In which we all give Licia Ronzulli and her two-year-old a virtual thumbs up

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Photo via The Guardian.

Licia Ronzulli is an Italian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who made waves two years ago when she brought her infant daughter to work with her. If you heard of her then, you may not realize that she’s continued to bring her daughter to work since then — and there are photos to prove it.

Here’s what Jane Martinson of The Guardian had to say:

When Ronzulli first brought her daughter to work when she was just six weeks old back in September 2010, pictures of the politician voting while carrying her baby in a sling caused a media stir. Voting on proposals to improve women’s employment rights, Ronzulli expressed surprise at the reaction. “We’ve been doing a lot, a lot of work in the European parliament and there was no interest in the press. Then I come with my baby and everybody wants to interview me,” she said.

Since then we’ve had a series of pictures of little Vittoria Cerioli, nearly all of them affirmative. Ronzulli obviously makes a point of turning up to vote for something she believes in — so there are lots of palms and even a thumbs up, but it’s the images themselves that are doing the high fives. Whether it’s the baby echoing her mother’s voting intentions, wearing a bobble hat or simply lying on the desk in front of the politicians; Ronzulli usually serious, voting or speaking, but sometimes texting, laughing, looking a bit knackered; these pictures do more than a library full of working-time directives to raise questions about work and parenthood.

During one interview Ronzulli said her decision to bring baby Vittoria into vote was not a “political gesture but a maternal” one based on the fact that she was still breastfeeding. She nonetheless said she wanted “to remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this.” After the furore caused by Vittoria’s first appearance, Ronzulli seems to have gained agreement across the political spectrum in Strasbourg for children to be allowed in as long as proceedings weren’t disrupted. Sounds easy, eh?

You can read the entire piece at The Guardian and Google photos of Licia and child voting.

Comments on In which we all give Licia Ronzulli and her two-year-old a virtual thumbs up

  1. Virtual thumbs up, indeed! I would love to hear more about her struggles – dealing with the opposition, dealing with a toddler while at work, dealing with the press… are there any links to more interviews or more background on this other than the article – which is pretty cool – floating around out there?

  2. I think it’s great that she’s able to bring Vittoria with her to work, but I have to say that images like the breastfeeding in parliament one gave me unrealistic expectations about what being a working mom was all about. Even as a teeny tiny thing, my little guy didn’t put up with mama working on the computer while he just hung out on my lap. And once he gained control of his arms, forget about it. It’s just not compatible with his personality. (He did visit me for lunch and nursing every Friday.) I know there are lots of mamas-to-be around, just be aware that working with baby nearby may or may not be possible.

    • I think this is a good point — all experiences would definitely not be the same. My son was always a mellow nurser in his infancy, and I used to work with him laid across my lap on a pillow. I think that probably changed around 5 or 6 months — I’d definitely be curious to know how often her daughter is at work with her, and that kind of thing.

      • In his case, it’s not even so much talking as his need from Day 1 to be moving all. the. time. My nephews seem to have gone through phases where they were content to just sit with a couple of toys, but my son never did that. He’s also just never been the “zonks out anywhere” kind of kid.

        Like you, I have great memories of going to work with my parents (though clearly a bit older than Vittoria, since I remember it). My mom worked at a land conservancy for a while, and I would come in and file paperwork as a volunteer. My dad was a scientist who would take us to his lab from time to time, and that influenced my decision to become a scientist.

  3. Ahhh… I’m very conflicted about this image.

    On one hand it sends the message that the workplace needs to accommodate working mothers.

    On the other hand, it also sends the message that you can be a working mother.. if you can do your job and care for a child simultaneously. I think working women are under too much pressure to be that “super-mom” who can multi-task herself into exhaustion so I’m not excited to see another image in that direction.

    I would like to see more accommodations for working mothers but not in the form of bringing your child work… unless that’s where there is a day care.

    I hope it actually is a political statement. I hope Rinuzzi actually is hoping to start a dialog about what to do to help working mothers who, as she pointed out, aren’t in a position to do what she is doing.

    • I think it should be up to the mom. There might be some situations in which bringing your kid to work is a good option- obviously its not going to be ideal for everyone but i don’t think it should always be ruled out as a possible option. its not like this workplace is dangerous anyway.

    • I didn’t get the impression that Ronzulli takes her daughter to work every day – the first time I think was when they were discussing working parenthood so was a symbolic gesture to promote debate.
      I think it’s been an infrequent occurrence since then (this article certainly suggests so I had to go to work with my (single, working) mum a few times when I was a kid. I had great memories of it and learnt a lot.

  4. Holy cow, the comments on the original article are crazy negative. I for one agree with KathyRo. I would HOPE it’s a statement about working mothers and their pressures, like chosing not to nurse because you have to be separated from your child for extended periods, choosing between work and childcare because of the cost of child care, etc. It seems a little like European Parliment is structured differently than American Congress, because they talk about her “coming in to vote” like it only happens once a week or something. Can anyone provide some culture background on this?

    • Man alive! You’re right on the comments, they make me shake with anger! Ugh! It’s weird that people forget that we were all babies and kids at one point. Children should not be hidden!
      Anyway, I hope to one day live in a world where children are always a welcome part of society. I think there could be many situations where little ones could be brought to work, i think it would be in the best interest of many. Children can bring such joy. Imagine what they would learn if they were able to be in such different environments from the get-go!

    • I’m not sure where to start – first, Europe is not a country (nation state) like the US. It’s a union made out of nation states. So the European Parliament cannot be compared directly to the US Congress. Apart from that, in a lot of countries around the world, parliaments have plenary meetings 2-3 days during the week. On the other days, the parliamentarians work in committees or have other jobs. You could find some info here: Or maybe first read something about the European Union.

      • First of all, there were many more polite ways you could have phrased this response.

        Second, the European Parliament can, in many ways, be compared with the US Congress. Though the EU member states retain some sovreignty, they have, in fact, ceded much of their decision-making power to the Council, the Commission, the EP, etc. So, please do not assume that people don’t know Europe is made up of countries. The EU is complex, and even Angela Merkel admits it’s on a course to federalization.

        The original poster is correct in that it is different based on the voting schedules. Depending on what committee she sits on, she may be conducting this business in Brussels (where I assume she lives most of the time) but if in fact these are plenary sessions of the EP, she would have to travel to Strasbourg, which is something of an undertaking if you’re a mom with a small child.

    • The European Parliament is somewhat like the US Congress in that MEPs will sit both in the full plenary of the Parliament, but also on committees. Committee business is held in Brussels, but the full plenary meets once per month in Strasbourg – about 300 miles from Brussels (it’s based on tradition, apparently, but yes, once per month, everyone just ups stakes and goes to France!). So, I could imagine her bringing her child occasionally if she has traveled to Strasbourg with her.

  5. This is fascinating, and I wonder truly how it works for her. I am not a great multitasker, and my child was never a quiet snuggler, so I can’t imagine this having worked for me at all, there or in any job I’ve worked. Part of me feels like moms should have the option, but I also see the need to consider fellow employees and how this kind of thing might impact them. It’s always a tricky thing, figuring out the line between people needing to own their own experiences, and other people needing not to rudely trample on their experience. Like, anyone in an office has probably sat next to someone who made annoying sounds or smelled funky, and most people would say, you just have to deal. But if someone next to you plays loud music or kicks your cubicle wall, most people would say they should have to stop. I wonder where having a child fits in there, how much others should adapt, and how much parents should adapt.

    • Also, I’m having fun imagining my kid in that situation. “What’s that guy? What’s he talkin’ ’bout?” “Can I have your pen? Can I have your phone?” *meltdown* Then she’d run around talking to the ladies and trying to steal their jewelry. Maybe a random piercing scream for good effect. Lol.

  6. Oh this is so interesting!!! I bring my son to work with me the majority of the week, which works out extremely well for us, but it does have pitfalls. I work for my parents’ small company, which affords some major flexibility timing wise, but I handle customer service, and while my son (6 months now) is great most of the time, there are of course moments where I cannot cater to both someone on the phone, and a crying baby. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have people that ask if I work out of the house because they can hear him happily screeching like a pterodactyl into the phone. What is also a major life saver is that my “Mommy Dearest” (step-mom) watches him almost as much as I do in the office, and is empathetic to the fact that having him there means that I cannot be as efficient with my work as I would be if he were in daycare. I would really love to hear about other people that bring their children to work with them as well 😀

    • I work for an employer who is going to let me bring my daughter to work once she is born. I have some hesitation, as we had an employee before who did this, and it was very distracting. I felt a lot of work got pushed onto me because she had her child there and had to cater to her constantly. Also, diapers not disposed of regularly smell, and she rarely maintained the office to keep that down.

      However, I am super grateful I have the option, but don’t want it as an option for my boss to hold it over me. It is something I worry about, and have not made up my mind about yet.

      • Babies, even newborns, have their own personalities and opinions about things. If you can keep your options open (and I realize that might not be practical) you might want to wait until you get to know your daughter until you decide. We found that some of our plans about balancing baby and work were great, and others were clearly not going to happen. It’s a complicated thing, good luck!

  7. ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting/awesome/so helpful if children could be integrated into the workplace?’ THIS! I was so happy to see this post because I’m doing exactly this. My boss asked me to come back and do some work while I’m still on (paid) maternity leave and I agreed but on my own terms. On Saturday I co-led a training day for volunteers while breastfeeding my 5 month old son. It worked great! My belief is that the ‘modern workplace’ was created by and for men, and parents (men and women) need to invent new solutions and structures to integrate work and family on their own terms.
    Since he was 6 weeks old I’ve also taken my son with me to trustee and committee meetings for my volunteer work. I breastfeed through the meetings (sometimes full of elderly clergymen) and must say have had only gratitude that I have continued to volunteer in these roles post baby.
    Every situation is unique, so go out and figure out what works for you offbeat parents! 🙂

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