Working Parent, or Parent Working?

Stella Creasy MP has been hitting the headlines recently after attending a session at Westminster with her young son. Some have been praising her for representing working mothers and showing the need for change in regards to flexible working. Others have been condemning her for taking advantage of her position as others aren’t in a position to take their child to work.

I can see both sides of the argument, but think the key thing that people are neglecting, is, why should this be a thing at all?! Parents should be able to be parents AND have the career they desire. If someone feels like they have to choose one over the other, they have been let down somewhere – whether this is by their employer, by society or by those around them.

I say parents as it isn’t about gender or mothers Vs fathers/partners. It’s about being able to provide for your family emotionally, physically and financially in a way that you see fit.

Anyone who says ‘I can’t take my baby to work with me so why should she?’ is adding fuel to the fire. It shouldn’t be why can she, but why can’t you too. That’s if you want to, you might not want to, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.

There is often judgement past about others when it comes to parenting. This could be about birth choices or parenting styles etc. The list goes on. We don’t have to agree with everyone and what they do. As long as no one is getting hurt, leave them to it.  If we can recognise how something can work for others, why not support them? It’s about choice, meaning there should be multiple choices available. This choice might not be your choice, but that doesn’t make it wrong, or mean that it might not be your choice in the future.

There are some roles where having your child present wouldn’t be appropriate. You wouldn’t see a police officer with their child whilst on patrol for example. But if Covid and working from home has shown us something, it’s that it is possible to work whilst parenting at home at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy juggling, but it is possible if that’s what we CHOOSE. And if a person’s quality of work isn’t affect, why should it be an issue.

In the case of Stella, you could say the choice to have her son present was somewhat forced upon her. After her application for maternity cover was rejected, she was unable to take maternity leave unless she was to leave her constituency unrepresented.  As a breastfed child, it’s impractical to use other childcare arrangements, and why should Stella sacrifice her and her child’s choice to breastfeed just to make it more convenient for government? Lots of others at this stage of postpartum would be on maternity and not having to consider this. It seems to me that she would have received backlash wherever she went from there.

With her first child, she was the first MP to be given maternity leave, with a Locum MP assisting. At the time, the MP said ‘If the place that makes the law doesn’t recognise the value of ensuring cover for the duties of MPs, then how can it advocate for the millions of parents across the country worried that if they take time out to care for newborn children they will suffer?’ Why shouldn’t politicians be allowed to have parental leave. What would the reaction be if a male politician wished to share the parental leave? Would things be different then?

Employers should be facilitating peoples’ rights to be the parent that they want to be. The employees’ satisfaction will be reflected in their performance, and if someone if good at their job, why discourage them from progressing further benefiting everyone.

In the words of Thumper from Disney’s Bambi, ‘If you can’t say something, don’t say nuthin’ at all.’ How about instead of criticizing someone’s solution to the problem, criticizing the problem that started it.

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