Can you bring your baby to work?

The answer depends on your employer’s policies, as well as on whether you’re a day care provider, an office worker, or a firefighter, to give just a few possibilities. Some parents, occasionally or regularly, manage to integrate their children into their working environments. Others find it inappropriate or downright impossible. But your question highlights the need for social structures and labor policies that protect and promote the rights of parents and the wellbeing of the family.

Two key principles of Catholic social teaching come into play here: the importance of the family and the dignity of human labor. Parenthood is a vocation, and parents have a sacred duty to care for and educate their children. Meanwhile, work is also a vocation, through which human beings contribute to the wider community and collaborate in God’s action in the world. According to Catholic social teaching, our society should strive to ensure that those two vocations are not mutually exclusive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be able to bring your baby to work, but it does mean that you should be able to find a way to realize your vocation both as parent and as worker, contributing to the community and in a very real sense being a co-creator with God in both aspects of your life.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.