Ms Betterhome

Family values?
August 13, 2010, 2:05 am
Filed under: home & hearth, learning, love & relationships, politics | Tags: ,

Sharon Astyk’s excellent post on work-life balance struck a chord with me this morning.

We’re in the lead up to a federal election here, and the rhetoric of ‘working families’ is being touted with gusto by the major parties. And Mr B and I have observed more than once that when they say ‘working families’, we sure as hell know they don’t mean us. This isn’t a whiny ‘what about me?’ post  – we’re white, middle class, in a hetero relationship & highly educated, and I recognise all the privileges that go with those factors.

But we both work & we both have family – biological and chosen… and I don’t think that the mainstream debates about (very important issues) like parental leave are ever going to get CLOSE to recognising family structures that don’t focus on ‘mum/dad/small child’ families. A work contact of mine has just resigned his position, because there was no way his employer could give him leave (even without pay) to care for his mother after a stroke.

Likewise, there’s not always full recognition of what it means to say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I’m fortunate enough to have an employer that accepts that I am a hands-on aunt, and I sometimes take rec days in school holidays to look after my niece & nephew. There are many workplaces where only  parents benefit from flexible work arrangements.

And to take the ‘village’ concept even further… I’m happy to share public spaces with kids, and I believe that’s a good thing – but if your child shouts or hits in public or (to quote a real example) bangs on a fishtank in a restaurant, remember that other people in the village may be concerned by that behaviour. I am not ‘telling you how to raise your child’ – but I am not going to stand by while a person or animal is harmed, either. That’s how communities work.


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