My boss doesn’t understand that I have kids

by Evil HR Lady on November 9, 2012

Dear Evil HR Lady,
I work for an employer who does not understand people with children. I have 2 kids, both are sick. My husband took one day off this week so it is my turn to stay home and care for them. I called my supervisor yesterday to tell her I would not be in today and made sure she knew exactly where things were in the process to ensure a smooth work day and results out in time. However, I did not email the owner or the company until late this morning as I have been slammed taking care of my children. The owner keeps her company under 50 employees intentionally; I’m sure you are familiar with why.

As I am trying to get to my question here, if the owner wants to “write me up” for not being in today, do I have to sign this even if I gave my immediate supervisor almost a 24 hour notice that I would be out?

To read the answer click here: My boss doesn’t understand that I have kids

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

LTMG November 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm

There is something the writer can do to positively distinguish herself from others who call in sick for whatever reason.

While attending to sick children is a stressful situation full of interrupts, there are often brief relatively quiet times that, depending on the nature of the attending parent’s job, might be used to help the shortfall of labor in the office due to the parent’s absence.

If possible, parents at home with sick children can let the company owner and/or supervisor know what the parents can do to help from home or to make sure that Project A back in the office will still get completed in time. From the owner’s or supervisor’s point of view, such an offer is certainly not a full loaf, but it is better than nothing, it communicates recognition of responsibility from the parents, it communicates commitment, and it is a very different response from most employees who call in for any reason to say that they can’t come to the office that day. Bosses tend to remember this difference far longer than they remember the day out of the office.

One important thing, if employees do this, do not ever overcommit. Failure to meet a commitment stays in the bosses’ memories for a very long time regardless of circumstances, legitimate or not.


Evil HR Lady November 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Her big mistake was not informing the owner as soon as she knew.

And it’s often possible to put in at least a partial day when you’re home with sick kids. (Ask me how I know this!)


kelly November 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

As a single person with no kids, I’ve seen both the employer and employee’s perspective. From the employer’s perspective, it’s one thing if taking time off once in a while to stay home with sick kids but once it snowballs to taking time off to take them to dentist and eye doctor appointments, taking time off for PTA meetings, asking to leave early for their sporting events on a regular basis, that can be perceived as excessive. Especially the non-medical reasons could be perceived as taking advantage of a flexible work schedule. If the employer offers the option to work from home in the event of an emergency, then they should offer that to her if she has to be home to take care of sick kids or any other employee stuck at home due to illness or weather-related conditions this time of the year.

This question really hit close to me because I have one co-worker at my retail job who works mostly nights and weekends to pay for her credit card bills. She’s notorious for trying to get out of her shifts by citing kid-related commitments like PTA meetings. We’ve been short handed recently and she’s been asked to come in a couple Saturdays to help out when someone’s called in. She’s declined all the times because her kid has a soccer game or her husband’s out of town and her kid can’t be left alone. The kid is 11 or 12 and that’s old enough to be left alone for an afternoon IMO. This is her second marriage and there’s a significant age gap between her kids from her first marriage and this one, and I think she’s trying to be a more responsible parent with this one than she was with the older ones. I think her goal with this one is not to have him end up in a juvenile detention facility like one of her older ones. I don’t think that her hovering over him 24/7 will accomplish this, but she seems to use him as an excuse for not coming in a lot of the time.


Twentymilehike November 9, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Not to throw a wrench in your comment, Kelly, but keep in mind that in some states there is a legal requirement for kids under a certain age to be supervised. My friends 11 year old son stays home alone some afternoons, but he knows that he isn’t allowed to let anyone know because he not legally allowed to be home alone. I don’t know exactly how it works, maybe someone with more knowledge knows more.


The gold digger November 10, 2012 at 12:45 am

Holy smoke. I was babysitting when I was 11!


Tim C. November 10, 2012 at 2:46 am

Just like food, clothing, and shelter, raising children is part of life. This is why there are un-scheduled absences built into any work environment. Parents need to be aware of this policy and keep children healthy by proper nutrition, sleep, and healthcare. Even if this means planning ahead to anticipate Grandma to help out now and then. Employers need to know this will happen and there is nothing you can do. Parents are biologically wired to caring for children.


Naomi November 10, 2012 at 4:30 am

Hi, clueless antipodean here.
Here in NZ if your child is sick you call in and it’s taken off your sick leave balance as carers leave. If you don’t have any sick leave then it’s unpaid but still down as unpaid sick leave.

I’m clearly missing something because you people are talking like people taking leave to look after children is a contentious issue.


Alex S November 11, 2012 at 12:42 am

It seems in US it really is an issue because there are barely any sick days, much less caregiver’s unpaid leave up to certain child ‘s age.


Evil HR Lady November 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Some bosses are nicer than others. In this case, the woman didn’t notify her big boss, as she knew she should, and now is stressed out the consequences.


Just Me November 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

The OP doesn’t say how many times many time she called in before this one.

I am curious as to why the owner wants to ” write her up ” if this is only a one time occurance. Granted there are a lot of places would, but my guess is not many.

I have never worked for a company in my 32 years of being employed who took such a stand for one call in for anyone regardless of issue, kids or no kids.

And, I am also curious about why the OP decided not to E-mail the owner at the same time she did her supervisor like Evil HR lady has asked. Again, has she called in too many times maybe and she now knows a write up is the repercussion? That might explain the OP not emailing the owner.
So now the OP is turning the channels on the owner saying she is not flexible? That now she doesn’t understand employees have kids to take care of?

I am all for flexiblitly at work. Everyone needs that regardless if a employee has kids or not.

But like I said, is this the first time or more?


Evil HR Lady November 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I suspect that this is not the first time. It was also handled poorly.

Flexibility is really important to a lot of people. More bosses should realize that.


Joe Fox November 13, 2012 at 3:48 am

I must be the “not nice guy” because the first thing that came to mind for me when I read the headline was “You wrote that wrong. It should say “My boss doesn’t give a damn that I have children.” I am one of those who has chosen not to have children and I feel like society is overly indulgent to those who have procreated. You have a job. If your job is flexible, great. Don’t abuse it. If you can’t manage kids AND a job, get rid of one or the other.

Call me heartless, but it’s not the organization or the boss’ problem that you decided that having little ankle-biters was a good idea. They’re your responsibility and if it gets in the way of work, you should be called to account for it.


anon February 25, 2016 at 9:58 am

To be fair, society isn’t even supposed to WORK this way! Women are supposed to stay home and take care of the home and children while the men at work – whom should also be able to make more than enough for them all.

And don’t give me that bullcrap about women wanting equality and feminism, it’s all propaganda because the bankers could only tax the working men at the time. Women these days have allowed them to become manipulated into debt-based servitude and the original post in merely a symptom of a much serious issue we’re facing in society today.

This society is rapidly declining and it’s no surprise with the family unit constantly under attack. You can thank the world bankers for this disaster in our evolution. What a waste of potential and life.

Get it through your thick heads, people. Aim for a traditional family structure and go back to how things used to be! This cannot go on forever!


no name February 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

I totally agree with you! something is really wrong with the way we are set up. Working parents have 2 -3 hours per day with the children. Housing requires 2 almost full salaries, day care cost are almost equivalent to mortgages. It is so sad!


Nancy May 11, 2016 at 9:18 pm

As a woman, I completely agree with you!! I was a stay-at-home mom for the first couple of years, and it was the most rewarding time of my life taking care of my family. My husband and I were wise with our money and managed on one income. The economy in our area has tanked, and I returned to work full time to off-set the spotty employment for my husband. I hate working full-time and being away from my child!! I hate not being able to take care of my son when he is sick!! I hate having to manage cooking a healthy meal, homework, family time, yard work, care for elderly parents in only a few hours each night!! Feminists may hate me, but I want to take care of my family!!


Mark Jhoswie Ompad November 16, 2012 at 12:40 am

Hi Suzanne,

I hope your doing fine and your lovely kids as well. I have been reading your blogs one of it is “my boss does not understand that i have kids”. I think that your boss likes you, what his trying to say is that his day is incomplete without you that’s why he needs you be around.:) Seriously, There are times that we all need to report to both our duties and responsibilities at home. Just try to let him know what really had happened. I’m sure your boss will understand.

Best regards;



Kate February 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm

I know I am spoiled being in a research position in academia but…I really don’t understand the general pushback against workplace flexibility (whether you have a kid or not). As long as I get my work done and I’m at the meetings I need to be at, my employer (large private university) could not care less when or where I work (in my case: in the office 9-4, then at home 8-10 or 11, then a few hours on the weekend, plus a good chunk of travel). If I’m meeting someone at my house for a maintenance issue, I work from home. If my car is in the shop (near my house), I work from home. If my kid is sick or there is a snow day, I do as much as I am able from home. Same for my colleagues (including those without kids). I understand this isn’t possible if you are in a customer-facing role or need to physically be at a specific place to do your job, but otherwise…it’s 2016, people!! Embrace the internet and trust your employees to be professional.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: