{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "For those with kids, how would you feel if someone without kids told you “I chose not to have kids, because of where I want to spend my time. And, my priorities outside of work should carry as much weight as yours (meaning kids)”?", "post_id": "60a32c59a2776d002124ce45", "reply_count": 140, "vote_count": 17, "bowl_id": "59e88be7e2808e00149b0443", "bowl_name": "Women In Consulting" }

For those with kids, how would you feel if someone without kids told you “I chose not to have kids, because of where I want to spend my time. And, my priorities outside of work should carry as much weight as yours (meaning kids)”?

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IMO, if you hire me and/or any of my colleagues to work together I am going into any interactions with the respect and dignity that everyone has critical items that deserve their attention, respect, and space. Whether those items are children, hobbies, personal time, working out, mental health, volunteering, or caring for a parent - I am going into every interaction that we are all adults. We are all capable of understanding our obligations, and that in order for a person who wants to have children, to get to a place where that is an option - they (commonly) need to date, have a partner, and be given the time, space, and respect to have a life and community. I can’t out-rank anyone’s needs and I do not ask my colleagues or counterparts to tell me what they’re doing off working hours. The people who work for me understand their obligations and should be empowered to understand the timelines and speak if they can’t meet them do to emergencies. Treat people like adults, do not ask for more information than necessary, empower people to understand their autonomy. It is really this simple.

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This has been such a fascinating thread for me. Coming up in consulting, moms were the only people who seemed to have any respected right to work life balance at my firm, including access to low/no travel roles that were never available to others or openly offered for applications - always created uniquely for someone valued after they had kids. I was really bitter about this, because I desperately wanted balance and time off the road but could never get it. But, in retrospect I wasn’t willing to fight for it or live with any deceleration in my career because of it. I still don’t have kids but I am older now and a sentiment a lot of moms have expressed to me over the years rings so true - “I didn’t know how to boundary set with work until having a child forced me to learn.” For me, meeting my husband and needing to have time and real mental space for him helped me start on this journey. In retrospect, I have had lazy colleagues of all kinds (men, women, parents, childless) who don’t pull their weight and being a parent is not a predictor, and moms make a lot of sacrifices for any flexibility they are able to wrestle away from them system. I think a lot of young childless folks (including me in the past!) are bitter they can’t find it in themselves to demand better boundaries and sort of take that out on moms, at least in their minds. And then, often Moms get sidelined and resented for the boundaries they set when really we should all be setting them. And of course this makes moms annoyed at the rest of us! We don’t know what it’s like! I think this is where a lot of the angst that’s playing out on this thread comes in. In any case, I try to be a leader that advocates for boundaries for everyone and ultimately came to Slalom to get off the road and have better WLB. But I think this drama will continue to play out as long as work continues to suck the life out of so many of us, because that pits people against each other rather than creating a supportive, respectful environment.

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You mean at slalom? Personally, yes my WLB has improved dramatically. But my WLB at my old firm was rough - I was traveling during covid, I had been at my firm a long time and was pretty high up and involved in everything. Frequently I was leading multiple projects in different times zones all day, and running sales and internal initiatives all night. I’m def averaging less than 50 hrs a week at slalom, my projects are easier, and I am under way less pressure.

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I think that’s fair and generally agree, but I think context is important. People without kids shouldn’t be stuck always working late as their work life balance is also important. However, it’s important to remember that child is a living human, so in some cases a human life takes priority over other things, so context is important to the conversation.

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Most of the parents I know work their asses off. They are on after the kids go to bed, compensate with being very responsive, work weekends, etc to make sure they don’t leave their team in a bad spot. This idea that parents who are not physically present are slacking is loaded with bias. It’s also a shame that parents feel like they have to hide/not talk about their kids to avoid being judged or risking professional opportunities. I don’t want anyone judging me for my life outside of work, my obsession with my dog, my commitment to fitness classes/ race training or whatnot, but that isn’t seen as something that is seen as unprofessional to share in most cases. I struggle with the lack of empathy or understanding for others from some comments here. How do people operate as if their situation will never change or without taking the leap to imagine another’s experience? We should extend grace to others knowing we will need grace extended to us. We should also realize that the only behavior we can control is our own— if you don’t like your situation, don’t waste your energy being upset with someone else— work to change what you don’t like. Set boundaries, work in effective communication, and create the situation that suits you best.

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I don’t really agree with this but it’s not going to be productive to argue about it at work. It’s more a broad societal thing. It’s sad children are so devalued and sometimes vilified. Anyway, I’m a mom and almost never explain why I’m taking xyz flexibility. I think others should be free to do the same.

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I actually didn’t realize I was being aggressive, so if you have an example you want to launch my way, that would be helpful and I’m open to learning and adapting my style. Asked in the women’s bowl because of studies related to little disparity between professional trade offs and parenthood in men. Not entirely sure why you feel like it was inappropriate to ask women how they feel about women in a women’s bowl.

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I think the broader issue is “why the hell do we have to work so much that people either have to sacrifice how they take care of their children or their own personal time??” People with kids and those without are not on opposite ends!

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There were so many instances where my flexibility was deemed less of a priority than that of my colleagues with children... not really their fault because society doesn’t see WLB as valuable unless family is involved.

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SA1-and then if you take that flexibility because you have a family, you get mommy-tracked. It’s a lose-lose. Companies just want robots

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Okay, y’all, I gotta sleep. I wanted to say thank you for everyone who chimed in this conversation. I was truly looking for an exploration of all view points, and the opportunity to understand what was behind them. I’d like to offer my observations for anyone who’s wondering since some of the comments became chains and because my training for takeaways is apparently too real. (1) People with children had both the view point that kids should (sometimes) take priorities over things that people without children value AND the view point that everyone’s values are equal, and should be prioritized. (2) People without children tended to voice that everyone’s values are equal, and should be prioritized. (3) People with kids were the group with voices that their personal choice should impact their prioritization over others values. (4) one person drew a line between the difference of not being able to have children and choosing not to have children [unclear if parent] with one being more valid than the other (5) The people most likely to “engage and defend” were parents who believed that children should take priority (not necessarily all parents, just ones who expressed that belief). (6) Blame for any unfairness in favor of parents/against childless workers was not shouldered by either parents or non-parents. Instead it was consistently vague references to third parties like “the company” and “leadership”, who were responsible for culture and mistakes. No one in this thread at the time of me writing had acknowledged personal fault for any unfairness. (7) While unfairness appeared to be acknowledged in this thread, in only one instance did a parent acknowledge that they may have unfairly benefited from it. All other posts are written as the exceptions either aren’t unfair or the exceptions are deserved. (8) Not a single person on either side appeared to publicly change their opinion over the course of this discussion. How do you tell who the parents are, OP?!? Are you making this up?? Sort of. I watched for the 1st person/3rd person consistency in addition to people who self-identified (the disclosure is appreciated). Questions that are outstanding for another day - do we view unmarried or childless women as lesser contributors? If we are all a part of the culture, what ways are we advocating for those who are not in our situation (the childless for the mothers, and mothers for the childless)? Without both sides advocating for both, do mothers disproportionately benefit because mothers are the majority? Should mothers benefit because of how important motherhood is? Should you then only benefit if you positively contribute (example: since bad mothers actually create more problems in the world, should we be incentivizing good motherhood instead of attendance at mothering?)

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“The drive to do it for some does not feel like a choice.” It may not “feel” like it is, but it still is a choice. They can control that “drive” and make decisions about when and how it does or does not happen.

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I’ve never worked with a person who had children who was not shouldering the weight of their job. They also tend to shoulder the weight of judgment from childless colleagues. Your phrasing there seems pretty anti-woman/anti-family. It also assumes all women became mothers because they wanted to be which sadly is not the case. Plenty of women feel forced into it by their spouse. This really shouldn’t have turned into a parent vs non parent argument. Neither of the people in those categories are the issue. Resentment in either direction is completely normal if it’s directed at the situation and not the person. When i was in my 20s i didn’t resent the parents for having to take care of their kids nor did i think they should leave the workforce as you’ve implied. I was resentful that i had to disrupt my routine because my projects were poorly staffed. As a parent, i don’t resent the 20 something with boundless energy who gets all the best projects or is shooting up the ladder quickly because she has more “perceived” availability. I assume she’s giving a lot up (social life, fitness, mental health) to perform at work. I’ve been both of those people. Neither has it better than the other. The situation is just different. I will say that since becoming a parent, my perspective has shifted slightly in that I’m recognizing you can be on a rocket ship career wise and then have all of that derailed when you have a family. When i was younger i thought i could do both. I did chose to leave consulting to find time and it was worse in industry. I’m not going to leave the workforce over it. I am going to do my absolute best to eliminate those barriers for people I work with so they don’t feel like they are having to chose or that their needs aren’t important.

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I feel like OP started this thread with some preconceived biases. I also agree that this thread seems pretty anti-woman. Much of the child caring burden still falls upon women - if house tasks were more fairly divided, it wouldn’t be as hard for people to balance their work and family.

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I manage a department with 2 single mom supervisors and numerous other moms with FMLA on the books (now in industry) and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have growing resentment despite my best attempts to be supportive of these women, particularly in a pandemic when there are limited options for childcare. But every week it seems like there is some reason my team is leaving early/missing meetings: sick kids, picking up kids, appointments, etc. and it wears on me to not pick up the slack. One of the supervisor moms is a SME and makes nearly 2X my salary, and every time she has to leave to pick up her teenage daughter (who refuses to take her drivers test), I ask myself why she can’t just pay someone to do this rather than put me in this position to pick up her work, support her staff, etc while she is gone. I think a lot of these feelings are augmented in the pandemic when childcare is limited, folks are more remote, and whole flexible work is prioritized, there is at least some sense of inequity between parents and non-parents. I recognize the value to society to care for our children, but there is no give and take amongst these two types of people and it takes a large toll on me. Just my two cents, it’s tough.

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P1 - also starting to look for a new position. Sent a dm!

This shouldn’t be parents vs childless debate. In the case of a life emergency, support your team as you can. If there is an on-going, consistent need for extra hours, that’s a staffing issue, not a coworker has after-hours commitments issue. If *you* are judging your coworkers’ life choices, *you* are wrong. Doesn’t matter what those choices are.

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Peoples work boundaries should be respected no matter what drives them. It sounds like this person said that in a sort of rude/unprofessional way, but at the end of the day I do not think parents should get special/unique accommodations - but I think everyone should get the accommodations they need, including parents.

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Very well said!

I bet it men took on their fair share of parenting duties this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. When one parent is primary caregiver with no outside help and minimal father involvement it is a challenge to balance with work and I’m sure that their childless coworkers do have to pick up that slack because with kids stuff always happens even if you are super organized. Why is it always mothers that have to leave the meeting/sign off early?

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Very well said. And also as women you need to fight this inherent urge to please everyone. It is okay if someone doesn't like you for what you believe is right. And it is okay if you realize that price you pay for standing up for your rights, is something that society believes is too high. In any marriage or partnership, love is secondary- respect is paramount. If you do not stand up for your rights and expect someone to offer it to you on a silver platter, you are to blame. If you stand up for your rights and still your partner doesn't budge, you are to blame if you choose to stay. It is not about choosing a job over marriage. It is about not being with a person who doesn't have your back. The problem sometimes is the way things are at home, and even if workplace makes adjustments, you are fixing the wrong side of the problem

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OP I think the takeaway is that it isn’t as black and white as you are trying to make it out to be.

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My personal takeaway is that everyone’s values should be treated equally as priorities, but I now know that that is not sentiment shared by all parents.

likeuplifting

I am curious about the question behind the question. What do you feel OP?

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“I will pick this up tomorrow, I have a commitment.” Done. If you have kids, don’t feel you need to explain. If you don’t, same. Let’s pull each other up - no one should be working crazy long hours. I don’t care why. Also, kids are not the only reason, don’t assume childless colleagues can pick it up for you. Disabled family, serious illness, etc. are things many deal with. To my point, you don’t need to make excuses, just go.

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im confused how this convo would come up though. is someone with kids asking someone without kids to pick up slack at work. i dont think anyone should have to justify boundaries at work and work life balance. just set the boundary and leave it at that

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Whoops. Sorry A1. Just got to this comment, but I posted two examples above. I can probably think of another if that doesn’t answer your question. I’m not a very fast texter.

I have 3 kids. I’d be fine if someone said that. If I have to leave at 5pm to keep a human alive or not get investigated by child services, then I’ll leave and log back in later if there’s something to finish. If someone else has to leave at 5, so be it, and I assume they’d also work to meet the deadline once they attend to their personal needs.

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If it’s a regular occurrence or accepted fact that the team picks up work because someone has kids... that’s absolutely not okay. People with kids can get protections for modified schedules in some cases. And people need to do what they need to do! But why would other people have to consistently work more because someone has kids? WTF (emergencies an exception).

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So my ‘yoga’ break which is something for my mental health is less important than your kid getting sick... is it??

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Neutral. They are probably missing out on what I have and I am probably missing out of what they have. Different values and perspectives.

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M2 - “shoved into a ‘no kids’ bucket like they chose to” ... do you believe that people who choose not to have children are “worse” than people who are either unable to or those who have children?

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I think that misses the point. It’s not that one is more important than the other. It’s the parents don’t have a choice. If i leave my kid home alone sick, i will be arrested because neglect is an actual crime.

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Agree with all that and you seem like a great team member to work with!

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I agree with people above - people should be able to sign off at 5 if they need to for whatever reason. However, when I did not have kids, I tried to keep in mind that if I didn’t have anything crazy going on or didn’t need a break, I could do those with kids a solid and pick up something extra or work around their schedule when needed. That’s just me tho. Now that I just had a kid, I’d totally appreciate if someone did that for me, but would not want it to be constant and as a manager, it’s very important to me people have good WLb and don’t have to miss things with their friends, a workout class, etc.

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I don’t think people without kids should be penalized for not choosing or being able to have kids. Everyone has a right to an equal life and work life balance. So it’s equally important to allow someone to go pick up their kids at soccer practice at 6pm as it is for someone else to need to take a break and maybe go workout or make dinner at 6pm. Neither of these are more valid or important than the other. Those who have children, you chose to have children and this job. That means you need to shoulder the responsibilities of this job just as much as everyone else. I currently don’t have children (about to get married), but I will soon

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