Do Parents Really Have It Easier Than Non-Parents At Work?
9:30 am, April 10th | by Laura Donovan
A new article in the New York Post, however, presents the issue of unattached workers receiving fewer privileges than their married counterparts who have children. The publication interviewed personal trainer Diana Antholis, who recalled being reprimanded for wanting to leave work early for a doctor’s appointment — a clear contrast to the way employees with children are treated when they ask to duck out before regular departure time to attend to their kids. This, Antholis said, is an attack on the personal choices of workers.
“We all understand having children is an incredibly important job, but it is also a choice,” Antholis told The Jane Dough in a follow up email. “And other people, no matter how young or old they may be, have choices in how they want to live their lives. Managers seem to be much more lenient towards parents when it comes to leaving work early or having other employees pick up the slack.”
Laura Scott, founder of the Childless by Choice Project, told the Post that employees without offspring are expected to take on more work and log in more hours than parents at the office, which, as Antholis pointed out, can seem like an assault on an employee’s decisions rather than his/her quality of work.
Graphic designer Kristen Bossert agreed, telling the Post, “I’m the one who always gets stuck at work. If you have no kids, you have no excuses.” Nevermind an ill parent or personal health issues, right?
The average age of first-time mothers was 25 in 2006, so the parents probably aren’t entry-level folks who barely have the freedom to use the restroom during the day. As a young employee with no little ones, I know it can be tough to lobby for reasonable demands (i.e. time off work for doctor’s appointments), but this is an unfortunate con to the “pay your dues” reality, which we all dislike yet know is part of the bargain. It’s something our parents and grandparents faced as well. Why else were they forced to miss lots of family dinners and our appearances in school plays and athletic events? The more junior level workers are probably younger than those with children in school, so chances are, they’ve been in the workforce long enough to earn flexibility. Antholis said herself that those with more privileges were above her in standing:
“The people who had flexible schedules were more senior. They were not executive level – I would say middle management. They were within 5-10 years of my age. I think that’s also because as you get older, you are more likely to marry and have kids! (I also worked in a young industry.)”
This does little for older employees without kids, though. According to the Post, 61 percent of childless women ages 33-47 felt their coworkers with kids were granted more flexibility. Research from a 2007 study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior reveals that childless workers often think they must work harder yet get fewer perks than their colleagues who are parents. That said, they also don’t have to work arguably the hardest job in the world on top of a full-time position that pays.
Work situations usually improve the course of a person’s career, but hopefully having children isn’t the only way to gain some understanding from superiors.