Moms vs. Non-Moms: Another Workplace Divide

Forget about the battle between working moms and stay-at-home-moms. Now another fight is coming to light -- one that pits working moms (and dads) against their child-free coworkers. Last week, journalist Katherine Reynolds Lewis wrote about this “workplace war” in The Fiscal Times. In an article titled “Parental Guidance: Why Your Co-Workers May Hate You,” she explored the resentment that can flare -- especially around the holidays -- when workers who have kids get prime (read: holiday) vacation time, workday flexibility and benefits like on-site daycare that their child-free cohorts don’t.

Such tension isn’t part of the corporate culture in every company, of course. “The people who are angry are an extremely vocal minority,” Reynolds Lewis told CNN in an interview, adding that in most cases, the anger stems from the expectation -- or even demand -- that child-free workers pick up the slack by working late or on weekends, or accept less-than-ideal vacation schedules simply because they don’t have kids.

Then again, parental perks like the ability to leave early to pick a child up from daycare or attend Junior’s piano recital aren’t part of every corporate culture, either. The ideal -- and maybe it’s too Pollyanna-ish to hope for in today’s crappy economy and tough job market -- is that every company would offer its workers benefits like paid leave and flexible schedules, regardless of their parental status. After all, if a company allows a parent to leave early for a kid’s soccer game, why not let a non-parent to leave early for a volunteering gig? If tending to a sick child is acceptable (as it should be), caring for a sick parent should be as well. Let’s limit the double standards, corporate folks.

Until then, Reynolds Lewis says that workers “need to stand up for themselves.” That got me thinking: Maybe working parents have picked up a lesson from their kids and are just better at communicating their needs.

Is there tension between parents and non-parents in your workplace? Chime in below!

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