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Author Topic: Bringing a baby to a work lunch  (Read 12598 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« on: March 26, 2015, 10:10:38 PM »
DF works in a team of seven people. Whenever anyone has an event (like a birthday, promotion, engagement, etc) or if someone leaves or joins the team, the team goes out to lunch at a nearby restaurant to celebrate.

One of DF's coworkers "Suzy" has a 1 year old baby, and works part time Monday-Thursday. Usually, the team tries to organise their work lunches for one of those days (so for example, if someone has a birthday on a Friday, the team will do lunch on the Thursday instead to accommodate Suzy).

However, there are times when the team is busy, or people's schedules don't match up, and Friday is the one available day to do lunch. On those occasions, Suzy drives into the city to join the team for lunch. This is purely voluntary on Suzy's part - no one (including their supervisor "Martha") pressures Suzy to join them for lunch on her day off. This is entirely Suzy's choice.

The issue is that Suzy always brings her baby along to the Friday work lunches. This results in the focus of the lunches being entirely on the baby. This is partly because Suzy chats about her baby a lot, and partly because Martha (the supervisor) loves, loves, loves, babies, and gushes over Suzy's baby like crazy. Last month, one of DF's coworkers "Fred" got engaged, and the team went to lunch on a Friday to celebrate. Suzy turned up with her baby, and she and Martha dominated the entire conversation with baby talk. No one was able to get a word in edgeways about Fred's engagement (the whole reason for the lunch!). It was all about Suzy's baby.

Now, another coworker "Julie" has just been accepted for a rather prestigious secondment to another project for three months. This secondment is hard to get, and it's quite an achievement for Julie to be picked. Once again, DF's team are going out to lunch on Friday to celebrate (which is also Julie's last day before going on secondment). DF told me about the following conversation:

Suzy: So the lunch is Friday? Great, Baby and I will drive into the city and meet you guys!"

Julie: "That's very kind Suzy, but honestly, please don't feel obliged to come in on your day off. You and I can always do coffee together on the Thursday."

Suzy: "Oh no, that's fine. Baby and I love an outing! We'll meet you guys at Restaurant on Friday."

Julie confided to DF and the other coworkers that she doesn't want Suzy to bring her baby to this lunch. She said that if Suzy can't leave her baby with a babysitter, she'd prefer Suzy not attend the lunch at all. Everyone agreed that they are tired of having Suzy's baby be the main focus every time they have lunch on a Friday.

DF asked me for advice, so I thought I'd turn it over to eHell. Is it rude for Suzy to bring her baby to a work lunch? Is there any way Julie can ask Suzy if she'd mind not bringing her baby along to this lunch? Any other options that DF's team could take?

 

deb

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2015, 10:27:22 PM »
Move the lunch to Thursday and Julie takes Friday off! Problem solved. This time.

kareng57

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2015, 10:32:05 PM »
Yes, it is rude of Suzy to think that everyone is fine with it if she brings her baby to Friday lunches.

But, if someone tries to take her aside to talk with her about it, I don't think that the outcome would be good.  What about a general memo to all the staff about celebratory lunches, specifying that they are all to be considered adults-only?  It might not be in time for this Friday (well, it almost certainly won't be) but at least this way she might not feel singled-out.  Obviously the hints have not been working.

kareng57

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2015, 10:34:29 PM »
Move the lunch to Thursday and Julie takes Friday off! Problem solved. This time.

OP did say that they try to do celebration lunches on Thursdays but occasionally that doesn't work - they have to do it on the Friday.  Presumably that's the situation this time as well, and that's when Julie wants to come even on her day off, and bring Baby.

MurPl1

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2015, 10:40:20 PM »
FWIW, I don't consider this to be a work lunch, rather a lunch of coworkers.  A work lunch implies, to me, that work will be discussed, and it's an extension of the professional environment.  So it would be inappropriate to bring a baby to that sort of work lunch.

These lunches sound like social occasions to me so I do feel it's appropriate for the guest of honor to request that the baby be left at home. 

darkprincess

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2015, 10:48:27 PM »
Julie as the GOH should request that the lunch be held in a bar that serves food but is still an adults only location.

mime

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2015, 11:03:44 PM »
It may not have been rude for Suzy to bring the baby the first time,  especially if Martha was encouraging it. I'm a bit on the fence though, because a baby can really change the group dynamic. Once it was clear that she is monopolizing the conversation with baby talk, though, and doing it every time, then it becomes clearly rude.

Julie's attempt to make Suzy leave the baby at home was good, and now others know that they're not alone in wishing lunch would be adults-only. If I were one of Julie's coworkers, I'd be ready to ask lots of questions about her new project. Every time the baby is mentioned, respond with "uh huh... so Julie: I hear you may be working with Joe on this project; are you excited about that?" If just a few people are prepared to keep that ball rolling,  then they should be able put an end to baby topics.




PoisonIvy

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2015, 02:43:28 AM »
Would it be possible to have the lunch at a pub or fancy establishment?  Then call Suzy to confirm numbers for the reservation, and say "Unfortunately the restaurant is not child-friendly, will you be able to get a babysitter so you can join us?"
expat in

Psychopoesie

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2015, 03:47:40 AM »
Changing the venue may not help. Pretty sure it's ok to take a baby into a pub here, as long as you're not sitting in the poker machine area. Whether you'd want to take the baby to a pub may depend on what sort of place it is and your individual preferences.

Asking Suzy not to bring the baby is tricky. It may not be an official work lunch but it is a work 'do' in a way: it's a team gathering to which all team members are invited. Saying no kids (with Suzy being the only one affected) may make it feel like she's being excluded from team social events (she may not have a babysitter option).

I don't think she's actually being rude, perhaps a bit oblivious. I can understand why.

It can be hard maintaining your social connections to the workplace when you're a part-timer. It seems like Suzy really values those rel@tionships and is making a big effort to stay connected. All I can see is bad feelings coming out of what should be (and presumably has been) a reasonably pleasant team outing. Is it really worth it?

How could someone say it if they chose?...

A) Suzy, we hardly ever get a chance to have a proper chat with just you these days, any chance you can get a sitter for Bub this Friday?

B) Suzy, we'd like lunch to be a relaxed adult occasion that celebrates coworker's good news. We'd love to see you there but you'll need to get a sitter for Bub.

C) Suzy, please don't bring Bub to team lunches unless specifically invited. It really changes the nature of these events and affects what we are able to discuss. It also takes away the focus on celebrating the GOH.

Don't really like any of those - I keep thinking of that is it true, is it kind, is it necessary checklist. Maybe someone else can suggest a better way.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 03:49:58 AM by Psychopoesie »

Free Range Hippy Chick

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2015, 04:59:47 AM »
Is Martha the supervisor approachable? Would there be any mileage in going to her ahead of time and saying 'do you think we can make an effort at this lunch to keep the focus on Julie and her secondment? I can't help thinking that last time, we were rather rude to Fred, because we rather skipped over his engagement to talk about Baby. I mean, we all know how it is, when there's a baby in the room: everybody tends to spend the time in baby worship, but I would hate for Julie to think that we were using her celebration just as a means to see CuteBaby.'

I would be inclined to try bringing it up to Martha, gently, in the presence of somebody else who might agree, and using lots of 'we' and little 'I' and almost no 'you'.

And possibly at the lunch do as mime suggests: 'oh, Baby's walking? My, isn't she getting big. But hey, today's All About Julie! Julie, I want to hear about Awesome Project! Is it true that you'll be in charge of sprockthrucket wrangling?' And yes, I would get others on board with this, to closing down baby talk, gently.

Ceallach

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2015, 05:37:21 AM »
I'm acutely aware of this dynamic, as I'm the person at my work who has babies.   In fact, for the first 6 months of my son's life I brought him to work with me 3 days per week!   (I'm a manager with my own office so he was in there with me, and he was one of those quiet, chilled out babies who was happy as long as he got to sleep in my arms - in the carrier so I could still type - and roll around the floor during his awake time!)   I was very particular about not having the staff hold or cuddle my baby as I didn't want it to ever be a reason why they didn't do their own work.   I know some of them would have actually liked more baby time but I was quite particular about keeping him as separate as possible from the rest of the staff.  He came to meetings, but seemed to function as an icebreaker rather than a distraction - it worked remarkably well!

Having said that, frequently back then and now I'm invited to work breakfasts, lunches or dinners.  I don't go unless I have a babysitter.  Because I know that having kids there would be disruptive to the overall vibe.  It's just not fair to the staff.  Our company owner - my manager - adores babies and would happily have my kids anywhere.  But it's my responsibility to be aware of the impact the kids have and manage that responsible as a parent. 

I'm not sure how to change this dynamic seeing it's in place, but I definitely think the obvious option is to move it to a different day.   I think the level of cluelessness this women is showing indicates she wouldn't take any direct addressing of the situation well.
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SingMeAway

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2015, 09:04:00 AM »
I don't totally see Suzy as being rude bringing baby, but if the whole lunch is dominated by said baby, that's rude. If Suzy shows up with baby at the lunch, then I think it falls to Julie's co-workers to be the ones completely dominating the conversation and taking over the table with talk of Julie's accomplishment.

Martha: "Oh, baby is so cute!!"
Co-worker: Yes, he is.... Julie, tell me about your secondment...
Suzy: "Baby is rolling over now...."
Other Co-worker: "That's wonderful Suzy. Julie, tell me about your secondment....

And so on and so on.....

bopper

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2015, 09:19:12 AM »
Right now Suzy brings the baby, and her supervisor is happy about that and loves the baby. So Suzy does not see the downside. She probably thinks "Everyone loves the baby, she is good and doesn't fuss and boss always says how adorable she is!"

So maybe the way is not to make it so reinforcing for her...and also to have the Supervisor not gush so much.

I would talk to the supervisor and say "With Julie's lunch coming up, I just wanted to mention a dynamic I noticed at Fred's lunch. This was supposed to be a celebration for him, but it got turned into all about Suzy's baby.  I agree that she is adorable, but I think some resentment has already started and I don't want that to affect Suzy's work relationships.   I am not necessarily suggesting that she not bring Junior, but that we make sure to focus on the celebrant."


lowspark

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2015, 09:26:11 AM »
The trouble here is that the supervisor apparently loves seeing the baby. Because really, it should be up to the supervisor to tell Suzy to stop bringing the baby.

Absent that, I'd say that Julie is perfectly within her right to politely ask Suzy not to bring the baby this time. "Suzy, I'd like this to be an adults only lunch. I'd love for you to come if you can, but can I ask you to please not bring the baby?"

Of course, Suzy might well be offended and there's nothing Julie can do about that. So she'll have to weigh that risk against how badly she wants the lunch to be sans baby.

Alternatively, she can ask the supervisor to do it, but it just sounds to me like that might be a dead end. And once she asks the supervisor if the supervisor declines to cooperate, it might actually shut the door to Julie going directly to Suzy with the request.

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Luci

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Re: Bringing a baby to a work lunch
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2015, 09:31:41 AM »
The baby is getting pretty old to be out with a group of adults. Over 1 year, kids get pretty mobile, willful, and awake demanding attention, not for being cute, but for their own entertainment. This is probably going to have to stop soon.

I'm surprised Martha and Suzy just don't sit next to each other so they can have their own little party. I've have rarely been in a group of four or more adults where side conversations are not going on. Ignore Martha and Suzy, go on with the toasts for Julie and side conversations.

And someone must realize pretty soon that the baby is a disrupting and dominating influence for the group and is no longer welcome. If Suzy and Martha are not approached soon, there will be a lot of PA comments that may be more hurtful than a polite, gentle confrontation.

I do like the idea of having the meeting in a place not child friendly. In the US, children do not go to bars. There are plenty of nice bars that aren't dives dedicated to drinking only!