Working Parents and societal change

Working Parents and societal change

This week has been a week of transitions in my household, as it probably has been for many working parents.

Our eldest son started back at school, and our younger son is back at daycare.

PLUS, coincidently, my wife has returned to her practice this week, after taking parental leave.

For me, it’s involved juggling around my schedule and availability to assume the primary carer’s role for our youngest – 9-month-old, Lizzie.

Looking after a baby by yourself is tough, and the third time around doesn’t make it much easier.

Even tougher is trying to run a business between naps, pickups, and playtime. I didn’t have this added pressure with the other two, as I took leave from my employers instead (self-funded through annual leave and leave without pay).

📣 So here’s a shout-out to all the people that are doing this currently – and somehow making it work.

📣 And a special shout out to the dads doing this.

Third time around for me, it is definitely encouraging to see the progress that had been made – just in the last 5 years – to normalise dads being the primary carer, and to normalise dads juggling work and caring responsibilities throughout the week.

This time around, I haven’t encountered the “change table is located in the women’s bathroom” issue (although, I think this is still the case in some public toilets).

This time around, the unhelpful comments are much less frequent. No one has commented about me “playing mum” or “minding the baby” or how great it is that I’m giving my wife a break. But there are still some comments – the most recent was from a lady that praised my “Mother’s rock” when observing me settling my daughter.

This time around there are also a couple more dads at the park (still not that many though). But the biggest change is that the mothers seem less cliquey, more willing to talk to me, and more willing to include me as an equal in their parenting conversations.

It is progress in the right direction – which makes this transition much easier this time around, despite the added pressure.

The last couple of times I’ve done this, I said a massive thanks to my employer and my team for supporting me through this time. This time I am my employer, and I don’t have much of a team.

So instead I want to thank Australian society for the progress that has been made. Progress which is supporting me through this time. 🙏

The Parental Leave Gap – Let’s change the narrative

The Parental Leave Gap – Let’s change the narrative

What if hiring managers valued periods of parental leave rather than seeing them as a gap in employment history?

I was chatting with a recruiter this week about her experience and regularly witnessing hiring managers discounting candidates (consciously or unconsciously) because of a period or multiple periods of parental leave.

Compared to other candidates without these ‘gaps’, these candidates are seen to lack a year or multiple years of relevant experience.

Let’s challenge this assumption for a moment – “Parental leave is a gap in your resume”.

Anyone who has looked after a newborn or has cared full-time for someone will testify – this is likely the hardest role you will ever have. Ever.

It is relentless.

And people who have endured a year or more of it need to be given credit for how they have developed:

✔️ resilience and perseverance

✔️ problem solving and resourcefulness

✔️ their ability to deal with significant change

✔️ time management and productivity

✔️ emotional intelligence

✔️ their ability to manage pressure and stress

✔️ leadership through adversity

This linked article gives options to explain your parental leave, but when you consider what is actually involved, shouldn’t it be considered an asset to your resume rather than a question mark requiring an explanation? ❓

No period of work experience can accelerate your development in the same way as looking after a child.

Comparatively, parents who continue to work whilst their partner stays at home looking after their child, regularly quip to colleagues that going to work gives them a ‘break’.

So why does parental leave persist to be viewed as a ‘gap’?

Parental Leave can be taken by both men and women, but despite its name, it is very much targeted at mothers. It is explicitly for ‘the birth mother’, only transferrable to a partner under certain conditions.

The result is most parental leave – and almost all primary carer leave – is taken by women.

In 2017-18, less than 0.5 per cent of Australian parents using the scheme were men.

While some employers provide generous schemes for both mums and dads, very few men take primary carer leave – even rarer for a newborn. Most paid schemes for secondary carers are not particularly generous with 8 days average leave.

Ergo, because very few men have endured it, Parental Leave is viewed as a gap rather than an asset in work experience.

Patriarchy at play.

This is why organisations need #blokecoaching in order to help men to understand how the system perpetuates gender inequality.

If you enjoyed this post, check out the Bloke Coaching Podcast, Episode 3 – Mind The Gap with Kaya Hoye

This episode of Bluey™ is called Gender Lens

This episode of Bluey™ is called Gender Lens

There are many reasons to love Bluey. Even if you don’t have young kids, you should watch it.

It’s helping to shape the next generation.

My eldest son wanted to play ‘Lucky’s Dad’s Rules’ for pass the parcel at his birthday party, my youngest son does ‘tactical wees’ and we always make sure to mention the salads at BBQs.  

One of the things I love the most about Bluey is its equal depiction of men and women, and I’m proud that my two boys (and 18month old daughter) are growing up learning from this program.

Children are impressionable and how women and men are depicted shapes their views of gender roles later in life.

The series is also making an impression on adults, which is why even if you don’t have kids you should watch at least a few episodes. 

There is an equal split of domestic duties and child care responsibilities between the parents. Both parents are emotionally intelligent have meaningful careers  which they negotiate with family life, play sport, have friends and hobbies, and are comfortable with imaginative play with their daughters.

But the depiction is subtle – and not overly ‘woke’ or tokenistic. Thus these gender depictions have much broader appeal, and are more effective in shaping our psyche. 

Even more subtle – but worth calling out and celebrating – is how the female characters (who are dogs) are actually drawn. Both male and female characters look incredibly similar.  

Compare this to the depictions of female animal characters in the cartoons many of us grew up with  – the Lola Bunnies, the Daisy ducks, the Smurfettes,  – and the difference can’t be unseen.  

Not only were male characters over-represented and female characters sidelined (take Looney Tunes as an obvious example) but any female characters needed human anatomy (often overly sexualised features), as well as bows, lipstick, eye shadow and high heals in order for us to recognise they are female. 

Male characters were predominately the funny ones. Narratively, most (if not all) of these cartoons would fail the #Bechdeltest. 

Cartoons are a reflection of the time, and Bluey’s appeal with adults and children should give reason for celebrating the progress made in terms of gender equality. 

Thanks Joe Brumm and the team from Ludo, for Bluey. 

Are you a fan of Bluey? What are your thoughts on how gender is being depicted in cartoons? Comment below or connect with me to let me know your thoughts.

BLUEY™ and character logo™ and © Ludo Studio.