Good Housekeeping’s second annual “We Are Family” parenting summit shifted gears a bit this year: Instead of hosting the day-long event at the Hearst Tower in New York City, we pivoted to a virtual platform that saw panelists speaking from all over the country. And without the space constraints of meeting in person, viewers were able to join us from the comfort of their homes.
The five-hour event featured intimate panel discussions, fireside chats and presentations with doctors, product experts, celebrities and other figures in the industry — all of whom are real parents themselves. These conversations examined how parenting has changed (due to COVID-19 and other modern factors) and what we might be able to expect in the future for parenting at all ages and stages. Topics included overcoming obstacles created by the pandemic, how to engage in difficult conversations with children, and insights, trends, and analytics from Good Housekeeping’s own research.
Below, take a look at the highlights and clips from each panel.
The State of Parenting
The summit started with a snapshot examining where parenting is today. After opening remarks from Good Housekeeping’s Laurie Jennings and Pat Haegele, viewers were presented with trends and insights from Rachel Rothman and Lexie Sachs of the Good Housekeeping Institute. The team shared takeaways from the Institute’s 2020 parenting survey and learnings from their own research and testing.
Rachel honed in on overarching trends, which touched on the growth of inclusivity in the parenting space. She also spoke about the increase of anti-racism conversations at home, and noted that in their Good Housekeeping Institute survey, 89% of parents with school-aged kids said they’re having race discussions with their children.
Lexie then dove into pandemic parenting and spoke about the implications of the “new normal” — both good and bad. A silver lining shown by their research is that this time at home has helped children take on more household responsibilities. The survey also found that screen time was a top parenting concern around the pandemic: It even outranked worries around children’s mental health and contracting COVID-19.
Everything Starts at Home
The first panel of the day was on speaking with children about what’s been happening in the news lately. It brought together the four hosts from the 3rd Hour of TODAY — Al Roker, Craig Melvin, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones — and was moderated by Dr. Jacqueline Douge, a pediatrician who co-authored the American Academy of Pediatric’s Policy Statement on Racism.
Each host shared personal experiences about starting these conversations with their children, from Dylan with her toddler through Al with older kids. They began with lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic, then shifted the discussion to social justice after the death of George Floyd. The panelists speculated that the two topics are intertwined: COVID-19 brought families together and paying attention to the news, so as a result we were in the right place to start having deeper conversations about racism.
Sheinelle then shared a powerful story that occurred shortly after George Floyd’s death. After speaking with her kids about what happened, she was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. She recalled how she could physically feel her children’s fear, and how her 5th-grade son candidly told the officer he felt nervous. Looking back on it she said, “It was a moment I’ll never forget.”
Dr. Douge stressed the importance of having these conversations so children are prepared in case they should wind up in tough situations. The TODAY hosts all agreed that kids are resilient, and Craig even said that “kids are so much more adaptable than adults. I’ve been very impressed with how well our kids have slipped into this new sort of normal.”
Meaningful Lifestyle Changes
We then heard a powerful dialogue between Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Aya Kanai on how major life events help us shift our priorities and lead to more mindful decisions. Rosie gave a glimpse into how her personal life evolved after becoming a mother, and the shifts that have continued as a result of the pandemic.
Both women shared the strength they gain from leaning on and learning from other parents. The panel took a lighter note when Rosie spoke about how potty-training her son during the peak of the pandemic turned out to be fairly manageable — a nice parenting win in these chaotic times!
Rosie also shared how she doesn’t typically endorse products for children, but she was drawn to become a celebrity ambassador for presenting sponsor, Pipette. After visiting their labs in San Francisco, she was blown away by their commitment to safety and quality for both babies and moms.
Parenting Through a Pandemic
Next up was the panel that anyone living with kids during a pandemic can relate to. Mara Schiavocampo moderated a discussion between Dr. Harvey Karp, Karolina Kurkova and Nina Westbrook on the realities of navigating these trying times with children.
Nina spoke on what it was like having her husband, basketball player Russell Westbrook, away from their young kids while he lived in the “NBA Bubble” during the pandemic. Afterwards, Karolina shared how she prioritizes her kid’s screen time so that she can use it as a helpful tool during her important meetings, yet still keep it in moderation.
Dr. Karp informed parents on how to recognize signs that their kids are struggling emotionally, and how to effectively speak with even the youngest children when they’re upset: “Short phrases, lots of repetition, and mirroring a third of their emotions.” Check out the full video for more information on how to communicate with your children while still maintaining your own sanity.
Home Spaces in the New Normal
With many parents thinking outside the box on how to best utilize their space for remote work and school, interior designer Jeremiah Brent spoke with Good Housekeeping’s Monique Valeris. He shared tips and tricks that he and his husband, fellow designer Nate Berkus, use in their own home with their two young kids.
Jeremiah noted that it’s important to curate your space and move things around to find what works. If you have a formal dining room but don’t use it, it’s better to reimagine the room for something else. He also recommended everyone in the home having a personal area that’s just theirs, even if it’s simply a nook or a corner.
Jeremiah went on to share how his design priorities have changed since having kids, saying that wear and tear on your home is part of its story: “Things aren’t precious to us. Our babies are precious to us, the memories are special and precious to us.” He also spoke about the joy in having his kids design their own rooms (even though it might not match his style) and noted: “As a gay dad, it has been such a journey, and such an amazing journey, not only having the opportunity to have children, but then raising them.”
Together in This
You know Natasha Bedingfield as a world-famous singer/songwriter, but in this candid conversation she opened up about having to put her life on hold after her toddler son’s emergency brain surgery. The day before she was set to leave for New York City to perform in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, she ended up in the hospital with her son, where they would remain for five weeks.
Interviewed by Good Housekeeping’s Lori Bergamotto, Natasha recalled this difficult time in her life and how she powered through. She also shared the story behind her new hit single, “Together in This,” which was written specifically for the pandemic. Natasha stressed the importance of everyone banding together, staying entertained and most importantly, having a dance party, even if it’s in your living room.
Having It All: Myth vs. Reality
Up next were four mom bosses chatting about career advancements and how they juggle their jobs while raising a family, especially during a pandemic. Samira Nasr, Dee Poku-Spalding and Shazi Visram shared their own personal and professional struggles as they grew their families while growing their careers in a discussion moderated by branding expert and mom of three, Megan Harper.
One topic that resonated with everyone on the panel was how they’re noticing more flexible workflows. In general, there is a greater understanding around how different people operate: Teams are becoming more respectful of individual needs and strengths, which ultimately results in a win for everyone. They stated that working with the right people helps to create better productivity and a sense of fulfillment.
Throughout the discussion, they gave tangible tips for helping other moms advance their careers or take the leap to start their own companies, including the power of networking and the simple act of just being nice.
Good Housekeeping’s 2020 Parenting Awards
The program then took a quick break from speakers for a live announcement of the winners of Good Housekeeping’s first ever parenting awards. The Good Housekeeping Institute’s product experts received over 450 submissions and evaluated them on criteria like innovation, problem-solving capabilities and value. Check out all 30 award-winning products.
I Am These Truths
The final conversation of the day was with Sunny Hostin, cohost of The View and author of I Am These Truths, which was just released earlier this week. Sunny spoke with Good Housekeeping’s Editor in Chief, Jane Francisco, about overcoming the obstacles she faced being born into poverty, plus the struggles she continues to face with people questioning her identity.
Sunny also opened up about her repeated miscarriages, going through IVF, and almost losing her son when she was 13 weeks pregnant. At the time, she had difficulties advocating to get herself the appropriate medical care (despite being married to a doctor!), and she later found that women of color are often treated this way by medical professionals.
Later in the conversation, Sunny advised others not to have a role model: “No one does you the way you do, because you’re an original.” She admits that she likely wouldn’t have made it this far if she had clung to the idea of a role model as a child because no one on TV looked like her. Rather, Sunny suggests having a “possibility model” that you can look to for aspiration.
Thank you to the sponsors of the 2020 We Are Family parenting summit: Pipette and ezpz. Check out goodhousekeeping.com/events for more information on upcoming summits.
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