Working as a Parent

Working as a Parent


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When you work as a parent, you’re expected to do it all right.

Corporate America can be brutal if you want to succeed. Getting ahead in your job will often mean that you put in a few extra hours, and that you impress your boss (or their boss) in some way. All too often, it also means that you attend extracurricular events outside of the normal working hours - it may be a visit to the bar after work, or going for a coffee in the morning in order to make strong connections.

If you’re single or childless, this can be done. You’re sacrificing your free time of course to make this happen, but that’s a pretty easy decision to make if your goal is to get ahead in the corporate world. However, once you have kids, your decision becomes much harder to make - at the very least your decision has farther reaching effects than just whether or not you can finish watching the latest television series you started.

Once you have kids, you often have to make a decision of whether or not you want to put in those extra hours to get ahead at work, or if you’d rather spend them at home with your child. Are you playing with your child enough at night or are you spending a bunch of time out with coworkers building your connections? You’re going to have to sacrifice to some degree on one side or the other.

Unfortunately, this is simply how most of corporate America works. There are certainly employers out there that don’t hold you to this standard and are truly understanding of you as a parent. They will let you leave early to pick up a child that fell down on the playground, or they’ll let you work from home because your child is sick and they need to sleep all day (you can easily work while they do).

If you’ve found an employer that doesn’t punish you for these situations that arise, then consider yourself lucky, and be sure that before you move to another company that you understand what benefits you may really be giving up. While you may see a pay increase by moving to a new job, you may also see a huge reduction in your family time that you’re able to spend with your child and family.

If you’re in a position where you’re currently being punished for being a parent, then it may be worth looking at alternatives. There’s no reason that you should receive a smaller bonus than others because you’re not in the office as much as others on your team - if you’re producing the same amount of results, then it shouldn’t matter that you choose to spend your free time with your family.

Women often bear the worst of this, especially in years when they give birth. You’ll be missing at minimum two weeks of work, and ideally more than that. However, when you get back to work, there’s a good chance you’ll be overlooked for promotions or bonuses because of the missed time - you didn’t output the same amount of work as others because of your missed time and so your performance isn’t high enough. This is very common in the workplace, and it’s something that we as parents (men and women) need to continue to fight against.

Look for a job that will respect your duties as a parent. Balancing work and parenting is tough, and the more understanding your job has, the better off you’ll be.


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