Babies In The Workplace

Over the past few months (since I became unemployed I think, maybe longer but I dunno because I don’t keep track of these things) I’ve been devouring the archives of a professional advice blog called Ask A Manager. I’m actually a little surprised that I like this blog enough to go through the archives, seeing as I’m not all that career focused overall, but I digress. The reason I bring it up is because the other night I ran across an entry that got me thinking about a couple different things. The post is entitled "bringing babies to work" and was written in response to an interview Lisa Belkin conducted for The New York Times back in November of 2008. Ms. Belkin was interviewing the founder of an organization which advocates parents taking their new babies into the office and caring for them while they work for the first few months, until the baby is mobile.

The author of Ask A Manager, Alison Green, did not agree that this was a good idea and many of those who left comments on her post agreed. I myself can definitely sympathize with the objectors on this one, but at the same time I can also sympathize with the parents. I think the idea presented in the comments about businesses providing on site daycare and allowing parents to take their breaks there is probably the best middle ground, but I also know that many, many companies would not be able to afford that. For me, I don’t think I would allow bringing babies to work across the board. I think this is an issue that is far too subjective to give it an overreaching generalized answer. I can see how for some circumstances it could work really, really well. If during the maternity leave the new mother observes that her baby sleeps almost constantly and is happy and quiet when it isn’t sleeping or eating, then I don’t see any reason to say no to that baby being in the office at least for a trial run. And if the employee can get their job done with the baby there and without having to work more hours than normal or get extra help from their colleagues? Definitely no problem there. But there is plenty of potential for this situation not to work out, which is why I would treat something like this on a case by case basis if it were me.

Which brings me to something else this old post got me thinking about. Or rather, the comments on that post got me thinking. Is there really that much resentment and animosity between parents and non-parents in the workplace? Or are those comments just a really, really skewed sample? Maybe I just haven’t had jobs where my work is all that time sensitive, but I can’t ever remember getting genuinely pissed off when a co-worker called in saying they couldn’t come in that day because of something kid related. And when a colleague in one of my previous jobs went on maternity leave, I don’t remember being annoyed at having to pick up her slack, I just remember being ecstatic that I wouldn’t have to hear her talk about being pregnant anymore.

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2 thoughts on “Babies In The Workplace

  1. Interesting thoughts! (And I’m thrilled that you’re liking my blog enough to read the archives!)

    I agree that I’ve never felt particular animosity towards parents in the workplace either, but wow is it out there. Quite a few people seem to have real resentment about parents getting “special treatment” in the workplace … but I think this is less about the parents themselves and more about feeling like people without kids are treated by some as second-class citizens. Maybe. I don’t know, just a theory.

    My other theory is that they’ve run into a handful of poorly-behaved parents who act like the world revolves around their kids when they’re in public spaces (I’m talking about letting kids disrupt an adult restaurant, for instance), and as a result, they’re now painting all parents with that same brush, even though most parents aren’t like that.

  2. You sure you’re thrilled? Because lately I’ve been spamming you with @s on Twitter and I feel kind of like an out of control fangirl, haha.

    And yea, I think you’re theory is probably pretty close to being right. Still, I never really noticed it until those comments on your archived post.

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