Employers who think that they don’t need to pay attention to making professional accomodations for working mothers, hoping that after the “child” issues have resolved themselves, women will be back to the old office routine, should think again, if only for their own self-preservation in the future.
A recent ABC News story focused on women who, once their kids had flown the nest, ended up being caregivers again for their aging parents. The piece noted that 20 million Americans — mostly women — juggle caring for their elderly or ailing parents (even when there are other siblings (read: brothers) in the picture) and that their careers end up being jeopardized, yet again.
The flip side of the child-rearing coin is now hitting women who probably thought that once their children had at least reached high school, they’d have a little breathing room when it came to not having to scratch and claw for the seemingly elusive work-life balance. And it doesn’t seem like things will get better on this front anytime soon. Even though my personal powers of denial can be quite strong (really, I’m not a DAY over thirty-mumble, mumble), there’s no getting around the fact that we are an aging nation.
The ultimate irony may be that soon the baby-boomer men who don’t want to cut working mothers any slack about flex-time or working at home to accomodate their mommy duties, will soon retire and won’t be far from the rocking chair on the front porch and gumming their oatmeal. When they need a caregiver, who’s going to be there to help them out? Their children are the Generation Y kids, who are more life-balance focused than any other generation in recent memory. They’re going to be too busy to worry about their aging parents — they’ll be playing with their own kids and making their work/life balance actually succeed, while those boomer bosses who were stingy with taking time off (and giving time off) may be stuck in a nursing home (oops, I mean an assisted living facility), waiting for reruns of The People’s Court.