While a lot of new parents might think that telling their employers just how difficult it is for them to juggle their parenting responsibilities at home might put them at a disadvantage, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. As a matter of fact, experts now say that new moms and dads should be more upfront about some of the difficulties they face when it comes to juggling their personal lives with their professional commitments.
According to Emily Oster, the more truthful you are about your struggles, the more willing your employer might be to help you. She said in her new op-ed in The Atlantic, 'End the Plague of Secret Parenting,' that there’s no need for parents to hide or minimize the evidence of their children at the office. One of the reasons so many parents keep quiet about their family lives is that because they are scared their employers might think that they are not 100 percent committed to their jobs.
In fact, many parents usually lie that they are sick rather than tell the truth about their kids being sick just because they feel like it’s a more acceptable reason to miss work. They think that the workplace environment might put pressure on parents to minimize their family life at home simply because they fear it might bring some consequences to their careers. In other words, parents don’t want their employers to think that they are not willing and ready to do their job as much as their non-parent co-workers just because they have kids at home.
Oster writes, “These pressures aren’t just bad for parents; they’re bad for employers. Inflexibility around child care is, quite simply, going to cost firms valuable workers. Most of the women in that study left the labor force. Other research has found that the presence of children is a main driver of the gender gap in career outcomes, even for highly educated workers, because women drop out when their employer can’t accommodate their schedule.”
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Luckily, there are a few ways that both employers and parents can work together to help destigmatize the notion that parents can’t work to their highest potential because they have a burden to deal with at home. Oster says that first and foremost, be open about your childcare obligations. Also, give employees permission to “not ask for permission.” Employers shouldn’t ask why you can’t answer e-mails on a Sunday or why you are leaving work early to attend your child’s basketball game.
Also, it’s a good idea to have something called “life-stage interviews.” That’s because people require different things during different stages of their lives. The more open you are with your employer about it, the more willing they might be to help you.