Professor Andrea Brenner takes a hands-on approach to sociology. Students in her popular sociology of the family course, which explores everything from dating to mating, learn as much from real parents as they do from books and statistical data.
On Sept. 24, four mothers shared their philosophies on parenting during a panel discussion hosted by Brenner. The women discussed how they shaped their children’s spirituality, gender roles within the family, and the challenges facing single parents and working mothers.
Leslie Miles gave up a successful law career and a demanding job on the Hill to raise her now 11-year-old daughter. “I was working 70 to 80 hours a week, and I just knew I couldn’t do this job and have children,” said Miles, who now works full time for a recruiting firm, a job that allows her “complete flexibility.”
“I learned that you can have it all, you just probably can’t have it all at the same time,” she said.
Ilaya Hopkins was working part time when the public relations firm for which she worked downsized.
“I was laid off, but the silver lining of spending more time with my children made that bitter pill easier to swallow,” said Hopkins, the mother of two young boys.
Hopkins added that parenthood has brought her extended family closer together.
“Everyone is very involved and invested in our children,” she said. Also, “it’s great to have an audience who will listen, over and over, to stories about our kids!”
Earlayna Batch, a master’s student in public sociology, said her seven-year-old daughter is her greatest accomplishment.
“The responsibility of parenthood can be daunting, because I know her future is in my hands,” she said. “In the end, though, how I raise her will be the impact I have on the world.”
Brenner will host a panel discussion on fatherhood, Oct. 8.