I support Working PARENTS

I actually wrote this post a week ago and then forgot to type it up properly! I was pretty incensed when I wrote it, today, I'm calmer but just as passionate. This sort of out-dated attitude in the workplace is detrimental for all parents and I believe it is only by talking about it can we start to challenge these negative behaviours.

Today, I’ve been inspired by this post by Alice Weightman about how we need to talk more about working fathers. It is something that I am particularly passionate about, as my husband has been on the receiving end of remarks and treatment that, if made to a woman, would be considered discrimination. And yet it is accepted as perfectly reasonable behaviour toward fathers in the workplace.

Picture the scene.

A baby is ill at nursery. They have been administered calpol by the nursery staff but still has a temperature of 39.9 degrees and the nursery have requested that she is picked up. The parent informs their manager that they will need to leave straight away to pick up the sick baby.

The manager asks:
“Can your partner not do this?” or “Don’t you have work to complete?”

Or another time, the baby has woken from their nap with a temperature, they’re floppy, listless. The at-home parent panics and calls the at-work parent for help taking the child to the hospital. The working parent is questioned.

“Can your partner not take the bus?”

If that parent was a Mother I am sure there would (rightly) be an outcry. But what if it was a Father?

This is something that I have come across on numerous occasions. A doctor’s appointment. A nursery play. A parent’s evening. All reasonable requests for time out of the office - time that will be made up or taken as holiday. Work that will be completed before deadline. And yet the question is always asked:

“Can’t your wife do it?”

Or my personal favourite:

“Isn’t your wife at home?”

No. I work too. If I was at home, there would be a reason why I couldn’t leave or do it myself. Heaven forbid if both parents wish to go with the child to an appointment or to watch their first school assembly. Everything falls apart if the mother is ill and the father needs to be there for the kids.

Parenting and working are seen as opposite commitments, both men and women experiencing difficulties. The difference? It is more widely recognised that discrimination against mothers needs to stop. For men, when a father prioritises his family commitments, his dedication and effectiveness is questioned - and people just accept it.

Can you believe that? In 2016 it is still accepted that a man's place is at work and that prioritising his family will have a detrimental effect on his career. Where is the equality in that?

I don’t get it. Frankly, it p****s me off that Matt has to worry about his job, the impression he is giving his manager, the impact on his career just because he is a father. It p****s me off that I am expected to take any time off work, as though my job is less important.

It’s an old-fashioned workplace culture that needs to change. We’re no longer living in the middle of the last century where all women stay in the home and the men work hard all day, coming home to dinner on the table and neatly presented children who are to be seen and not heard. Society has moved on. It’s about time employers do to.

I believe there needs to be a general overhaul. This is isn’t a male vs female, or mother vs father issue. This is an issue for all parents. All working parents. Like Weightman says, without equal treatment for all parents there will always be a gender divide in business.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets irate about this?

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