3 Ways to Not Exclude People When Talking About Families

3 Ways to Not Exclude People When Talking About Families

As someone who doesn’t have children, I (Dr. Kristen) am constantly aware of how we talk about families in the office. You can just tell when someone is assuming that my marriage isn’t a family because it doesn’t include children and it’s so ubiquitous that I barely register it any longer. However, when someone goes out of their way to acknowledge that my family obligations mean my husband, or my parents, and not children – I am grateful.

So today on AR’s coverage of navigating identity in the office, we’re offering 3 tips for ways to make your folks feel included.

Use “Partner or Spouse” Instead of “Husband or Wife”

This is gaining popularity already, but we wanted to emphasize it. Not only does this help include people whom are not married, but includes those in same-sex marriages, or those in marriages where someone is in transition. Just smooths a lot of rough edges.

Include Foster Care and Adoption in Parental Leave Policies

The addition of a child to the house in whatever circumstance the child enters is disruptive and intense. Letting people take an appropriate amount of time to get themselves settled means that there is a higher likelihood that they’ll bring their whole selves to work, instead of exhausted husks of human.

Don’t Limit Bereavement to Blood Relations

For many of us, ‘family’ is a word with an elastic concept. As in, Dr. Erin is not my blood relation, but she and I are closer than I am to many of my blood relations. For people from abusive families, this concept is even more important – we are family with the people we choose to be family with just as much as the ones foisted upon us by DNA. Even if bereavement leave at your company is a few hours for the funeral of immediate family only, it should be extended to however someone chooses to define “immediate”.


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