The Missing Link to Innovation and Inclusion

Work/Family Balance is So Yesterday

It’s Saturday morning  – a good time to review and connect in cyberspace on issues that matter.  The problem is that some of these debates further entrench us, rather than propel us to better solutions.  Work/family balance is one of those, and I’m increasingly irritated by what shows up in my Google alerts  Are you?

We talk about work/family balance but to what end?  Sometimes I feel we’ve lost sight as to why we talk about this.  So working moms can “have it all”?  So the workload is fairly split at home? To achieve “equality”?    We mire ourselves in the details of who does what and what to outsource.  Let’s refocus this debate with the end in mind, and that is:  growing children and leaders who can build the most abundant future possible. 

Focus on that goal, and work/family balance resolves itself naturally.  How working parents split the laundry, yard work, cooking, etc. is something for them to sort out, and not something to debate nationally.  That both parents and children benefit from prioritizing time together is very clear.

Time with family, community, children – investing in our humanity – builds an individual’s capacity for empathy.  Empathy is the big differentiator between competent leaders (with clear strategies, great performance management, scorecards, etc) and leaders who have a following deeper and broader than any org chart lines.  Time children have with their parents early on builds their capacity for empathy too – a key to changemaking, which is vital for growing kids in this rapidly changing world.

So, sure, outsource whatever home-making work you can which is not vital to relationships and enables working parents to stay in the game.  Work out an arrangement with your spouse/co-parent which allows you both to live up to your potential outside of the home over time.  There are as many permutations of this as there are families.  But let’s recognize the benefits of parenting are significant – at home and at work – and prioritize that whenever and however we can so we’ll grow secure children and vibrant, wise leaders at 60 rather than burned out executives in corner offices at 40.

Meanwhile, turn off your Google alerts and have a great weekend.

Thanks to Eva Basilion for her contributions to this post.

4 Responses to “Work/Family Balance is So Yesterday”

  1. soboljordan

    Thank you, Jackie and Eva, for another insightful, thought provoking post. I think work/life balance is an impossible standard, and always will be a challenge for mothers and fathers. As you remind us, it’s all about our kids and growing the leaders we will need to create an abundant future. Having said that, I wish there was more we could do to make this less of a struggle for parents. Too many of our best and brightest are opting out when we need them the most. For me, it’s not about parents having it all — it’s about what the rest of us are missing out on when they have to choose. Would love to hear more from both of you on this.

    • jackieacho

      Well said Sharon – “it’s about what the rest of us are missing out when they have to choose”. I hope the choices will be less stark when we start focusing on the right values, including empathy and supporting the growth of changemakers (children, working adults who are parents or not). Thanks so much for commenting. Your perspectives are invaluable. We look forward to continuing the conversation…and finding solutions.

  2. Rique Sollisch

    I agree and deeply appreciate you for these well spoken words. Discussions about parenting focus heavily on how to divide and balance our work. You are asking the right questions. What are we doing to model and encourage empathy? Within this question lies the only hope we have for the future; the future we are building and the future we imagine our children will choose to perpetuate. Empathy is not about gender or teaching children about fairness.
    Undoubtedly, fairness is paramount to our living and learning because justice depends on fairness. But the danger of mixing up fairness with empathy is sometimes, empathy has to trump strict readings of what’s fair. When we calculate who did the laundry yesterday, we derail our empathy’s energy. We confuse our children when we communicate about every single responsibility based on fairness. This confusion reduces the value of empathy, depletes our stores of it and renders the way we treat each other as transactional. As you said,”…these debates further entrench us, rather than propel us to better solutions.”

    • jackieacho

      Rique – as usual, your wisdom goes down like a tall glass of cool water in the desert. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Your perspective as an outstanding educator, thoughtful parent, entrepreneur, and communitarian is so holistic and valuable. I look forward to ongoing dialogue! Jackie


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