This post is NOT about autism, but it does factor into parenting and our journey to get to where we are. The subject of this blog actually came about because of a conversation with a young 20 something college graduate who is not married nor has a family of her own. So what was it regarding: stay at home parents re-entering the workforce. Seems like a pretty straight forward subject. However, it broke my heart to hear her viewpoint and how easily she dismissed my viewpoint that was on the other side of the spectrum of the subject. I realized very quickly, this is why so many parents struggle to gain employment after choosing to become a stay at home parent.
Her viewpoint was that while commendable that parents feel the need to stay home with their children it doesn’t mean that work experience that is over 5 years old should factor into the hiring process of a job, especially in retail. People and jobs change therefore the experience probably isn’t up to date for the employer.
Period. That was her argument. It broke my heart. No wonder so many stay at home parents struggle to gain employment in their fields of expertise or experience when they feel that the nest no longer needs someone minding it 24/7. I had encountered it when I looked for a job and I know others have as well. This mindset is detrimental to families.
Here is my view on this subject. First, let’s start with the beginning. I don’t know any stay at home mom or dad that didn’t agonize over the decision to be a stay at home parent. Some of us gave up careers. Walked away. Yes, it was a choice. Yet, sometimes that choice is made due to the fact we are trying to be fair to our employer (in the case of Em with the multitude of illnesses and doctors appointments) or know that we will be distracted from our jobs. Sometimes the cost of childcare factors in. When a parent spends their whole paycheck on gas and childcare and has $5.00, left the cost makes people second guess whether working is worth it. Whatever their reason was/is, they are stepping back to care for a child.
Most of us don’t expect our jobs to be held for us. We take care of our children. Often honing our communication skills and listening skills. Some of us even continue to learn via the internet and computer programs. Just because we are stay at home parents, doesn’t mean that we are worth less than when we left the workforce. And we can appreciate our work experiences more since wisdom comes with age and maturity.
When we choose to return to the workforce, we are often met with an attitude that devalues our experience in both real life and our work. We are bringing a sense of maturity and rounded experiences. If given an opportunity to return to our careers we are often also bring a sense of having to prove ourselves more than ever before. However, securing opportunities we are often looked upon as having no relevant experience, since it is often more than 5 years.
I guess the point I wanted to make is we want ALL our work experience taken into consideration when via’ing for a job. Not dismissed because it’s not recent. Not dismissed because we choose (yes we know it’s a choice) to take and raise a family. Not dismissed because we are older and more… mature. We would ask that you would treat us fairly and allow us an opportunity to prove ourselves. Just because we didn’t work in a retail or office setting doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard at building other skills that can be just as valuable.
Don’t dismiss us is all we ask without first seeing if we are capable.