Look at the picture that begins this post.
What could be more natural, or more enjoyable
A mother an child, captured in paint by the artist Firmin Baes, in an ideal maternal pose that many of us would like to see.
Mother and child are at peace, all is calm, and, by what we can see both are in good health. Yet what of the world that surrounds them. At the time when this work was painted, such a maternal setting may have reflected the social values of the time, but we now live in very different times, and such an idea, to a degree, seems to be on the wane
We still have mothers and babies of course, and any new mother and baby deserves our support within the community, but such needs, however natural, have created a problem within the workplace that, in these days of austerity, is getting worse by the day
What problem is this, why quite simply the problem of an increasingly uneven playing field, where the workers without parental responsibilities are set at a disadvantage within the work place in order to accommodate the needs of the mother/father and child.
At this point I hear the outraged screams of many a mother or parent who reads this post, but bear with me for a moment while I explain what I mean. Motherhood, or parenthood, by any standard that I can think of is difficult. It has its’ rewards of course, as there is no greater bond than that of a mother or father and child, but it can also be time consuming, emotionally draining, physically exhausting. financially crippling, or in summary ; a pain.
Yet it is still, a question of choice, as regards whether or not to have a baby, and unfashionable though this view might be, I question how much leeway or preferential treatment should be given to a mother or father looking after child. Some might say, upon reading this post, that I am a grumpy old misogynist with a chip on his shoulder, but I’d like to get that one out of the way before anyone starts screaming at me.
I am not such a character, either naturally or by design; I am simply one of millions of childless workers who have had to cover the unpleasant or inconvenient work shifts that a lot of mothers, or fathers for that matter cannot, or will not, do. We sympathise with parents as regards the pressures of parental duties, but it can be hard to accept the rotten hours or shifts simply because we do not have a child. We are told that:-
- We don’t understand what it’s like to be a parent
- It’s different when you don’t have children and
- It’s easy for us as we do not have a child
All this is true, to a degree anyway, as if you have not had a child I doubt whether you really appreciate all the difficulties, but is the decision to have a child a matter of choice rather than a natural inevitability. If a person develops a disease such as cancer, dementia etc then I think it is only right for others in the workplace to be fully supportive, but to my mind pregnancy is, apart from one set of circumstances, different. If a couple decide to create a new life, that should be their choice and responsibility. If an accidents do happen, a topic to be explored in a further post, them remedial measures are freely available over the counter via the morning after pill, a pill which can be taken 3-5 days afterwards. Finally if a couple, or a single mother refute such measures due to deeply held humanitarian of religious convictions, then is it not up to them to take more care in the first place
I should however point out the genuine exceptions. I know there can be medical reasons why prevention or termination can occur, and if non consensual intercourse has occurred, then I would sympathise with such a resultant pregnancy.
What I would ask any expectant or new parent to concede, or at least understand, is the fact that, by covering the more unpleasant shifts that cannot be worked because or pregnancy or child care necessities, we childless workers can find ourselves at a considerable disadvantage.
“Fine, you” might say, “but you haven’t got any children”.
That is true, but that is often our choice, as not all of us have strong maternal or paternal instincts, and therefore such a circumstance can barely be described as a failing or a crime. Then, of course, some other couples are unable to have children for medical reasons, and other simply because they do not have the funds. In all such instances is it right that they should be penalised, however inadvertently; and is it right that the social life of their choosing should be compromised because another co-worker wishes to bear a child?
So how are the desires of all workers to be accommodated. Ideally at work all workers should bear the same weight of work and antisocial hours equally, but, during pregnancy this cannot always occur. Afterwards though it is different, and this is where three separate paths clearly emerge.
- To treat all workers equally regardless of any child care needs
- To allocate the more antisocial or unpleasant aspects of work onto childless or non active parental workers
- To encourage or facilitating parenting facilities within the workplace
The first two paths have been explored already, but the last option offers a potential, if only a potential solution and service for all. Look at the table below and you will see what I mean
|The creation of a child friendly work environment||Potential difficulties as regards workspace design, workplace insurance, and health and safety|
|On site child care facilities for those with young children||On site child care facilities for those who do not wish to work in such an environment|
|An oprtunity to harmonise work and childcare||potential distraction within the workplace due to co-workers childcare needs|
Putting aside, for the sake of this discussion, the fact that child care facilities within certain work places are almost impossible, let us assume that such services can and are em-placed for those in need. Looking at the table above it is a great idea as regards parenting, but even at a quick glance it can be seen that certain problems can occur
So it is that I would sum up by making the plea to all parents and shift organisers.
As childless workers, through choice or circumstance, we do understand, or try to understand, your parental desires and your real need to take care of your children, but please try and understand our position within the workplace and our social needs. We don’t decry your desire to have children, albeit, through possible experience, we may think you slightly insane, and, if so desired, we wish you well with your venture; but it does irritate us when we have to pick up the pieces left behind after such an event happens, and it can be irksome when we cannot live our own lives to the full.
So there you go, there are my views, or my rants maybe, on child care and the working environment, but in the spirit of fairness and equality, you might like to see the you tube video that I have inserted below.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, hopefully you will come back to read some more.