December 1, 2022

By Diana Hembree

Good morning, MindSite News readers! In today’s parenting newsletter, we look at the havoc that Elon Musk has wreaked on the mental health of working parents at Twitter and other companies — and how he is leading the charge against remote work, one of the best tools to retain and support employees who are parents.

Also in this issue, you can find advice on what to say to a five year old who thinks the whole world hates him, a kid-run recorded hotline for people who have the blues, hacks for disabled parents, and more.

Dr. Barbara Greenberg will be back next week, and in the meantime, you can send your questions to her at We look forward to hearing from you.

Last chance to sign up for today’s event. You can also stream it on Facebook Live

MindSite News founding editor Rob Waters will be in conversation with two experts who closely follow developments among psychedelics companies and clinical trials. Dick Simon is co-founder and CEO of Sensorium Therapeutics and Chair of the Advisory Council for the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics. Josh Hardman is the founder and principal of Psychedelic Alpha.

Commentary: How Elon Musk undermines working parents’ mental health 

Elon Musk completed his acquision of Twitter on October 27, 2022 (Credit: Shutterstock)

Some of us are old enough to remember the bad old days of startups that regarded children as impediments to keeping parents on call 24/7. I well remember being asked to stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning at home while engineers rebooted a startup’s system; when the baby began to cry, an executive demanded angrily, “Can you make that noise stop?!”

Employers have since made amazing strides toward making workplaces family-friendly, including work at home policies – the latter getting a huge if unintended boost from the pandemic. But since October, multi-billionaire Elon Musk turned his back on all that in an astonishing show of contempt for working parents and caregivers at Twitter, his latest acquisition. 

Before Musk’s takeover, employees at Twitter had been given the right to work at home full-time from anywhere in the country. Musk changed that overnight by ordering all employees to return to the office immediately or be fired. On Twitter, some employees announced their resignation; others lambasted Musk for giving them no time to arrange new caregiving schedules for their children or aging relatives.

“The flexibility afforded by hybrid and remote models is a critical tool for people who are parents,” wrote Matt Logan, Navigator’s vice-president of engineering, in a LinkedIn article called Why Elon Musk Should Tweet Less and Parent More. Although Musk has fathered 9 children, Logan says, he does not see the value of flexible or remote work for parents.

Eliminating work at home followed on the heels of Musk laying off half of Twitter’s workforce. One former Twitter contractor, who, like thousands of other Twitter contractors, was terminated without notice, tweeted that she was terrified over how she was going to feed her children or pay the rent. Through his move to immediately end flex time and remote work while terminating thousands of contractors without notice and virtually no compensation, critics say, Musk has undermined the mental health of working parents at his workforce at Twitter, just as he has done at Tesla and Space X. (Read the rest of the story here.)

What to Do About a Five Year Old Who Says ‘The Whole World Hates Him’

In an advice column for the Washington Post, Meghan Leahy, “a parenting coach, author, and mother of three” and Post writer Amy Joyce answers questions about parenting. In this transcript of a reader Q and A, you can find Leahy and Joyce’s advice for parents worried that their 5 year old has social anxiety. (The column’s format is slightly confusing, so just scroll down to the bottom of the linked page to find the question and advice, along with other Q and A’s. )

Down and troubled? This kids’ hotline may cheer you up

Maybe you’ve heard James Taylor’s classic song “You’ve Got a Friend” (“When you’re down and troubled, and you need some loving care…”). Well, the 6th grade class at Healdsburg Elementary in northern California is dispensing some of that loving care in Peptoc – a hotline where elementary school kids offer advice for the blues. We covered the kindergarten-6th grade hotline last year, and we’re pleased that it just got written up by Today Parent. Here’s a sampling of what the hotline offers:

If you’re  feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press one.

If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press two.

To hear how awesome you look, press six.

“Working with kids, I’ve been continually amazed at their wisdom and their coping strategies and how they support one another, how they support their parents,” art teacher Jessica Martin told Today. “They’re incredibly powerful. We wanted to make a project that celebrated that.” 

In other news

Yale University has been sued for discriminating against students with mental health disabilities. The lawsuit is designed to change its “discriminatory” withdrawal policies, including the mandatory relinquishment of health insurance and tuition payments.

If you’re a parent with a disabled child or spouse – or if you yourself are disabled – you may especially enjoy The Baffler’s “Care Tactics: Hacking an Ableist World.” In contrast to many high-tech prototypes, which some in the disabled community refer to as “disability dongles,” the author says, “disabled people develop and share hacks – which often don’t require high-tech anything – to MacGyver their way through daily life. I’m talking about ingenious practices that I’ve noted elsewhere, such as using a mortar and pestle to crush pills for a feeding tube that a plastic pill grinder couldn’t handle.” Read more here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.

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Type of work:

Diana HembreeCo-founding editor

Diana Hembree, MS, is MindSite News co-founding editor. She is a health and science journalist who served as a senior editor at Time Inc. Health and its physician’s magazine, Hippocrates, for four years,...