12/20/2013 03:01 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2014

Dadmissions: The Persecution of the Working Parent


It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's holidays and lights and gifts and family time. It's also time for parties and school events and classroom activities -- and a nightmare for working parents. Sure, you can say some people CHOOSE a career over their families. But in some families, two incomes is the ONLY way things are kept afloat nowadays. And if you're in a two-income family, tis' the season for the persecution of working parents. I'm not trying to be the Scrooge here, but this is a society which has forgotten the working folks. Sorry to disappoint you stay-at-homers. This isn't about who cares more for their kids or who works harder for their kids. We ALL care for our kids. But this is one case where you may have it wayyyy easier. OK, I know the hate mail could be coming. But hear me out.

In my kids' school district, probably like yours, it's time for holiday parties and holiday shows. I have two kids and this was their schedule this week: One kid had a holiday party on Tuesday. The kids had their holiday shows on Thursday. The other kid had her holiday party on Friday. All were right in the middle of the day. Boom. No way around it without using a vacation day or faking a sick call. Immediately, we go into overdrive trying to figure out how to schedule around this epic cluster#%^*. We are working parents. We have jobs. Most of us have two weeks of vacation and precious few other days. In the end, I handled the class parties and my wife handled the holiday shows and we BOTH felt like failures.

In the case of the school, I'd like to suggest that having holiday performances right in the middle of the morning basically ensures hurt feelings for the kids and their parents. Imagine what it's like for a kid on stage looking out into the audience of their holiday show, scanning the crowd for their parent. That's what I'm told my 5-year-old did the other day. She was looking and looking. Even though we told her I couldn't make it, she was still looking. I disappointed her. The schools helped me disappoint her.

Why not try to have the parties and performances at night? Why not try to have the big holiday show on a Sunday and slide the class schedule that week? Sure it may cost a little more money. Sure, the school might have to stay open late. But why not give EVERYONE a shot? I know the stay-at-homers at my school without even asking. Why? Because they're ALWAYS at the school when I'm there. Always. They're super-involved, epic parents when it comes to PTA participation. In my school district they expect you to be the same. And they give you the look when you aren't. To tell you the truth, I'm a little jealous. I'd love it if the schools took us into account so people who work could be more involved with their kids at school. 'd love it if for once I didn't have to watch highlights of the big holiday show on someone else's video camera because I was at work trying to provide for my family.

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