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Are Moms Asking for Too Much Flexibility at Work?

Posted by on May. 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM
  • 15 Replies

Are Moms Asking for Too Much Flexibility at Work?

by Jeanne Sager

time clock The ongoing battle between the working parents and the stay-at-home parents may get all the press, but it's got nothing on working parents and the child-free who work with them. Working moms want a family-friendly workplace with respect for the fact that they have lives outside of the job. But is it fair of us to ask? Are we "playing the kid card" too much?

As a mother I want to say no. But as a mom who has confessed she often feels guilty leaving work for her kid, I can easily see both sides.

So can Karen Grigsby Bates. She's the mom who wrote the emotionally-charged Slate article "Why Working Parents Should Not Pull the Kid Card" this week. Yes, I said she's a mom. And she thinks her fellow moms and dads are pushing it with all this family-friendly workplace business. Says Bates:

People without children have lives that are as legitimate and that they cherish as much as people who have children. This unwavering entitlement—I need time off; I have to have this holiday; I need to leave a half-hour before everyone else does, every day—kills office morale.

Her comments have merit. Every mom who has ever had to leave work early for a kid with a stuffy nose has encountered at least one cranky co-worker along the way.

But are all parents really killing office morale? Aaron Goldman recently confessed at Mom.me that he was afraid to broach the topic of a flexible work day when his daughter was first born. But when he did, he found it didn't affect his work negatively at all:

As the months went by with our daughter, I slowly started to figure out that I could be more flexible, and that work would not suffer. Going in a little late after dropping my daughter off at day care is not a big deal, and although staying at home with a sick kid is not the best way to work, it can be done, and no one was judging me for it.

And some parents aren't asking for help because they want it. They're put in positions where they're desperate. Take the plight of single dad of three and veteran Dan Greeley. His story hit the news when he decided to take a pay cut at work ... because he was at risk of losing child care assistance critical for his family. Olivia Golden, an expert on child and family assistance programs at the Urban Institute, a non-partisan economic and social policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., explained that Greeley's story is typical of American parents who are desperately juggling to make things work. They don't want special treatment, Golden says, they need it:

Parents who are trying to work at low or moderate wage jobs and raise kids often run into roadblocks where the system just doesn't make sense.

We've been talking a lot about the middle class and the American dream. And to me, people who are working hard, trying to raise their kids, and on the edge of that middle class life, it should be one of our priorities to help them gain the stability they need to have that life that we all aspire to.

But what about the roadblocks other folks, without kids, run into? It seems there may be room for improvement on either side.

Congress recently hashed over a plan called the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 that would have a major effect on all workers, not just those with kids. If it passes, the bill could have employees working unpaid overtime hours beyond the 40-hour workweek. Employees could accrue comp time (rather than time-and-a-half that many American workers depend on), but even that would be up to the discretion of the employer.

According to Eileen Appelbaum, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that means it doesn't matter if you have a sick kid, you're taking care of a sick granny, have your own health issues, or just want to have some free time to blow off steam, your "flexibility" would be limited: we're all in the same boat.

Do you feel like working parents play the "kid card" too often? Do you ask your employer for time off to take care of your kids?

by on May. 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM
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Replies (1-10):
JTROX
by Member on May. 27, 2013 at 9:19 AM

That is how my last job worked.  No overtime would be paid.  We had to flex the hours somewhere else in the week.

princesskt
by on May. 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM

 My last job I had my coworkers used to get annoyed at me when I tried to change my hours due to my child.  I was randomly changed from days to nights and really never saw my family.  It was impacting my entire family horribly and nobody at work understood.  I tried to just take it, but I just wish sometimes that ppl would be more understanding.  I know a child isn't an excuse and ppl without kids have just as much a right to care about their hours, but it sucks!

heathermarie23
by on May. 27, 2013 at 4:20 PM
1 mom liked this

I try to schedule appts around work... like when we're slower or closed.  The last couple weeks of pregnancy was tough because I had to see the Dr once a week, my appts were at 8:30am and I would go into work at 7:45 until 8:30 and then come right back.  Luckily my job understands and they are very leniant (sp?) with time off but I try not to take advantage.  However there is a woman who has her kids in an aftercare program and she likes to run out at 5:00 because she doesn't want to keep her kids there longer then they have to... really?!  I don't "like" leaving my kids at daycare either but in order to work that is the only option.

heathermarie23
by on May. 27, 2013 at 4:22 PM

:(  That's horrible... when I was young and didn't have kids I didn't mind working the late hours.  

Quoting princesskt:

 My last job I had my coworkers used to get annoyed at me when I tried to change my hours due to my child.  I was randomly changed from days to nights and really never saw my family.  It was impacting my entire family horribly and nobody at work understood.  I tried to just take it, but I just wish sometimes that ppl would be more understanding.  I know a child isn't an excuse and ppl without kids have just as much a right to care about their hours, but it sucks!



Alta2008
by on May. 27, 2013 at 4:28 PM
2 moms liked this

I think some people take advantage of it, But thats the way it is with everything.... there is always going to be people that go to far.... :)

Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 27, 2013 at 4:32 PM
1 mom liked this
DH works as a manager and the other 3 don't have their own families. They expect him to work all these extra shifts so they can go out and party, even though that means he can't spend time with his family. He is the newest manager so they outrank him.
Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 27, 2013 at 4:37 PM
I work 60+ hours a week and have had to go home once bc I was throwing up. I can't stand when my hourly employees call out bc of a sick kid. It happens A LOT. But they are the same ones complaining they want more hours bc they have kids to support. If you are a working parent you need to have a plan a b and c. Yes my children come first but bc of that my job is priority number 1!
princesskt
by on May. 27, 2013 at 5:23 PM

 Thank you.  I felt the same way ..That when I was young/single/no kids I often was perfectly okay with working late hours.  I actually preferred it b/c I am a "night person". 

Quoting heathermarie23:

:(  That's horrible... when I was young and didn't have kids I didn't mind working the late hours.  

Quoting princesskt:

 My last job I had my coworkers used to get annoyed at me when I tried to change my hours due to my child.  I was randomly changed from days to nights and really never saw my family.  It was impacting my entire family horribly and nobody at work understood.  I tried to just take it, but I just wish sometimes that ppl would be more understanding.  I know a child isn't an excuse and ppl without kids have just as much a right to care about their hours, but it sucks!

 

 

 

Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 27, 2013 at 6:10 PM
You need to find a job that works for you, not the employers changing for the employee.
Anonymous
by Anonymous on May. 28, 2013 at 6:58 AM

That is why I am a sahm.I could not keep up with the demand of both.It is hard to find a flexible job and a boss who is empathetic and family friendly.

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