I recently read a great article about blurring the line between your work life and family life, especially if you have kids. One point the author mentions is to not talk about your kids every minute of every day. We all know someone like this at work, they have nothing to say if it isn’t about Billy’s first steps or Suzy sat up!
I do not have children. I do not care that Billy took his first steps of Suzy sat up. I find the constant talk of children and their events annoying and irreverent to the workplace. I’m not saying don’t share great news, but to those of us without kids developmental milestones aren’t important.
Furthermore, I see many co-workers who do have children abuse that fact. While a childless employee gets reamed for being five minutes late, a parent can get away with being a half hour late or taking a two hour lunch because Billy “just wouldn’t get dressed” or Suzy “spilled milk every where.”
It isn’t just in the corporate world, either. As a journalist all someone had to say was I can’t stay because I have to pick up so and so from daycare and that was enough to get the story assigned to someone else. Childless employees often got stuck with overtime and cancelled plans.
I talked with a friend of mine who has been burned more than I in this kind of situation. Her thoughts include, “let’s not forget working every holiday because people with kids are somehow mandated by God to get to spend it with their kids and getting REAMED for being ‘insensitive’ if you speak out against the injustice. If a woman at the grocery store is overwhelmed with her mouth breathers, why is it my job to offer help vs. get the shit stare? It was her choice to have children. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be kind but when did it become a required expectation?”
To her the bottom line is the assumption that if you don’t have kids, you have “gobs of time and the ability to work twofer – that is two employees worth of work.”
She wants to know, why do kids get to be an automatic pass to easy street or a “doctor’s note” explaining away persistently negligent and disruptive workplace behavior?
“I’m not saying isolated incidences don’t occur, they happen to us all, but anything more than once every two weeks needs to be called out,” she said.
The different standard for employees with children as those without frustrates me. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution. I’m open to any and all suggestions for dealing with this.