You’re abandoning your children‽

Kim family during educational tour of the Legislature building of Nunavut in Iqaluit.

Legislature of Nunavut

You’re abandoning your children‽

This shocked me to hear the first time. I love my children. I would do anything for them.  I was taken aback for being accused of abandoning my children. I had to do some soul searching. What impact would working away from home have on my 4 beautiful children? I was raised by my father and his retired parents. My father travelled a lot during the school year for work, and during the summers we would live on the sailboat together. I was very close with him. Why is it a father can work out of town and no one blinks, but a mother is immediately accused of neglecting her children? No, my children were not abandoned. They had a very competent, very loving father home with them. Why do people discredit my husband’s ability to take care of our children and our home? In all fairness, he is a much better cook than me. A friend of mine stays home with her 3 children while her husband travels for work. No one thinks her unable to care for her children. No one has ever accused her husband of abandoning the children – they praise him for the lifestyle his career affords them. Eventually I got used to the gender-biased reaction because I heard it a lot. I learned how to respond because they needed to be called out on their discrimination. 

‘I am going to work in Nunavut for the next 4 months. It is an exciting career opportunity, and I am really excited about the adventure.” 

‘You’re abandoning your children‽ What about your husband, I can’t believe he is letting you go? How will he manage? 

‘So, if a man works out of town he is ‘supporting his family” but a woman is ‘abandoning her children? Let’s not be so dramatic. My children are happy, healthy, loved and cared for.” 

One woman after hearing this thanked me for calling her out on her unconscious bias. I hope I can open some minds. There is still a way to go.

By the way, my entire family enjoyed visiting me for 3 weeks in Nunavut around summer solstice. They learned about Inuit culture and music, and even started learning some of the language. What an amazing opportunity, that they would not have had if their mom didn’t travel for work. More importantly, my children understand that they are not limited by traditional gender roles and that they really can do anything.  I am not abandoning my children. I am empowering them.

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