{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I, a childless woman who does not plan to have kids, am jealous of the parental leave parents get to take from work from choosing to have a child (a big life event). I 100% understand that they are working in a different way by taking care of the baby and being deliriously worn out in the process, but it makes me sort of jealous that unless I have a kid there is no life event that I can take ~3 months away from work to focus on and enjoy, plus have my hours prorated and a job to come back to.", "post_id": "61d945a91b12c200394c985b", "reply_count": 232, "vote_count": 46, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law", "feed_type": "bowl" }

I, a childless woman who does not plan to have kids, am jealous of the parental leave parents get to take from work from choosing to have a child (a big life event). I 100% understand that they are working in a different way by taking care of the baby and being deliriously worn out in the process, but it makes me sort of jealous that unless I have a kid there is no life event that I can take ~3 months away from work to focus on and enjoy, plus have my hours prorated and a job to come back to.

likefunnyhelpful
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I don’t have children (would like to and I may adopt) and I generally agree. I don’t feel jealousy because almost anyone can become a parent if they choose to (even if not biologically). I think I only feel jealous of things categorically unavailable to me. That said, the prevailing culture is set up to privilege people who choose to marry and have children. It’s not just law firms. I don’t know that there is any way to change that other than through long term cultural shifts. There are many ways childless folks can contribute to the world, many that are labor intensive (e.g. animal rescue, volunteering with refugees, caring for older relatives) but don’t qualify for automatic paid leave. That is unfair. It would be good to have “major life event” leave that mirrors parental leave. I don’t think of sabbaticals in the same way. To be equivalent to parental leave, it has to be more than just vacation/R&R time.

likeupliftingsmart

I feel this so hard. I work extra on nights and weekends to help my community focusing on mutual aid. It’s not pro bono. It’s volunteer / community work that I’ll never get credit for or time off to dedicate myself to unless I use vacation (and it wouldn’t be vacation because it would still be work). Great point.

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I love covering for colleagues who take time away for voluntary domestic indulgences. It builds my experience, it shows the boss they don't really need my colleague, and it puts me in pole position in the next restructuring - especially if it happens whilst they are away. And with sex equality, men also get an equal crack at damaging their career! ;) Seriously, though: I believe the average household has 2.4 children so if child-free employees commit to not having any children, and sign a waiver, could we have circa 18 months off on full pay, please? Specifically, could I have 18 months off for skiing? Personally, I derive immense spiritual satisfaction from “being at one with the mountains” when I go skiing. I trust that no one will deign to denigrate what I deem valuable in my own life, and seek to elevate over their breeding preferences? Why, therefore, should putative parents, whether birth or adoptive, be awarded, say, 26 weeks’ free salary, and the same be denied to me if I wish to spend a season (or three) improving my off piste technique? Financially, all these giveaways are effectively paid for by the child-free colleagues of those disappearing off to take a subsidised holiday to bond with their newly-spawned hobby. Having children is a normal thing to and doesn't require having loads of time off to get used to the new arrival: this is simply a gimmick to reward certain employees at the expense of others. Also, the work left behind while the shirkers disappear to drop sprogs must be covered by colleagues - do they get an extra 26 weeks too, or do they just have to work harder? We all know the answer. There is no benefit to child-free employees when their breeding colleagues are given up to a year off work, at firms’ expense. Those of us who have chosen not to have children (inter alia because they're noisy and expensive) are subsidising colleagues who have decided to indulge their basest reproductive urges on an already-overpopulated planet. Please don't demean critics' intelligence by attempting to portray child-rearing as anything other than self-interested and self-indulgent. It’s not. Good luck to those who choose that path - I genuinely wish them well - but have no desire to subsidise them from my salary. To be clear, if people want to spawn umpteen children, good luck to them - genuinely. There is however no objective benefit to the rest of us. I am not, nor would I ever seek, to denigrate people's emotional investment in their offspring. Rather, I am merely highlighting the incongruity between arbitrarily assigning value to certain extracurricular activities over others, and rewarding them at the expense of colleagues who have chosen to be child-free (and also those who through infertility have had that choice forced upon them). For, of course, there are limited profits, and they can only be invested into one of, e.g. training, recruiting, marketing, maternity/paternity leave, or salaries. It genuinely is a zero sum game: money paid to breeders is money which cannot go elsewhere. My posited skiing/child-rearing dichotomy is genuine (if slightly facetious). There is a conflict of interest when firms arbitrarily choose to reward certain groups of people with discretionary benefits and not others. For the avoidance of doubt, I accept that in some firms, there maybe a business case to attract people who wish to downgrade their hours, and that since prospective parents are significant target audience, it may be worth throwing money at them. Please don’t pretend to the rest of us however that this is anything less than a recruiting and retention exercise at the expense of those of us who are happily child-free. Thank you.

likesmartfunny

As if any of us on BigLaw salaries care about social security?! Pretending that’s a legitimate reason for you spawning is pitiful. As to the other comments, no: once I saw my friends with their children, I quickly got a vasectomy. Easiest decision in my life! 😂

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I hate to say this but you literally have no idea why this time is needed until you have a kid. The policy was made by parents for parents and until you have a kid it will be hard to relate to why this time is crucial.

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All I hear is a lack of compassion and competition for who has it worse. This shouldn’t be an either or. We should all be kinder with less judgement to everyone.

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All of the parents on here must be extremely exhausted with caring for their kids because they aren’t reading what OP initially said.

likesmartfunny

Agreed

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I’m sorry, but posts like these make young attorneys like me terrified of having more children. I’d love to have 3 kids, but it’s precisely because people equate maternity leave to r&r that women with families end up leaving BigLaw. OP may not mean it, but this view that maternity leave is “time off” is terrifying to young female professionals who want to have a family but are afraid to be seen as disinterested. We’ve come a long way but by comparing apples to oranges (more specifically, maternity leave to a sabbatical) OP is (hopefully inadvertently) poking the cause of severe anxiety in a profession that is already known for discouraging women to focus on their families. OP can advocate for sabbatical, it’s reasonable, but please don’t compare it to maternity leave, at the risk of attacking something that is still extremely fragile and difficult in the US and in our profession.

likesmart

This. You perfectly articulated the sentiments of several other posters.

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Tell me you have no idea what parenting is like without saying you have no idea what parenting is like.

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A13 based on your argument, I can see why it took so long for US employers to start embracing paternity leave. I think a better way of interpreting OP’s post is to replace “baby” with “passion project.” Parents get parental leave to focus on their passion project (ie, their choice to have a child; a life endeavor they are passionate about). It would be great if there was a similar type of leave available for other types of personal passion projects (eg, starting a non-profit, volunteer full-time for a month, taking a month long religious mission trip abroad, the list goes on).

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As someone who has a baby, I agree and I feel like childless people should be entitled to a sabbatical to pursue their own interests.

likeuplifting

What makes you think the first three months after a baby that you can “focus and enjoy”? I had crippling postpartum anxiety and could barely feed myself or the baby. Nothing enjoyable about it.

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Same here. I’m on mat leave following an emergency c-section and I do not have the hours in the day to keep baby fed, keep myself hydrated and fed (let alone bathed), and properly recover from surgery. Nothing about this leave is “focus and enjoy” and nothing about this leave is protecting me from burning out of my profession.

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Employees need to stop airing their grievances by attacking the benefits other employees in different situations receive. The annoyance should be directed at the decision makers that foster an environment where burnout is prevalent, and no benefits are provided to employees to directly manage/reduce said burnout. No reason whatsoever to try and equivocate parental leave with a sabbatical. Us lower level employees are in this together.

likehelpful

Is jealousy a bad thing? I never said I was so jealous that parental leave shouldn't exist - I can understand how that would be bad. I addressed my admitted jealousy by saying theoughout my responses on here that more types of leave having the same facets as parental leave (hours, expectation of having a job upon return) should also exist beyond leave you have to have a kid for. I'm sorry you don't think my main post was worded eloquently enough, but I don't think I was negative about parental leave in this thread, but negative about the lack of any other leave not involving children.

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I’m with OP. Parental leave is not a vacation, but I do get jealous when I see new moms leaving for 4-6 months to pursue a part of their life that they obviously really wanted. Everyone says parenting is hard work, but why do it unless it is actually personally fulfilling? I want some time doing some work that is not lawyering that is also personally fulfilling. That is all.

likehelpful

Great way to put it & FWIW I’m a mom who has taken full maternity leave. I hear you.

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I 100% felt this way until I actually had a child and holy hell is it different. I spent that entire mat leave terrified I would somehow kill the baby because I was so new to parenting, it was more stressful than anything and I kept freaking out about how I would ever be able to do my job again well. Thankfully childcare exists and works. My life has never been harder yet more joyful and I completely understand your sentiments but just know that us working moms are in a constant state of frantic chaos!

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I feel the same way. I really wish firms had a sabbatical program that associates who have not taken a leave in X number of years could utilize every few years. I also get that these leaves are due to life events (and think they are super important). I just think it would be a nice equalizer (in more ways than one) of sabbaticals were available and encouraged

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This would be nice but let’s not get it twisted. Parental leave is far from a sabbatical unless you’re planned sabbatical includes sleepless nights, taking care of another human being 24/7 and recovering from traumatic surgery and body changes, all at the same time.

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Speaking from the perspective of someone with children who has associates who might or might not have them, I have to do the same amount of work to cover for someone llama trekking in Patagonia as I do for someone having a kid. Why wouldn’t I let someone go llama trekking? Before you start sending resumes, I’m not in charge of anything at my firm and these programs are all put in place because of legal requirements or competitive pressure in the job market. There is no firm that wants to go first with llama trekking leave, but as soon as someone does and high quality lawyers start moving there because of it then all firms will follow.

likefunny

Haven’t y’all learned by now that you can’t say the word parent on here without being attacked

likefunny

If I had you watch my kid for a singular weekend then I’m pretty sure you’d delete this post lol

likefunny

So if you could go back would you choose to not have your kid? You chose to have a kid and I assume the sacrifices you made are worth it because having a child is personally fulfilling to you? We should let people who choose to not have children also pursue something outside of work that is personally fulfilling to them. And I say this as someone who wants to have a child and pray to god I do so while still in biglaw to take advantage of the amazing parental leave policy.

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My male friends who have taken paternity leave had a very different experience. 10-12 weeks to play with their new child.

likefunny

😂😂😂😂

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I think instead of being angry at new parents who are taking parental leave, you need to examine your own life and reflect what it is about the current state of affairs that would evoke such a response. Happy people don’t have these thoughts.

likeupliftingfunny

Omg - PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who immediately flashed back to that scene in Legally Blonde ..."Excercise makes endorphins, and endorphins make you happy! And happy people dont just murder their husbands." A+ for the toxic positivity. 😂

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Lol at this. The tide may be very slowly turning, but for most moms in big law, the mat leave was the beginning of the end of their career at their firm, mostly not by choice. Those who stay know how it is. Laughable to think that 3-6 months off does anything to compensate for the next 10-15 years of juggle if you do try to stay. At my last firm, a very well know big law firm with fantastic associates, no associate that took a maternity leave had made partner since the 90s when I left a handful of years ago. You, meanwhile, could simply request a sabbatical, and if that doesn’t work, just quit and get a new job and ask for the 3 month break in between, without your competence and commitment being constantly questioned. Edited to say: fine and fair to feel burnt out and need a break. But don’t come at working moms in a big law bowl. Jesus.

likefunny

As someone who does not have children but plans to, I understand the importance of this policy. I had my nephew for three days while WFH and I almost cried. Caring for another human being is a full time rewarding experience. Also, from a logical standpoint this makes no sense. If there are policies for bereavement and disabilities, are you going to be upset because they don't apply to you. If you want freedom, become your own boss.

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Also, bereavement leave is 5 days…

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I think the push back from parents OP is because until you have lived it, it’s hard to understand. It’s not your fault - you just haven’t walked in those shoes. I have never had such a difficult period in my life as those 16 weeks. There was nothing I enjoyed about maternity leave: a time of extreme sleep deprivation, spousal conflict with our world turned upside down, recovering from major surgery, being frustrated and half out of my mind with a colicy baby. My point is that childbirth is not a life event that allows “3 months away from work to focus on and enjoy.” That said, you absolutely should be able to take extended leave for reasons other than having children.

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Well put 👍

Adopt a teenage kid and have them live with your parents.

likefunny

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