This recent incident at a childcare centre in Victoria deeply disturbed me.
The negligence of the childcare centre, its staff and the worker in question are abhorrent, and while I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma this has inflicted on the toddler, my concern lay with the foundations of care for our children.
I started thinking about the inevitable feelings that the mother would face. Perhaps she felt anger that she had to rely on someone else who hadn’t cared for her child the way they ought to, or anger at the situation, which limits options for parents who rely on external help to support their family’s needs.
Society still hasn’t been able to adapt and keep up with the needs of mothers, making us consider options when we can’t have it all; be a parent, have a career, and our own lives.
Women are forced to consider their options for care often when they resume full or part time professional work after the birth of their child. Motherhood is often not considered as its own career whose time requirements often can conflict and compete.
Why isn’t it possible for women to have both careers? Why should one be sacrificed for the other?
I have been faced with this decision recently when I requested to return to professional work part-time, due to not having the close proximity of familial care to care for my children. I was told that the request for reduced hours could not be met, forcing me to consider paid child care.
The other option is for me to resign, temporarily placing my career on hold.
Instead of focusing on adapting to my employers requirements, it is time that the workforce began assessing their policies for parents.
The culture of face time in an office is one that should be reconsidered in an age of video conferencing, remote office access and growing technology, yet it is still considered by employers that seeing employees at their desks past 6.00pm leads to greater productivity.
A seminal study of 527 U.S. companies, published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2000 found that amongst industry peers, “organizations with more extensive work-family policies have higher perceived firm-level performance.”
There are some eastern cultures that allow women to work with the ease of keeping their children close-by. This could be an alternate option available for mothers returning to work.My husband has also considered becoming a ‘stay-at-home-Dad’ or commencing part-time employment while I returned to full-time work. However, the support available from employers for fathers seems even less encouraging!
Options are great, but firstly employers need to recognise that working parents should not be forced to rely on someone else to care for their child.
It is time that the workforce adapted to the needs of both parents and most importantly on the needs of children.