me talking about bringing kids to work (and dogs too)

Quartz did a profile on Ask a Manager over the weekend, which you can read here.

Second, I was on public radio’s Marketplace this weekend, talking about whether it’s okay to bring your kids to work and how to minimize the impact if you do. We also talked a bit about bringing dogs to work, and that letter about norovirus from last year even came up too.

You can listen here:

{ 100 comments… read them below }

  1. hayling*

    I can’t find this episode in Apple Podcasts. I don’t see it in “Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal” (green logo) or “Marketplace Weekend with Lizzie O’Leary” (red logo). Any tips? I love listening to you!

    1. hayling*

      Wait, never mind, it’s in the 8/18 episode of Marketplace Weekend. Whoops! Looking forward to listening.

  2. Chriama*

    Alison’s voice surprised me. I always imagined it as older and kind of stern. But it actually sounds really young and you laughed a lot! I have no idea why that was shocking to me – maybe because you have to address so many serious issues here it made me imagine you as a really intense person.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I listened to this interview and thought I sounded a little too amused! I am always really amused by all of these topics (and excited to talk about them), but I should probably make a point of sounding more authoritative in these interviews. I got too relaxed with this one!

        1. kittymommy*

          Didn’t worry, I sound like a demented chipmunk when recorded (I refuse to acknowledge that’s my real voice).

      1. LSP*

        I don’t think so at all. You ARE an authority on the subject matter, and have a history of appearing on this program. Being amused by some of the more extreme letters you’ve received or situations you’re told about does not diminish that. A lot of these are ridiculous situations, given our expectations of professional environments.

      2. Chriama*

        Amused is a good word for it. Very relaxed, for sure. But I think you still sounded authoritative.

      3. Merci Dee*

        Alison, you don’t sound like a child at all! You have a lovely speaking voice, very warm and expressive. You sound like the kind of person many would wish to have for a mentor. It’s obvious that you’re knowledgeable, but also obvious that you care about the people who contact you for advice, and that you want the best outcome for them. Basically, the kind of person that everybody needs in their corner every once in a while.

    2. Gee Gee*

      Her Gravatar is the spitting image of (a redhead) Amy Schumer, so I somehow expect the same voice as well. No logic there, I know!

  3. Jack*

    “Is it okay to bring my kid to work?”

    Short answer: No.
    Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    (And before the parents start jumping on me about child care emergencies, etc., etc. — it’s a joke.)

    1. Ellen*

      I’d have killed her. I have a very young grandson and I have a compromised immune system. This person could easily have killed us both. More people are more sensitive to illness than you might think.

      1. Artemesia*

        The boss’s AA brought in a child with active chicken pox into an office with a pregnant secretary and an elderly secretary both of whom had not had it. They were too cowed to protest. I wasn’t the AA’s boss but I was high enough in the hierarchy to feel confident about insisting she get that kid out of the office. It is incredibly contagious. WHO does that. (The Boss was out of town)

        The amiable child reading in the corner due to school or day care emergency — no problem. Toddlers? Never. Babies? Never except the quick introduction of new baby).

        1. Close Bracket*

          Eh, some babies are super quiet. Years ago, a postdoc in my lab brought his baby in sometimes. It was a quiet baby and didn’t disturb anyone. When it got older and couldn’t just be left in its bassinet anymore, he put it into some kind of backpack thing as he worked. It was kind of cute.

          1. Murphy*

            Why couldn’t I have gotten that baby?

            (I kid, I kid…but my daughter would never cooperate.)

    2. Magenta Sky*

      I have never had (or wanted) children, and generally speaking, actively dislike them. I could happily live the rest of my life never seeing or hearing another child.

      But I’d rather work in an office that lets parents bring in children – provided they’re sensible about it, and keep control – than have to cover for them when they’re out because they can’t find a babysitter. Moderation in all things, including moderation, and all.

      The office I work in *is* pretty child friendly, but there are expectations that the kids won’t be more than minimally disruptive. It has worked, and let us keep good employees who might otherwise have made other choices.

      If you make your employees choose between work and family, don’t pretend to be surprised when they choose family.

      1. Justme*

        Yes to your last line. I had an employer peeved when I called out because my kid had the flu. As if I’m going to choose work instead?

        1. rj*

          as your coworker who doesn’t want to get sick from you taking your kid into work because they (logically) can’t go to school/daycare: THANK YOU.

    3. LSP*

      If I were to bring my kid to work, there would be very little work being done for myself or my colleagues.

      Over the winter we had a snow day where both my husband and I were working from home, while our 3 year old entertained himself with movies. (We normally really limit his screen time, so this was a BIG treat for him.) The only reason he wasn’t a lunatic from that much time in front of the TV (as opposed to running around expelling energy) is because he also happened to be running a 102 fever that day.

      And if he was sick and it wasn’t a snow day, one of us would have worked from home anyway, because kids don’t belong in an office — especially when they’re sick!

      1. MK*

        In addition to “know your workplace”, I would add “know your child”. My former supervisor did occasionally bring her 3-year-old to weekend meetings, a pint-sized Piccaso who spent the entire time completely absorbed in his art and barely noticed us. My adored niece, who is the same age, should never be allowed within a mile of an office.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          Rule #1: If you don’t trust your kid alone in a room with no supervision, don’t bring the kid to work.

      2. workingmommy*

        Umh….that’s lovely, but not every line of work allows for working from home! My husband and I are both physicians with highly inflexible work schedules and I have no designated sick time. Just all bundled into PTO and does not accrue -lose it or use it. My first, second and third thoughts while listening to this podcast were that I do not feel we can discuss this topic in any meaningful way without addressing the poor support for working parents in terms of workplace benefits we have in this country.

    4. Elinor*

      I had a boss who brought her 10 year old in with her, so he would park himself at my desk and deliver long, detailed descriptions of his video games. If I made overtures about needing to get some work done, he would just stay and keep talking. BossMom just left him there with me. Both of them apparently thought part of my job description was babysitting her kid. Ugh.

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        That’s a 10 year old thing. The monologues about video games go away when they get a bit older and don’t ever want to talk to adults. And there is no distracting them away from it. We could cut our kid off, have a discussion on something else, and then he’d jump right back in where he was. It sucks that your boss didn’t manage her kid and have him sit at her own desk.

      2. Close Bracket*

        If you are ever in a similar situation, remember that kids don’t understand “overtures” the way adults do (heck, adults don’t always get overtures). Be direct. Don’t be mean, but explicitly tell the kid that the play date is over and they need to go back to their parent.

    5. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      I have kids and have never (not once!) brought them to work. The only time my kids have been in the building is when I’ve forgotten my lunch in the car and my husband sends them in to bring it to me. Work is the one place where I’m not “Mom” and I treasure that.

  4. anon just because*

    I keep meaning to ask this whenever kids at work come up, but when parents have their older kids (think high school or college) come into the office, should the kids be appropriately dressed? Our department VP has her daughter (maybe 16-18, I don’t know her exact age) come into the office on occasion during the summer and she wears super short shorts and tank tops. We’re a pretty casually dressed office, but the shorts are so short and the tanks are so flimsy that it’s an outfit more appropriate for the beach than an office.

    I don’t have a problem with these clothes outside of the office, but it makes me wonder how you all view something like this. If an employee would be sent home for wearing it, should a parent who brings their kid in make them follow the same rules? (There’s obviously nothing I can do in this situation and it doesn’t bother me too much, but I was just curious)

    1. tigerlily*

      Does she come into the office to work/volunteer? Or is she there visiting? My opinion would change depending on the context of her being there.

      1. anon just because*

        Both. I think that’s why I’m curious, because if she was visiting it’d be one thing, but she’ll do some work like filing and copying and bringing items to other floors/departments.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      There’s no reason to police what children wear. Do you expect your VP to go out and buy her daughter a suit to wear when she visits the office?

      1. anon just because*

        No, but I also don’t want to see a 16 year old’s butt cheeks in the office, either? When I say short shorts, I mean barely covering anything short.

        1. Emi.*

          In that case it sounds like she shouldn’t be wearing them at all … but you probably don’t have standing to point it out, even just about work.

          1. anon just because*

            I definitely don’t have that standing. I only asked because I was curious what the opinion was on the matter. Wearing shorts is one thing, but wearing shorts and tanks that reveal private areas in an office seems a bit much, even for someone who’s bringing their kid in for part of the day.

            And we’re in an open office plan so it’s pretty noticeable. Like I said upthread, I don’t care if someone wears that outside of the office, but it seems kind of weird inside the office, even for such a casual dress code.

            1. Artemesia*

              I think full grown ‘children’ should be modestly dressed if hanging about the workplace. The boys shouldn’t have their butts hanging out of their jeans tops as is the smile and the girls should have on jeans and Ts or reasonably modest attire. Of course, no one cares what I think.

      2. Kate the Purple*

        I don’t think this situation is about policing what children wear, but more about how to dress appropriately in a professional setting. At 16-18 years old, they or their peers are starting to enter the workforce and learning about workplace norms and how to dress appropriately in a workplace. The VP’s daughter doesn’t need a suit, but there’s enough room between beach appropriate and suit that wouldn’t require buying separate clothes for an occasional visit to her mom’s office when she’s helping out.

    3. Red Reader*

      My dad owned a B2B retail establishment – three employees (two of whom were outside sales/delivery guys and never around, and then my dad was the inside guy) total, and about three customers in the showroom a week (they did sales primarily via phone orders for delivery) – and I still had to wear clothing that met my school’s dress code if I went into the store with dad, because that was the bare minimum of what he considered work-appropriate.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I think your dad’s rule is a good rule of thumb. I worked at my mom’s office doing some organizing of an un-air-conditioned storage room when I was 14, and I wore t-shirts, longer jean shorts (mid thigh or lower), and tennis shoes. I didn’t meet their biz casual dress code for the office or the full-length pants required for the industrial floor, but I was covered and appropriate for what I was doing.

        Kids passing through should be fine in shorts and sandals, but no visible underwear or butt cheeks would be a good starting point. The kid might be on the way to an outdoor concert or the pool, so I wouldn’t be too firm about this unless they were spending 1+ hr in the office. (FWIW, if you call me on a day off and I have to drop in for 5 minutes, you might get me in running shorts and a tank top, too.)

    4. Close Bracket*

      Teenagers should be held to the same dress code they follow at school- or if school has a uniform, they should wear clothing similar to their uniforms (ie, shirt w a collar, covers the belly).

    5. CM*

      I think kids should be appropriately dressed for the workplace unless they’re just popping in to say hello for a few minutes. They don’t necessarily need to follow the adult dress code, but they shouldn’t be wearing short shorts, flip flops, ripped clothing, or anything else that’s wildly out of place.

  5. Anon for Sure*

    I loved that the whole parent vs. non-parent stuff was raised. However, I think one of the struggles is that many non-parents outside activities are deemed to be less important and so not worthy of the extra time off. Changing that perception is, I think, important.

    1. LSP*

      I also think though that there *is* a difference between “My kid is sick and I have to pick him up at school right now” where someone has no choice, and someone without a kid wanting to leave early for a class, because while I agree people who have chosen to have kids, have, well, made a choice to have kids, it’s still a matter of a family member with a health problem.

      I think the same leeway should be given to people caring for their parents, or other relatives, or, in the case of people whose pets are their main dependents, pets. If it’s something concerning health, it doesn’t matter if it’s a kid or not. I have a pre-schooler, but I have taken less time off for him than a coworker of mine has taken off to care for her ailing father. I certainly don’t begrudge her that time, and I hope that she and my other coworkers understand when I have to stay home to care for my son.

      Now, if a company is going to be cool with their child-having employees take time off for rehearsals and soccer games, then employees without children should be given the same room for more optional events as well.

      1. Jesca*

        As a single parent and sole provider, it drives me absolutely nuts when schools schedule things during the day time. I always let the school know how much I do not appreciate this. Today I had leave work to attend my daughter’s kindergarten orientation. It was ridiculous and totally disruptive to the other grades that started today. Four years ago, they had this orientation at 6:00 in the evening which made a lot more sense. I have seen coworkers leaving to attend award ceremonies at the junior high and high school levels that are scheduled during the day!!! It is just a huge pet peeve of mine. And while I understand that teachers don’t like to have to stay and have families of their own, I don’t have the time to take off or can always be available during the day when I am working. Just don’t schedule these things during working hours. And I honestly do not remember so many scheduled things during the day when I was in school aside from the parent-teacher conference which they now schedule in the evenings!

        1. KR*

          Used to drive my parents crazy too. I think my mom chaperoned one field trip when I was a kid and maybe came into school during the day once – and she worked nights. I remember teachers asking my why my parents weren’t at whatever event and we’re always shocked when I said they had to work – what did they think my parents did all day?!

        2. Iris Eyes*

          All hours are working hours for someone and brushing with a very broad brush, it is generally more feasible for a 9-5 employee to take off time during the day than for a shift worker.

          I do get your frustration, my kiddo is only in daycare and there have been several activities that I have had to take a pass on because it wasn’t worth taking the PTO for it.

          1. Jesca*

            And why do you just assume that I am a 9-5er? Painting strokes? Also, today wasn’t an activity. It was literally the first day of school. That is how they stated it. And yes I have done shift work, and no it is not any easier, but suffice to say most people work during the day. Not all. But most and that should be enough not to have activities in the middle of the day.

            Look as a single parent, I have had to make sacrifices. I also have rules surrounding which jobs I can take. I would not take a second or third shift job being a single parent, because I would expect for activities to be in the evenings. I would expect to need to be there to help my children do their homework. So while yes, “shift work” exists, its not THAT common that it needs to be accommodated. Lets face it, the schools are catering to SAHM. Let us all just call a spade a spade not nit pick?

                1. CanadianMom*

                  Our PTA tried to alternate between daytime and evening meetings.

                  Honestly, you can’t please everyone. Evening meetings can be problematic for SAHPs – perhaps the other parent works evenings and arranging babysitting is difficult.

                  And perhaps I’m misunderstanding – but I really don’t understand how the “first day of school” can be at any other time than daytime??

          2. LSP*

            I try to just accept that as a working parent, I am going to miss out on certain day-time events at my kid’s school. It sucks, but it’s the reality of working, whether it’s a need or a choice.

            It is a little ironic though, that as it has become more the norm for both parents to work, that schools are also becoming much more assertive (aggressive?) about parent participation.

            1. Gadfly*

              From what I’ve seen, many also have special time flexible programs that target fathers explicitly and then anything targeted at mothers is the same old middle of the day stuff.

          3. Kate 2*

            Agreed. Most 9-5 jobs are white collar and you actually get time off. Outside of those hours you tend to have shift work, fast food, and retail. For the later two you can get fired if you try to take a shift off depending on the manager. There is no security and no paid time off, so you have to choose between food/rent and your kid’s stuff.

              1. Cercis*

                Or that are such that taking time off has to be done in blocks. Or are too long a commute to do during the day. My commute while my kids were in elementary was more than an hour long, plus it had to be done around the bus schedule (which ran every half hour). So a lunch time meeting meant that I basically had to take the whole day off (I’d get to work at 8, have to leave at 10:00, then wouldn’t get back until 2:30 or 3:00). I could, technically, have driven to work, but I wouldn’t have had a place to park so it would cost $20 for a day of parking. Prior to that, my job didn’t allow you to take less than half a day of leave at a time. So an hour meeting would “cost” me 4 hours of VERY limited leave (in both cases).

        3. Magenta Sky*

          If they schedule it outside of *your* usual work time, they schedule it outside of *their* usual work time.

        4. rj*

          until I had friends with school age kids rather than babies, I had no idea this was still happening. My mom worked once we were in school (and was part-time working or studying before then) so she wasn’t one of the “school moms” and I sometimes felt bad (as if this were my fault). I think more women work than when I was a kid… I’m annoyed this is still happening.

      2. DMR*

        My former employer was very accomodating of my need to visit my father daily at what would be the end of work hours when he was hospitalized (which followed a period when I needed to leave early 2x a week for physical therapy). There was a consultant who complained about the challenge of moving her work forward when I was out so much, but the need was legitmate and not long after, she was let go. Leadership was very supportive of using the time off available as needed.

      3. Anon for Sure*

        I think most people can understand that when a relative is ill that you need to make adjustments. I think most employers are generally pretty good about treating parents and non-parents relatively equally when it comes to those sorts of situations.

        All I request is that as you said when “child-having employees take time off for rehearsals and soccer games, then employees without children should be given the same room for more optional events as well.” However, I find that is often not the case.

        1. LSP*

          And that certainly is unfair. If I can go to my kid’s “trunk or treat” event, you should be able to attend that lecture on teapot making.

          What I’ve seen a lot (including here, unfortunately) are non-parents likening time off for a sick kid to more optional, recreational, non-kid-related activities. My kid is my family member, and if he’s sick, I need to take care of him. And sure, I chose to have a kid, but someone has to have kids, right? Like for humans to keep existing, and all.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            Balancing “this is actually more important than that” with “this is unfair” is a tightrope walk. I seriously doubt it’s even remotely possible to have a single set of rules for all situations – even more than any other management problem. You have to take every situation, and every employee, on their own merits.

          2. Anon for Sure*

            Generally, the only time the whole sick kid thing bothers me is with one particular co-worker who seeks special favors and uses their child as an excuse for special favors. For example, we have a policy that no one may work-from-home more than two days a week, and yet this employee regularly works from home three or four days a week. And, if my co-worker wasn’t using their kid as an excuse they’d find something else, I’m sure.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              That’s not a problem with your coworker, that’s a problem with their manager letting them get away with it.

          3. WLS*

            I don’t look at it as a recreational/non-recreational comparison, but as an equal comparison of voluntary responsibilities. Some take on the responsibility of pets, some of volunteering for outside organizations, some of sports leagues, some of children, etc. Everyone should have equal opportunity to accommodate their chosen responsibilities outside of work, to the same extent.

            I choose the same comparison with maternity leave. Clearly I don’t think new moms are kicked back on the beach with a drink in their hand – I know maternity leave is hard work and sleepless nights. But it’s still a choice, and still time they get away from work to pursue things that are meaningful to them and their lives. I’d love to take a break from work to pursue things I find meaningful as well with the assurance my job will be still waiting for me when I’m done.

      4. Zip Zap*

        I think that’s a false distinction. People who don’t have kids also have responsibilities that aren’t optional. If you live alone, sometimes you have more responsibilities than someone who has a partner and/or older kids who can help out around the house. We all have stuff going on in our lives. I think we should relax a little more about the parent vs non-parent thing.

        1. Anon for discussion of my undewear*

          Yeah – I draw a distinction between “My kid is sick and needs to be looked after” and “I have an awards ceremony to attend”.

          The first I’m generally quite willing to accommodate, even when it means an imbalance in work, because it’s a reality of having parents in the work force. Having well cared for children benefits society as a whole. Plus, the alternative is to force women back into the home without the ability to earn a living, and that would be bad for me even as a women without children. But to go with that, things like caring for elderly parents or other relatives, or being sick yourself, or a burst pipe in the basement, should be granted the same understanding. I had a work colleague (no kids) whose sister was undergoing cancer treatment. The sister was single, their parents were dead, and my colleague could not get FMLA time to care for her, because she wasn’t the right kind of relative.

          The second category, non-essential life things, should also include non-children things. Attending an awards ceremony or PTA meeting is nice, but not required. If the parents get time off to do that, then non-parents should also get flexibility to do things that are nice, or convenient, but not emergencies. And if the parents can say “I have to leave at 5 exactly to pick up my kids from daycare”, then non-parents should not be expected to work all the extra hours. If non-parents are expected to work a strict schedule, with no flexibility, and take PTO (or unpaid time off) for life things, then parents should do the same for their child’s activities.

          Also things like vacation time, undesirable shifts, raises and promotions. The childless employees shouldn’t be expected to work all the late shifts, every stat holiday and the whole Christmas period when parents get those times off preferentially. And raises and promotions shouldn’t be allocated on the “but he’s a family man” system.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            Seconding your last paragraph so hard. I hate the “they have a family!” argument for people with spouses and kids. I have a family, too. My parents and siblings. I want to spend the holidays with them just as much as people who have partners and kids, and I don’t think it’s fair that some people think one type of family is more important than the other.

            1. WLS*

              I work in a job where I see confidential conversations, and this is often a plea made by those who are having their pay cut, being denied a raise, or know they may be laid off. And while I totally understand that when faced with that reality, the first thing that crosses their mind is “But I have a FAMILY!!”, it still feels like a punch in the gut every time I read this stuff. They might as well say, “Don’t cut MY pay because I have a family! But feel free to cut Joe’s because he doesn’t!”

      5. Gee Gee*

        HECK YES to this. Elder care is basically ignored in the U.S., while the “cause” of childcare for working parents is a mantle most are willing to take up. It’s so short-sighted!

      6. KellyK*

        I agree with all of this. I would also add that, while emergencies take precedence over voluntary fun stuff in general, nobody’s going to be happy if their voluntary fun stuff *always* gets short-shrift. Any good employer recognizes that everyone will have family emergencies at some point, and tries make a plan to address that that minimally screws over everyone who’s not currently in a crisis.

      7. nonymous*

        yes and no. We have (generous) vacation separate from sick leave at my work. My coworkers’ spouse has a skimpy PTO bank that is approximately equal to our vacation leave. So they make a choice to use his sick leave for when kiddos are ill and save her PTO for family vacays.

        What this means practically, is that my coworker gets to take a day of sick leave when his children puke (local school has a rule that kids have to stay out for 24 hrs) but are otherwise fine. Meanwhile I’m required to flex time for dr appointments. I currently have 345 hrs of sick leave banked.

  6. Temperance*


    I caught part of that segment on Saturday! I didn’t realize it was you – I jumped in the car about halfway through your segment. It was really wonderful and you sounded really charming and personable and also intelligent, which is very hard to pull off.

  7. art.the.nerd*

    Part of me wants to say, “Employers think it’s okay to send your work home with you. Therefore work should be okay when you bring your kid (or pet) to work.”

    Whether that’s a valid syllogism or not, I have to agree with Jack. Hell no!

  8. EddieSherbert*

    I’m lucky enough to have an office that’s very flexible about these things, but no one does any of it regularly (let alone abuses it!) – so like once a month there’s a kid or a dog in the building because someone had a childcare mix up, or is just in the office for a meeting and heading somewhere else right away, etc.

    We DO have a planned “dog day” every quarter, which is super fun – and if you don’t want to be involved, you get a pass to work from home that day :)

  9. AnonToday*

    I see people bringing their small children in to visit them regularly, especially because we have a big cafe/restaurant on site where they can easily have lunch together. Most people confine their visits to those big noisy common areas, but sometimes they want to come by and see where mom/dad works for a few minutes. The younger the child, the better the visits are received, it seems- when someone has a new baby, everyone wants to meet them! Luckily I am able to work from home on days when my son is too sick for daycare, which really helps me balance the work-life stuff. I think it is important for childless folks to support us parents when we need flex time to take care of kids in extenuating circumstances (sick, appointments, etc), just like it is important for me to support ALL my coworkers when they need/want time off for any other reason- you want to take off early on Friday to beat traffic and leave town for the weekend? No sweat, I’ll stay til my normal time and cover things. I wish people didn’t worry about what the time off was for so much- everyone needs or wants a little extra time off now and again for all sorts of reasons, your job as a coworker is to make sure things run smoothly in their absence.

    1. Lena*

      I have never seen a workplace offer the same kind of flexibility as parents get, to non parents. People seem to be off with their kids so frequently, they have to take the school holidays off so good luck to the rest of us if we want a holiday then. I always have had to be the one to stay late or work weekends because I don’t have kids. It ends up making me bitter towards those people, even though really its managements problem.

      1. Grapey*

        My workplace has that but I admit it is rare, and it is totally management’s fault if they don’t hold up equal time off for everyone.

        However, I consider it a bonus that I’m not limited to school vacation times to take my vacations. For instance I am travelling to Europe for two weeks at the end of September. It’s both cheaper and less crowded, plus I don’t need to care about logistics of hauling kids around. Working a few weekends seems worth it for that sort of flexibility (but I’m still grateful I don’t even have to do that at my job.)

      2. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        Interesting. Since becoming a parent I’ve never worked for a company that has given preferential treatment to parents or non-parents. I’ve worked school holidays because I wasn’t able to get my request in before others. I’ve worked late because the work load required it. I’ve taken the written warning for attendance issues the year my son was diagnosed with asthma and he had a whole slew of sick days and MD appointments that required myself or my husband to take off work for (most unplanned) before he was diagnosed.
        I’m sure that these were not the norm, but as I’ve worked at three different companies over three different states I don’t think they’re that few and far between either. (All three companies are national companies and each have over 10K employees nationwide.) Frankly, I think the problem lies in the employee with kids who expects preferential treatment based on the “but I’m a parent!” argument. I’ve worked with many of those…one of them was a manager!

      3. LoiraSafada*

        I’ve never received the kind of support or flexibility that the parents I’ve worked with have received. Not even close.

  10. Zip Zap*

    I think it’s great when people bring their kids to work. As soon as the parent turns their back, I hand the kid my laptop and say, “Ok, answer the first 100 emails. I’ll be back in an hour. Text me if you have any questions.”

    Joking, of course.

    I agree that it’s insensitive. Personally, I don’t mind unless it’s frequent and disruptive, but I think it is inconsiderate to people who might have health issues or just not like kids.

    Bring Your Kid to Work Day is good, though. Then people who don’t want to meet the kids for whatever reason can take the day off.

    1. LS*

      I’m curious about what type of health issues would make it uncomfortable for someone’s child to be in the office?

      1. Cassivella*

        People who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed are often told to stay away from young, daycare and school aged children as they carry significantly more illnesses. Someone on chemo could even catch something deadly like measles from a recently vaccinated child.

      2. Gee Gee*

        To second Cassivella, I worked with a woman who had SLE (lupus) who asked people not to bring in young children. She was constantly sick, it was awful.

      3. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        I worked with a woman who had severe anxiety and very small children, toddler age mostly, could trigger it easily. She used go into the bathroom and hide there until the kids were out of the office. Our manager ended up asking people to not bring the kids into the main part of the office, but welcomed them into the reception area. I’m not really sure what it was about small kids that triggered her anxiety, but I have to admit, if I see a kid walking around with a lollipop in their mouth I will have to physically remove myself from the area or risk an anxiety attack. No joke. There was an episode of Rescue 9-1-1 (anyone remember that show?) that I saw as a kid that damaged me against lollipops…so while I don’t know what it was for her, I totally understood that it was serious to her.

      4. LoiraSafada*

        People that don’t want to get chicken pox, hand, foot and mouth disease, norovirus, the latest disgusting cold, secondary effects from recent vaccinations…

  11. Erin*

    I’ve brought my dog and my step kid to work. Not in the same day. When I brought my dog with me it was my boss forgot her keys so I had to drive up there and just unlock the door. My dog didn’t even leave the car for the 20 seconds. It made the trip to work suck a lot less because my dog enjoyed it so much.
    I work in retail, my work is a good meeting spot for my husband and his ex so they usually drop my step kid off at my work, she’s 13 so she old enough to entertain herself for 20 minutes in a shoe store without being a distraction.

  12. Lena*

    I’ve never seen anyone bring a dog to work, or even heard about it. I think maybe it’s more common in America? Same as dogs on planes – simply not allowed here in New Zealand or Australia.

    Ideally I’d say no kids at work ever. I’ve had some coworkers who would bring their kids in frequently and it was extremely disruptive.

  13. Nox*

    We can’t do bring our kid to work day because it violates PCI and because we have a small group of very vocal childfree people who openly hate children, which no offense buuuuuut we were all kids at one time so I kinda struggle with the idea that someone wakes up one day and says “ugh babies please die” (actual quote from one of them when a baby and mom came in for paperwork)

    I get uncomfortable around these types of folks because it makes me think that if you have these strong feelings about one particular group of people it makes me wonder how you feel about other groups of people too. It’s probably my experience with the childfree people at my job and the related dysfunction that makes me paranoid.

    1. CM*

      I agree, that’s really disrespectful. But I know plenty of childfree people who are fine with the existence of children and other people’s choices to have them, they just don’t want to have kids (or in some cases, interact with kids) themselves.

      As for kids at work, I have brought my older kid in on occasion when he has a random day off from school. Maybe 2-3 times a year. He likes to dress up for the office. I bring activities to keep him busy and if he’s interacting with coworkers when I’m not there (I’ve had some coworkers who enjoy having him hang out with them for a bit), I make sure the coworker knows that they should feel free to send him back to me at any time. It’s worked out very well. On the other hand, I’ve never brought in my younger kid — he’s pretty loud, and always wants my attention so I wouldn’t get anything done.

    2. KellyK*

      For the specific childfree people at your office, I think that’s a normal reaction. “Please die” is such a gross, ugly and over-the-top reaction to someone bringing a baby in, that I wouldn’t want to work anywhere near that person. It can generalize to anybody who says ugly and hateful things about children, but shouldn’t generalize to all the people who don’t want, don’t like being around, or don’t know how to deal with children, but don’t act like jerks about it.

      But one thing that might ease your worries somewhat. I doubt anybody that tactless or openly nasty could pull off being a closet bigot. If you were in a group of people they hated, you’d probably know about it, because it wouldn’t occur to them *not* to make nasty comments.

  14. OxfordComma*

    The only times I think it’s okay to bring your kids to work: it’s bring your child to work day or it’s some kind of dire emergency (and by dire, I do not mean, “Oh, I forgot to hire a sitter, you don’t mind, do you?”). Every so often there’s someone who has a well-behaved child or teen who can be put at a desk and who will do homework. If it was always like that, I would totally be fine with it. But half the time, it’s some kid running around, asking me stuff, rifling through the office supplies, having mood swings, arguing with their siblings, their parent, etc.

    The exception to the above is, it’s a few minutes maybe with a new baby or your partner is coming by to drop something off and the kids are there for a very short time.

    I’m highly allergic to dogs and I never ever want to see them the office, without notice, because for me, what someone bringing in their dog means is that inevitably my eyes are going to swell up, I’m going to start sneezing and hacking, and their 10 minute visit is going to take me 24 hours for me to recover. If I know ahead of time, fine. I can take some meds. Otherwise, please keep your pet at home.

    And yes, yes, about employers putting the needs of people with kids above those who are childless. It’s so frustrating.

  15. Anonforlotsofreasons*

    The owners at my current job bring their 3, yes I said 3, kids into the office everyday of summer break and every school holiday. The kids so around wanting “jobs” to “help” the rest of us and are really more of a pain in the a*% while the owners just hole up in their offices and only take the time out to yell at the kids to find something to keep themselves busy. I feel bad for the kids because that is no way to spend your summer vacation and school breaks and it is one of the many many reasons that I am so glad to be leaving this place in a couple of weeks!

  16. Bookworm*

    Only experiences I’ve had with people bringing their children to work have been good: babies who were sleeping anyway, older children who weren’t interested in being there (and therefore not chatty) but not being obnoxious either, parents were very good at not taking up too much time/keeping the kids in line, etc. I don’t mind them but if they’re in the way then or affecting productivity then I can understand why some would be peeved.

    I really prefer to work in a pet-free environment though. Same stuff happens with kids, I know. Emergencies happen, some animals are totally chill. But just as there are plenty of people who don’t want children to be in the office, I don’t see why the same policy can’t apply to pets (unless you work in a zoo, animal shelter, vet’s office, etc. obviously). I always appreciate when a job posting actually says so (I’ve gone to interviews only to find out then it’s a dog-friendly place).

  17. nonymous*

    When I was young (mid-eighties) my Dad was the primary caretaker and he had a lot of dr visits where he didn’t want me in the exam room with him. It was no big deal from my perspective to sit on a comfy chair in the waiting area with a book and stuffy (I am an introvert and my parents had high expectations of seen and not heard in public settings). On multiple occasions the staff would loudly complain that they shouldn’t be expected to do their admin tasks and babysit me at the same time. I remember it being an odd occasion if the designated person whom I was supposed to go to if emergency actually took an interest in me.

  18. chocoholic*

    This is timely because I brought my son to work with me last week. It was the first day of school, and he just had a 1/2 day in the morning (6th grade). My daughter also had a 1/2 day in the afternoon (8th grade). I wasn’t planning on him coming, but he didn’t want to be ditched at home by himself that afternoon. So he brought some books and his computer and spent a few hours sitting on a chair in my office watching YouTube and reading. And nobody even really knew he was here unless they came into my office. He did do some shredding for me so he was in the supply room to do that, but other than that and a trip to the bathroom, he was in here. I was feeling kind of bad because I had not asked ahead of time if he could come (I’ve had a few times where I had a work emergency on a day I otherwise had planned to be off to care for the kids, and it has not been a problem for me to bring them, deal with my emergency and leave, but I always got permission for the kids to come first). It turned out to be fine. He didn’t disturb anyone. Even me :)

  19. WLS*

    I’m childless by choice and work in a formal office environment, so people bringing their children into the office is fairly rare, but every time it’s happened they have been nothing but delightful, polite and well-behaved. I did not feel it disrupted anything at all. I echo what many said above in that in all depends on the specific child and the parent(ing).

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