Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Children and the Workplace

My stance on progeny (aka nope!), is pretty well known amongst my friends, but at work I have not discussed it, besides a oblique comment during my interview that quitting work to be a shufu is not one of my life goals.

Also, I know that my direct managers all have or want children. It is a fact that many of those who have kids can get very defensive if someone mentions that they don't want them, and last thing I want to do is antagonize the people I work so closely with. 

Keeping this balance can be very difficult. 
I was at a work dinner, when one of our clients asked: 'What will you do about your vegetarianism when you have kids?'.

I froze. My usual 'uuuhm, nah' is not going to cut it, especially since the gentleman in question is a father. I did my best with 'ohh, I've never thought of it, どうでしょうね' but for some reason they got stuck on it, with me getting progressively uncomfortable. 

Even in my relatively young area of tech, the female = mother monolith is alive and well.

How does one deal with this? I don't want to lie, but the truth is a maaaajor conversation stopper!


  1. I often wimp out and go with something like "Oh, children aren't in my plans right now" and a topic change. Weirdly, asking people about their own children is an effective distraction.

    Although, I'm more and more likely to just say "Yeah, no. Not happening."

    1. Yeah.... when people don't let you change the subject, it gets awkward (whatever happened to 'kuuki wo yomu'???)

  2. In my 20s I used to just be blunt and say "I'm childfree!" but I got tired of the bingos, so now I just say something similar to what you say. I guess I'd try to keep it light and say "Oh, I'll think about that when the time comes" or "I'll discuss it with my husband when we get married" or something. Geez, why won't they just let the conversation change? I'm going to ask my Japanese friends about this one.

    1. Agreed, you have to be careful (at least in prof. situations), since people take it as an attack in themselves

  3. I'm also living in Tokyo, am child free and plan to stay that way forever. I'm nearing my mid-thirties now, so these sort of questions become more frequent. It's grossly inconsiderate really, I mean our colleagues don't know that we are not in the massive number devastated by finding out they can't have kids, right? I don't see why it should ever enter into discourse between professionals IMHO.
    I think the 'I'd discuss it when the time comes' route is the softest to tread too. I just wish there was something honest could say that'd stop the conversation without seeming too sharp...

    1. Hi Jen!
      Agreed on the grossly inappropriate (and, of course, only asked to women, so grossly sexist as well).
      I have since dropped a few hints, but they haven't really been picked up.oh well.

      By the way, love your wine recs! I am a huge wine fan as well, have you tried Goss in Ginza? They have a really cool 'wine vending machine' (the description isn't really accurate) set up which is great if you want to try various wines