As someone who has chosen not to have children, I know firsthand that it can be hard for some people to understand my decision. This choice has also sometimes put me in positions where managers or coworkers assume that I'm going to be more available to work than others who "have families." And I know I'm not the only one.
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So when Nedra Tawwab tweeted, "I don't know who needs to hear this, but: Being childfree doesn't mean being more available," it really struck a chord with a lot of people.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but: Being childfree doesn't mean being more available.
Lots of people in the replies shared stories about bosses telling them they "don't have a family" and should work on holidays and other less-desired shifts just because they don't have kids of their own. Um, childfree people didn't hatch out of pods, folks.
@JAV_writes @NedraTawwab I ended up working on a Thanksgiving that was also my birthday once because "You didn't have plans anyway and it's a family day" yeah, I did. My mom made me my favorite cake, and all my favorite cousins came. Thanks, Geraldine. 🙄
We would ~also~ like to get home at a reasonable hour.
@NedraTawwab @notcapnamerica Hate that with a passion, especially in the work place. In my first job consulting I'd always get sent to the middle of nowhere for weeks while colleagues with kids always got the cushy local contracts because "they needed to be home by 6" and I didn't?
And we deserve to value our time too.
@NedraTawwab Pre-kids - as an event manager - my childless coworker and I had to work all evening and weekend events because the other event managers had kids. Barely saw my fiancé. Post-kids - I always remember that frustration that my time wasn’t considered as valuable. Total BS.
People also rightly pointed out that childfree people may be in school or doing other activities that take up a lot of time outside of work.
@NedraTawwab This is such a big thing with young workers especially! When I was a student employers felt SO entitled to literally all of my time that wasn't taken up in my class schedule. Like hello I also needed to study and deserved to have a life??
Others pointed out that childfree people often have other obligations, like helping other family members or volunteer work.
@riverrocketing @NedraTawwab Nope! Working 3 jobs, back in school, helping my mom, niece and nephews and volunteer medic duty. I deserve rest and time off too. I set my own boundaries and stick to them. You made a choice to have children so own it. Don’t assume I’m more available.
And some people might actually want to have kids but they don't or can't due to circumstances outside their control. Our reproductive status can be a really sensitive topic, and bosses shouldn't be bringing it up to guilt us into working more.
And a few people pointed out that companies need to solve these scheduling problems without pitting workers against each other.
@NedraTawwab This is a management issue that DEI programs need to address. If you have the same contract as the parent sitting next to you, then you have the same rights to time off. There may be seniority rules, but other than that you should have the same access, administered equitably.
Others shared their absolutely inspiring boundary-setting advice.
@outofmyplanet @allisimaginary @NedraTawwab 100% this! When people (esp supervisors) would ask me if I could cover for/stay late bc X has kids/family to get home to, I'd let them know I was busy. Busy could mean going home to my dog, sitting on my couch, watching TV/movie. I was busy living MY chosen life.
Repeat after me, "I have a commitment."
@NedraTawwab Yep. And people without children are not obligated to explain or defend the ways they use their time. It's nobody's business. Please don't believe you must explain why you turn down a request. If pushed, "I have a commitment" is enough. Even if your commitment is to rest.
And finally, this is an absolutely wild solution to a problem nobody would be having in the first place if bosses would just treat workers equitably.
@cavitappi @pirateartisans @NedraTawwab @Reese_leopard A colleague of mine did this. Mentioned his daughter casually and occasionally around the office, took off work to take her to the doctor sometimes, took her birthday off each year to spend with her. After I left the company he shared with me the kid was made up. Legendary.