IP Inclusive’s sixth community, the IP Non-traditional Family Network, was established this April. The network has its own blogsite (here) where members will be sharing their thoughts and ideas about being in a solo parent, blended or other “non-traditional” family, as well as about being an ally to people in that position. The first post on the blogsite is by the network’s founder and co-lead Sarah Phillips, a patent attorney at Abel + Imray and proud solo parent. She’s kindly shared it with us below.
(And by the way, the elephant picture? – Apparently baby elephants are looked after primarily by their grandmothers. Parenting takes many forms; what matters most is love and commitment.)
Hello and welcome!
I’m delighted to introduce the IP Non-traditional Family Network as a new IP Inclusive community.
Growing up in a solo parent family as one of six children, I never expected that I would be a solo parent myself – but here I am! There are no limits to what solo parent families/blended families can achieve – my siblings and I went from free school meals on income support to professional careers in accountancy, law, medicine and engineering (kudos to my mum). However, it’s a different journey, and the emotional and practical realities are often misunderstood.
At different times in my life I’ve been part of a traditional family, solo parent family and blended family, both as a child and throughout my working life as an adult. I do believe it is hard to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, unless you have lived their experience! My aim for this group is to explore, on behalf of colleagues across the UK, what it means to balance career and family in a non-traditional family, celebrate successes and highlight areas for improvement. For the first few years working as a patent attorney and sitting exams with a young son (he was just one when I started) I have not had any spare capacity at all, but I now do!
I’d like to hear from the network, what is working, what is not working, what is holding you back? I’d like to say to members dealing with child custody negotiations, missing social events, covering childcare costs, making arrangements for sitting exams and travelling with work, you’re not on your own and I get it!
My hope for this network is that people will feel free to talk, vent frustrations, buddy up and organise socials… or use it in any way, really…!
Bit by bit, we can make visible the highs/lows and different constraints that come with juggling work in our professions and solo/blended parenting, and encourage conversations amongst our peers and employers.
I’m excited that so many colleagues across the country have joined as members of our network. Please treat this community as yours, and let me know your ideas.
Finally, I’m really grateful to Julian, Steph and Janine for stepping up as co-leads to help me get this up and running, and to Andrea Brewster for giving a voice to our community through IP Inclusive.
IP Non-traditional Family Network Co-Lead