Kids & Careers: The Temple of Doom?

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As long as the country has Shirley Temple we will be alright” – FDR

Well it sounds like he was right. The world lost Shirley Temple and this country seems to be going to hell in handbag lately. And not a good handbag either but a knock-off handbag made from a sweatshop in a far away land because it’s cheaper for businesses to outsource than keep any jobs here.

I woke to this news but also some sad news nearer to my heart. Someone very close to me lost their job yesterday. In today’s job market I realize you’re lucky if you have one…and even luckier if it’s a good one. With all the changes impacting small businesses it’s making the job market harder and harder. If you’re fortunate enough to get in  the door you really have to prove yourself – Because if not, there’s hundreds of others out there ready to take your place. So she missed a couple days of work last week because her son was sick and they let her go yesterday citing they were “going with someone with more experience” as their excuse. Not because she missed work but just, in other words, going with “someone” whose kids are grown or who doesn’t have kids at all and won’t inconvenience them. It sucks. But that’s life I guess. I used to manage an office so I totally understand how someone missing work can throw a wrench in your day –  regardless of their reasoning. However, as a parent now I also know that when your kid’s sick they can’t go to school or daycare because then they become a liability to that institution and risk getting all the other kids sick too. Creates quite a pickle for a parent. I’m definitely not looking forward to this aspect of returning to work now that I’m a mother.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on a soapbox calling for more welfare or rewards for laziness here. I’m also not saying everyone with kids should get a free pass either. There’s a huge difference in someone calling off work because they partied too hard the night before versus someone who woke up to get ready for work and stepped in a puddle of vomit from a child who has a fever of 104 and her backup isn’t unavailable on such short notice. There’s also an obvious difference between someone who wants to work and someone who doesn’t. As parents when we encounter a situation we add it to the “what if” list and create new backup plans for all sorts of crazy things that may come up. That overabundance of caution is one of the side effects of becoming a parent. We have backup plans for everything and a party line of people to call for all sorts of situations. “It takes an army to raise a child” isn’t just a saying because of all of the people your child will encounter in their life. It’s because of all the people that you may need to rely on to be able to actually raise your child. But, even still and no matter how much you have planned, unexpected things happen. It’s difficult enough when two parents work at it together but being a single parent makes it even harder to plan out all of the what-if’s when you’re on your own.

Perspective is a grand accomplishment in this world and any good parent would never sacrifice their family for their own greed or to put wads of cash in their employer’s pocket. I don’t understand why society wants to breed this type of thinking in to us – Why we are being forced to choose. Why can’t we have both? Why can’t we live without being price-gouged or taxed so heavily so that we can enjoy our families without being worried by the threat of losing our jobs if we do? Why can’t we afford to live – not lavishly, but comfortably – without spending every waking moment away from our family and at work just so we can eek by. When a mother loses her job simply because she is a mother what type of damage does that create to her, her perspective on things, and her desire to work? Moreover, what type of lasting impression will that leave on her child in terms of their personal worth and their outlook on the world? In the chase of dollars we are teaching our children the exact opposite of what we should want for their future. We are stealing their sunshine for a desk with four walls and no window. The payment for our hard work is barely seeing our family and hardly earning enough to live on after paying our taxes and insurance premiums. Our family’s payment is getting to spend time with us at our worst, most exhausted and grouchy selves – if they get to see us at all before bed that is.  If our children are our future why shouldn’t we be encouraged to spend more time with our family and less time breaking our backs just to afford to pay Uncle Sam and his corrupted system while computers and televisions are programming our children for us? Did it ever occur to anyone that these problems are all connected and by taking steps to correct one we may fix much much more?…That by creating enthusiasm might cure the laziness and inspire more ingenuity in this country?…That maybe allowing our employees to care about their families and their jobs without having to choose one or the other will make them want to work harder for their employers in return?…That maybe showing our children what they are worth by encouraging family time will instill confidence in them to want to do well in the world and not grow up resenting everything so much that they just give up on trying at all?…That we begin to breed a society of people who want to work and be productive instead of settling for the incentives of being lazy and doing nothing because they can’t have a family and be productive workers in this country?…Or perhaps that it might reduce a number of unhappy, disconnected marriages and the number of divorces in this country? It’s called a ripple effect and whether negative or positive it takes only one drop; One action in the right direction to start a trend and create a pattern of equally positive ripples.

Children should know that it takes hard work to achieve things in life but no child should have to suffer for their parents to succeed nor should they be the cause for why they can’t succeed. I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone with kids and obviously doesn’t for those without them. But I know the stigma carried when it comes to kids. I put off having kids for a long time for fear of what it would do to my career and our lifestyle and seeing how it unfolded in the end, I regret all that time I lost. My biggest fear before I had a child was losing my job in exchange for having a family. My biggest fear now that I have a child is not being able to get a job in the future because I’m a mom. I can only imagine how many others are out there putting off having a family or not being the parents they wish they could be because of how it may impact their jobs and that just isn’t right. Granted there are people out there who just want a handout and who use their kids to get away with everything. There are also those that probably shouldn’t even have children. But I know that there are also good people who have great enthusiasm for their jobs AND their families who deserve to have both their job and their family. I started the game with a great work ethic and was a slave to my job but having a child now definitely gives me more to consider when I do return to the workforce. On the other hand, many people don’t really even learn to respect and appreciate their jobs until they have kids, ergo something more than themselves to take care of who depend on them and their hard work. Either way, the workers you want as an employer are the ones who care about what they do on and off the field. The ones that want to do well in work and in life. Those are the success-seekers and enthusiasts that not only keep your business going but make it soar.

This person in particular is great at what she does and genuinely cares – about her child and about doing a good job. It just sucks when the two collide and can’t play nice together. I know she will be okay. For now she’s still on call two days a week and she will find another job – I pray that it is sooner rather than later. But I still just don’t understand how we went from a simpler, happier time when a child like Temple was not just appreciated but adored by the nation; when parents could be parents first to a world of single parents, with a broken reward/welfare system created by a broken government and families that are busting their ass to barely get by in a work industry that doesn’t tolerate the inconvenience of kids.

Kids & Careers: The Temple of Doom?

Kids & Careers: The Temple of Doom?

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