How Do We Get Childless Men to Care About Care?

How Do We Get Childless Men to Care About Care?
Photo by the blowup / Unsplash

Over the last few years it’s been my mission to galvanize and give voice to moms. I generally haven’t solicited much feedback from men about my work other than my husband or my dad. (FYI: It’s fun to have a career where you DGAF about what men think of you, I highly recommend it!) However, my journalistic curiosity is always there, and I do think engaging men on challenges moms specifically face and how gender equity intersects with work and care is hugely important if we want to see real social progress. It's just not an area I’ve had time to explore much – until now.

Let me introduce you to Corey. Corey Schreppel is a white, cis-het married 36-year-old who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was part of the all-star Double Shift podcast team as our audio mixer from 2020-22, meaning he was the person that took out distracting sounds, made voice levels match in interviews, made the music transitions work – he’s the one who made us sound extra professional. His job didn’t include any editorial feedback on the show, but he listened to every episode, including member episodes, a few times each. He describes doing this kind of work as “soaking everything up like a sponge,” and let’s just say Angela and I are slightly imprinted on his brain. He kept working with us even after he took a full time job at the New York Times, partially because he loved the content, so I decided to interview him and find out what spoke to him about 2 years’ worth of a show featuring feminist-mom storytelling. Here’s what I learned.

Corey was raised in a house with pretty traditional gender roles. His dad was the breadwinner, and his mom took care of the kids, with help from grandmothers and aunts. However, in his adult life, different dynamics have emerged. His wife has a successful corporate career as do all the women in their friend circle. Corey and his wife are not planning on having kids, but many of their friends are in a stage of having one or two young children. He sees very different dynamics at play among his peer group than the ones he grew up with, with his dad-friends sharing the load of family care responsibilities and taking it very seriously. He’s noticed that this involvement is definitely correlated with the men working at companies with substantial (for the U.S.) parental leave and taking all of it, which in some cases has meant months of primary caregiving of their babies. 

Corey is just genuinely curious to learn about parenthood. “Just because we’re not having children doesn’t mean I’m not interested. We’re invested in our friends' kids’ lives. When we go for a guys night, we’re having discussions like, ‘oh, my kid is having a hard time at daycare.’ Or ‘she’s having interpersonal issues with other kids.’ I’m fascinated by the psychology around it and how each parent in the partnership is dealing with it, and what their roles and responsibilities are.” [Ed note: Guys Night Out spent talking about daycare drama!!!!!]

Especially during the pandemic, Corey has seen firsthand how hard things can be on parents. He and his wife think about ways they can be helpful. He admits they aren’t super comfortable taking care of newborns, but they are totally game to walk their friends’ dogs, or to make their social events as kid-friendly as possible, or to drop off growlers of a favorite beer and dinner for a friend who’s just welcomed a baby. For their biological nieces and nephews, some of whom live out of the country, so they don't see each other often, they’ve prioritized contributing to 529 educational funds.

"Maybe the people in our lives without small children aren’t interested in discussing diaper creams, but if they care about us, they should care about our political, economic and social marginalization. We shouldn’t be shy about sharing it."

I asked Corey directly what the impact of listening to The Double Shift had on his perspectives. He follows the news and had seen various articles about the disproportionate impact the pandemic was having on moms, but what really drove it home was to actually hear the real human stories of the impact we often featured on the show. “The stories stuck out to me and made me more comfortable talking to my friends about it. [Listening to the show] made it so I had the vocabulary and the talking points to be able to have informed discussions.” He recalls one member episode in particular, when Angela and I used an invisible labor calculator to tally what we’d earn if we were paid a fair market rate for all of our household and caregiving duties. Corey listened and thought, “the amount of inequity here is just kind of incredible. And it's not something a lot of men have to think about and a lot of fathers have to think about.” 


Learning more about care issues has also led Corey to want to expand the conversation even further, beyond just his progressive friends. He’s been thinking about, “how do I get my relatively centrist/conservative family where I grew up to talk about it? I was talking about parental leave with my sister when she realized how little parental leave she actually had. We started talking about what companies in more progressives states were offering, and she was realizing, ‘oh, well, that would have been amazing if I had that.’ And it made me think that there’s a way we can start having a conversation about the repercussions of political leanings or how you vote or who you vote for, or the news that you consume, [and how that impacts something like how much parental leave you get.]”


I have no idea how “typical” Corey is.  I'm not writing about him because he’s particularly heroic or influential, but there’s something grassroots-y about his story. I love the impact storytelling has had on him, and his interest in talking about care realities as a way to cut across traditional political divides. I am as guilty as anyone in assuming my non-parent friends aren’t interested in the political or daily lived realities of raising small kids, but this conversation has really inspired me to want to better include non-parents and people of different generations more in these discussions, and not to immediately write them off as “not getting it.” Corey emphasized to me over and over that just because he didn’t have kids didn’t mean he didn’t care about what his friends were going through. Maybe the people in our lives without small children aren’t interested in discussing diaper creams, but if they care about us, they should care about our political, economic and social marginalization. We shouldn’t be shy about sharing it. 

So I want to know: do you have any success stories in talking to non-moms about the experience of motherhood in meaningful ways? Have you tried to engage people like Corey (friends, relatives, coworkers) in your care realities? Was it successful? What had an impact? I’d love to hear your stories about this as I continue to write about how to get non-moms to care about care. Reply to this email and tell me about it. 


Til soon,




What I’m reading: Three Theories about Why You Have No Time. A few years old, but still relevant.


Will you be at the IWPR’s Power+ Summit in SF next week? Me too. Let me know and maybe I can see ya there!


BTW: We are ramping up our members-only hangouts, the best place to meet like-minded moms who refuse to accept the status quo, IN PERSON at outdoor venues, while keeping up monthly zoom hangouts attended by members worldwide.


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