Just wondering…did this week’s recognition of Working Parents Day change your life in any way? I’m not a betting person yet I’ll wager not. Yesterday was likely the same as today and tomorrow will likely follow suit.
Here’s the thing…I’m all for bringing attention to causes. Hell…I support many myself and applaud those who work tirelessly to raise awareness and generate support for anything that will help another person. Or many other people. But I do have a problem with a day coined “Working Parents Day” when the reality is that a day hardly does this cause justice.
I’ve said it before and will continue to say it — working parents have a herculean task that faces them at sunrise every day and doesn’t end until their weary bodies fall into bed at night. And why do they do it? Because they value their efforts and contributions at work as they hold dear their roles as Moms and Dads. As they should. And they shouldn’t have to choose.
Married or single parent. One child or several. Raising a middle schooler or guiding a college junior. Family support or at the rodeo alone. Self-employed or employee. Each and every working parent deserves recognition that goes far beyond the day set aside to do so. Instead of assigning a name to a day, why don’t we start to truly listen to working parents and do better at meeting their needs.
Many companies are definitely doing a great job of providing a multitude of supports and programs to help all their employees be productive, engaged, and healthy. Yet many companies are still far behind the curve and even in those organizations where exceptional benefits are the norm, working parents continue to struggle. And part of the reason is that their needs, for better or worse, are different. And these differences mean different solutions.
We tend to take notice when a societal crisis hits and then scramble to try to figure out why it happened and what immediate solution can mitigate the seriousness of the situation. It’s the reactive vs. proactive mode of operation, one that rarely succeeds. And if we really take a minute to examine this crisis, it involves our children who require far more from their parents today — and I don’t mean more i-Phones or designer clothes — than ever before. They need time. Years ago it was latchkey kids. Today it’s an explosion of afterschool programs to keep children involved vs. walking the streets. But the buck begins and ends with parents and many are unable to stretch any farther.
So for those who created Working Parents Day, I say forget the day. Instead, let’s take a look at how we can help the Dad who can’t get out of the office before 6:00 knowing his son’s softball games start at 4:30. Or the Mom whose childcare provider continues to call in sick…at 7:00 when she leaves for work at 7:15. These are real issues facing real people with real children depending upon them to find solutions.
If this day is celebrated next year, how about giving every working parent Working Parents Day off. Now this would make a difference.