Staff Senate Hosts Third “Working and Parenting at NC State” Chat

Participants discuss at Staff Senate Parent Chat in December 2019

The term “non-traditional parent” can mean many different things, encompassing differing parental roles, a variety of parenting situations and unique parenting challenges. However, as society changes and evolves, is there really such a thing as a “non-traditional parent”? Every parent faces unique challenges. With this in mind, the Staff Senate invites all parents to participate in its parent chats, as many will find useful information that applies to their own situations.

The Staff Senate’s Diversity Committee held its third Parent Chat on Dec. 16, 2019 in McKimmon Center to provide a place where any NC State parent could come share problems, solutions, ideas and fellowship. Staff Senators Melissa Jackson and Cecilia Lagegren led discussion on topics such as foster care, adoption, single parenting, LGBT families, raising children with special needs and navigating work-life balance.

December’s chat was well attended, with about 20 NC State staff members participating in the discussion. At the chat, parents could also pick up information about several Wake County organizations, including Project Enlightenment, which offers parent counseling and resources at a very low cost for Wake County residents. An information sheet listed numerous additional resources available to employees from NC State’s Human Resources office, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, Feed the Pack, University Ombuds and the Parents of Special Needs group on campus.

Discussion questions included:

  • “What are some of the greatest challenges you face?” and
  • “What are the resources and strategies you use to assist with work-life balance?”

Challenges mentioned included high daycare costs, responsibilities related to raising adult children with disabilities, navigating the parental leave process, caring for aging or ill parents, and difficulty finding resources to manage adoptions, healthcare and legal issues.

Resources and strategies included finding a good supervisor and team, flexing work time, using community service leave, using drop-in childcare solutions and learning about and leveraging all of the resources available. Participants noted that supervisors often don’t know about all of the benefits available.

One of the main takeaways from the day was that education and communication — such as the opportunity to participate in chats such as these — help employees learn about others’ experiences and the resources they’ve used. Participants expressed a desire for additional opportunities to help further the connections and relationships that make NC State a great place to work.

Staff Senator and event co-organizer Cecilia Lagergren says, “As an employee who would like children in the future, it has been extremely helpful to hear the parent’s stories during these talks and to understand what “work-life balance” looks like in real life. It has also allowed me to have an appreciation for my co-worker and my supervisor for allowing her to have a flexible schedule to be there for her children.”

Fellow Senator and event co-organizer Melissa Jackson adds, “During the workday, it’s easy to forget that employees have complex lives outside of their jobs. Parenting and work/life balance are hard. Various circumstances (like those often covered in our gatherings) can make these things even more challenging. Through our chats, we hope to bring working parents together in a supportive environment and also raise awareness about resources on- and off-campus.”

Jackson and Lagergren thanked participants for sharing their stories and welcome anyone to contact them with questions, comments, concerns or ideas related to parenting or work-life balance.

Elizabeth Snively writes for the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.