Friday, August 19, 2011

When Working Parents Get Carried Away

I just came across an article on the Working Mother website entitled, "Sticky Situations: Toddlers in the Workplace." In this article, the writer responds to a reader question that indicates she wants to bring her toddler to work but is unsure if children are welcome. The writer responds that if the policy is that children are welcome, then it should be okay.

Here's my response: NO, it's not okay. Let's all remember why we work. Our companies have hired us to do a job that is supposed to contribute to the mission of the organization and ultimately, the bottom line. And we accepted the position because: a.) we probably require the salary and (hopefully) b.) we have chosen to have a career that challenges us. My guess is that for 99% of us, that agreement did not include the ability to bring our children to work.

Don't get me wrong...I certainly think that the workplace needs to be flexible. Without the flexible schedule that I enjoy in my workplace, I could not properly attend to my children's needs and I would never be an "unavailable" parent. And there are times that our kids are sick and we don't have childcare options; there are times when our kids are on vacation and we aren't. So I do think that having the ability to bring our children to the workplace when we don't have another choice is a nice thing.

That all being said, I believe that as we continue to lobby for flexible workplaces, job sharing options, and part time positions, we have to keep in mind that there are certain priorities. Let's focus on that flexibility while understanding that we work for companies who have responsibilities to shareholders and are focused on achieving certain revenue goals. Let's keep our "eyes on the prize" rather than pushing the limits of acceptable policies like asking to bring our kids to work. Most of us still have so far to go on the bigger issues so let's focus on those and call attention to the issues that really matter rather than getting bogged down in the "nice to haves."