Archive for the 'life and family' category

One Man & a Baby

Mar 09 2012 Published by under life and family

This is a combined/excerpted/modified version of some interesting gripe-mails, with details removed and the verb tense arbitrarily set in the present (some e-mails used the past tense), but still (I hope) capturing the essence of the situation/s:

I am in a family-friendly department, and I am really grateful for that. It is one of the reasons I have generally been very happy with my job over the years. Owing to my infant/toddler/school-aged child, I sometimes have to leave a meeting early or postpone something for reasons related to my son/daughter. I do this as little as possible, but it happens. I never hide the reason for my absence/departure (etc.), usually just saying that I have to pick up/take care of my kid. I appreciate very much that everyone seems to understand, and has never treated me as if I am not serious about my job. But..

And this is where the writers of the e-mails diverge a bit, some saying they feel like a hypocrite because.. (see below), some just harshly criticizing those who use the kid-excuse (apparently) too much, and some wondering if there is a difference in how men and women deal with such things (that is, not in their own life, but in how and how often they communicate about their work-family time conflicts to their colleagues).

Note 1: I think most of the e-mails are from women, and in some cases that is relevant, but in other cases it isn't.

Note 2: If you're interested, there's an old FSP-post on a related topic ("TMI Talks").

A specific focus of ire or, at least, mild contempt, seems to be those who bring up their kid and their kid-responsibilities at every possible instance and in many different contexts, even when it is not relevant.

For example, in one situation in which perhaps the gender of the griper and the gripee matter, the "I feel like a hypocrite" comment came from a woman who was very weary of how often a male colleague mentioned his diaper-changing, baby-walking, baby-carrying, baby-this-and-thatting, not in casual/social conversation, but at pretty much every opportunity in the course of the work day (faculty meetings, committee meetings, professional e-mails etc.). She wonders whether a woman would bring these activities up quite so often in a professional setting, or whether women are more concerned about appearing too unprofessional and distracted from their work (whereas men get points for being the Involved Dad).

I am guessing that most people wouldn't be bothered if someone (of any gender) says in a meeting, "I'm sorry I have to leave this meeting early, but it's 5:42 PM and I have to pick up my kid from daycare by 6:00." The question is whether you think it is annoying or cute/heartwarming if someone (you can break this down by gender if it is relevant to you) says in a meeting, "That's a good point, Bob. I was thinking of something similar last night while I was changing my son's diaper, so I'd like to suggest that we keep talking about X before making a final decision." (especially if that wasn't a one-time event, but something repeated in many different professional contexts).

What think you, readers? General opinions and anecdotes are both welcome.



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