LOS ANGELES – The term ‘working mom’ is taking on new meaning for Julie Cederbaum, whose job during the safer-at-home order now includes overseeing math lessons and PE class, in addition to teaching her social work courses at USC. 

“There are times of the day I feel like I’m doing this really well and there are times where I want to go running down the street, and I think that’s a fairly normal experience,” Cederbaum said. 


Cederbaum is an associate professor at USC’s Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and she happens to be an expert in parent-child communication. Her expertise is coming in very handy now that her family’s home and work/school lives have blended.

When it comes to advice she can offer fellow parents, Cederbaum says it’s crucial during this unprecedented time to understand how a child or teen is feeling and let them express it. Especially when it comes to a sense of loss over their normal life and social gatherings. 

“Allowing their kids to mourn and allowing their kids to be frustrated. because even as adults I think as adults we’re mourning our social connections and we’re adjusting to all those feelings,” Cederbaum said. 

She is a fan of creating a routine with her kids, especially one centering around their school lessons, but says it’s equally necessary to allow for flexibility. 

Cederbaum expects a big issue for many parents will be explaining the need for extending this time at home if quarantines continue, just as we all start to get a little stir crazy.

“It’s much harder for young people to think about the consequences. It’s just not what their brains are wired to do,” Cederbaum said. “So as adults, these stay-at-home or social distancing orders pragmatically make sense, we understand why. But for kid brain, it doesn’t make sense. We live as kids in a world of invincibility, so that’s very hard to process.” 

When it comes to coronavirus, Cederbaum doesn’t advise parents to volunteer overwhelming facts or statistics and instead be prepared to answer questions and create an open space for dialogue.  

She doesn’t share all her thoughts and feelings with her kids, and instead reserves that for after play and school time with fellow parents.

“It’s really important that we reach out and that we scaffold ourselves with our support networks, and that we’re talking about our feelings and stresses with other adults out of the range of our kids hearing. Because it’s a lot to put on our kids,” she said.