For me, one the of most powerful images of 2018 was baby Neve and her dad in the UN General Assembly looking on while her mum addressed fellow global leaders as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Another notable leader who merged work and family was former US Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Watching a Netflix documentary on his life, I was struck by how often Bobby Kennedy’s family appeared in the footage. While discussing an unfolding major civil rights incident in Alabama, Kennedy passes the phone to his young daughter to say hello to the deputy attorney general.
These are exceptional images, because you rarely see a political leader combining family and work in their everyday life.
We are often advised about the critical importance of keeping work and family separate. Trying to work around children is thought to interrupt productivity and affect a workers’ professionalism. Bringing work into the home is also often portrayed as negative for family dynamics.
However, parents frequently blend non-paid work and children, – cooking dinner, taking care of household accounts and folding washing around kids.
The rise of new technology and flexible working arrangements is challenging the strict separation of work and family. For some, it is viewed as a threat to personal and family life, for others it provides an opportunity to both participate in the workforce and care for children.
I often work from home, at times with a 3-year-old drawing beside me. And, on the odd occasion when I have a meeting on a non-preschool day, our daughter can be found sitting beside dad in his office.
While it is obviously not practical or desirable to blend work and family at all times, neither is it desirable or possible to keep them completely separate, as our PM so effectively showed addressing the UN General Assembly with her three-month-old baby in tow.
(Amy Prebble, Founder)