Elizabeth Banks: ‘I have a very open policy about parenting on my set’


Elizabeth Banks is directing the Charlie’s Angels reboot, out November 15th. I could have sworn it was out sooner as Banks is doing promotion now, but I think she’s just talking about it as she promotes other things. In a new interview with People Live, she talked about the movie and also about her philosophy on parenting at work. Elizabeth, 45, has sons Magnus, 6, and Felix, 8, with her husband of 16 years, Max Handelman.

My kids love to come to movie sets mostly for the craft services. I feel excited to show my kids their mom at work. I grew up with a working mom and I think it’s important that as a working woman and as a leader on my movie sets that I show other women that it’s ok to bring your kids to work. I have a very open policy about parenting on my set. I think parenting is your number one job. Getting on conference calls and hearing children in the background, I’m excited that happens. We should be having whole lives. I don’t need to separate my work from my kids. There’s old stigma around that. I throw all the rules out and I invite my kids into my work life.

[From People Live via Twitter]

There’s a difference between working from home and caring for children and bringing children into an office. I don’t think children belong in an office unless there is childcare available and specific rules for when children can be there. Otherwise it’s distracting to everyone and is unfair to people who work there. Of course it’s not an issue when someone has to care for a child at home as long as they get their work done. I don’t think children belong at work unless they’re older or it’s an exception. That said, I have seen kids at restaurants whose parents are working there and it’s completely understandable. I’m speaking from a position of privilege and more employers need to accommodate parents and single parents especially.

Elizabeth Banks arrives for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! wearing a long black and white checked coat

Vanity Fair Oscars Party

Vanity Fair Oscars Party

Elizabeth Banks arrives for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! wearing a long black and white checked coat

Photos credit: Avalon.red and WENN

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40 Responses to “Elizabeth Banks: ‘I have a very open policy about parenting on my set’”

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  1. Lozface says:

    Good on her! I think this is a great attitude. I’m yet to have kids, but plan to soon and I also love kids in general. My work allows staff to bring their children into work in the school holidays. It’s the best. I work for a superannuation fund (our retirement savings) in Australia. It’s a massive office but the kids are great. They sit at their parents’ desks and read and play games. They also go and sit in offices with other kids and play on the whiteboards etc.

    The atmosphere is great – it lightens the mood and makes it a really happy environment. I haven’t seen them to be distracting at all. My workplace is very supportive of women though, with flexible conditions allowed and other extras when on maternity leave. I feel very lucky.

    Male staff also bring their kids in too! So it helps with sharing the load.

    • Snowslow says:

      For me this is what feminism is about (your last sentence about the male staff): bringing family life (for those who have chosen to have one) as a subject of debate into the working place. I travel a lot for work but when I’m home I work from home. It’s the same for my husband. I remember the struggle it was to keep normal working hours (in previous jobs) and pick up the kids at school and the nightmare of the holidays (financial and emotional rollercoaster). It is so important not to have to pretend that you don’t have a family, to be able to have a conference call with your kids once a day if you’re working late hours like Elizabeth Banks describes without being judged for it. We need to reavaluate the way we work for environmental reasons but also for personal reasons. And I say that as someone who loves to work.

    • Nicole R says:

      It really depends on the age of the kids

    • asdfa says:

      That sounds so lovely :)

  2. Goneblank says:

    If you need to or want to bring your children to work, all power to you. I hope your workplace is accomodating and supporting. It just sounds so exhausting to me. Personally, I wish there was better access to affordable, high quality childcare so parents can focus on one role at a time, knowing that their child is in a happy, safe and fun place.

    • Wow says:

      It depends on the place. I work in a hospital, if my children visit me at work they meet me in the cafeteria then go back home. It would be dangerous and inappropriate here. I have a friend however who works for a small shipping wearhouse and her daughter comes and sits in the office with her every day after school and all day on school breaks.

      Most jobs, and I mean MOST bringing your children isn’t appropriate not just for safety reasons, but also considering the comfort of your co workers. A focus on safe affordable childcare seems more important.

    • Snowslow says:

      Both of your points are important. Kids go to school anyway so there is no work environment that would have to have kids all the time. The kids that do not go to school need a nursery – it’s impossible to work with them around. But some workplaces have nurseries for young parents and that’s awesome and should be implemented as much as better childcare, affordable and of quality for independent workers such as myself. It’s a broad picture.

  3. Arizona says:

    I agree with her and I don’t. sometimes work needs to be work, and not kids as well. plus the parents are more distracted when their kids are there so they’re less productive. however, my company has allowed people in the office to bring their well-behaved quiet kids in on occasion if they have no child care.

    in general, I don’t think kids should be brought into work life. if people are working from home then that’s one thing. but I do think that companies need to make it a million times easier to be a working parent. kids get sick, and they have so many practices and events and things that it’s very hard to balance both and feel like a normal human being

    • Harryg says:

      You’re so right.

    • Snowslow says:

      I think she’s saying what you’re saying. Sets have exhausting long hours and yet if you go on a break to FaceTime your kids in most cinema environments you’re frowned upon. I work in the art world and I was made to pretend that I didn’t have a family when I was working – no calls, no sick kids, no school shows. It was horrible. It all depended on the situation of the boss and if she/he had kids. It can’t be random like that. We need indeed to change the laws and childcare access so that Banks doesn’t feel like an exception.

  4. Kk2 says:

    I think her job is different than most office jobs. Bringing kids to a regular quiet office when people are trying to work is not great, if done regularly. My office has plenty of kids on days when school is cancelled for weather and it’s not ideal for anyone (especially the parents- its hard to get anything done when my kid is there) but I love that my boss (at a government law office) is understanding about it. I think Banks has a different kind of work environment and it’s setting example as a boss that its ok to have your kids around. I love that.

  5. Rapunzel says:

    Sorry, no. Leave the kids at home. You are getting paid to work at your job. Your employer deserves full attention. Should child care be more available and should employers be more flexible? Of course. Does it suck for single parents? Sure. But that conversation is separate.

    Employers that allow children to follow mommy/daddy to work just make it easier for lawmakers to ignore improving access to affordable, quality, child care.

    The onus of helping working parents should be on Congress, not employers.

    • stormsmama says:

      ????????

      • Rapunzel says:

        The best way to help struggling working parents is through encouraging lawmakers to provide access to quality, affordable, childcare. Why should employers have to change their workplace environment? We Americans need to insist that Congress use our tax money for what we need– healthcare, childcare, education– instead of what we don’t….like their outrageous salaries.

    • Marigold says:

      While Congress can make laws about childcare, a very large part of the responsibility that any laws would create would fall on employers.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Marigold- while certain childcare laws would have to affect employers (like increased parental leave), there’s a ton of things Congress could do that would not affect employers at all, and they should be doing it. Subsides for building/staffing more local childcare centers, providing funds for educating more quality childcare workers, tax credits for personal expenses on childcare, defraying childcare cost by providing funds directly to needy parents are just some things that could be done. Many European countries have this figured out already. We are just too afraid of “socialism” and using tax money on such programs.

    • WTF says:

      Even if Congress were inclined to pass such laws, it wouldn’t make that big of an impact. They can only pass laws on a federal level. The states would also have to pass similar laws. I live in Alabama. Law makers here still think that child care is a women’s issue, women should be home cooking and taking care of their kids, and any doctor that performs an abortion should go to prison for 99 years.
      Soooooooo good luck with waiting on law makers.

  6. Chelly says:

    I understand the plight of a parent, that said, I would HATE coming to work and dealing w everyone’s bratty kids. If there’s no daycare or no real way for someone to care for the kid while mama/papa actually work it’s just unnecessary chaos

    • rrabbit says:

      I suspect that some of those kids turned out bratty because they were not being supervised by their parents, because parents felt that the daycare center or teachers or babysitters are responsible for raising their kids, rather than the parents.

    • Snowflake says:

      Glad you said it, I wanted to post that but I don’t have the guts lol. I chose not to have kids. I feel sorry for parents with childcare issues but I don’t want to be around kids all the time. I have to rotate Saturdays and my boss asked if I might want to work her Saturdays, she has to pay for childcare. It really put me in an awkward position because I had just started this job and i thought it would make me look mean if i said no. But i did anyway. It just really aggravates me because people w children often ask me to pick up the slack because I don’t have kids. I feel like they get mad when I say no. And that’s not fair to me.

    • Katherine says:

      Gosh, same. I fully understand that having kids is tough and all but like why does it have to be my problem? I need to concentrate and deliver a product that they are paying me for, having to deal with extra noise and talk and whatnot coming from kids at work is just not something I would find fair to myself in a workplace. I’m sure no one is going to cut me slack over someone else’s kids, are they.

  7. Who ARE these people? says:

    It all sounds nice yet I wonder whether the child friendly policy applies up and down the scale. Maybe so, but are the kids of the caterers (craft services) there? The tech people? Or does this apply or become easier for workers who have nannies and babysitters with the kids, or with them while they work from home? Children still need supervision to a certain age and that age is pretty advanced. Does her set have a safe and separate supervised space?

  8. Tami says:

    I work remotely from home, and I love the flexibility it offers. That said, I can’t do my best work when my kids are around. I schedule my calls and meetings for when they aren’t there, as in my field, it’s unprofessional to have kids interrupting the work. During the summer when they are out of school, it is terribly difficult to get any traction on work because I’m interrupted constantly. Even if I shut my door and post the schedule of when I absolutely need quiet, they still can’t help themselves and will fight about not interrupting Mommy right outside the door. Most of the time I send away the little ones to a sitter when I have deadlines or need time to work, and I’m thankful I can afford to do that. I love my kids seeing me work and seeing the contributions I make to the lives of my students, but having them there with me creates so much more stress.

    • Kate says:

      I’m giggling at the image of them fighting about not interrupting you right outside your door

  9. Austengirl1975 says:

    This is a slippery slope, as it will embolden presidents to bring their children to important meetings. Oh, wait . . .

    • Nanea says:

      I would have thought the majority of the children of the one particular president that I have in mind are beyond needing childcare, at least if I go by their age on paper!

    • stormsmama says:

      lol well played

  10. knotslaning says:

    I’ve been bringing my kids to work since they were 1 and 3 (they are now 8 and 10). I’ve been very lucky to have employers who understand how difficult it can be to cover childcare every single day. Even if my kids have been in full time day care, or now school and after school, there are so many days off. My employer could let me have 60 days off a year to accommodate all the damn holidays and breaks or I can occasionally bring my kids to work. I would say my kids are at my office 10-20 days a year and it is never an issue. I bring them several things to do to keep them occupied and take breaks to run them outside. I have never had one complaint in the 7 years of being a working mom, so good on Banks for being open about it.

  11. Blacksred says:

    As a woman suffering from multiple miscarriages and infertility being around kids at my workplace would be my worse nightmare. I can barely keep it together for the baby showers and other constant reminders of my pain. To have to deal with that I would have to look for a work from home career.

    • Snowflake says:

      Oh i’m so sorry 😢 have you tried any support groups for others in similar situations? Might help to talk to someone who has or had gone through it too

  12. Audrey says:

    When I read the headline, I thought “open policy parenting” meant that others at her office can yell at her brats when they misbehave! :)

    I vote no to kids at work. It’s not respectful of others.

  13. Dancing Queen says:

    My mom often worked weekends and brought me to work with her as she barely could afford childcare during the weekdays. We were a struggling lower middle class family with no family members in this country that could help my mom. She was also a single mom and along with her work schedule, was very limited in her options. Limited options implies there were options in the first place. She had none. She worked 10-12 hours on the weekends (separate from the 8 – 12 hours during the weekdays.

    It wasn’t ideal for anyone, but she didn’t know what else to do. I was an incredibly quiet and polite child and did my best to stay out of the way. This happened between the ages of six to eight. Everyone in the office was so nice to me and I even had a few favorites that would bring me treats and books. I’m sure there were people who were uncomfortable with it, but I don’t see what else could have been done. Overall, I think it ended up being okay because of how well behaved I was.

    Mind you, I have been uncomfortable when others bring their children to work. I don’t particularly like children, especially toddlers, so I struggle, but I’m also aware of the ridiculous inaccessibility to affordable childcare so I don’t fault the parents. Yes, it’s not great, but have a little sympathy for the parents that don’t have many options. We need to put the pressure on politicians to help ensure access to affordable child care. Those bastards (not all, but many are indeed, narcissistic jerks) should bear the responsibility of helping pass childcare legislation.

  14. Mab's A'Mabbin says:

    I ride both sides of the fence here. Kids are obviously our little geniuses in the making and including them in our lives is super important. Taking them to where you work is, of course, also important…lets them see how you spend your days or nights. Being on a movie set has to be so much fun for everyone involved! Why not? If there’s constant commotion going on all around you, why would you feel guilty taking a call? It’s all part of environment.

    And that’s my only point…it depends upon the job, the company, the environment and atmosphere. I have a radiologist doctor friend who will meet at the hospital cafeteria, but never really take his kids into where the equipment is. An old college girlfriend never took her young daughter to the ritzy club she worked lol. As an exotic dancer, this chica made six figures and put herself through law school. Ugh. Always felt intimidated next to her lol. The thing is whether you’re a rocket scientist, brain surgeon or stripper or a travel agent, kids in the workplace isn’t a ubiqitous yes or no. ;p

    But I’m glad we’re leaning in, it’s been a long time coming.

  15. Kebbie says:

    I think she’s just talking about her line of work. I mean if she went in to have a meeting with an attorney or financial advisor and their kids were running around the office, she’d feel differently I think.

    • brooksie says:

      Exactly… bringing children to a set is a lot different than bringing them to an office.

  16. Milkweed says:

    I really like her and LOVE the updated version of “Press Your Luck” she hosts on ABC. I watch it with my kids and Elizabeth is so good at her job and connecting with the contestants and cheering them on. It’s seriously amazing. Big bucks, no whammies!

  17. sammiches says:

    I’d quit my job if people brought their kids in with them. Shrug.

  18. Jaded says:

    It depends entirely on the environment of the workplace. If it’s a corporate office, unless it’s a special “bring your kids to work” day, then no. If said company has a kids space separate from the actual offices then fine – let the kids bring their toys, snacks, watch some TV, have a nap, whatever. But having kids just randomly running around, yelling, crying, all the things kids do at home, nope. A movie set is an entirely different atmosphere.

    Which brings me to the subject of pets at work. If said pet is obedient, quiet and friendly it’s fine. However I once worked in an office where the CEO and his girlfriend who had some sort of Ivanka-like position in the company always brought their dog to work and to every meeting. The dog was surly, aggressive and prone to biting when strangers tried to make friendly. Also, there were several people on staff who were highly allergic to dogs and “Scout’s” presence caused them some bad allergic reactions.

    Whether it’s kids or pets, it’s a situation where you have to include the opinions of others on staff before a decision is unilaterally made.

    • K says:

      I just wrote a similar comment and deleted it, cause I agree with all you said.

      Workplace flexibility is a topic worthy of discussion, but it’s not as simple as “throw out all the rules” and do whatever feels good for you. Some rules or standards are necessary to have discipline and co-operation amongst a group of different people working together.

      That’s just a soundbite and she likely has more nuanced thoughts on the subject, but it reads as privileged and myopic about parenting being the most important thing in the world, when it’s actually not for everyone.