From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Days of Snow or Days of Woe?
Recent bouts with the weather have left many school kids out of school, and parents
out of work. Some parents are fortunate to be able to work from home. With phone in hand
and computer on the kitchen table, they merely face the great challenge of concentrating
on work and parenting at the same time. Sitting at home with my snow-bound family, Ive
had much time to think about coping with unexpected "vacations". Here are a
few thoughts on the matter.
- Work-Family conflicts are inevitable. Despite such advances as President Clintons Family Leave Act, many parents hesitate to miss even a day of work for fear that they will lose their place on the "career ladder" and status in the workplace. Why? Because we live in a highly competitive world, where children are valuable assets, unless they interfere with work. As a result, it is not unusual for employees to receive that "problem-at-home-warning-talk" from supervisors. So, many workers are made to feel inferior if they receive personal calls on the job, or are called away to care for their children. Ethically, we must ask ourselves: Is this what my employer considers healthy family values? And if so, is this the kind of place I want to work for?
- Its not your fault. For some reason, workers who display the traits of responsible parents, live in fear of punishment if their children become an issue. I cant help but wonder why management does not see that responsible parenting goes hand-in-hand with responsible work performance. Personally, I would wonder whether an employee who chooses to neglect their child, is capable of making good decisions on the job? Or perhaps, it is time for the work place itself to become more "Family-friendly".
- Its not your kids fault. The stress we feel about worker absenteeism is often transmitted to children through our attitudes and demeanor. When some parents leave the job to care for a sick child, they forget to bring home their "bedside manner", which makes the child feel worse. Warning: if we display our feelings of guilt which arise from having to leave work, our children will feel the guilt and conclude that they are less important to their parent than is work. Similarly, if we act with resentment, our children will resent the fact that we work at all.
Further, if children feel abandoned emotionally, they will reach into their bags of tricks and make even the most stoic of parents feel awful for our lack of sensitivity. Children have very effective techniques for snapping us back to our true priorities. Just remember: When it comes to laying guilt trips, children are much more masterful at this than their parents.
- Its not the schools fault. When Mother Nature forces schools to close, they are also exhibiting a responsible attitude toward your childs safety. Missed school days require make-up work and make-up time, school calendars are often extended, and there is a loss of continuity in the overall education of your child. So who do you blame? As one way to cope, some parents have agreed to alternating childcare during extended school closings. This is especially successful if the children are already good friends and companions.
- How you handle work-family conflicts speaks loudly to your children. The truth of the matter is that its no ones fault when parents must take time away from the work place to attend to the business of parenting. In order to survive well, we must work well, treat our spouses well, and treat our children well.
Kids pick up on our insincerity, and they remember it... forever. What we must remember is that none of us has just one job. We are workers, spouses, parents, children, etc. But especially, if we are lucky enough to have them, we have the most important job which is to love our children, defend them, take care of them, teach them, guide them, encourage them, play with them, talk with them, have fun with them, do things with them, and provide healthy role models for them, so that they will be good parents to our grandchildren.
A recent study verified something that most of us have always known: children
learn best when engaged in activities alongside their parents. I agree... So enjoy a few
snow days or personal days and put work aside occasionally to spend some truly quality
time with your kids. My suggestion: Be an ideal parent for the day (s) and really get to
know your kids. Theyll remember it forever, and so will you.
ęCopyright, 2000, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
Return to Family Relationships
Return to Table of Contents