The Gluten Bigot: Men & Women, Becoming a Parent & The Work Place

Monday, March 16, 2015

Men & Women, Becoming a Parent & The Work Place

In the past almost two years, I've noticed the comments that differeniate men and women in the workplace when it comes to babies. It starts with the pregnancy, and what I have seen has been pretty similar in terms of announcements and initial acknowledgement. As the months go on is where the divide begins. 

I have never heard anyone speculate on if a man would come back to work after the baby arrives. I hear this about almost every expectant women from colleagues, friends and family. Women are expected to want to stay home, abandon their careers and focus on raising the offspring. Yes, working is the norm. But if you're female you're at least supposed to WANT to stay home.

Next is leaves... but this one is larger than me and varies by country. In my family, we were lucky, my husband had equal time off to me (his employer has an amazing new parent leave policy, well beyond what is legally required). In fact, he had more paid leave than I did - and I was the one who had a csection haha. The result was my husband had lots of time he took over the span of the year to bond with Bricklet. Most of the dads I know in the US have no paid leave and therefore can't afford to take much more than a week or two off.

Once the leave is over, no one is shocked when the dad comes back. Expectations do not change. But when the mom comes back in some cases there will be the shock of 'I didn't think she would come back.'  And sometimes the expectations from her do change, but not in a positive way. I was lucky and had an amazing boss who didn't modify his overall expectations of me. 

Finally, once back and in the swing of things almost no one remarks to dad "Wow, you're doing a great job balancing work and family... you really can' have it all!" But women will hear this, even when they feel they are sucking at everything so long as they aren't hiding in the mother's room crying about missing their baby. I've had several people make similar remarks to me. All well-intentioned. I'm flattered each time, especially if it's a day where I really feel like I"m failing someone - why aren't we giving this support to dads? 

I wonder why no one remarks? Is it because women are still carrying the load at home (the second shift)? What about when you have someone who is a complete equal contributor (ahem, my husband)? Why don't they deserve acknowledgement? 

This isn't intended to be a rant. I just want everyone to think about it. Is the speculation of whether a woman comes back to work progressive and supporting equal expectations of men and women? If you knew the conversation was about you, how would you feel about it? When you're giving the new mom kudos, are you acknowledging the new dad who also has dark circles and is on his third coffee? Is this the conversation you want your kids to be having in 20 or 30 years? If the answer to any of those is no, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate if your conversations match you values.

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