What Makes a Boss Family-Friendly?

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Answer: it’s not the X chromosome.

I had a long talk the other day with a friend in California whose new boss is a woman without children. My friend has children with special needs, and she needs to get home to them at a certain time. As she headed for the door, her new boss confronted her, reminding her of a project that had yet to be completed. “It didn’t even occur to her that I might not be able to change my schedule without notice,” said my friend.

We’ve talked before in this space about the common assumption that work-life balance is a women’s issue. It’s not. Being a woman doesn’t make a boss family-friendly.

Then again, having a family doesn’t make a boss family-friendly, either. Another friend from Denver writes,

The man I work for has two children (same as me) only slightly older than mine. But his wife is a stay-at-home mom. So she does everything that I have to do at night but during the day. She doesn’t mind if he spends his evenings socializing with his work colleagues. My house would catch fire and burn to the ground if I tried that.

He recently said to me that he feels the whole work/life balance is still just a woman’s issue, as they are considered the nuturers in all societies. My generation is the first to have the notion of stay at home husbands/fathers, he added. I told him he was a Neanderthal. But he said he was right. (He’s the type who thinks he is always right.) Women can solve the whole problem because all they have to do is quit working, in this man’s opinion. I tell you, I am so angry I can’t even speak to him


My own boss doesn’t have kids. And he’s a he. And though he doesn’t lead by example in this (he’s the worst of workaholics), he tells us that our jobs are to get our jobs done–not to hew to the office for a bit more face time in lieu of a life.

Opinions? Tales?