Pro Ball Player Quits to Spend Time With His Son -- a Major Win for Working Moms

adam larocheIt's hard to imagine a professional baseball player walking away from a $13 million contract for any reason, never mind to "spend more time with his family," but that's exactly what Chicago White Sox player Adam LaRoche did. And now, his landmark move has started a national conversation that could really push the work-life balance momentum forward -- and make a big difference in the lives of working parents.

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LaRoche reportedly made the decision after White Sox president Ken Williams told him he couldn't bring his 14-year-old son Drake to the clubhouse anymore. Drake had apparently become something of a fixture at the clubhouse; he traveled with his dad for several years and was even referred to as the team's 26th man in a Chicago Tribune story last year, so it seems odd that his presence would have suddenly become a problem for anyone -- but it definitely was for Williams:

"I don't think he should be here 100 percent of the time — and he has been here 100 percent, every day, in the clubhouse," he told sports reporter Ken Rosenthal.

"We all think his kid is a great young man. I just felt it should not be every day, that's all. You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?"

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Well, to be fair, not that many. But is the strict divide in the US between family time and work time really such a good thing? It's an issue moms have been trying to bring to light for quite some time, so it's a pretty big deal that a high-profile dad is taking such a strong stance. Sure, in some instances -- many instances, really -- it wouldn't make sense for a kid to go to work with his mom or dad. If I were getting open heart surgery, for example, I wouldn't necessarily want the surgeon's kid playing with his iPod in a corner of the operating room the whole time. And probably kids shouldn't be tagging along while their parents fight fires or diffuse bombs. But a pro baseball clubhouse sounds like Fantasy Hangout #1 for the average young boy, and it's hardly a dangerous environment or one that requires hospital-level hygiene or perfect decorum from its visitors. Plus, I highly doubt that having Drake around distracted LaRoche from his game in any way -- if anything, it probably inspired him to play that much better! So I don't blame LaRoche for quitting because Drake got kicked out of the clubhouse, and I'm far from the only one who feels that way.

Supporters -- including fellow baseball players -- have been tweeting their approval of LaRoche's decision:

Exactly! It is a family game. And family does come first. Or at least it should, which is what we working moms have been arguing for years. So it's great to have a male celebrity -- particularly one from a field not traditionally associated with family-related concerns like this -- go to bat for us (pun intended!). If more men like LaRoche speak out about parental work-life balance, maybe more legislators and CEOs and other people in positions to actually make a difference will start to listen. 

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Of course we won't all be able to bring our kids to work with us every day, but nobody's really asking for that. We're asking to have our needs and realities as parents addressed in the workplace, and for our families to be respected. And I think that's all LaRoche really wanted, too.

 

Image via © Brian Cassella/ZUMA Press/Corbis

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