartoon focuses on the everyday, on the details that may go unnoticed, on what seems insignificant and yet is essential for life to move forward. And I recognize myself in all of them. However, the situations I portray in the cartoons have not necessarily happened to me. They are a portrait of everyday situations that I observe, listen to and share; they are ones that concern me or that I find funny. They are situations that serve to address issues that are of immense social interest.

The phrase “the personal is political” perfectly defines what I was trying to convey with Abueland: that the care provided by grandfathers and grandmothers transcends the personal to become part of the public sphere.

Q. Many people between the ages of 50 and 70 and beyond provide their grandchildren with a large amount of care. In some cases, it is because they want to and in others, it is because they are forced to. There are also grandparents who are still working or live far away and cannot help even though they would like to. Parenting is not easy without grandparents. Are we aware of the role grandparents play in a country like ours?

Journalist and illustrator Joly Navarro.
Journalist and illustrator Joly Navarro.

A. Yayo Herrero, one of the most influential researchers in the ecofeminist field, talks about the difference in how caregiving duties were divided in the past and the way it is done now. Years ago, community, neighborhood and extended family networks were more common, and childcare was distributed in a balanced way. Now the nuclear family model makes this distribution more difficult and, consequently, grandmothers and grandfathers are overburdened.

Q. Particularly grandmothers…

A. Yes, in Abueland I flag up the role of grandmothers because it is older women, grandmothers, who continue to offer care, whether freely or otherwise. Childcare duties, throughout history, have been assumed by women and our society has undervalued them; this links to the feminization of poverty.

There is a cartoon in Abueland aimed at opening the debate on this situation called El Matrioskado. On the one hand, it is a play on words that prompts us to think about misunderstood matriarchies in which women continue to assume a disproportionate share of caregiving as well as making the decisions. The word also leads us to think about the impact of the patriarchal system. And finally, there is a parallel with the mechanism of a Matryoshka doll [wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another]: if we put it together, we can’t see the care that takes place behind closed doors.

Raising children without a network leaves less time for self-care, which can often lead to frustration and stress

Q. Those of us who don’t have help from grandparents have built new support networks with friends who have become family. Is it possible to raise healthy children without a network?

A. There’s a quote from Carolina del Olmo in her book ¿Dónde está mi tribu? [or, Where’s My Tribe?] that says, “Only gods and monsters can be alone; people can’t.” I think we forget the social nature of parenting and the importance of collectivizing caregiving duties. At least in the city, this is exacerbated by the scarcity of intergenerational spaces conducive to meeting and play.

Raising children without a network leaves, among other things, less time for self-care, which can often lead to frustration and stress. Having people willing to lend a hand allows us to disconnect and so connect with ourselves. But not only that. It allows us to learn from the experiences of others and get a different perspective on motherhood or parenthood. It helps us to understand that there are different ways of parenting and therefore that we should be more respectful. In short, it involves learning that improves the quality of our lives and that of our children, who will internalize the importance of bonding and cooperation.

Q. Is it possible to achieve a balance between paid work and childcare duties?

A. I think it is possible to reconcile ourselves to a more sustainable and leisurely pace of life that allows for the coexistence of paid or unpaid work and caregiving. But this requires revising the gears of a system of production that is incompatible with enjoyment, rest, fairness and care. On the other hand, of course, this is very complicated and many pieces of what is established would have to be moved. And that not only depends on personal change, but also on large-scale change that is slow, and for which there is generally little inclination.

The general solution that we are accepting as valid is the privatization of childcare. But we need a broader long-term vision that will allow us to rebuild a fairer more accessible care system for everyone.

Q. Another question is whether we let grandparents choose their own approach to caring for our children or if we pressure them to act the way we think they should.

A. [US anthropologist] Margaret Mead said back in the 1970s that we had not thought enough about the pressure we put on grandparents to stay out of the way – not to interfere, not to coddle, not to insist. In general, I think we demand too much of ourselves and the pressure we put on ourselves is passed on to our fathers and mothers.

We live in an era of information overload and speed in which excellence is over-valued. In such an environment, we sometimes don’t even know how we want to act and we have to make an effort to tune in to our beliefs. On the other hand, not being able to do everything can be frustrating and the accompanying discomfort can spill over into the family.

Q. How do you find the balance between consistency and a more each-to-themselves approach?

A. In my case, I have chosen to put the bond and the emotional well-being that Abueland brings to my children above all else. It is true that sometimes conflicts arise, but in those cases, I think it is important to talk and listen with a good dose of willingness to understand where each one of us is coming from. I also find it interesting to appreciate what the grandparents’ experience brings to the children. In fact, it is my father who tells them what life was like in the countryside and what the work consisted of. He tells them about seasonal vegetables and teaches them how to plant fruit trees. In short, he connects them to ways of doing things that I have not experienced.

Abueland’s proposal is to approach generational conflicts with humor and, if possible, turn it into a learning opportunity.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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