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'Showing (work x family)' in Downtown’s University Center this fall

African American boy kisses mother's nose as she bends down to him, both standing on a city block

Photograph by Steve Liss, Untitled, 2008. Courtesy of the artist.

August 20, 2019

This fall, the ASU Center for Child Well-Being, in collaboration with the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, is hosting Working Assumptions’ “Showing (work x family),” a six-screen photography exhibition that debuts Aug. 22 and will remain on the downtown campus throughout the fall semester.

“Showing (work x family)” was prompted by a simple question, “How do work and family overlap in your life?” Jane Gottesman, the founder of Working Assumptions, was curious how kids viewed the struggles of their parents. What are the demands working parents face? Would these same struggles appear in photographs?

“Showing (work x family)” strives to answer these questions by highlighting the challenges created by overlapping work and family and the impact on children, coworkers, peers, partners and society as a whole.

Balancing work and family is a well-known struggle in society; and when you throw education into the mix, it only further complicates the day-to-day experience. People who work, tend to family needs and go to school are stretched thin. They worry about maintaining a connection with their children and loved ones and about missing those “firsts” and “only” kind of moments. These worries compete with mental energy dedicated to juggling deadlines, assignments and work obligations.

Beverly Johnson, a master’s student at Hugh Downs School of Human Communications at ASU and a working mother, has a unique way of staying connected with her adult son.

“My son and I send each other song suggestions. … We are both super busy, so when I get a text with a screenshot of a song he thinks I’ll like, it really makes my day,” Johnson said.  

Staying connected to one another is a recurring theme among ASU Online students, and worry of missing out on the little things ranks as a top concern. Additionally, striking a balance between homework and family time often requires creative maneuvering.

Eric Sanchez, a bachelor’s student at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU, finds himself doing all his schoolwork after his children have gone to bed.

“This way, I never felt like my schooling interfered with my personal and home life,” Sanchez said. However, “there were times when my children had difficulties sleeping and I would oftentimes lay in their bed with them to help them go to sleep, but at the same time have reading material with me, as this was all happening during my studying time.”

Johnson and Sanchez’s testimonies provide glimpses into the lives of parents juggling school, work and family, but they are not isolated instances. Many people cherish the small moments and blend school time with family time when necessary. “Showing (work x family)” is a photographic exhibition that allows society to see the everyday hard, happy and rewarding moments created by the overlap of work and family in students’ lives.

The relationship among these competing priorities will be on display in the University Center lobby Aug. 22 through Nov. 15. 

For more information and features follow @childwellbeing on Instagram and @ASUChildWellBng on Twitter.

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