Working mothers getting an unfair break? Hardly.

(Tim) On the way to Spokane, it's my third flight of the day, but we're delayed due to some thingamabobber on the front of the wing that's not responding to the watchamacallit. So more interesting tidbits from the Times.

In the business section, there's a short piece on singles in the corporate world who are whining about how unfair it is that parents get perks they don't get. If working mothers get time off or flex time to care for sick children and to give birth, why shouldn't they get time off to go to Jamaica?

Family friendly benefits are starting to generate a backlash among those people who do not have children. Childless singles feel put upon, taken for granted and exploited…by married and childrearing co-workers.

The article tells us "a growing number of childless workers are answering 'no' to questions like… 'Is it fair to offer a working mother a flexible schedule but not provide the same option to a woman without children?'"

Anyone care to answer their question?

For myself, I'd start by saying one of the great injustices of our country is the terrible burden working mothers are forced to bear, particularly those who are single...

Yes, there are always a few bad apples in the bushel. Undoubtedly some working mothers take advantage of the adjustments their employers make for them. But the mothers of our congregation who have young children and need to work because, for instance, their husband abandoned them, are my heroines.

Beleaguered. Sleepless. Tired. Poor. Fearful of losing their children, being judged by other believers, and having their ex woo their children's hearts away from them and from God; who could possibly feel put upon by them? Ever since we fell head over heels for no-fault divorce laws, women and children have been the largest share of the growth in those living below the poverty line. And this is not even to mention the suffering of those million plus women each year in these United States whose boyfriends, husbands, fathers, or mothers talk them into killing off their unborn babies.

Documenting the crisis, the Times reports that HR Magazine ran a cover story for corporate human resource staff titled, "Are You Too Family Friendly?"

Corporate America too family friendly? Get serious. When family wages return, I'll begin to worry.

Comments

Maybe they should remember that their parents had children, too. You shouldn't have to have children to recognize that child-rearing is important; simply having once been a child ought to get the point across.

This is the natural result of the view that children are nothing more than big ticket luxury items that you decide to get (provided you can afford it, of course). Therefore, parents aren't viewed as sacrificial but bizarrely self-indulgent.

I echo what Christina said. And I wish I'd known you were going to be in Spokane; we'd have driven over. It might be the closest chance we ever got to meet you.

I've also been a single dad, and the climate for them isn't all that friendly in corporate America, either. Besides the normal single-parent issues, there's the added expectation that men will always put their jobs ahead of everything else.

I should add to that that Christina has been a single working mother, too, and knows whereof she speaks. It's a vicious cycle of inadequate pay, inadequate working conditions, and hard-bought opportunity for parenting. You can do all of them, but doing all of them well at the same time is well-nigh impossible. The trade-offs take a terrible toll.

"It's a vicious cycle of inadequate pay, inadequate working conditions, and hard-bought opportunity for parenting. You can do all of them, but doing all of them well at the same time is well-nigh impossible. The trade-offs take a terrible toll."

Joel,

Speaking as a single father (and a family law attorney), I can't agree that the financial stresses faced by single parents are a vicious circle created by corporate america, government, the republicans, democrats or what ever.

Single parenthood is hard, very hard, but it's usually a result of the bad decisions we (adults) have made. It's not corporate america's job to make it easier on single parents. It's on us to ensure that our children have two loving parents and when WE (through our bad judgment or sin) deprive our children of that, they are suffering for OUR mistakes, not corporate america's.

Joel, we're very sorry we didn't know. We'd have liked to meet you. Another time, Lord willing.

Kevin, good comments, brother.

I think some of this comes from a lack of love for children in our culture. The other day I was reading one of those dear Abby type advise columns and a a woman was complaining about how people take their kids to restaurants and other places and it is so horrible for others to have to live with them. She was saying she would prefer to have people bringing their pets than to have them bring their children. The columnist agreed with her. As a parent of many I don't particularly enjoy kids that are undisciplined although even the best behaved kids can have their day but it just seemed like the tone in that column is that children are a bother. We do get a lot of remarks about how well behaved our kids are. I don't know that we can take all the glory for that! It makes me wonder though are we the exceptions, are lots of other kids horrible or do these people have set notions that kids and misbehaving always go together and we broke that idea? We're becoming more and more a nation of selfish people.

AB:

I would agree that there is an idea that children are a bother in our culture. You ask if you might be the exception and if kids and misbehaving always go together in our culture.

Having worked at a mall I feel that I can safely say it is the norm for lots of children to be more poorly behaved in public than I was raised to be or than is comfortable for lots of people.

Who is at fault: children, parents, or is there even a problem with the kids? Maybe it is everyone else not be patient?

bpr

"Single parenthood is hard, very hard, but it's usually a result of the bad decisions we (adults) have made. It's not corporate america's job to make it easier on single parents. It's on us to ensure that our children have two loving parents and when WE (through our bad judgment or sin) deprive our children of that, they are suffering for OUR mistakes, not corporate america's."

Kevin, I wasn't trying to cast blame. All human misfortune is a result of someone's sin or another. That's not the point I was trying to make.

The trouble isn't just that corporations or governments are hard on single parents, or even on parents in general. The problem lies with a culture that regards parenting as a hobby. A popular hobby, to be sure, and a harmless one, but nevertheless not essential. The underlying attitude of many people (and institutions) is, "Well, it's not MY fault you have kids!" A working parent is expected to regard the job as important and parenting as something you do in your spare time. When you're a single parent, that expectation, usually unspoken, makes for a treadmill-like life. The rest of the world does not place the same importance on children that you do. I don't really see how we can correct that in our culture at large, human self-centeredness being what it is, but we should as individuals do whatever we can to support those who take their child-rearing seriously.

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