Tag Archives: work

Ignorance is bliss

After the economic crisis erupted, many people asked: ‘Why did no one see it coming?’   Of course, it now emerges that some individual voices did raise some concerns (and, with the benefit of hindsight, their sometimes bland general comments seem almost uncanny).   But on the whole, the response was a deliberate wallowing in a collective pool of blissful ignorance.

Because it is easier to bury your head in the sand than face uncomfortable truths.  Because it is easier to say it’s not your fault if you don’t know too much about certain matters.  Because if you don’t know for sure, you can still fool yourself into believing things will work out fine.

We all know that pleading ignorance will get you nowhere in a court case, but I started wondering just how valid an excuse it is in other situations…  Here’s what I mean, some examples are more morally sticky than others and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

If you set really aggressive sales targets for your team, but don’t really want to know the details of how they achieve those targets, can you be held responsible if some of them don’t adhere to the official company policy?

If you are worried about your child’s behaviour but resist taking him to the doctor or psychologist for fear that he may be labelled for the rest of his life, are you responsible if he then hurts another child?

If you suspect your boss may be fiddling expenses, but you would rather not investigate it too thoroughly for fear of the negative effect it could have on your career, can you honestlysay you were unaware of this when the shortfall comes to light?

Thomas Jefferson said ‘Ignorance is preferable to error…’ and all too often we would rather say we don’t know enough about a situation rather than take sides.  And then be proved wrong.  

I am one of those born facilitators and mediators who wants to hear all sides of a story, who refuses to commit categorically to a position before looking at it from all angles… and yet I wonder if sometimes that is not just another way of using ignorance as an excuse for lack of action.  If I don’t know everything about a situation, that doesn’t mean I am ignorant and therefore not to be blamed.   Sitting on a fence can be a downright pain at times…

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But all mums work…

The Office of National Statistics ONS in the UK recently stated that the percentage of mothers working with at least one child under the age of 5 has doubled in the last 25 years (it’s 62% now).  For mothers with one or two children under the age of 16 it’s even higher, 76% and 73% respectively.   Lots of surveys also suggest that women do not necessarily want to go out and work, but they feel under economic pressure to do so.

I may be operating from a small statistical sample, but out of all the Mums I have met in the schoolyard, at nursery, at the swimming pool with toddlers in tow, I hardly ever hear any of them say: ‘I really don’t want to work, I want to stay at home all day with the kids, but I can’t because of the money!’  Am I moving in completely the wrong circles or do these surveys not reflect real maternal experience?  Perhaps, shock-horror, they do not ask the questions right?!  As we all know, surveys and statistical figures are so easy to manipulate.

Because all mothers work.  Yes, they work really hard to raise the citizens of the future:  hold and cuddle, make things better, entertain, feed, wash, dress, scold, make them behave, do homework, break fights, talk, listen, cook, clean the house, do the laundry…  Ask any stay-at-home Mum and their day is exhausting, their to-do-list never gets any smaller, and the sheer repetitiveness of it all is sometimes completely discouraging.  So, yes, all mothers work their socks off!  But they don’t always feel appreciated for this ‘invisible’ work.

So is it any wonder that I also hear Mums who would really like to go and work for themselves (for an employer or self-employed) in order to feel appreciated for their skills and knowledge, to earn their own money and not feel totally dependent on someone else (even if that someone else is the state) and also, sometimes, just to get out of the house and have some grown-up conversation that doesn’t revolve solely around the children.

I think that if we interpret these surveys correctly, what we are really hearing is that women want family-friendly working practices, that they want to be able to combine work and family, be there for their children but also be themselves.  And that we’ve still got some way to go before they can achieve that without guilt.

How about you?  Do you honestly enjoy every single moment of your life as a stay-at-home-Mum and feel appreciated by your family and by society?  Do you feel guilty about rejoining the workplace while your children are young?  Do you feel you have achieved a satisfactory balance?  And if you have, please share your secret with us!

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