Let us pause from the current drama to consider this, which I read in the most recent edition of the Utne magazine:
According to researchers at Harvard University, there are only 5 countries on this planet that do not offer paid time off for new mothers. They are:
1. Papua New Guinea
2. Swaziland (anyone know where this one is????)
5. The United States
Yes, we can proudly boast that we are one of the few, the proud, the hypocritical. Our nation rails against anything that people seem to think gets in the way of the “American Family”, yet we cannot offer support for families at their earliest moments to ensure success. While the Family Medical Leave Act helps (not just at the beginning, but in moments like the ones the Vampfamily is living in right now), federal law only works to offer protection from losing your job. Unless you work for an amazing company that is forward thinking in their attitudes on this issue (as Vampmommy’s company is, I will say!), then the interim period between the big family change and the return to the same job contains much anxiety about financial health.
Some states are moving towards stepping in where the federal government has failed to, and are working towards mandating some sort of paid time off for new moms. However, as a father and not a mom, I was most struck by the article’s note that only 27 countries offer paid leave to the father.
What a novel idea — that dad’s time with the kids might be valuable as well? Can you imagine what it would do to strengthen families, and particularly dads, if our nation created policies that actually illustrated the importance of active fathering?
Dare to dream.