No Time for Kids?
A new study sponsored by Health Canada shows that many couples delay becoming parents in order to get ahead in their work. They solve the work/life balance puzzle by skipping the childraising domain altogether (or putting off figuring out how to include it). Well, that's one way of keeping your life in balance, I guess. And a good choice if you don't want to have children - a perfectly valid decision.
But for couples who do wish to include children in their lives, this choice only works well until they are ready to have the kids. Working hard and getting well established in your career is wise when it doesn't interfere with your happiness. Doing so can open doors in the future when you do want to cut back, and prove your worth to your company when you ask for reduced hours or other balancing benefits. But if you get stuck on the prove-yourself treadmill too long, sooner or later it is going to interfere with your childraising plans. Then, putting off kids for work is an example of when balance doesn't create happiness.
The study authors say their data are a call for workplace change. The respondents in this massive survey state that if they dropped back to make room for children in their lives, they would be left behind their co-workers. Even job benefits like flextime, part-time or working from home don't help fix the problem if they only lead to marginalized careers. I agree that we want to push for the use of these benefits in meaningful and satisfying jobs. Maybe we have to give up gunning for CEO or other top management positions if we want a balanced life with kids (and an equal spouse), but I hope to see the results of studies like this really make businesses realize we need great mid-power jobs that offer balance and happy lives.