Wake Up Moms – You’re Fighting the Wrong Fight!

This post was originally written as a guest blog for www.momsinmaine.com. Read the original post here.

Time Magazine, Are you mom enough?

Over the last week, I’ve been asked my opinion on the recent TIME Magazine cover no fewer than twenty times. Apparently, having birthed a baby recently was supposed to mean I should care. Or something.

The article associated with the now notorious cover (which became a hot topic even before the actual edition of the magazine hit newsstands) discusses a style of parenting called  attachment parenting and, by extension, mothers nursing their children for extended periods of time. I’d go into more detail on the theory and principles behind attachment parenting if I had more time, but I’m sorry – I’m busy perfecting my “style” of parenting. I just like to call it “parenting” and it involves me making sure my child stays alive. It’s working out pretty well for us so far.

This article has added more fuel to the fire in the so-called “mommy wars,” specifically due to the cover questioning if readers are “MOM enough.”  Because, seriously, we mothers need more people to size us up and point out the million ways we are failing. ::eye roll::

It’s true though, we mothers are in the middle of a war. But, the battle isn’t attachment parenting against plain “just-make-it-out-alive” parenting. It’s not stay-at-home moms versus working moms. It isn’t whether it is better to breastfeed for 6 months or 6 years. It isn’t about bed-sharing versus the crib. These petty wars, which pin Mom against Mom in a competition to win society’s crown as “Super Mom,” are a diversion from the real problem. And if you’re an American mother, you need to wake the f*ck up.

The real problem: Our country is treating us like shit.

Did you know that the United States in one of the only industrialized nations that does not provide a mandatory maternity leave benefit? It’s true. Just look at some of these international examples:

Canada, up to 50 weeks at 55% paid.

France, 16 weeks rising to 26 weeks for third child – and up to 104 weeks unpaid. Yup, that’s 2 years.

Germany, 14 weeks (100% paid) 6 of which taken before birth, then 12/14 months  at 65% paid.

Sweden, 16 months parental leave (that’s right – for both mom and dad) at 80% paid.

United Kingdom, currently 39 weeks paid, due to rise to 52 weeks paid.

Shall I keep going, or are you pissed off enough yet?

According to USA Today, “out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study last year, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.” God bless the U.S.A.!!!

Why are we so busy fighting over what some mothers decide to do with their boobs? Why are we not more worked up about this!

Most of you have probably heard of the U.S. Family Medical Leave Act, which allows eligible employees to take unpaid and job-protected leave (up to 12 weeks in a year) for specified family and medical reasons. The birth or adoption of a child qualifies, so you probably thought that this was the U.S. equivalent to the above examples.

However, the keyword in the above would be “eligible.”

To fall under FMLA, you must have worked for your employer at least 12 months, and you must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. Additionally, you must work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

So, sorry if you just started a new job. Guess you shouldn’t have gotten knocked up. Also, sorry if you only work part-time. Just shouldn’t have gotten pregnant. And, the one most near and dear to my heart– too bad if you work in a small office or telecommute. If your company doesn’t want to hire more than 50 people and, if they do, those employees don’t work within 75 miles of each other, you just shouldn’t be makin’ babies.

When I got pregnant, I discovered firsthand how awesome it is to be an American mother. You see, my company had over 50 employees but we worked remotely (i.e., from home). So, because the 65 employees didn’t all live within a 75 mile radius, my employer was loop-holed out of having to comply with FMLA. I didn’t even fall under Maine law, because I was the only employee they had in the state.

The company made up for it with what they called a “generous” short-term disability plan. 6 weeks. OmgthankyousomuchthatisSOgenerous!!!!!11!!!!!eleven

I had to return to work before Charlie was even capable of sleeping through the night. I had to return to work before Charlie and I could establish proper breastfeeding. I had to return to work before my post-partum bleeding had stopped. I had to return to work before I was even cleared to do the deed again with my own husband. I had to pray every day that I didn’t get PPD because I was out of PTO. FML.

Seriously, America?

Upon returning to work, the good fight has only just begun for most women. Luckily, working from home provided me the freedom to pump my breast milk freely. Most women are not so lucky. They are left pumping in bathroom stalls, or in their cars. Some women are fired because they need to pump. God forbid they have to travel with a pump. And seriously, I feel bad for any mom that works for Target.

I guess the good thing about being forced to return to work after just a few weeks is that your breast milk supply tanks so fast, you probably won’t even have to fight for your right to pump.

But, don’t fret, you will still wear the scarlet ‘M’ on your sweater. Because god forbid you need to take time off with a sick child, or need to leave right on time to pick your baby up from day care – that establishment to which you pay more than your mortgage. You can be a professional and you can be a mother, but if you show any hint of the former you’re probably going to be viewed as the company’s weakness.

Why is it this way?

The USA Today article shifts blame to the American feminist movement, which didn’t want to hear anything about mothers. The focus was strictly equal rights for women with no room for special treatment.

I’m not trying to blame all the wrongs facing mothers on this historical movement that brought American women so far. I would only like to point out that there are intrinsic, natural, hormonal differences between a man and a woman. And whether we like it or not, these differences need to be taken into consideration in the fight for equality. Because it we don’t fight for them, we will end up with just another form of discrimination.

There have been some minimal attempts to make change, all of which have been shot down by our government. Most likely, due to the all important question – who is going to pay? U.S. employers already pay $21 billion a year in relation to FMLA. [cite] But, there has to be a financial pro to fair treatment of mothers. If there isn’t, why are so many other countries providing these benefits?

What about the increased health benefits that more successful breastfeeding would provide? What about lowering stress levels for mothers who feel like they have to “do it all” – could we prevent some cases of PPA/PPD? What about fewer medical bills for children who are sick each and every week in day care – like the 6-week-old that lands in the NICU with RSV? What about the mothers who would rather quit their jobs and collect welfare in order to stay home with their children? What about the breakdown of the family unit that can result from too much stress with a newborn?

Could all of these costly things be remedied if we only were given more time? More time to learn, to nurture, to be with our little ones? To be mothers?

If you are not a mother, you at least have one. Why would you not want mothers to be allowed the time that they need with their babies? My plea is that women of America (and everyone else) get off of each others’ asses about how long to breastfeed and whether or not it’s appropriate to do it in public. Stop judging the mother with her kid on a leash, and the one that lets her baby sleep on his belly.

How about, instead, we get on our government’s ass about giving us more time to do what we are meant to do – to just be parents.

I am writing to Congress on this topic – will you do the same??? Let’s show them that we are ALL mom enough and we deserve the right to be just that – moms.

Sign the Change.org Petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/paid-maternity-leave-for-all-u-s-women


Read my follow up to this post here: Frankly, it’s really just easier to hire a MAN!

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339 thoughts on “Wake Up Moms – You’re Fighting the Wrong Fight!

  1. As ridiculous as I find some of the practices of some of the mother’s (and I am a male, so I have no true “right” in passing judgment), this article does highlight very important facts. Beyond the outrage that should be riled up by our lack of progress in taking care of the FAMILY (whose values politicians are so quick to ‘protect’) you left out a key detail. If you and your spouse/partner work for the same company, under FMLA, if you qualify for the leave, those twelve weeks have to be split between both of you. So if Dad, or Mom, or whoever is concerned and caring and wants to bond early, too bad so sad. Yay America, in yet another social issue, you have fallen behind third world countries. YEE HAW!

  2. Thank you for not blaming the second wave feminists. Frankly, it was a hard enough battle to get the freedoms we’ve won so far, let alone special exceptions. The good news is that there have been cases lately where courts ruled that things particular to pregnancy/breastfeeding are specific to women, and as women are a protected class, those get the same protection as other sexual discrimination cases (the one that comes immediately to mind is a case where a women was required to be given time to pump while at work, similar to diabetics being required to have time to test blood sugar and/or eat). Small steps, and not nearly fast enough, but it’s something.

    • I keep seeing people freaking out about businesses not having enough money or not being able to hire someone else etc… PEOPLE READ! It’s been explained almost ad nauseam that for most of the places that have the longer paid leaves that the government is actually doing the paying and most if them are not 100% of the salary and for places like Canada they are able to hire a 1-year contact to fill the position. And having lived in Canada most of my life and all of my working life there really is no difference in the taxes. The “take-home” pay here seems to be the same if not less than in Canada.

      So please if you want to spout the “we can’t afford you” rhetoric again, don’t. Just stop your hands from typing and don’t.

      Oh and to clarify, I am NOT a mother and I DON’T EVER want to be one! But I do want the kids that are brought into the world to be cared for properly! Have you had to deal with many of today’s youth? I certainly hope not, cause most of them are nothing to write home about. Sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings, but it’s true. And, by the way, who do you expect to cover your costs when you can’t work any more? Like medicaid, or social security etc.? Most of those coffers are already empty so if new workers aren’t paying into the system where do you think the money will come from exactly?

  3. This is brilliant, and so important. I hope EVERYONE reads this – I plan to share it everywhere I can. The government is probably all too happy to have women fight amongst themselves in order to avoid having this real issue addressed.

    Last year at this time, I was pregnant (not for very long, sadly) and my husband and I looked over my benefits. If I saved up all my vacation time (4 weeks – my company is very generous in that respect) I’d get a total of 12 weeks, which I know is more than so many other women get. But then I heard how much women in the UK get and was shocked. Why not us? When did we derail?

  4. Excellent post (which I through a link on Facebook.)

    I’d only toss out that the link USA Today cites between feminism and the current plight of the working mother (and family) is a bunch of bull-poopy designed to lay women’s problems at women’s feet. It is institutionlozed “blame the victim” at its worst. We are behind someof those countries listed in regards to women’s equality, and yet…

    Don’t even have to finish the sentence, sadly.

    Still…beautifully written.

  5. The only disagreement I have with this is working for Target- I work for Target and I am fully supported by my boss and peers for pumping at work. We have a full lactation room with a fridge, sink, microwave, lockers, 5 large private stalls with comfy chairs. I am given the time to go pump as need be- and I am a hourly employee given 2 15 minute breaks a day, which while pumping have turned into 30 minute breaks- again fully supported by my boss and department.

    • That’s great that Target supports you as an employee. The jab in the article came from a story on how they treat their nursing mon customers, so the statement was kind of an insinuation that regardless, the company has treated nursing moms poorly.

      • In that one instance, the team members spoke out of turn and broke Target policy. It is, and always has been, Target’s stance that women be free to breastfeed/pump in any area of the store completely uninterrupted. I also work for Target and have always been proud of our support for mothers– it just takes a couple of idiots to undermine years of support, sadly.

        • You are right – only a couple of idiots. I only called out Target, because most mothers fought against them by staging “nurse ins” all over the country after this happened. While it is great to hear that this is not in fact their policy, it was still a set back for mothers and they should be held accountable. There is no one else to blame for not teaching their employees their own policies and requiring they abide by it, which clearly Target did not do.

          • Sorry, but that’s a little ridiculous of a stance. You can’t have that many employees at a single store and absolutely guarantee that not a single one of them will ever break a policy. It’s impossible to have that level of control over something so complex as a large group of diverse people. Target isn’t to blame, if what the above posts say about the situation is correct; the individuals that broke the policies are to blame. If you absolutely feel the need to target people, target the right ones at least..

          • So Target also wouldn’t be held accountable for racist employees? Or ones who refused to assist disabled? Or elderly? Unacceptable behavior is unacceptable. The company chooses who they hire, each employee is an ambassador to their brand. Yes, they should be held accountable.

          • If there are racist employees, or ones who refuse to assist the elderly (or ANYONE who needs assistance), call attention to those individuals first, not the company. Don’t say, “Target promotes racism.” Taking the leap to a company-level protest isn’t the most appropriate first action, is my point. If it’s a consistent problem with that store, or a handful of stores, direct the attention there. Policies and procedures can get pretty twisted pretty quickly and easily. One of the consequences of order and control is that they tend to break down. Addressing the breaks where they occur is far more appropriate than less relevant global strategies.

            And using that one instance as an example of “Target policy” to “feel bad for any moms who work for Target” undermines your credibility as an author pretty substantially. Just be a little careful of taking leaps a little too large, like concluding how bad it must suck to be a mom that works there – as posters above argued against pretty quickly and pretty easily – from what seems like an isolated event not pertaining to working at Target.

            I feel like you missed my point about laying blame where it belongs. People are not perfect, we have flaws and miscommunicate all of the time. Pursue more appropriate channels for correcting those miscommunications when they arise; reacting out of anger and vented frustration and sensationalizing a story isn’t going to help your argument at all in the long run.

            Yes, unacceptable behavior is unacceptable, by definition of the words you choose to use. But some responses to ‘unacceptable’ behavior are more appropriate than other responses. And ‘unacceptable’ behaviors aren’t quite as rigid or dualistic as you purport them to be. Some ‘unacceptable’ ones are more acceptable than others – the racism example is degrees of magnitude more unacceptable. Refusing service entirely to someone based on their perceived heritage is a little more extreme (ie. less acceptable) than asking someone to engage in a particular behavior elsewhere in the store, regardless of whatever ‘right’ someone has to engage in that behavior wherever they choose. Are either of them okay? No. But is relating one to the other okay, just to try for some pathos in your argument? No. Don’t relate a mother being asked to breast-feed elsewhere in the store (however wrong it might be for her to have been asked that) to, say, a child being denied an education because her ancestry is different.

    • Sorry, but two 15-minute breaks a days hardly enough time to pump. As a mom who was given an unlockable storage closet to do my pumping in (and told to put a post-it not one the door do nobody would walk in on me – this by a FEMALE boss), I needed at least 30 mins for each session (from set up to clan up, and return to my desk). And, while I only took two pump breaks a day in lieu of my lunch, 3 would have been ideal. This is not a dig on Target, since I never worked there, but a point to the fact that minimum of 30 minutes is necessary to pump.

      • Amanda–that is terrible that you were forced to breastfeed like that. I had to do it in a restroom at my company, and balance my pump on a small sink with no counter. Not surprisingly, my pump fell off the sink and broke. Do you think my employer reimbursed me my $300 for my 2 week old pump? Nope. They had someone roll in a media cart for me to sit the pump on after that. The new pump. That I had to buy. Oh, and the mom who works for Target did say that while she was nursing they increased her breaks to 30 minutes per, however I was one of those with difficulty maintaining milk supply so I had to pump 4 times per day or more to keep up. ANd of course, since I went back after only 6 weeks, just like the article says, I lost my supply almost immediately with my first-born. With my second I took an additional 2 weeks unpaid because I wanted to actually fully recover from my cesarean and follow my doctor’s 8 week requirement. My milk lasted about a month longer that time. As for Kevin’s reply, being so passionate about not blaming Target, while I agree with him that we can’t wholly blame Target, it is true that if a Target employee made a discriminatory remark while on duty to someone, Target would get sued and likely have to pay. So yes, Target is accountable for the behavior of their employees.

  6. 100% agreed. This is wonderfully written and argued, and is something I have felt for a long time. Please, I beg you, if one does not yet exist, please start a Change.Org petition or similar… I would be happy to help you in any way possible to raise awareness and get people talking about this. I’d start it myself, but I think your writing skills (and prior research) are beyond mine! Thanks again for your article. I hope everyone reads it!

  7. I agree with you completely- it’s embarassing to when those types of things happen because I am proud of the company i work for, and unfortunetly it’s usually the adolscent, uneducated, younger employees who have made these mistakes that make the company look bad as a whole. I just wanted to make sure it is known that Target does support their customers and employoees who choose to breastfeed and pump, it’s sad that instances like this do happen and cause a negative view of the company as a whole.
    Great article BTW!

    • Frank, do you wish I would speak in English or write it? Perhaps when being so critical, you should be correct yourself. Thanks for the critique though. And the support. (Sorry about that incomplete sentence…)

      • Ha! Plus one for MomsinMaine. Frank, you’re an idiot if the most pressing thing on your mind after reading this is the use of less versus fewer. Get a life. Great article.

    • REALLY?!?! I assume you are just being a troll. One little grammatical error in this excellent, important article and THAT is what gets you riled up? Disgusting.

        • (snort) Seriously. I’m a grammar Nazi too, but some people should choose their battles more wisely.
          Amazing article! Thank you! As someone with a lot of international friends, it has been pointed out to me a LOT that I was really getting screwed over when I was pregnant. It is embarrassing to realize how much we as Americans are pitied because other people know better than we do just how much we actually sacrifice for our ‘freedom’. We sacrifice family.

  8. Thank you for writing this. I have this discussion with my European friends on a regular basis and they are appalled at what they view as another example of the America’s “third world” treatment of women.

    I have actually decided to work with the system (to the detriment of my career) and stay at a job merely because it offers great maternity leave benefits. We should not have to chose our professions or employers based on a policy that should be available for the benefit of society as a whole.

  9. I was terminated by my employer 5 weeks into my 100% UNPAID maternity leave. I have no recourse because it is a small business (less than 50 employees) not governed by FMLA. It was just too much for them to wait for me to come back to work. It was even more of an inconvenience for them to think about my need to take UNPAID breaks to pump at work or take UNPAID time off for well-child care or – heaven forbid – unwell child care. My husband, whose company employs greater than 50 employees and IS covered by FMLA, recalled him to work 1 week into his 2 week “work from home part time” paternity leave because they couldn’t function without him in the office full time. I guess we should just be grateful that one of us has a job at this point. We are so grateful that we have the son it took us 17 years to successfully conceive but we sure have been treated like criminals by employers since having him.

  10. Hip Hip Hooray for someone telling the naked truth! I was a stay-at-home-mom until my divorce when I became a single mom. I went from being seen as someone who was available to help with child care for everyone else because obviously being at home, I wasn’t busy to someone who had her priorities all screwed up because I had to take sick days to care for my sick children who had the flu during an epidemic (actually written up for excessive absence when I still had sick days left and there had been an article in the local paper about the epidemic). And due to the terms of our divorce I can’t move to one of those other, more tolerant, countries. Sometimes, in the eyes of society, you can’t win for losing!

    • Emily, that is your right. Instead of answering your question, I will instead ask you how you would have wanted your own mother to be treated after she had you???

    • In a word no. Children are a necessary part of any society. Developed nations across the board are having fewer children (largely because of people deciding not to have them because it is not economically feasible, or it doesn’t fit into their life plan), and places like Japan have gotten to the point where the birthrate is no longer high enough to sustain the current population. In a world that recently hit 7 billion people that may not seem like such a big problem, but with longer life expectancies it means an increasing number of old, non-workers collecting government benefits, with a decreasing population of hardworking young people paying into the system. You can choose whether or not to have children, but you don’t choose whether or not to get old. Some people may manage it without needing any government assistance (social security, medicare), but most people will not have that luxury, and not necessarily through any fault of their own. So the best investment they can make in their and all of our futures is having children. Supporting mothers is supporting the nation.

  11. Having children is also choice… so I agree that you should not be paid for a choice you made willingly. We are not forced to have children, nor are we forced to have any at all (thank god!).

    As to my mom, she made an educated, knowing choice about having children. She knew the effects that would have on her life. However, do I agree that people be fired or mistreated for taking care of their childrens needs, absolutely not. I disagree with “getting paid” for having a child.

    • Unplanned pregnancy is not a choice. The child didn’t choose to be born – but it should still be penalized in your eyes?? A person can choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, have a heart attack and go out on STD. They are offered more job protection (and government money through disability) than a mother.

      People that think like you are the reason mothers are facing this uphill battle. We are not asking to be “paid to have kids.” We are requesting that we be treated fairly. Yes, we choose to reproduce. But until you pop out a child, you will never understand the mental and physical hardship that follows birth. It is unfair to expect women to head back to work within days or weeks.

      We should not be forced out of the workforce or be forced into hardship because we have to return to work before we are ready.

      It is a sad country we live in when the are people that won’t actually stand up for mothers.

      • MomsinMaine, Thank you for writing this! You make excellent points. And, for those women (who were birthed by women) that cannot (or refuse) understand these valid points…well, let’s just agree that some people should NOT have children anyway.

      • All right, so having a child is a choice. So is getting any job or having any career. So why should a job be paid, but not having a child? Because we do not value motherhood as a decision to engage in socially productive labor. Somehow working at a movie theater or a fast-food restaurant is considered more productive (and therefore more economically valuable) than being a parent. That’s simply wrong-headed, because, unless we simply want to give up the whole idea of propagating our society and ensuring its future survival, having children *is* beneficial to society and must be valued as such.

        Regardless of whether a pregnancy is planned or not, our entire thinking about parenthood/mothering in this country is very skewed. As Americans we treasure individualism and autonomy, both of which are wonderful values, but can also lead to a lack of charity based on the idea that, if you made the choice, you must suffer the consequences alone. Hence we hear the argument: if you didn’t want to have a baby, why didn’t you use birth control or have an abortion? Fundamentally, though, this philosophy is damaging to our society. European attitudes towards childbearing and parenting are much less individualistic. Their laws about parental leave reflect an understanding that children are a social trust who, if nurtured, can bring benefit to society as a whole. Therefore, the entire community has a responsibility to ensure their well-being. What’s in the best interest of parents & children is also in the best interest of society.

        It’s not about a competition of resources in which mothers steal resources from non-mothers and are “privileged” because they’ve had children. It’s about viewing parenting, in itself, as valuable and valued labor that contributes to society as a whole. That’s not to say we should return to some 19th century standard of Victorian motherhood in which a woman’s entire identity is subsumed to her role as mother. But it is to recognize that we need to make sure women (and the many men who struggle to support their partners or who are parents on their own) who do take on the daunting task of bearing and raising children are supported in this choice. It’s our social responsibility.

    • I am currently a stay at home mom, so I can’t contribute too much on the working mothers status, but my mom does work and is constantly complaining about the smokers getting extra time to go have their cigarette breaks. Yes, it’s your choice not to have children, but do you see people getting compensated for not smoking? No! It’s the same thing. Smokers, too, get sick more and need more time off. So, apply all the time off that people are required to get and nobody would be working!

  12. I believe we should have time for pumping and I think 12 weeks is enough time away from work after the birth of a baby. Why should your job pay you to have a child, because essentially thats what your demanding? I mean, do you walk up to your boss and say ” I want to start a family and your going to pay for us to have time to bond, then I will come back to work”. Since when does your place of employement have anything to do with your child bearing decisions. Is there a limit, are they supposed to give you paid leave for 16 month, and for your 2.5 kids? Be realistic! Most companies can’t afford to pay you for leave because you decided it was time for kids and then pay for your replacement. I most certainely couldn’t afford to pay for my 1 employee to have 16 months of leave while paying for a temp. Your employer owes you a salary, medical benefits , paid leaveand maybe some retirement options. The rest is up to you. If you can’t afford to stay at home with your kids, then oh well…you go back to work and be thankful you have work. If you can’t, maybe rethink how many children you can afford. If you want what those other countries have, move there. I am now pregnant with my 4th child, which we saved for and we pay for and did not ever depend on an employer to pay for.

    • It amazes me how some women, even mothers themselves, don’t get it. It is not about the employer paying for women to have babies. Hell, I would have taken 4 months off unpaid. But if I did, I would have been FIRED. We are one of the only industrialized nations with no universal law on maternity leave. That means for us unlucky ones, we are “lucky” to get anything. It’s great that you think 12 weeks is enough… Sone women don’t even get half of that. I am so sick of this “lucky to have a job” mentality. It is everything that is wrong with our country right now!!! All about business and zero for workers – yet we continue to shell out money for welfare, failing state health care plans, and other leeches of society. Contrary to popular beliefs, most of us mothers want to work and be productive members of society. We just want what is FAIR!

      • Although I agree with your article, I would ask you to refrain from calling people on welfare “leeches.” You talked earlier about unplanned preganacy, and as someone who had an unplanned pregnancy at 17, I was not a leech. I got government financial support AND a job (because frankly welfare is not a lot). That helped me get an education and work as a professional paying taxes. Calling people who are in a difficult situation with no family support “leeches” is like a ll of these people saying youy shouldn’t be paid to have kids.

        • Not all people on government support are “leeches”. But some are. I did not mean to insinuate that all are. I strongly support programs like welfare if they are working correctly. Thanks for pointing that out, I should have worded myself better in that comment.

    • In most of the countries cited, and many more, including countries in Latin America (so not only those with low birth rates), the money for paid maternity leave comes from Social Security, it’s not paid by the company.
      And frankly, as much as having kids is a choice, they are also the country’s future. Motherhood is not a selfish act.

      • Beatrice, well said!

        “And frankly, as much as having kids is a choice, they are also the country’s future. Motherhood is not a selfish act.”


  13. it should be noted that some of those countries, particularly italy, have a really low birthrate and the govt wants to encourage children.

    • Italy is not one of the countries noted in the article but you make a fair point. Still, to me, that doesn’t make up for the huge difference between almost every other country and the U.S. It’s not an excuse to discriminate against women who decide to procreate, just because our country is “full enough”.

  14. “why are so many other country’s providing these benefits?” They all have socialist governments where the government controls many more areas of society, including healthcare. I don’t know how the countries afford it. Really high income tax rates? Personally, I prefer living in a country with less government involvement. I don’t see it as our government not caring about families. I see it as our government, at least for now, staying out of business and family decisions.

    • Oh god, not the ignorant “socialist!” argument. The majority of countries listed above are not socialist. Crying “socialist” is a lame excuse.

      • I have friends that live in Canada and England. I’m thankful that so far the United States does not have their tax rates. I’m thankful I still get to choose my doctor and don’t have to wait months to see a specialist. And, having experienced the military healthcare system 20 years ago (the closest to government health care we’ve ever had) I’m thankful I can take my children to the same doctor not just whoever I draw that day, IF I’m even able to get an appointment. I still prefer to keep control of my own money and plan for my own future rather than giving it to the government and letting them plan for my future. And I’m trying to raise my children to take care of themselves and not depend on government because someday it may not be there. Pure socialism is social (or government) control of everything in essence, so your statement is true that the countries mentioned are not purely, completely socialist. But they do have more government control and ownership than I am comfortable with. I always prefer private control to government control.

        • Elizabeth, I have lived and worked in both the UK and the US, and I paid LESS TAXES in the UK and had free, quality healthcare. Your argument about higher tax rates is total BS. If I’d chosen to have my daughter there (instead we moved to the US to be closer to my parents), it would have been free (instead of the $5000+ we paid even with expensive insurance), and I would have had excellent support and benefits that I did not have here. It was my choice to move back to the US because I wanted to raise my kid with a set of young grandparents to help us. We still hope that our daughter will go to university in the UK, where it’s a fraction of the cost of the US. What you and many other Americans don’t seem to understand is that developed countries that make an investment in their babies and young people are making a wise choice for the economic and social stability of their country. It’s not socialism, it’s smart economics. In the US our politicians choose to give benefits and tax cuts to corporations (do yourself a favor and look up how much taxes GE pays) instead of families. Our priorities are totally warped.

        • Um, I’m in Canada. I pick my Doctor. I can get in to see her within a couple days if not that day if it’s really ’emergent’. I’ve never waited more than two hours in an ER. I’ve seen the same Doctor for over 12 years now.

          Private control is actually more controlling than socialist (public) control. Everything you said about Canada is a myth. The government does NOT tell you what Doctor to see or when or for what.

          If I wanted to, I could drop my current Doctor today and go pick another out of the phone book no problems.

        • I live in Canada.

          I choose my GP. I was not limited to the list of doctors my insurance would cover. It is rare I can’t get an appointment with my doctor the same day if my son or I are ill.

          Just two weeks ago at 10 weeks pregnant, my bloodwork came back positive for hyperthyroidism. I had an appointment with a specialist 6 days later. That 6 days included a weekend. I hardly call that months.

          Sounds like a good system to me. And it is one where families are not put into financial ruin by a serious illness or accident.

        • If it helps at all, elizabeth, current military healthcare is run by Tricare, and I have not had many problems seeing the doctor I want to see when I need/want to see them. Things aren’t as bad anymore as they apparently were. The only time I had to wait to see a specialist was at one of the smaller base locations, and that had more to do with making two conflicting schedules work (and not pulling rank) than anything else.

      • It’s inflammatory to throw around the word “socialist” (your reaction is an example), and its definition is murky. But most of these countries do have “socialized” healthcare and, yes, maternity care. It is treated as a short-term disability, and it is paid for “socially.” Your article asks the important question, who should pay for it? You note that countries wouldn’t provide so much time off if there weren’t a financial pro. Yet, it costs employers there nothing to provide time off. I take no sides, but it’s a real pickle. In most countries where maternity leave can be up to a year, the employer isn’t writing the paychecks – the government is – like social security, welfare, or gov’t disability. I don’t advocate for or against this, it’s just a fact. This is paid for by taxing the workforce.
        I work in a small business with 4 employees. There is no way they could write paychecks for me for more than a few weeks, and they would absolutely need to replace me (and pay the person who replaces me). They can’t pay both of us, and they can’t hold my job for me when I do 25% of the work here. Not everyone works for a Fortune 500 company. It would really suck for all involved and it would break their hearts to let me go, but they would just have to.
        If the government were to replace my paycheck, like in Europe, we’d all be paying 58% taxes (like in Europe). Including cash-strapped new moms. It’s just really complicated. In my opinion, you really can’t compare. We should stick to advocating for a better system here without comparing it to other countries. There are pros and cons about each system.
        Hey – excellent article! The debate about breastfeeding, bed-sharing, really do miss the point! It’s not a competition!!

        • Where do you get the 58% in taxes number?? I live in Germany and pay about 30-35% of my salary in taxes. Exactly the same rate I paid when I lived and worked in the US…

  15. I should not have to pay (cause the tax payers would) for you to be at home more than up to 12 weeks with your child. 6 weeks is the standard with most companies. Some offer more time without pay up to 12 weeks. If you cannot afford to quit your job, to stay with your child as YOU want, then I should not pay for you to!!!! Go live in those other countries and see how bad America really is!!!! This claim is ridiculous! People need to earn their own way and quit wanting a piece of everyone else’s pie!!!!

    • You better hope that you never find yourself needing any kind of government assistance – a government grant, disability, social security, medicare. Because, in your case, I would like to reciprocate by not sharing my pie with you.

    • Yes, because the majority of people accepting government assistance are in DIRE NEED of said assistance, and not just chronic abusers of laziness.

    • Brandi, I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that you’ve never lived in any other First World country, and maybe haven’t even visited one (Army bases don’t count- I’ve lived on base and it might as well have been the US). As much as I love our country, women’s rights and family rights are valued more in Europe than they are here. It’s sad but it’s true. Aside from that, I personally would rather have my “piece of the pie” go to my neighbor’s maternity leave (or better schools, or better childcare, or universal healthcare) than to a pointless war or a banking bailout.

  16. While reading this post, I thought that you were AWESOME, ‘no fewer than 20 times!’
    Thank you for your voice, and for giving Maine moms a voice too!

  17. Okay, I know that I’m not gonna win any friends with this one, but here I go.

    I believe that the article brings up some very good points, and in comparison, American mothers get the shaft.


    At this day in age, with life expectancy so much longer, and the continued survival of the 6 billion people (and growing) on this already overtaxed and crowded planet, is having kids nothing more than a personal, and (only in the beginning, once the kid is born it isn’t this way, and I am a father of 2) selfish lifestyle choice? The planet is overpopulated, fact. The survival of the race does not rely on each one of us having kids. Fact. Especially in this country, we can’t protect the rights and liberties of those who are born different and have no choice (yes, one of my sons is gay), yet we’re supposed to on a personal, professional, and political level protect and/or increase the rights of a group who elect to do something that is not required of them and is 100% a personal choice?

  18. All I can say is, wow. This article is so well-written, and filled with so many things that needed to be said. As a contractor who was promoted to a full-time position a few weeks before giving birth, I had no paid maternity leave. I worked until the day before I gave birth to my son, and stopped receiving any form of income the next day. The stress of the situation hung heavy over my entire pregnancy. Thank for you being the voice of so many, and for speaking out about this issue with such a clear, strong and passionate voice.

  19. Wow, again. I need to post a second comment after reading so many negative comments posted by others. Our society is suffering deeply right now. Everything from the obscene rates of obesity to the high instances of divorce, depression and even insomnia tells me things need to change in our country. There’s no doubt in my mind that a stronger and less stressed family unit (no matter what that family looks like) would benefit our entire country. So, yes, I’m happy to pay my share for you to stay home, breastfeed and raise a happy and healthy member of our society.

  20. I have needed assistance, but was told $700 a month was too much income to provide assistance. So I had to work two jobs to make ends meet. Guess what. I made it. I now only work one full time job, i do not spend above my means, my kids are healthy and happy. I do not want anyone to pay my way as I learned first hand I can make it on my own. I quickly figured out priorities and made it work. We now have money to do the things we want, savings specifically if i would lose my job (and let me add i am considered a blue collar worker) I had begun furthering my education and as a single mother, it could be paid for by you the tax payer, but I refuse to do that. It is not Americas responsibility to let me further my education. So no ma’am, I do not want a piece of your pie!
    FYI I do pay into Medicare, so that would not be a piece of YOUR pie. And did you know that the IOUs for Medicare are kept in WV (believe Parkersburg) yes IOUs, the money is gone. That is an example of why we borrow 40 cents of every dollar. And now you want us taxpayers to pay for you to stay home with your child full time for long periods as these other countries do? RIDICULOUS!

    • Oh, great then! In Canada, 50 weeks of maternity/parental leave is paid for by EI (Employment Insurance) which everybody pays into as part of being employed, which then can be used in case of being laid off, disabled or for maternity leave. By your logic, that makes us entitled to it, right? Like you pay into Medicare? Splendid, let American moms have a pie to pay into. Problem solved.

  21. Hi, I found your blog because you signed my petition on Change.org I am from the UK originally which is where I got my “crazy” ideas about why maternity leave (and healthcare) should be a basic human right/women’s right. I think we’ll be having our second child in the UK where people get up to a year of paid maternity leave. I love the post and share the petition as widely as you can – lets show the politicians in charge that there’s a new “silent majority” and we think people and families matter.

  22. I just saw that you shared my petition at the bottom of your post. Thanks so much, loads of people are signing. I’m going to share this post on my blog. I agree with you 100%

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  24. Wow…some of these comments make me incredibly sad.

    While I sometimes get angry that I may have to work more than my coworkers with kids, or have that expectation, that goes away when I think how tough it must be for those parents to focus on work, children, and their relationship with their partner (hopefully there is someone…single parents amaze me even more). I only hope that someday, should I choose to have kids, that someone is there to help me, as well.

    Yes, having children is a choice. But would all you naysayers rather we have no children? Hate to break it to all of you, but those kids will be the ones helping you in retirements. They will be the ones paying taxes for social programs (fire, streets, police, etc.), just as we are the ones doing it now. Shouldn’t we hope for a better society than we leave it?

    The lack of respect for fathers also makes me angry (they are lucky to even get a day off). We can’t, as a society, have it both ways. We can’t have a productive society and not allow parents the time they need with their children.

  25. Wow……
    What a great article, I was really impressed. Being from Canada I am fourtunate enough to have recieved maternity benefits for both my children. And I took all 50 weeks for both of them. I can’t imagine, it makes my heart hurt thinking of leaving either of my babies after 6 or 12 weeks. I think the people that are so strongly opposed to mothers having time at home to nurture and cherish the early months with their babies should consider todays youth. How can a child possibly bond with it’s parents if it never sees them? Do you think laying in a bassinet in a room surrounded by dozens of other babies and not being held and cherished by her mother or father is a positive thing. All of you that are so opposed to longer paid maternity are looking at it completly wrong, it’s not a waste of tax payers money it’s an investment in our children, our future. After my second child was born I chose not to go back to work full time, the cost of childcare and lost time with my girls was not worth it. I dont recieve welfare or income assistance, we just tightened our belts. Yes I am fortunate enough to have a husband that supports us, but seriously why should it be a crime if I want to be home with my babies. I believe that being a mother should be considered a paid job and we should be compensated. Look at all the garbage our governments waste money on, surly this is a better place to put it. But hey what do I know I’m just a Canadian(we have free healthcare, a stronger dollar, and better economy)

  26. While I appreciate your sentiments, as a small business owner of a 7-person company, I would bleed money if I had to pay an employee to not do work for ANY period of time, much less 3 months or more. It simply doesn’t work. I barely make a salary myself sometimes. Would I like to be able to provide 5 months of paid leave for a pregnant employee? Sure. Could I do so without going out of business? Probably not.

    If your proposal is for the government to reimburse businesses for providing this amount of leave, that’s fine and I would support it. But good luck getting one Republican to support more government spending.

    And if your proposal is to require businesses like mine to offer this amount of paid leave, I would respectfully ask you to walk a day in my shoes and you might change your mind. Forcing someone like me to come up with that type of money out of my own pocket would cause me to be unable to provide jobs for the rest of my employees – who also depend on their jobs to support their own families.

    • By making it a federal issue, everyone pays into it at a per employee rate. There is no increased impact to small employers. Also, instead of smaller companies struggling while an employee is off for a scant month with nobody to fill the position, in Canada the job is replaced because it’s for a year, so you’re able to replace the job as a one-year-long position, instead of struggling short staffed for whatever time that employee is taking off.

      • The process you describe would work much better than forcing the employer to bear the entire cost. I like that it pays out at 55% of your salary too, because that gives you SOMETHING but at the same time there’s still an incentive to go back because you’ll almost double your income when you start working again. I just wish that there was some enforcement of our current laws even, because it seems like there is no recourse when your employer illegally fires you for being pregnant or taking even your 6 weeks of unpaid leave.

    • And I say this as a small business owner in Canada. We started out 5 years ago with 4 employees and now have 25. We’ve seen multiple maternity leaves in that period, without problems.

    • I completely understand this point of view. We own a small company too, with just 4 employees right now (not counting my husband). If we were forced to pay for 3 months (much less a year) of wages for someone who was out on paid maternity leave, plus the additional wages of someone else to cover the work, I don’t know if our business would survive. It’s an incredibly large burden for very small businesses. My husband already works 80-hour weeks and often doesn’t pay himself so that he can make payroll for the employees, so don’t tell me we’re being selfish either!

      At the same time, I still have a full-time job at a slightly larger company with about 60 full-time and 20-60 temp employees depending on the season. In over 6 years only one woman has managed to have a baby and NOT be fired. We might be over the 50-person limit but they find ways around that. None of them were even trying to take more than 6 weeks either. I’m almost 31 now and very worried because we’re thinking of having kids but it will probably mean that they’ll fire me, possibly even before the baby is born so they can avoid the insurance costs of the birth. I head up an entire department here but it won’t matter, I know they won’t hesitate to cut me loose if they think I’ll be an inconvenience for any amount of time.

      So I guess my stance is: fully paid leave for every size employer is not reasonable, because very small businesses could easily be forced into bankruptcy. But we need to AT LEAST enforce the rules that are already on the books and seriously punish all the businesses that are firing women for just trying to take their unpaid leave … and also tighten up the laws so there aren’t so many loopholes where it’s legal to do so (telecommuters, <50 employees, or calling it a "layoff" when it's really "fired for being pregnant").

    • Thanks David. This makes the most sense to me. It is all about perspective right? I chose to become a mother of 3, I chose to become a teacher so my hours and vacation time would parallel my kids so we could spend the optimum amount of time together. Before we started having kids (11 yrs ago), my husband started his own free lance graphic design business so that he could work from home and has been self employed (and relatively successful) ever since. Because of the choices I have made, I feel like I have been treated fairly. I am happy with my choices and I don’t for a second feel like America or anyone else treats me badly. Some folks have grown bitter and I understand life is hard. I am the of the naive ilk that chooses to stay positive when things get tough. I also will not play the victim. I respect what you do and I believe that most people in your shoes do the best they can. I responded to what you said because I felt like you were the only person who gave perspective from the side of the employer. Best of luck.

  27. American women are HEROES. It’s amazing they have any children at all, but it proves they are made of sterner stuff. I live abroad, in Italy where the women often get pregnant, announce they have “high risk” pregnancy and t stay home (paid) until the baby is born, with another six months paid leave after the birth and another year with reduced pay. This is incredibly good for the mothers but it’s also hard on the small businesses, as they can hire a women and find she’s gone for almost two years and still on the payroll! However, America should definitely find a way to protect women and mothers. No way one should lose their jobs because they are taking care of a sick child!

  28. I am going to add that The Swedish are taxed about 47% of their income and Denmark is upwards of 55%,!, if the government were taking half my salary they damn well better provide some great health and maternity benefits. But here in the USA, I hope we never reach that extreme high of taxes….that’s ridiculous! Those benefits are coming at a very high cost to the employee as well in those countries! Be careful what you ask for.

    • Jolie, isn’t it interesting that Denmark, although taxed so high, also has the overall “happiest” population? Having visited there years ago, I found them baffled with Americans and our inability/unwillingness to care for our most vulnerable. I used to think it was people with disabilities but I will include mothers in that thinking from now on. Thank you for a thoughtful, well written article.

    • Jolie…as someone who lives in Sweden and has many friends in Denmark, I can tell you that the average person is not taxed any more than in a place like massachusetts — so in the 30-35% range (federal and state taxes combined).

      We enjoy “nationalised” healthcare not because of socialism, but because there is also wisdom in being a 9,5 million person rosk pool which means that on average people only really need some basic care whilst seome need less and others need more and it balances out.

      With regard to maternity leave, it is paid out of social insurance and is generous and the leave can be split by parents. However no one sees this as an issue. Everyone would agree that this is the right thing to do for societal reasons. As a person without children, I do have to admit that it feels annoying at times to go to a lunch restaurant on my break and see moms sitting there sipping lattes and laughing. But then my mind quickly realises that I also don’t have the 24 hour job of parenting – I am content to let them savour that well-earned latte.

      There are lots of reasons Scandinavia is the way it is and I can only offer a personal view (note: for discolsure I am an American male who relocated to Sweden 10 years ago). I think one of the reasons you see such a positive attitude towards maternity leave and most other social programmes is that unlike the US, eligibility for them isn’t based on a sliding scale of income – you are simply eligible. Thus as all levels of society can take the benefits, there is relatively low resistence to paying for those benefit (there is very little Us vs Them…it is ‘Us’). Of course no system is perfect and Scandinavian countries do have a set of problems to solve, but I just wanted to point out some inconsistences I have seen by others when they try to use the phrase “socialist” or site the tax rate as reasons things are different.

  29. Thanks for writing about this important topic! We should all be invested in the well-being of every child in society for a host of moral, ethical, and biological reasons. But even in a self-serving sense, steps taken to help parents raise healthy, well adjusted children will pay for themselves in increased productivity, greater educational attainment, stronger family bonds, less crime, etc. As a nation we financially support individuals through our tax code who “choose” to become homeowners, why the hell not parents? In addition to paid leave, I would advocate for the idea of Caretaker Resource Accounts. CRAs would provide money to parents that could be put towards childcare, education, or retirement (as so many women lose out on Social Security benefits when they step out of the workforce to care for children). This would allow parents (namely mothers) some flexibility, but still assure that funds would be spent in a socially productive way. Since almost 85% of women will one day become parents, providing financial support for this all-impotent endeavor, at the very least during pregnancy and the first years of infant development, seems like a no-brainer for women and anyone who truly cares for children. We’re all in this together folks!

    • Thank you, Mark! Well said. And since you’re a man, probably more credible to many who have responded. We need more men to stick up for us.

  30. Well done! Not only am I a mother but I work with many families in early intervention (services for children birth to three with disabilities and their families). While I see a very wide variety of people in different socio economic status, ethic backgrounds and who have made a wide variety of parenting choices; I also know one thing: all children, regardless of parenting choices thrive with parents who are available for their needs. I *believe* that this is a benefit for all of society.
    I agree that non parents should not “pay” for our choice to be parents, but that is not the argument. In many of those countries, all people, regardless of parental status receive more annual leave. Again, the US is behind!

  31. Disclaimer. I’m a guy. I can’t birth a child. I don’t qualify for maternity leave. With that said, women want equal opportunity, equal pay, and equal everything else. I don’t fault them, ceteris paribus, I’m 100% on board. Except for childbirth. The article says some countries require up to 2 (two!?!) years paid leave at the employer’s expense to have a child?!? The small business my wife and I co-own had 12 employees a year ago when my wife had our 2nd child. She was on her Blackberry in her hospital bed and back at work less than a week after having our son Jonas – one foot rocking his bouncy seat to soothe him, breast feeding when he needed it, looking like Webster’s definition of sleep deprived – standing at the helm of a growing small business every step of the way. Was she allowed two years (ha, two days?!?) paid vacation/maternity leave?. Um, no – the business would have disappeared, as would have my job, and 12+ of our employee’s. So why should someone who takes risks, put their retirement $$s on the line, and employs a dozen+ people be WORSE off for having a child than that any employee? I’m not trying to argue that this is a cut and dry issue / decision of what to do – but I take serious offense to hearing a one-side argument- and especially someone on the employee (not employer) side of the fence. As a small business (<50 employees) having even one employee out for even one day is near CRIPPLING to our business. We don't have 5 accounting people, we have one. We don't have 5 customer service people, we have one. If they're out for a day – their job DOES NOT GET DONE. Multiple employees have to scramble to cover, doing not only their job, but whoever didn't walk thru the front door that day. I cannot imagine any employee being out for a year – and then having to pay them for it – and then being governmentally forced to swallow the pill that says it's fair / equal / right. Our business would suffer for it, potentially shutter its doors for it. Webster's defines fair as: (marked by impartiality [treating or affecting all equally]). I'm 100% for fair. I'm 100% for equal opportunity. I'm also 100% in agreement that this isn't a simple issue and unfortunately isn't one with a simple solution.

    • AMEN! Another small biz owner here (and a dad). If these women push too much, they’re going to force us to avoid hiring women in the first place. I run a business, not a social services agency. Have babies on your own dime. I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to be a mother. But if that’s what you want, then QUIT YOUR JOB and be a mom. If you still want your job with me, I can only afford to pay you to WORK, not raise your child.

      • John your insinuations that we should be forced out of the workforce because we want to have children is an insult to all women.

        • Moms, get over yourself. Be a mom. Be an employee. Be both. But do not expect an employer to pay for you to stay at home for a year (or two!) while you “choose” to have a baby. It’s an insult to business owners for you to assume we’re going to allow you to pick our pockets for the “privilege” of employing a mother.

          • They aren’t requesting a year or two. They are requesting just a little over 6 weeks. Feel free to speak about it after you have been a woman, lived with the societal pressures they live with, and had a child.

          • So now having a child is a “societal pressure?” Boo hoo. It’s tough all around. But I’m not willing to pay for it.

          • While I enjoyed reading the article and think it’d be great if our mothers had a better opportunity for maternity leave… I’m going to have to partially agree with John here, but probably not for the reasons you’d assume. If we didn’t have this little failed system called “welfare” here in America, I’d say that was a great idea. However, believe it or not, there is a classification of Americans who procreate for the purpose of increasing their government assistance. It’s a fine line between what’s acceptable, however I promise you, that system would be abused too!

          • Hey, John: what happens to your workforce/labor costs if women don’t have babies? Your customer base?

            We made you. We made the entire economy and everything in it, from scratch.
            Have some respect.

    • If it’s paid federally like most countries (like here in Canada) do, it’s paid per employee into a federally pot (Employement Insurance, same as disability or for pay when laid of). Which means small businesses are not paying more. And while your business is suffering for every day your employee is unavailable for work after childbirth, a year’s maternity leave means you could replace that job, and not be short-staffed at all. I own a business that started 5 years ago with 4 employees and now has 25. When someone leaves for maternity leave, we advertise a year-long position and replace the employee while they’re absent. It works really well.

    • Disclaimer- mom of 2- no official maternity leave for kid 1 (3 weeks at home, worked at home and part time in office thereafter with a C-section delivery and the kid had colic for 4 months)- for kid 2 got 6 weeks of maternity time totally off, worked part-time from home thereafter). Let me tell you the experience was night and day and I see the benefit of the extra time off and see why Europe has set the standards where they are.

      To Mark I say: You saw what your wife went through and you wish that on all mothers? What about mothers with other small children already? What about mothers to premature babies? Babies with health problems or colic? Chances are working mothers are GOOD mothers and they’re productive members of society- aren’t these EXACTLY the types of people we want reproducing and rearing the next generation? Or should we leave that to the unemployed (and the unemployable?).

      I think my experience with kid 1 was similar to your wife’s. I am sad that I personally could not enjoy my 1st kids newborn weeks. Is that why I want to see longer maternity paid leave? NO- because I think it was NOT best for my son to have a strung out mother, period. Maybe most see this as about women, but I see it as about kids. We see newborns as unresponsive blobs, but research is showing more and more how critical this stage is to future development. I am a better mother when I am not stressed out, multi-tasking beyond my limits, eating whatever crap falls out of the freezer in a sleep-deprived haze. Me being a better mother is simply better for my kid. End of story. And in a heartbeat I will do what is best for my kid, mama-bear style.

      I think as a society we should universally recognize that working mothers to newborns should not have to “do it all” because lets be honest, with a newborn around while working full time a mom is going to fail at SOMETHING, be it the marriage/partnership, the mother’s physical or mental health as the 2 most likely areas, but it could be staying awake on the commute and not careening off the road or into another car. Or remembering to drop the kid off at daycare and not leave it in the car all day as those horrible stories crop up from time to time… I think those are totally avoidable with better maternity policies

      By the way- If your wife didn’t take maternity leave, I would TOTALLY support those funds be direct toward support for in-home help. Either way I would be ecstatic to see a deduction from my paycheck going to fund decent maternity leave policy in this country, knowing that I am working so that someone else can focus on taking care of their baby’s needs (aren’t those little suckers needy by the way), their personal needs and their relationship responsibilities to spouses/partners/other kids. If that means my fellow working women do not have to endure what I did with my first child, I’m 100% for it. Honestly we aren’t talking a hike to >40% taxes for this to happen. The wealth is there – we working people are creating aren’t we? I can’t think of a better way to spend my money but really it sounds like this point is moot for us. It’s likely we won’t personally gain from any change to the maternity policy, but Mark, if we had daughters, or if in the future we have daughters-in-law? What would you want for their lifetime? I know I still want to see it happen without a doubt.

    • Was your wife able to pump when she had to be way from the baby for more than three hours, in a room with a lock on the door? For some of us, it IS that simple.

  32. I agree 98% with your well written article. I must state that I work at Target and support for nursing mom’s, both team members and guests is amazing. Thank you for reminding us what is really important…support of our future by having strong families!

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  34. I could take a more radical tack. People who have children should be encouraged and rewarded. They are building the future. Their children will work and pay our social security, keep the economy going while we are old etc etc. If everyone made the choice to not have children, the world would grind to a halt. It would certainly be a sad place. American obsession with “socialism” has caused fewer Americans to be covered by insurance, and put the USA low in the ranking of life-expectancy for its citizens. Rather dead than red sure rings true in this case;-) In many European countries, the taxes are higher but no one goes to the hospital and is turned away because they can’t pay. It’s considered a SCANDAL. The highest value is solidarity, while in America it’s independence. But when you are in need, it’s hard to be independent. America is to be admired because its harsh and stringent rules forge the strong fighting spirits like Brandi’s. However, it would be nice to offer some protection to the weak without seeing this as weakness and/or encouraging weakness.

  35. Some people believe that paying higher taxes is a fair trade-off for living in a society that supports and nurtures its members. I would be absolutely fine with paying much higher taxes and having paid maternity leave and health care as a basic right. In this country people go bankrupt because of medical bills, and families struggle to pay for daycare. Higher taxes and better services in return would probably actually amount to a higher standard of living for the majority of the population. Not the 1% obviously, but for the rest of us.

  36. Can I just say Thank You!!! My son is almost 7 months old and during my pregnancy and after my son was born I discovered how many loop holes are in FMLA. I worked for a large medical company for almost 4 years when I got pregnant. My pregnancy was difficult in that I had morning sickness every day, I would come into work when I felt like I might make it through the day (this never happened and I usually spent sometime sick in the bathroom). My employer decided that they were going to force me to stay home unless I could guarantee that I would be at “100%”. Since this was not something that I could do I was told not to come into work. This then put me over my 12 weeks FMLA even before my son was born. My work of course could not fire me (firing a pregnant woman is really not ok), so they decided that I would be on a medical leave, they were however at this point (me being 8 and a half months pregnant) going to terminate my insurance coverage- since I was no longer protected under FMLA. I was forced to go onto medicaid because I could not afford to pay the $1200 per month for COBRA.
    I am lucky, I live in a state that allows an additional 12 weeks of protected time after the baby is born. However, again my employer was able to find a loophole in the protection . Since I had unprotected “leave” time prior to the birth of my son, once my son was born they informed me that they were going to retro that time back to cover the “medical leave” that I was on before my son was born. Now I was going to have to go back to work as soon as my doctor said I was able to (this was the 8 week point because of having to have an emergency c-section).
    All of this time was unpaid due to the fact that I had used up all my Paid time off prior to the birth of my son.
    I elected not to return to work at this point due to the emotional stress of being treated so poorly through a difficult pregnancy and also because I would not be able to afford to pay for full time childcare on my income. (I am currently going through a divorce so I could not rely on my husband for help in this matter).
    Needless to say I completely agree with what you are saying and I think that it is about time we “Mothers” stop going after each other and start asking why we are so far behind the rest of the world. This goes for all women’s rights in this country too!

    Thank you again.

  37. I grew up in the US and spent my first 35 years there. I now live in the UK and I’m very happy about the healthcare here. I know that if I lose my job, I still have access to healthcare for free. I think there are a lot of US misperceptions of what goes on over here. You can get private health insurance and I have that – so I have a lot of choice (like in the US) – but THERE ISN’T A COPAY. When I had knee surgery in the US, I had 10s of thousands of dollars that weren’t covered by my insurance. Here, that would not happen. With my insurance I have less of a wait. But even if I didn’t have insurance, I’m fine with the wait cause it’s FOR FREE (well sorta, I pay for it in my taxes). And honestly, I’m making more after taxes here than I did in the US, so I’m not sure that I’m actually paying more taxes than y’all are – there are no such thing as State taxes and my local taxes aren’t that huge – and taxes on the home are next to nothing.

    One thing that you wrote is that there is 39 week so paid leave in the UK – do note that this isn’t your full salary. My work will give me 8 weeks of full pay and the government agrees to: for the first six weeks at 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings with no upper limit and for the remaining 33 weeks at the lower of either the standard rate of £135.45, or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings , which doesn’t add up to a huge amount. We have to have been employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week your baby is due (the qualifying week) to quality. So there are qualifying things and it’s not as perfect as it sounds above. What I do like is that you do have the rights to go back to your job after your leave.

    Note, I do love the US and there are great things there – but we shouldn’t bury our heads and think that it’s perfect (I certain don’t like everything here in the UK either – there are soms serious issues). It’s good to have debate and to perhaps recognize that systems that are different from our own might just be better for people.

  38. Stop me when this sounds familiar: “Little Billy is sick, so I’m not going to make it in to work today.” “Timmy has a tummy ache, so I have to leave early today.” “I promised Jessica I would eat lunch at school with her today, so I won’t be back in for the rest of the afternoon.” Every single week with this crap. I can’t keep a fully-staffed office to save my life and then these mothers complain that women make 75 cents to a man’s dollar. Sounds about right to me!

    • Someone has to take care of the child. What if both mothers and FATHERS started to take responsibility for these things, sharing the load instead of placing this responsbility on women who are then blamed. Would you put less blame on women? Would you be more understanding?

    • You deserve to be deprived access to any vagina for the rest of your life. Maybe you can’t keep a fully-staffed office because you’re a total tool.

  39. another disclaimer. i’m also a guy. i believe this is a great discussion and one very much worth having. i 100% agree with the author that the constant judging of parenting styles is ridiculous and counter productive – the real battles are not being fought. in addition, i 100% agree with equality, meaning equal pay for an equal job done and an equal opportunity to rise and succeed. however, the topic of maternity (and paternity) leave are NOT about equality in my eyes. they are far more about fairness. fairness to the new mother/father, and fairness to the colleagues and employer of the new parents. part of me agrees with emily above that having children is a choice and others should not be punished for it (as the small business owner above described how the loss of even 1 employee could kill his business). naturally, part of me agrees that new parents need more flexibility and time to acclimate. however, you know what else i know? you give all new mothers 1 year of maternity leave and you know what else you’ve just done? you’ve created a terrible incentive for businesses not to hire women. not only that, but i think we can all agree 1 year of maternity leave is entirely unfair to an employer or colleagues that have to scramble to cover for someone who is gone. i do feel for new mothers that work for an employer that doesn’t have the capacity to support them, but that’s something that goes into taking THAT job, don’t act surprised when you work for a startup and you don’t get the benefits of working for Google. It’s not because the small business owner is a jerk, it’s because THEY DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY FOR YOU. It’s not mean spirited, it’s just the facts. I think there must be a happy medium somewhere where women in the US can get more time than they currently do (an extra 2-6 weeks?); but let’s stay rational – it’s only going to be at larger organizations with the resources to do so – you can’t force small organizations to give you money they don’t have or pay you not to work. that doesn’t solve the problem, it creates a new one.

  40. This is a great piece. I am a US citizen living in the UK and I just had a baby 4 months ago. I am so thankful to be living in the UK for my maternity leave. It is a sad comment on the policy in the US if I am happy to have not given birth there and to be treated better than I would be in my own country. Yes, we pay much higher taxes here, but it makes sense to take care of a whole population’s needs, not just mothers and babies.

  41. I’m not a mom, just a step-chick (which is a woman with a boyfriend who has a kid). This article completely resonates with me. I have a lot of friends getting ready to have kids and they are all going through the same exact thing. Trying to figure out how to financially survive after having the kid and not having any support from work for maternity leave. Your right, we need to focus on more important facts rather than breast feeding. Maybe that should be times next piece. I also signed the petition.

  42. I get this. Before I had kids, I had this vision of me in a floaty white dress, stirring homemade bolognese sauce with one arm and holding my sleeping child in the other. In reality, I looked more like a Tim Burton incarnation than anything else, with seriously draining post-partim bleeding, a colicky baby who refused to sleep and I still had meals to make, floors to clean and… when do I get to feed MYSELF?! To even contemplate that I would have to return to work after 2 months is a joke! And let’s not forget that this leave includes time off BEFORE the birth. So, sorry to women who were ordered by their doctor to be on bed rest before having the baby. You now only have a further 2 weeks of leave left before you have to add “scared I will lose my job” to the list of things you now need to do. Too bad if you had birthing complications, lost half your blood supply and were on the brink of death. You return to work in a fortnight, or else you’ll be fired.
    I must say here that I don’t live in the US, I’m an Australian. I got no paid leave from my employer when I had my child. However, I was entitled to unpaid leave for up to 12 months (I took seven) and did not have to contend with the fear of losing my job. I’m grateful for this, because despite working with small children for over 12 years and “running the home” for 6 years as a wife before kids, having my own children was a significant lifestyle change. It was hardcore. And I’ve done some crazy extreme, globe trotting things in my life. I’m thankful for the unpaid leave I could take because I am not on anti-depressants, was not unwillingly forced into formula feeding because stress ate my milk supply, and I also had time to balance my relationship with my husband as it entered unfamiliar territory with the addition of baby. We are doing great.

    I know to some of the business minded this means nothing. Profit has little to do with my personal choices for family, I suppose. But if we don’t give a damn about the rights and welfare of families and therefore the welfare of society, I guess it’s no wonder things are going down the crapper. But what do I know. I guess I’m just a “socialist”.

  43. Before the FMLA was passed we only got 6 weeks – Men also did not qualify for the 6 weeks of leave to help with the new baby. I also did not have the required time at my company back then so this 6 weeks was NOT paid. Had to work every day during pregnancy to save for the time I would be off work – Formula and Diapers are expensive when there is not income for 6 weeks. I celebrate FMLA – Yes our laws are not what other countries have but they are not as bad as they use to be. There is hope.

    • We need MORE and we need to continue being loud about it because the government will not pay for anything it doesn’t think it has to. “There is hope” scares me. Frederick Douglas said that he prayed for twenty years and nothing happened until he prayed with his feet. THAT gets me going!

  44. Thank you for saying all of this. How may women (and men) have to jump up and run around and shout about this issue? It’s purely ridiculous. I worked on a committee in NY State advocating for a state-level paid leave act. Thank you Rotary Club and other similar business friendly-organizations for never being able to look beyond the bottom line to what really matters – our lives and those of our families!! I don’t get it, but I hope eventually our voice will not only be heard, but responded to.

  45. This is a great article and got me all riled up. And frustrated. I signed the petition. I am always left feeling like “now what?”

    I did not care for the opening paragraph (I know, who cares?). I think people may have assumed you would have an opinion about the TIME cover merely because you are a thinking human being.

    But thank you.

  46. I am not a mom yet, but this is seriously one of the best articles I have ever read. Especially because at some point I plan on being a parent. I say at some point, because this country makes it beyond hard to get to that point if you want to be responsible AND a good parent!

  47. great article , being a Canadian living in the Province of Quebec , I have to say I was horrified when my daughter who lives in Atlanta had to return to work two weeks after having given birth by ceaserean

  48. Doesn’t this sound a little too good to be true? How can a company afford to pay the job replacer and the at-home woman for the duration of the paid leave … and then what happens to the job replacer when the woman comes back?

    As a result, it is my understanding that at least some of these countries are allowed to discriminate against women who may get pregnant. I have a friend in Germany who has had to sign a form before employment stating that she had no intentions to get pregnant. She understood that her intentions to have children and her status as a woman of childbearing age were in fact reasons that a company may legally not hire her.

    One other factor is career advancement. There are some careers where a year of time off is not conducive to adavancement. But, if an entire county’s worth of women stay at home for a year or three, then the mother who wants to go back to work earlier and feels that she can pump successfully and still have a fulfilling, loving, whole relationship with her child could (a) be judged by mothers around her heavily and (b) have great difficulty finding afforable dycare options, since daycares would be a rare provision (again, see Germany).

    This is not to say that I don’t think longer maternity and paternity leaves are beneficial and wonderful options. I just want to point out that a one-sided, grass-is greener view may not capture all the aspecst of gender, rights, children, and discrimination; a fuller reporting piece would be a very interesting read.

  49. to Valery …. I think the point she was trying to make she was to busy surviving and keeping herchild alive

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  52. This is definitely a topic that a lot of people feel passionate about. It is certainly well written. I just have to play the devil’s advocate, though. I am a stay-at-home mom to five children. My husband is a small business owner. It is him and two other staff members. There is no way his business could survive if one third of the work force was to be gone for an extended period of time. I have to say business owners are often made out to look like jerks, but the honest truth is businesses can’t always survive without its employees.

    • That’s a point that keeps being made, and it’s a valid concern. I think the solution to it is to look at how the maternity leave system works in other developed countries. The onus wouldn’t fall on the small business owner at all- the money comes from the federal government just like our current disability system in the states. In Canada, small businesses advertise for someone to come in for a year’s contract, so the business wouldn’t be short a person and the business owner wouldn’t lose any money providing maternity leave to an employee.

  53. Hi! Loved your article – thanks for sharing. As a first time, Canadian mom, I don’t know what I would have done without leave (which I am still on as my daughter approaches 11 months).

    I just wanted to clarify something that a few people have commented on. In Canada, the employer does not pay our leave… the government does (aka our taxes). Our employers have the option to “top up”. That means, the government pays us 55% of our previous salary (if we’ve worked enough hours the previous year), and our employer has the choice on whether or not they’d like to top us up to 60%, 75%, 95%, etc. That means that small companies would not go bankrupt if their employees had a maternity leave – they would simply choose to not top them up.

    I’m happy to pay taxes to know that I’m covered in unexpected situations. If I get cancer, I will not lose my house to get it treated. If I choose to have one child, or six children, I will have bonding time with each of them as well as a job to return to if that is what I choose.

  54. Be careful what you wish for, ladies — you just might get it. As “Mark” posted below, I also am a small employer. We operate on a razor-thin margin (last year I didn’t take a salary, instead living off of savings so I could keep everyone employed). I’m not in the business of paying for women to *not work* and have babies. I’m sorry if that sounds discriminatory, but it’s true. I’m glad the author pointed out that there ARE differences between men and women. And if our government forces companies like mine to conform to the ridiculous maternity leave standards overseas, you can expect a backlash from employers like myself in avoiding hiring women of childbearing age in the first place. And by the way, comparing us to other countries — particularly European countries — hardly bolsters your argument. These are the same countries that WE, in large measure, are bailing out because a generation of overly-generous social benefits have bankrupted them. Greece … Italy … Ireland … Spain … Britain … they’re all waking up to harsh reality that they cannot afford to pay people not to work!

    • Not to be critical, John, but if you can’t provide your employees benefits and you aren’t making a salary, perhaps you should not be in business? This is yet another argument for Americans being “lucky to have a job” rather than to be compensated and treated fairly. Doesn’t cut it for me.

      • Nice shot, MomsinMaine. So would you rather I just close up shop and throw those 12 people out of work? How dare you tell me whether I should be in business or not. I’m providing a service, keeping a roof over the heads of and food on the tables of 12 households, and making a profit while doing so. What are YOU doing for the economy, besides whining?

        • John, your employees are providing labor to you in exchange for compensation. If it were not profitable for you to “provide a service,” you wouldn’t do it. You are not a benevolent benefactor to your workers. You hired them because you need them to provide a service to you, so they’re putting food on YOUR table.

          • Addendum: Since you apparently spend much of your work day posting transparently inflammatory comments on the internet, it seems like your employees might actually be running the place. I’d wager that your female employees think you’re disgusting, based on your comments here.

        • Interestingly, John, I hold down a full time job, run this website, and am raising a 6 month old. You opened yourself up to this one by stating that you are living off your savings. I didn’t tell you whether you should be in business or not, I raised the question. If you have no salary, how are you making a profit? Either way, I don’t really care. Good for you for running a small business and I hope it grows to be successful! However, I’d love to hear from your 12 employees and see if they worship you for keeping food on their tables, as you seem to think. I’m pretty sure my company and its owner doesn’t put food on my table — I do.

        • Based on how you see fit to treat your employees, it doesn’t sound like your employees are too lucky to be working for you. Once the economy picks up, I wouldn’t be surprised if these folks bail to companies with better benefits, and better parental leave policies. Did you ever stop to think that for many workers, the salary isn’t the bottom line when deciding upon a job? Many people also take health insurance and family and medical leave policies into account as well. So you’re not really giving yourself a competitive advantage here.

          Anyway, I’m glad that many folks to not share your narrow-minded view.

        • And, for the hundredth time, you (personally) would not be paying the maternity leave. It would not cost you personally a penny, if you so choose. In Canada the government steps in and pays. You, as the employer, COULD choose to ‘top it up’ IF YOU WANTED TO. If you couldn’t financially do it, you are under NO legal obligation to do so and MANY employers don’t top up a penny and leave maternity leave 100% to the government and that is fine.

          So the constant whining about “I have a 2 person company, maternity leave will ruin us, BLAGHHHH!” is irrelevant. Your company looses nothing. You hire a short-term (1 year) employee just like every other company does here in Canada. So since you’re paying 0% of the salary of Person A (on maternity leave) it just slides over to pay 100% of the salary of Person B (1 year hire). You’re not actually paying for two employees.

          Everyone who takes those positions are aware that it’s only for 1 year and it’s fine. There’s tons of people chomping at the bit for a bit of experience who are fine with just working that position for a year and are fully aware that they’ll have to give it up at the end of that period. It’s like an internship.

      • I would say that about 90% of small startups (<15 people) are in that situation: the owner works crazy long hours and often doesn't pay him/herself so the employees can be paid, they can't quite afford very generous benefits yet, and so on. That's just reality, the first few years in business are usually really tough (we're going through it ourselves, right now). If you tell them that they should all just go out of business, there will be almost no new businesses, ever! Then we'll hear the complaints about all the monopolies and how there isn't enough competition. We need a solution that does not completely destroy the small businesses of America. Remember, they have provided the majority of new jobs in the past few years, and create a disproportionate amount of new patents and technology. You can't get to be one of the "big guys" with great benefits if you didn't first start as a "small guy"!

      • WOW, MomsinMaine. I cannot believe how you are treating John. He is entitled to his opinion. Even more, his is running his own business and making sacrifices to keep other people employed. And YOU are judging HIM and whether he should be in business, knowing NOTHING about his situation? Really?

        I can’t stand that “Not to be critical” thing — as if that excuses harsh words? REALLY? I knew a girl in elementary school who would preface her criticisms with “No offense, but…that dress is ugly.” It’s a way to make yourself feel better about being mean. Please, be honest with yourself, just be mean.

        I give John a lot of credit for presenting another perspective and being logical. Give the guy a break.

        • Meg, John opened himself up to the debate. I apologize if you thought my comments were harsh, but I stand firm in my support of this initiative. Anything that had a disrespectful tone was tongue in cheek – John seemed the type of guy that could stand the heat, since he jumped right in and kept pushing. Sorry if you were offended by any of my responses. Again, you are right, we are all entitled to our opinion!!

          • However I beg to differ than many of HIS comments were neither logical nor respectful. But that’s just me.

          • Yes, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but the way in which we use our words matters. John’s comments throughout this entire 300+ chain of comments have been inflammatory. He was looking for a fight and succeeded to get a rise out of many. But let me tell you….the one at the very end of it all was the most shockingly hateful of them all. Surprised you let that one through….purely vile.

          • Th “no woman policy” comment?? Yeah I almost didn’t, but I feel it’s important for people to see truly how ignorant some people (business owners!) can be!! It’s a big fight we are up against here!

    • John, its not about you paying women to not work and have babies, its about all of us paying woment not to work and have babies. That’s why it gets the “socialist” stamp. But we are not bailing out the UK. We are not bailing out Australia. We are not bailing out Germany, or Norway or Denmark. But the citizens of those countries have come together to agree that supporting mothers through the early months of child-bearing and rearing is a national imperative. I agree with that stance 100% and as a working mother would happily put my paycheck where my mouth is and get disgusted by every human who at one point occupied a womb not have the perspective to see the ways that a healthy maternity/paternity policy would benefit our country (I can elaborate on this but I won’t). What is healthy? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know 6 weeks is not healthy and unpaid is not healthy. (I can elaborate on this too but I won’t, lunch break is over…)

      • Amy, have you heard of the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund? Ultimately, this is where the bailout money is coming from. And where do you think THAT money comes from? I’ll give you three guesses. Yes, supporting mothers through the early months of child-bearing and child-rearing IS imperative. This is why it’s imperative that couples ensure they can actually AFFORD the children they choose to bring into this world, rather than look to a third party — be it government, an employer, or their Aunt Fanny — to foot the bill for them.

        • The point is many countries that are NOT being bailed out have maternity leave policies that are much more healthy than ours. “We” are not paying for those countries. Affordability is also a red herring. But since you bring it up, a woman who gives birth is perpetually financially penalized for having children in terms of her earnings (think delayed promotions & lower merit raises) had she not given birth and/or compared to a male peer who cannot give birth. A better maternity policy won’t address that and that is not the discussion. The lower pay rate of women compared to men is a chronic condition whereas postpartum leaves are an acute phenomenon. Still I think working mothers are productive members of society and are EXACTLY the types of people we want reproducing and rearing the next generation, but they can’t do it without detriment to their lifetime earnings even without maternity leaves. A decent maternity leave would just let them take decent care of themselves & their family en route to that reduced lifetime income.

        • For the record, most everybody I know labels me a liberal. But I agree with John on this — people need to take personal responsibility when deciding to have kids. We think teens should take responsibility for having children, well, adults need to take responsibility as well.
          I know women who take on too much, have demanding jobs, have children, then complain about how hard it is and how busy they are, then look to stay at home moms like me to pick up the slack for them. Hey, I made my choice and I’m living with it. Take responsibility for your own choice.
          Again, I am not saying the system is fair, or shouldn’t be changed, or that we shouldn’t come up with better ways to support moms. But each individual should be responsible for understanding what they are getting into, and make their own choice about kids, and then live with it. Understand how the system works and then decide whether to have kids based on your situation.
          I have a friend who runs a daycare. She has parents who won’t pay her, yet come in with their nails and hair done, obviously expensive. We all make our choices. If you choose to have kids, sometimes you have to sacrifice some other things. No one is making you have kids.
          I have two sets of friends who decided not to have their own kids. One couple just decided they would be good to their friends’ kids. The other adopted. Neither couple is suffering because they did not have their own. More people need to consider other options as viable before making their own choice.

          • Thank you, Meg. Finally a voice of reason. This is why the workplace has become so poisoned — any man who even dares to disagree with a woman is labelled a misogynist these days, and out come the lawyers! 100% on your comments about taking responsibility for your choices. I like to think of myself as a “family-friendly” employer, but to a point. The bottom line is, I hire you to do a job for X salary, with X health benefits, X vacation days, and X sick days. If your personal life cannot fit within those employment parameters, it is not up to the government to force me to accommodate you; it is up to YOU to re-evaluate your personal life choices, or find another employment situation.

          • I look at it this way- I”m taking on the responsibility of contributing to a robust economy AND producing “the future” who will change our diapers one day. Do I think because I can (with the input of sperm) gestate, birth and raise human beings that this is an activity done only for my own behalf? I seriously considered not reproducing, but then guess where all the reproduction of our species comes from? I wanted to contribute a well-raised human being or two to our society, I think I’m doing a good job of that, and for that I totally think fair maternity policy is a simple fact of doing justice to working women. What is best for our society is me being in the work force and creating well-adjusted humans for the future work force. That is a simple fact. Supporting that is not special treatment, its an investment in the health of our workforce and society.

        • First and foremost, blaming maternity leave for the failure of entire countries is ridiculous. For example, the problems in Greece are also highly related to people defaulting on their debt because they chose to live outside their means such as buying more expensive houses than they needed, or buying a new/fancier car they didn’t need as well as the immense flow of non-working immigrants into the country. Almost 150,000 last year. 90% of undocumented (illegal) immigrants into the EU make Greece their first stop and often their last stop as well. Maternity leave probably accounts for 0.0001% of the financial problems of the country, so you’re being ridiculous.

          Secondly, yes, the US is a large contributor to the WB and IMF but it is not the *only* contributor and it is not even the largest contributor anymore. Britain overtook US as the largest contributor to the WB and Germany also contributed $2.2 billion to the WB. There are, I believe, 188 or some countries in the IMF. So yes, the US is lending ‘a lot’ of money but don’t get on your high horse like the US is the only one in the entire world riding on it’s valiant steed to save a poor, socialist country from utter destruction.

          If the government is going to ask for ANY tax dollars at all — and the US has plenty of taxes — then people who are paying into those taxes should be able to decide where they go at some level. There are millions of people in the US who are absolutely pissed over quadrillions of dollars going into the ridiculous ‘war on terror’, and many others who want to see it go elsewhere than it is. Why is that such a bad concept?

  55. I had both of my children while I was very young, and they are both the product of unplanned pregnancies. I worked full time throughout both pregnancies, as did my husband. Paternity leave? Are you kidding? My husband worked 60-70 hours a week so we could put money into savings to live on while I was off on maternity leave. I worked up until the days I delivered my children, took the six weeks, and went back to work. I did not breast-feed due to medical complications which prevented it, so my children are both bottle & formula fed. They are now 13 and 10 years old, they are straight A students and are wonderful human beings, with warm hearts and giving souls. All this, despite the fact that I have worked full time all their lives and so has their father. Imagine that. Kids can turn out decent without breastfeeding, while having parents who work full time and don’t whine about not being able to sit home on their butt for a year after they have a child. (Can you sense the sarcasm, here?) If you don’t feel like you should have to work after giving birth, then don’t work, but you should not expect complete paid leave while you sit at home with a child attached to your breast. Either return to work or don’t, but it is the mother’s choice, just like it is the mother’s choice to get pregnant and give birth in the first place. Get over yourselves. And another thing, if you breast feed, good for you, but why should you be given paid breaks and a comfy area in which to pump while you are AT WORK? It is called WORK for a reason. Pump on your breaks. There are things that are way more important that women should be fighting for…this whole debate is ridiculous. And I must add…”Are you Mom enough” really offended me and quite honestly pissed me off. I was not able to breast feed, though I would have loved to. Does that mean I’m not “Mom enough”. I work full time, take care of my kids and am currently going back to college on-line to get my Bachelor’s degree…do any of these things mean I am or am not “Mom enough”? Get a life…my kids sure think I am Mom enough for them, and that’s all that matters

    • And it’s very impressive what you two did. I don’t mean that in sarcastic way (since it’s hard to determine tone on the internet).

      But instead of acting like this is something that’s coming against you and your family, why not think about it as something that could’ve benefited you all. I doubt you enjoyed working full-time through pregnancy. I doubt you enjoyed having your husband gone so much. I doubt he enjoyed having to work that much. I doubt you enjoyed having to use your life savings just so that you could be home with your children at all.

      So what’s so bad or awful or wrong about the government — which you’ve paid into all your adult life — paying you back? Wouldn’t you want to stay home with your children? What’s the point of having a child if you’re not going to spend any time with them because you go back to work full time within days (or a few weeks) of giving birth?

      Also, women aren’t asking to be paid to breastfeed. They’re asking for a spot. Not even a designated spot, so the office needn’t built a specific ‘breastfeeding or pumping room’. But many places don’t even have an unused office, or won’t allow employees to go into any office that is not specifically theirs even if that office isn’t in use. Women don’t want to be forced to pump in public (such as in semi open cubicles) or open desks or in the bathroom and sadly in many office buildings those are the only choices. Many are fine with pumping on their breaks (and do) and want nothing more than a shred more privacy than doing it at their desk while people ‘groundhog’ (stick their heads over each other’s cubicles) and come and go by the open doorways.

      The US wants it all the employers way. It doesn’t want women to have kids at all, that much is clear based on the vitrolic hate towards mothers and against any sort of mother/child policy. The ones that do, they want to be able to fire them ASAP with no benefits. It does NOT want women breastfeeding, again, that much is evident based on the myriad of successful stores that’ve consistently booted quietly nursing mothers out and the lack of breastfeeding policies around work.

      And yet it wants a healthier, happier, better-working population.

      If you aren’t going to support the youngest members of your society — the babies and kids — which means supporting their primary caregivers (be that the mother OR the father) then you aren’t going to have a happy, sustainable population.

      If you’re fine with that, so be it, better figure out how to change your own diapers, insert your own catheter lines, treat your own cancers and work all the medical machines and all the other things that young Care Aides at seniors homes and young Doctors — all of which you didn’t want around and did not support (by supporting their mothers) will be doing for you in a couple more decades.

  56. Amen!! I think what I loved most about my maternity leave was that it’s classified as short term disability. Yup having a child is labeled as a disability in my company. The catch however is that you are not given the same benefits as a person on short term disability. If you go on short term disability due to an injury or surgery you are given 12 weeks at full pay or 2/3 paid depending on position. When you have a child on short term disability you only get 6 weeks. Nice. I guess I should have broken my leg as well to get the remainder of time. Oh and forgot about having kids too close together if a year doesn’t lapse in-between, then you are out of luck. A situation I almost ran into.

  57. I agree with you 100%. As an HR Professional I do have to point something out though. While I do not know all of your employers details, if a company has one home office, all emoyees work from home and do not have an office, and they take direction from the home office those employees are considered employees of that home office. So of they have 50 employees total working from home throughout the country they would be subject to FMLA. And you as the employee would be eligible.

    • Thanks for clarifying, Shellie. If that is truly the case, then I’m not sure why my employer didn’t allow me FMLA. But they made it clear that I did not qualify. The point is probably moot now considering I no longer work there. Additionally, my comments were not intended to slam the employer. They did more than was required of them under the law (unless they did unrightfully deny me FMLA.) Save this one experience, they were otherwise a pretty good company so I should make that clear.

  58. They were probably not aware as most employers in that situation are not. I work in a consulting role and try to inform businesses on the laws and how they apply to them.

  59. I totally agree with everything you wrote and want the same for myself as a woman who is currently pregnant and working full time – but to play to be my own devils advocate, I have to ask: What is the incentive for a company to pay a person for not being at work? Why is it my companies responsibility to pay me while I am not doing my job, however good the reason? I suppose because they want to keep me long term. But I can imagine many jobs where the capitalist nature of society wins – why pay someone to not do their job when they kind someone else to pay that will? I don’t have any answers…I am just thinking this through and finding it a complex issue.

    • Chris, it’s not really that “complex” of an issue: this P.C. world of us has brainwashed an entire generation of women into this entitlement mentality, and you are trying to square the insanity of it with actual rationality. No one is telling women to not be moms. No one is even telling women not to be *working* moms. What we, as employers, ARE saying is that we are not interested in paying you to *not* work while you have kids. This is essentially a forced privatized welfare scheme. I have a gay guy who works for me who will never have children, but wants to go off for a year (or two) and build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Should I foot the bill for that, too? How about I start offering sabbaticals for going back to school? Or just learning how to jet ski? Where does it end? At what point should I expect my workers to actually WORK for the money I’m paying them?

      • John, how would your business pay for a man that goes out because he had a heart attack or stroke because he chose not to live healthy? Again, your comparisons of childbirth to community service and sabbaticals is INSULTING!

        • Moms, comparing your choosing to have a baby with being stricken with a life-threatening disease that may or may not be the result of poor choices is what’s insulting. Seriously, if you want someone to pay for you to stay home and have babies, look to your HUSBAND, not your employer. (Oh boy, now I’ve done it, haven’t I?)

          • Women don’t chose to get gestational diabetes or go into preterm labor. But it could happen, just like a heart attack, and THOSE are the women that need new law even more so.

            Yeah you are pretty much coming off as a complete ass now. It’s a good thing you aren’t using your real name, as I’m sure your inbox would be full of hate mail. Good thing about America – we all get to express our opinions. Even the idiots.

          • There’s already protections in place for those, MaineMom — it’s called “disability”.

          • 9/14/2011 – “For the first time a federal court of appeals has addressed whether a pregnancy complication is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and concluded that, while in some circumstances it might be, a plaintiff attempting to show that a pregnancy-related condition substantially limits a major life activity faces a “tough hurdle.”” http://www.gshllp.com/60-second-memos/seventh-circuit-holds-that-pregnancy-complications-can-be-a-disability-under-the-ada

            Yeah, because that is totally fair and simple. You aren’t even worth arguing with anymore.

      • Well, it certainly seems complex when you are pregnant and thinking about all this!

        So Jon has kindly answered why companies shouldn’t pay for me to not work and have a child.

        How about some reasons why they should?

        • How about: Because I made my employer hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout my employment, and they should value me enough to provide me what reasonable time I need. Because I am a better employee when my family is well cared for and happy. Because when I return from leave, I will be a better employee. Because sending an older baby to day care would mean less time off because an infant ends up sick for the entire first month they are in day care. Because investing in me makes me want to work harder for them. Because it is compassionate and fair. Because it is wrong to expect a woman with their vagina ripped to shreds, or their uterus cut open, or that is mentally unstable due to hormones to come back to work so quickly, just as it would be for a person with cancer or an illness. Because if they fire me, everyone is going to have to pay for me via welfare and state aid anyway. How’s that for starters?

          • I agree, and it would be compassionate and fair. But I am just thinking of how to convince companies to do this, and companies don’t often care about being compassionate and fair (some do, I know – but most are likely concerned with the bottom line)…. oddly enough, this reminds me of the recycling issue back in my hometown of Seattle. When the push first started, they gave people giant recycling bins and yet no one recycled. Then they gave everyone really tiny trash cans and charged people when they had more trash than the garbage can could hold. It was only then that people started recycling with a fervor.

            I bring that up because I think it points to what truly motivates a lot of people (again, not all) but surely money is what motivates most companies. And the best reason for giving mother reasonable time off for maternity leave (let’s not even say paid) is truly the betterment of society – because women that work make society better, and mothers that are with their babies for a reasonable amount of time before going back to work have better children, who are productive, contributing members of society.

            But when did companies ever care about the betterment of society or producing better citizens? And in our corporate state of america, I fear that the only people/institution who do care about such things are not in power to make these kind of changes.

          • Chris, I am not a church. I am not a government. I am not a social institution. I am a businessman. I’m in business to make money. Period. It is not my company’s responsibility nor my company’s concern to “care about the betterment of society” or “produce better citizens.” That’s YOUR job as a parent. I am not part of the “village” that is expected to kick in, financially or otherwise, and help you raise your children.

  60. Thank you for refocusing on what is truly important. Time with our children is what will help society more than anything else. Kids need their parents (both of them). And a happier parent may be a happier employee. I know that I would be much more loyal to such a company if such a benefit was available.

  61. I think more time off is important but I do not think it should be paid leave. If we went to a European style long term materinity leave program, here is what would happen. If I ran a business and had two women applying for a job, one in her 20s and the other in her later 30s or 40s returning to work after being a stay at home mom, who would I hire? The one who is done having kids, not the one in the prime of fertility. There will be inadvertant discrimination against young women, whether they indent to ever have kids or not.

    • Lee, this is what I’m saying. Isn’t anyone paying attention to what’s actually going on in Europe? Their entire economic system is collapsing under the weight of these failed social entitlements that are completely unaffordable. Businesses do not go into operation to become social service agencies. I hire workers A and B to do specific jobs. I compensate workers A and B accordingly. Just because worker B chooses to have a baby and “leave” work doesn’t mean I should be forced to pay worker B for work that is not being done by her. And a governmental order forcing me to do so anyway gives me the options of either complying and ultimately going out of business — which then hurts ALL of my workers — or doing everything I can to avoid the problem altogether by hiring only men and postmenopausal women.

      • John, can you please explain to me where you see Canada’s “entire economic system collapsing under the weight of of these failed social entitlements”? Last I checked (yesterday), our economy was in pretty good shape.

        As a country, we pay into EI, which covers maternity leave, lay-offs, sick leave, family obligations, among other things. There are indeed qualifying periods/hours. Our employers do not foot the bill for maternity leave. And because the leave is for a longer period, employers hire people to fill the position on a temporary basis – costing no more money than the original employee in the first place.

        And no, as a business you don’t need to care about the welfare of society as a whole. As a HUMAN, you should.

  62. Emma- do I sense some underlying resentment and jealousy from when you were a new mother? I’m sorry you could not successfully breastfeed, but for mothers that can do it, they should be given the necessary means to do so. My employer told me if an office was not available, then I would have to pump in the storage closet where we have mice and other feces living in there. Clearly, I was not given Trump Towers to complete a really simple act. I am not against formula by any means, but I am a believer that any breast milk is good for a baby. Also, if my employer expects me to pay for daycare and won’t give me the necessary means to pump for my child because “it’s WORK.” Then my employer should provide me extra income to purchase formula because I can’t afford it. I’m sorry, but I’m calling you out because you seem to have some serious issues with the way you were treated. Why don’t you go back and try and remember the first day you had to drive your 13 year old to daycare. He/she was 6 weeks old, could barely hold their head up, couldn’t see anything but black and white and you were dropping them off because your employer didn’t feel your new baby had any importance because you weren’t back to work. If employers really valued their employees, then they would give them the necessary time to adjust to being a new mother or father and give them the chance to bond with their babies. I bet you we would be better employees if we didn’t feel like our lives were being rushed and ruled by corporations and the government.

    • Ashley, why should your employer give you any extra money or special treatment because you chose to have a baby?

      • Wow, John – I am so glad you are not my boss. Please share your business name so I can know to not send any business your way either (and also so all of your female employees can sue the pants off of you for discriminatory hiring practices)

    • I was treated fine, thank you very much. As I said, my husband and I both worked, and we did so because we had to in order to survive without government assistance. As for your assumption that I took my children to daycare, you are dead-wrong. My children never went to a day-care, not that there is anything wrong with day-care, we just never needed it because we had family that was willing to keep our children without charging us obscene amounts of money. Back to the point I was trying to make, I did not mean that nursing mothers should not be allowed to nurse at work, period. I just meant that they should not expect to be able to nurse while “on the clock”, as I see it as a personal need that should be handled while on a break. I also do not believe women should be forced to pump in a storage closet, etc, but I also do not believe they should be so pampered and catered to that they have “nursing suites” or some such nonsense, paid for by their employer.

  63. As the father of 3 children, I have to say that I was very happy with maternity leave as it enabled my wife the opportunity to not only “bond” with our children, but also to recover – physically and mentally. And while I don’t feel that a woman taking time off for maternity leave (or a man doing it under FMLA) should be allowed to be terminated, I think it is acceptable for it to be considered a means of “disability”. Having a child is a choice – I feel that way regarding abortion and I feel that way regarding childbirth. Choices are seldom easy. And while I feel that our government needs to keep their noses out of the choice of abortion, they also need to keep their noses out of how much time (particularly PAID time) an employee is granted for maternity leave.

  64. Great article. I often wonder why it is woman that get hit with all the responsibility for making choices about daycare, work or at home, or the rest of it. Seems to me like there is 50% of the population that is also involved in raising our children (and I say this with a loving supportive husband). Why do we have to be made to feel guiltily, be belittled, and mis-treated for doing something wonderful? And that doesn’t even touch on the amount of research that shows how important the first 5 years of life are in persons over all development, and how no one seems to talk about how that group of people are ignored. Thanks for bring people’s attention to this issue.

  65. This discussion is troubling me for several reasons. Someone pointed out that this is a complex issue, and I agree. Yet so many comments are of the “I’m right and you’re wrong” and “you’re an idiot” variety. No wonder we have a hard time coming to a solution that works for most everybody — we can’t even have a reasonable discussion!

    As women we have been told that we can (and should) be able to have it all and do it all. We shouldn’t have to make any choices. But that is just not realistic. Life happens, and we can’t control everything. Work takes time, and kids take time. It’s a balancing act and every situation is different. We each get to make our own choices, and then we have to live with the consequences. If you know what the laws are, then you make your choice about having a child, and you live with your choice. I am not going to tell you what your choice should be, and I don’t want you to tell me my choice was wrong.

    I am not saying that you don’t work toward changing laws if you decide to do that. But getting all angry and emotional about reality is not helpful. It’s fine if you want to be emotional, hey, go for it — but it doesn’t improve the situation. Calling people who took the time to make a comment an idiot because they don’t agree with you is not helping to find a solution.

    Let’s not take one rant (about the mom breastfeeding on a magazine cover) and respond with another rant (about how everything is so unfair). Rather than rant, let’s get constructive.

  66. People seem to be missing the point here, that we are too busy wondering if we’re “mom enough” instead of fighting for better support for mothers.
    As an American school teacher, I have maternity leave, but it is 6 weeks and unpaid. I saved all my sick days to bank them so that I can one day have a baby and afford it. Once the 6 weeks are up, I must return to work. Men get the same number of sick days as I do, yet do not have to use them for a single maternity leave. Paternity leave is much shorter if they choose it. That said, if they’re sick, they can take a day. They don’t need to worry about dragging themselves into work when miserable for the sake of having enough days banked for a future maternity leave.
    During school days, pumping is nearly impossible, as we don’t have “breaks” or “pumping spaces” in public education. We have a bathroom that, due to the nature of classes ending at the same time, is occupied if I do not get there in time.
    If I leave the classroom during class, students are unsupervised. Simply going to the bathroom while switching classes is hard enough. I fear what will happen if I heaven forbid I end up with bad morning sickness. My lunch lasts about 20 minutes if I am lucky to make it to the room in time, let alone heat up my lunch and eat.
    Yet, I have to keep my job.
    Not everyone can breastfeed. Let’s not tear each other down about something as petty as this in the comment section. Rather, let’s work to change this mentality and gain more support and acceptance toward motherhood.

  67. This is so well written and so so true. I am going to send it to everyone I know. Throw in the horrific health insurance policies that won’t allow you to add maternity coverage, OR the fact that pregnancy is a pre-existing condition and you can’t get health insurance once you’re already carrying, and we now have a full range of issues targeted against all women and families everywhere. I love how people point out “why should you get more money or more time off for choosing to have a child?” Um can I just say, beyond religion, beyond spirituality, beyond what you choose to do or not do in life, humans were put on this earth to procreate. Whether or not people can physically have children or make their very appropriate right to not have children, as a species people who make the choice to have children need to procreate to keep humanity going and living. When my health insurance company said to me “Thank you for your business for the past 10 years, I’m sorry we can’t add maternity to your health plan right now, being pregnant is a preexisting condition.” I told him “So basically my pregnancy, my baby, is being treated like cancer? Like I have lupus? Like I have AIDS?” His response? “Um well like it’s not a sickness but we define it as…a sickness.” Thanks so much America! Happy to continue paying taxes in this lovely country we live in. And trust me, I do plan on leaving it. (Just throwing that in there for those who will inevitably respond with the “Then why do you live here?” comments.) Michelle, BRAVO.

  68. John, well if I choose not to feed my child formula, then I should be given at least a desk, chair, and door to pump in, which in most states there are laws forcing employers to abide by that simple standard. And also, for some people, breastfeeding isn’t a choice because they can’t afford formula. So if my employer is going to make me dish out money to feed my child because they won’t offer me a place to pump, then I feel they should pay me extra. That’s my opinion.

    • Ashley, your child care concerns are not MY concerns. If another employee chooses to buy a Ferrari over a Chevy, should I fork over extra money because he now has to pay more for gasoline? Your personal choices should not impact MY bottom line. If you cannot afford proper child care, do not have children. It’s not my responsibility.

  69. Fortunately, there are some inaccuracies here about breastfeeding – under the Obama health reform law, companies must give employees time and a place to pump and most insurance plans will have to cover breastfeeding counseling services and breast pumps and equipment as a preventive benefit with no co-pay.

  70. I’ve signed the petition you’ve created because I think it’s critical for women’s equality (esp. in professional careers) that we be given paid leave that doesn’t set us back financially or professionally. However, what really needs to be done to prevent child-bearing and rearing from making it less likely that women will achieve the level of career success that men do is for the US to follow Sweden’s model of PARENTAL LEAVE!!!! This would change the culture of assuming that women should be primary caregivers and would facilitate distributing the burden of child-rearing equally between men and women.

  71. I’m curious about something here. Say I have a small company that employs 7 people. Say one of them gets pregnant and I, the business owner, need to pay them for several months while they care for their child.

    The person who went away on maternity leave was a direct contributor to the bottom line of my company. Without that person, the revenue is no longer made. I also end up paying their salary for a lengthy period of time. Double whammy there.

    Let’s continue this hypothetical situation to a point where it causes my company to go bankrupt, having lost income and being forced to continue to pay my (now former) employee who went out on maternity leave.

    What kind of solution would make this situation more equitable to the owner of the small business?

  72. Most women don’t want to have to chose between having a family and having a career. Successful companies are starting to realize that the way to attract a competent and dedicated workforce (that will increase profits) is to provide a family friendly work environment, including scheduling flexibility and maternity benefits.

  73. As an employer, I would be less likely to hire any employee if I was required to pay them for 50 weeks while they weren’t working for my company.

    • But if you are going by the model that Canada uses(according to the Canadians who have posted here) YOU would not be paying them. The government would be, via the taxes that are already taken out of THEIR payroll. You would then temporarily hire a new employee at the same salary as the one on maternity leave. So you would lose absolutely nothing.

  74. FMLA only guarantees that you will not be fired for needing to take leave, it does not protect you from lay offs nor guarantee any compensation while you are on leave. It is typical even for large companies that fall under FMLA to provide compensation during maternity leave via short term disability insurance coverage. This typically 6-8 weeks of coverage (with one week being unpaid while you ‘qualify”) at partial salary. FMLA does not equate to paid maternity leave.

  75. I love this article. My husband and I decided to have a 2nd child b/c we were sending our first child to public school and could afford putting a 2nd in daycare. Boom! Twins. Apparently they run every third generation – didn’t know that. I had to quit my job to stay home with them and am doing everything from extreme couponing to possibly starting a business out of my home. My husband looked into food stamps but I am way to proud to go that route. It is rough keeping things together these days….

  76. I worked full-time and over-time before having children and never once did it cross my mind to judge others for the demands a family created on their time. I look forward to the time when those who have commented in the negative need to take time off for surgery and recovery or to provide care for a loved one. Heaven forbid someone tell you that is not possible, mr./s. selfy-mcselfster, and that you will lose your job/position if you take the time. In order to create a less selfish, self-absorbed society, we need to provide a network of support for caregivers, not tear them down. In order to redefine how our society works and thinks, this quote says it best: “The plain fact is that the world does not need more successful people, but it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.” (David Orr) We have lost our way on the road to success and left the success of family behind, however that family unit is defined. Without that, our society will ultimately lose socially and economically. We need to stand for one another, not cut each other down. Respect what each member of our society contributes and acknowledge what is brought to the table…it’s that simple. Sure, we are all individuals and have a right to choose, but, within this context are also societal needs and societal good. That would be why we live in a world governed by principle and law. If you are in this race for yourself alone, I suggest you get off the track. You will not win.

  77. Ok let’s also go under this scenario of the employer. Back in february I was hit by a crack head in an automobile accident (this is true btw). My shoulder has been junked since. Long story short after 10 1/2 weeks it was found it was partially dislocated. Now I’m rehabbing to get the mobility back (my arm was unable to be used all that time). Now I have qualified under short term and fmla, but since fmla is up, I must return by 5/25 or I could potentionally lose my position regardless I have little use of my arm ( I am not beneficial to them if I’m not actually working). So I ask this. It was not my fault a crack head hit me. It is not my employers fault either. In your defense of this, you are saying this is a special circumstance. Well, it’s business needs (even though i work for a huge company)They cannot have me out any longer. I physically cannot work at this time. Where will the line be drawn? You chose to have a child. I did not chose to have this happen. I want a law passed saying if a crack head hits you in an accident and injures you, you have up to a year to recover and return to your position at work. See how ridiculous that sounds.

  78. This is part and parcel of the growing trend to profitize and commoditize employees just like any other chattel – it is not just about mothers’ rights to spend time with newborns and all the structural goodness that flows from that. This is a fundamental fight about workers’ rights to have normal, healthy, productive lives that are happy and fulfilling while at the same time marginally profitable to the corporations for which they work. Compartmentalizing the issue into Mothers’ Rights encourages the pitting against one another of similarly situated workers.

  79. Wholly agree with you. One thing I’d like to point out, though, before the naysayers start, is that even in the UK, there is an eligibility requirement for maternity leave. Probably not as rigorous as in the US (and certainly not dependent on size of company) but you have to have worked for the company for a certain amount of time (6 months or a year – I can’t remember which) before you’re eligible.

    Another thing I’d note is that as a result of the longer maternity leave, there is more inherent discrimination there regarding employing women of childbearing age, and a lot more hating of mothers who work part-time (where it’s more common).

  80. As an American living in Sweden I have to say I see a lot of the differences in the systems first hand, but as I need to get to bed (so I can get up when my 9 month old twins get up in the early morning) I want to focus on reiterating how great I think it is that here in Sweden both parents are encouraged to spend time at home with their kids. Many of our play dates’ moms have now gone back to work and it is the dads who are home bonding with their babies. In fact, some of the parent leave days (60 days I believe) are specifically reserved for the dad. If he doesn’t use them they are lost. Not only are the children getting more individual focus and care, but the new moms and dads have the time to get the support they need as they are figuring out how to be parents. By having such a system, particularly one that focuses on involving both parents, I believe there are long term benefits with positive effects in many far reaching areas, including economical ones.
    But it is a complicated issue in that regard. The economic arguments have been pretty well hashed out on both sides so I’ll not go into my thoughts there more than just to say I don’t think it should be the responsibility of the employer to foot the bill. However, since I think having parents home with their babies for some period of time benefits society as a whole (even for those who choose not to have kids), it makes sense for me to have it be included as a part of taxes.

  81. The problem is not the lack of government benefits bestowed upon new moms, it’s the fathers that need to step up and support their families. There is a clear cut recipe for making families work and it’s rooted in our evolution as a species. The last 30 years of feminism, while liberating, cannot erase the last 250,000 years progressive adaptation which results in some very obvious gender roles.

    • That’s a good idea, Michael. But most guys I know are already working their asses off already. If a guy can’t make more than X dollars a year, what’s he supposed to do? Perhaps both he and his wife need to sit down and re-evaluate their priorities and scale back their lifestyles; a smaller home (every kid does NOT need his own bedroom) … turn in the fancy leased cars for one single used car, and someone takes public transportation … fewer vacations … etc. I see an awful lot of women whining about how tight their finances are, how they wish they didn’t “have” to work, yet drive around in leased BMWs, get their nails done weekly, and live in houses bigger than small schools used to be a generation ago.

  82. Thank you! I am a full time employee and mother of two. I received no paid maternity leave (my company has 6 full time employees). With my first child I chose to take only 5 weeks off because my husband and I could not afford for me to take any more time off. With my second child I thankfully was able to take 9 weeks off which was a blessing because I suffered from PPD, To those who say child bearing is a choice. You are correct. The devastating effects of PPD are NOT a choice and NOT something you can prepare for. Forcing a mother to go back to work before her hormones are regulated can only harm the productivity of your employee in the office and in the home.

    While paid time off would be great, I understand why small business cannot afford it. What really struck a chord with me was the ability of mother’s to pump and nurse their child. I am still desperately trying to keep my 6 month old an exclusively breast fed baby. It truly bothers me that nursing mothers are not always treated with respect and often with disdain because they need time to pump. If providing your child’s nutrition wasn’t stressful enough, try balancing your regularly scheduled 8 hour day’s worth of work on top of scheduling in times to pump. And guess what? Stress levels directly effect your ability to produce milk.

    To wrap up, should we be fighting for Mother’s Rights? Absolutely! Why is it important to everyone? Because employees who are healthy and balance a healthy amount of stress are more productive and help the work place be a happier healthier place. Healthy moms help create healthy families and healthy families produce contributing members to society.

  83. Great article with some great points. Still I think its not right to put the burden of childbirth on your employers. I prefer to think of things in a few ways, if your employer is great they give you the FMLA and anytime needed on top of that before coming back to work. If not, I think the standard FMLA is a fair enough period for most working relationships.

    Really, if you need more time and your employer doesn’t care enough about you to give it to you, maybe its time to part ways.

    I really don’t like the idea of the government coming in and saving the day or forcing businesses to pay for maternity leave. That makes one persons decisions now effect others.

    To be realistic, you have up to 9 months notice. Save your vacation time, have spouses save vacation time, disperse them if necessary and find ways to make it work. I hear the arguments above but I’ve also watched first hand many mothers eager to get back to work in as little as two weeks from child birth. Clearly its different for everyone, but it should be up to the parents to decide what they need and how to provide it.

  84. Great article! I’m amazed When I adopted my first child back in 2008, I was given my twelve weeks leave based on FMLA. I had worked for the company for nearly four years and had been banking my sick days to use for when our baby came home and had close to 40 days that I was under the impression I could use. Once my twelve weeks were up, I was told I had to return to work or I would be “let go” since I would be fraudulently using my sick days. They told me that since I hadn’t given birth my body didn’t need time to recover and therefore I wasn’t “sick.” Ridiculous!

  85. Excuse me Michael but you better not be insinuating that women are only supposed to stay home and be a house wife and men are supposed to be the all high and mighty breadwinner. That is a complete bull-shit remark and shows your stupidity. There are alot of successful women in this world that balance being mothers and breadwinners. As a woman, I am not asking for years and years of maternity leave, in fact I’m not even asking for months, I’m simply asking that my employer provide me 12-16 weeks maternity leave so that I can bond with my child. I would be a much more loyal employee if I knew that my job was 100% secured and I was paid 100% for my maternity leave.

    • There are US companies out there that do that. Go work for them. It’s the expectaion that EVERYONE including the govt’ should foot the bill for these things that rubs the wrong way. And back to the “socialist” agrument…

  86. I really like your post, but I do need to make one clarification regarding Canada and it’s maternity benefits. As quote above “up to 50 weeks at 55% paid” is misleading.

    All Canadian women do have a legal right to take up to 50 weeks maternity leave; however, not all women are paid 55% of their salary. In general, a women can collect employment insurance while on leave. This ‘insurance’ is government money / taxes and is deducted from every working Canadians’ paycheck. Employment insurance is normally reserved for a person who looses a job and has difficulty finding new employment / income. It’s a tempory solution to assist in making ends meet and is only collectible for a max number of weeks (~22weeks) at a certain percentage of the person’s salary, BUT there is a cap.

    In terms of maternity leave, the women are able to collect longer… up to 50 weeks. However, the percentage and maximum cap still applies. So if you make $40k per year (or less), you will collect roughly 55% of your salary. On the other hand, if you make $100k per year, you will collect roughly 20% of your salary.

    Aside from the legal right and benefits instilled by the Canadian government for maternity leave, there are some employers who will pay extra benefits on top of what the government pays. Some employers will pay so that the employee will receive x percentage of their salary for y months (that percentage can be anywhere from 50-75% and the months can be anywhere from 3-12 months). BUT THAT DEPENDS ON THE COMPANY and the are VERY FEW companies who do this.

    The majority of us only collect employment insurance with no assistance from our employer. By no means am I complaining about our maternity leave and benefits; I only wanted to clarify! The devil is in the details!

    One thing worth noting about the US and mat leave… To get the benefits other counties like Canada and many in the EU, Americans need to be willing to be taxed more!! Most of these countries have high tax rates to provide such social benefits – something we all know is an on-going debate in the US.

  87. THIS is exactly what moms should be focusing on! Thank you! I also had an ohsogenerous 6 week short term disability benefit but it so generously DID NOT cover leave for having had a baby…WHATS up with THAT? so I used up my accrued leave, took a few weeks off unpaid and went back to work at 7-8 weeks with both my girls…it is just WRONG to leave your not even 2 month old baby for 7-8 hours a day at that age and I will probably always feel guilty about it…and thank god my husband was able to take so much time off (1 week with both)! :sarcasm: The stress is unbelievable…I’m with you, this is the fight we need to be fighting!

  88. I’m not a mother, but I want to let all of you know that even though some people may be too self centered to sympathize, there are those of us that have your back on this.

  89. And, this is one thing that is going wrong with industrialized nations. imho, no country can afford generous entitlements that everyone “deserves”, because overall the companies within that country can’t compete against companies in other countries who abuse their employees. It catches up to the country over time. At the risk of making everyone mad, I think people should have “personal responsibility” — don’t have kids if you can’t afford them.

    • John, I can afford my kids. What I can’t afford is to sit at a desk for 8 hours while my vagina is still bleeding from the tearing that happened from my clitoris to my anus. Or re-ripping out the stitches when I get up to send a fax. Is that graphic enough for you? Does that make it any more clear? It’s not about getting a hand out…it’s about the PROPER time a woman needs to heal and bond with their child. It’s not getting paid to sit at home all day and watch the View.

  90. Splendid idea, but I think we need to expand it a bit. We really need a couple of years of Happy Time. When we as employees declare Happy Time, we get to have paid leave for whatever life-changing experience we choose. Maybe it’s having a baby, maybe it’s writing a novel, or helping to feed the poor in Africa, or setting up an organic community garden!

    Actually, the better idea might be to have jobs that are just infinitely flexible. So we only work when we are not engaged in our life priorities, or building the future of the country through biology, or novels, or gardens, or ambling about. You leave when you want, but you always get paid. And when you start to feel that perhaps you’d like to work a bit, you show up at your office and do some work.

    But there’s never any pressure. When Happy Time, or important Life Priorities emerge, just declare it to your employer, and GO GIRL!!!!

    What could go wrong?

  91. I am a mother to a 9 year old and my newest son who is almost 4 months.. and I am a breastfeeding mother, and I totally agree with you and I think we should get more time. I was at a company for almost 6 years and they forced me to resign because I couldn’t work the hours they told me, because breastfeeding my son is more important, so I’m on board 210% !!!!!!

  92. All of the countries glorified in this blog have exceptionally high divorce rates, none lower than 37 percent. The fair-haired Swedes lead the pack at almost 55 percent. Government entitlements lead to irresponsible behaviors in general. Most people have a choice in matters concerning child rearing. You want to be a full time mom, then make it work. Stay at home dads, more power to you. This is just another example of Uncle Sam run amok.

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  94. I have read more of these comments than I probably should have. I feel I am a lucky working mom. I don’t work for a fortune 500 company. I have two children, both of whom I gave birth to while working for the company that i still work for. They employ more than 50 people. When I was hired I was about 2 months along (got the positive test results the night before my second interview). When I gave birth to my oldest I didn’t qualify for FMLA. They gave me 12 weeks anyway. They paid me 50% of my pay and allowed me to work from home to make some extra money while on maternity leave. With my second child they not only allowed me 12 weeks with partial pay, but they created a new job for me so I could stay home with my children and work part time. It has allowed me the opportunity to witness my youngesty child’s first steps which I missed the first time around sure to working full time. What my experience has given me is the joy of raising my children while also being a “productive” member of society and an extremely loyal and hard working employee. It it’s not always easy, but I thank my lucky stars that I work for an employer who sees me for what I am. Ahighly valuable employee, not just a potential brood mare. Could ourattitudetowardwomen be better? Our standard of care higher? Absolutely, I think itshould be! My two children will eventually be a part of the work force. Hell, John,maybe they will decide to work in healthcare and have to give you a sponge bathwhen you are too old to clean yourself. It is in EVERYONE’S best interest that we a parents give them all

  95. And I want a guaranteed job for life, affordable housing and healthcare, and little faeries that clean my house while I sleep. Keep dreaming, moms in maine, the usa is out of money, and we’re rapidly maxing out our credit limit.

  96. Can I please commend you for a moment? Every single thing you went through, was my same battle when I had my daughter. I worked for a HUGE MAJOR company at the time (!!!), I got my job & started when I was already 2 months into my pregnancy. This meant no FMLA for me. I wasn’t with the company a year previously so I didn’t get Short Term Disability. I had very little PTO saved up, I think they did like 2 PTO hours a check. So in the 8 months I had left, after using 2 days worth for our last summer vacation as my hubby & i…I had 24 hours worth. 3 DAYS!! So, when I went to them asking what my options were – they presented me with ONE & only ONE option. UNPAID LEAVE. They said I could take up to 12 weeks unpaid off.

    My daughter was born in December 2011, my husband lost his job in October 2011. I’M NOT JOKING. We were surviving on my paychecks.. and I got offered UNPAID LEAVE. We about died. We were going to die. We had all the global billing that would be added up & come due plus hospital bills. We were overwhelmed! I went and asked HR if there was anything they could do, they denied me all but the Unpaid leave. I knew I would need some time to umm.. RECOVER MAYBE???!!!
    My boss FINALLY (after seeing me in tears & SO stressed out about it all), went to HIS boss and they agreed to let me work from home. In order to start getting paychecks again, they told me to “come back” aka be online, 2 weeks after I had her. TWO WEEKS!! Than I could start getting a paycheck again & support my family. Even 2 weeks without a paycheck KILLED us.
    I did what I had to do but it seriously SUCKED. My job required me to be online right at 8am, so after them asking me to stay up late a few times making sure things went online correctly (we’re talking 11:30 pm here!!!), than my baby getting up to eat at 1am and again at 6am, and getting back up at 8am to work – I was fried. It was beyond unfair. I would run on..6 hours of sleep a day, I was a walking zombie.
    Plus, I had my daughter over the Christmas break. So while all the other employees got “paid holidays” for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Years Day – I didn’t qualify for “paid holidays” because I was at home… NOT GETTING PAID.
    It was unbelievable.

  97. I remember the pediatrition telling me with my first son, that I needed to ween him at 1 year. I did, and it was hard. He got sick a week later and I tried to nurse him; he rejected me. I swore if I ever had another child , I would let him nurse as long as he wanted! Enter child 2….At almost 2 years, he was climbing out of his crib, coming into my bedroom, lifting up my shirt and nursing as he pleased, At 2 years, he was coming in my room, lifting up my shirt; getting mad and hitting me because I went to bed with a real bra on to stop him from nursing! Once they can speak; they no longer need to breastfeed. I am a totall advocate of breastfeeding; but once they start eating, and get their nutrition outside of breastmilk; they no longer need it.

  98. “The USA Today article sites the American feminist movement, which didn’t want to hear anything about mothers. The focus was strictly equal rights for women with no room for special treatment. I’m not trying to blame all the wrongs facing mothers on this historical movement that brought American women so far.”

    I should certainly hope not, since USA Today is, quite frankly, lying through its teeth. I can’t think of a major feminist organization that doesn’t fight for mother’s rights to have paid maternity leave. An early feminist slogan was also “every mother is a working mother”. So don’t cite USA Today as a source on what feminists are working for.

  99. Ok not a probem with breast feeding, gays and lesbians can’t get married, as a human right! but your baby can suck on the breast till he’s 20???????

  100. Not gonna comment on politics, but I’m an American expat living in a country where we get 14 weeks paid leave, with up to a year unpaid leave (without being fired). A lot of society here can’t afford unpaid leave, but those of us who go back after paid finishes, go back just as our babies start smiling.

    Having done it twice now, I’m in shock thinking about my American friends in the States, namely big cities… How is there no concern for a woman’s health post partum? Less of a cultural sense of family importance, babies’ needs, family needs, etc? It’s just lacking in the States. It’s not necessarily a family-friendly country in this respect.

    I hope somehow things can change. I think it comes from within the culture as well as the government. It’s all intertwined.

  101. “Why is it this way?

    The USA Today article sites the American feminist movement, which didn’t want to hear anything about mothers. The focus was strictly equal rights for women with no room for special treatment.”

    First, relying on USA Today (or Time, Newsweek, etc.) for actual thought is probably not a good idea. Their intellectual limit is a provocative cover picture.

    Second, consider the situation pre-feminism. What would a working mom’s situation be?

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  103. I am an American mom living in the uk. Boy was it hard enough going back to work when my son was a year, let alone so early on. Not sure if anyone else has said this yet or not – its much easier to plan for and appropriately cover the work of a key employee when they are gone for a year as its relatively easier to hire someone to work for a year than it is to work for 6-12 weeks…. Excellent artlicle, fully support your movement to make some long overdue changes to a system that favours profit at the expense of everything else. Something should be possible to work out, but I do think the government will have to pay quite a large share… What they’ve et back in return in terms of greater health and higher productivity should benefit everyone – including companies

  104. All the comments about how more maternity leave will lead businesses to not hire women makes clear why maternity _and paternity_ policies are needed. I’m a father-to-be, and my wife is going to have to take a week or two of unpaid leave for health reasons while I go right back to work after she gives birth. This will set up a dynamic where I’m the worker and she’s the child-rearer, which isn’t the dynamic we want (and in fact, doesn’t make much sense since she earns more than me). But she can at least use the health challenges of pregnancy to get time off, however short (and unpaid). My employer doesn’t want to hear anything about me needing time off to care for my child, my wife, etc. As long as employers don’t let fathers be equal partners in child care, we won’t have anything like gender equality in the workplace.

  105. For those of you who like to comment on not wanting your tax dollars paying for other people’s kids, I am a tax payer who has worked full-time for 10 years before having children. Prior to full-time work, I was a part time employee for 5 years. That’s right, I have been paying into government taxes since I was 16. I have NEVER needed any assistance from the government, ( i.e. Unemployment, disability, welfare ect..), so why shouldn’t the thousands of tax dollars that I have given to the government over the years be used by ME for paid maternity leave? I think I’ve earned it!

  106. What I love about this article more then anything is the fact that people are talking, and that can generate a lot. I have mixed feelings about this, having a child is a personal choice, and as much as I don’t think the company should have an involvement in that decision or pay for us to be off, they shouldn’t frown upon it either. As there are plenty of people out there who have strokes, heart attacks, accidents…etc. that get more time off whether it is paid or unpaid. I thought I was going to be returning to my job after 12 weeks off, and then it was pulled out from under me a week before I was to return. But it was under FMLA so because I used my 12 weeks off, if anything were to happen to my kids later on-illness, accident I may not have a job when I returned. and that is wrong. I can understand not anybody taking the bill for having a lot of paid time off cuz I know people that have 5 kids and that could seriously hurt a company. even if it is a fortune 500 company, if you employ that many people and 10-15% of them are in an age where they are having kids and they each get a year off for each kid that is a lot of time paid for people not working. All time off should be the same whether you have a kid or a heart attack, time is time. And let this be said too, we people that decide to have kids, know and see regularly that we will not be the one to receive the promotion, or the better pay raise or to be fast tracked to a top notch career. That is because they know we can’t put in the time that they require to fulfill their companies needs, and that is something we sacrifice to have. And as much as I’d like to say down with Goliath and their money, those types of companies provide a lot of jobs, and benefits for people. So they need to have safety nets for their company too to ensure that they will have jobs. And I sure as hell don’t want the government throwing me more money off of other peoples backs. Having kids is a personal choice, no one is forcing you to have kids. But I do think things could be more equal and a greater fight would be to make it mandatory for Paternity leave, so the fathers can help with the mother for the first few weeks. Again it shouldn’t fall under FMLA because you are only allotted so much time in a calendar year for FMLA and if you use them all up at once you could be screwed later on. – I know my thoughts are a little crazy and I apologize, I have a 2 year old and a 7 month old I am taking care of too…Oh an one more note, there should be more help for childcare assistance, that would help ease the burden on the welfare system…we are not on it as we are lucky enough to not have to be, but it is cheaper just to go on welfare then it is to go to work and pay $400 + a week for two kids in child care. If companies really want to help, have a child care center on site to watch your kids. That would help big time! Then everyone would win!

  107. It’s even worse for adoptive parents! They don’t get ANY bonding time. They can take Family Medical Leave, but it’s only partially paid.

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  109. I am confused. Those who promote personal responsibility are ganged up on and attacked. Absurd. If you are unable to afford to have a child, do not have a child. You cannot compare the Scandinavian countries who have less citizens than we have illegal aliens. The most successful place in Europe, Germany, implemented austerity from a Conservative government and is refusing to bailout other European nations. The fact is, this is the most ridiculous mentality to be asking mothers, or mothers to be, to fight for. Demand society pay you to stay at home with your child, because 6 weeks is not good enough. Ridiculous. You should be encouraging people to plan appropriately, assess priorities, and make decisions before having a family. Unheard of, I know.

    • Yes, Sean, Germany is quite a success story. And they offer their mothers 12 months maternity leave at 65% – 85% of their salary. Oh, they also offer paternity leave.

    • I don’t know if you’ve seen it but Germany has been in the news lately because they are actually looking towards others countries for ways to create incentives for women to reproduce since their birthrates are in such significant decline. Despite a healthy maternity plan, the general feelings towards women who take advantage of it are that of shunning……they are actually predicting major economic issues if they don’ t start truly encouraging women to reproduce…

      AND next time I’ll just abort if something goes unplanned…because as we all know EVERY PLAN works EVERY TIME…….really? I thought it was a conservative government who values family……or is that only if dad has a really high paying job and mom stays home?

  110. Sorry, your thinking is beyond flawed. Motherhood is not a saintly calling–it is a choice. A choice that I am incredibly glad I made almost every day. It’s good business for companies to provide a work environment that helps ANYONE accommodate a healthy work/life balance. But this idea that because one is a mother they deserve whatever they ask for…at the expense of the employees that don’t have children—ridiculous.

  111. FABULOUS post! And I just want to point out that these issues are EXACTLY what MomsRising.org works on every single day. We have over a million members and work closely with experts on the issues you’ve written about and more (paid sick days, health care, fair pay) to win legislation that actually supports families.
    Please, please visit us! And check out our petition to TIME and other media outlets to cut out the mommy wars and cover the real issues facing families: moms.ly/JcNIzg

    Thank you so much for all you’re doing!

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  113. Will someone please explain all this “bonding” talk for me? How do you bond with a baby? Especially since children do not start developing memories until they are 3, sometimes as old as 6?

    I just don’t understand what benefit bonding has to a baby. And I’m not being cynical, inquiring minds would like to know.

    • Sean, bonding is not simply an emotional feeling of attachment – it is a crucial part of infant neuropsychological development. As anyone who spends time around babies can tell you, babies respond to voices inside the womb and can recognize their parents voices at birth. Within days they respond differently to their primary caregivers than to strangers. After about 6 weeks old, they begin to respond “socially” by smiling and mimicing facial expressions. These attachments and back-and-forth interactions lay the neurological groundwork for healthy psychological and intellectual development. A child who is not bonded to a loving and stable adult early on, will be seriously compromised in brain development and psychological adjustment by age 3. This is why neglect is so devastating. Bonding also changes the parent or caregiver’s brain chemistry, so that they respond differently to the stress of crying and sleep deprivation. Basically, the neurological effect of bonding keeps babies from growing up sociopaths, and parents from committing infanticide.

  114. Just wanted to let you know this has made it’s way to Alaska and I shared your post with all my girl friends! Love your opinion and just want to cheer you on. I’ve signed the petition and hope many more do as well!

  115. I love this article, it points out exactly how I feel about all things maternity. FMLA is a joke. The major underlying issue here is that not EVERYONE is protected and not EVERYONE is eligible. Anyone who gets ANYTHING is expected to bend over and say “thank you”.

    To those who think they should get something “extra” because they have “chosen” not to have children, all I can say is thank God your gene pool wont be passed on.

    • I’m curious why you think that motherhood time is expected and a neccesity and if you aren’t a mother, any time you might need or want is “extra”. Your rude comment to the poster at the end nullifies what could be a valid observation. Especially since an ability to think critically or see more than one side should be a desirable trait to pass on to children.

  116. The government loves women who work. As Rockefeller said not so long ago, he supported the ‘women’s lib’ movement in the 70’s because quite simply it means you get to tax the other half of the country. People wake up.

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  119. Right on! Just want to take issue with USA Today’s blame-game. That’s utter bulls**t. As the daughter of a radical feminist, I learned from her that a lot of the fight was for a feminine (not pink & girly, but compassionate & group-oriented) way to do things at odds with the “patriarchy.” And I think 9 to 5 illustrates the true feminist campaign perfectly. Changing the workplace to be hospitable to moms. Anyway. So typical of the corporate media to try to blame the feminists. Just made my blood boil.

  120. You lost me at “The USA Today article cites the feminist movement.” The feminist movement may not have gone far enough in securing rights for women, but it certainly isn’t the root cause of any of these problems. I don’t see how a statement like this is anything different from the “mommy wars” behavior you criticize in the beginning of the article.

    • You should have continued reading, because in my next sentence I said that I did not believe we could blame the feminist movement.

  121. I’m a mom of 3, I’ve worked full-time, part-time, and from home before deciding my work as a mom was more important. Granted, I’m married and my husband’s income is enough to support our needs without the need for me to work. I’m grateful to the feminist movement that allowed me to grow up with the assurances that I could get an equal education and job opportunity as any man. HOWEVER, I think the feminist movement has backfired socially. The “traditional” family roles have been challenged and changed and I think the children are suffering for it. Maybe it’s just time to realize we can’t have or do it all. If more moms or dads stayed home and left the workforce to their spouses or the single parents who really need the income; if we reprioritized our needs and wants and figured out what we can truly afford and what we can’t; if we helped each other out and stopped judging or putting pressure on each other to keep up with the latest and greatest; if we all took a lesson from the government’s horrible mismanagement of funds and actually budgeted for ourselves and lived within our means so it was possible and profitable to be home with our kids and parent them ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it? What a huge difference that would make for our country.

  122. Believe it or not, the feminist movement was started by zionists for two primary reasons:

    1. To break up the family unit (giving more power/control to big bro)
    2. Collect taxes from the other half (giving more power/control to big bro)

    Given this, it should be no surprise that the feminist movement was largely responsible for the lack of paid maternity leave…

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  124. I am a stay-at-home mom to a 4 month old son. I have plenty of friends who have gone back to work after having their children. I know now that having a newborn is an emotional, stressful, sleep-deprived time…and my son is perfectly healthy. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for a mom with an ill child. That being said, I completely agree with some of the posters here, especially the small business owners who have chimed in, that companies should not be required to pay for maternity leave. Maybe there is a way the government could do it- I don’t know how the would or should, though. But I take issue with all the posters here who believe that companies should be responsible for paying a woman for a lengthy period of time so she can raise her child. Some of these small businesses would most certainly suffer and shut down. If you plan to one day have kids, you need to be aware of the situation at work, and if your company doesn’t offer the benefits you want, work someplace else. I am sick and tired of women screaming “equality!” while at the same time expecting to be given special treatment, and then proceeding to claim discrimination when they dont get it. Sue, take a sick day if you are bleeding uncontrollably and in excruciating pain from having your period- you can’t help it. Expecting to be paid for months or even YEARS for choosing to have a child (or choosing to have sex and accidentally getting pregnant) is absurd. I agree that having children is a part of what fuels our particular society, but so is consumerism, and I sure as hell don’t expect to be paid to take the day off to shop. Quit dismissing all those who disagree with your very cut and dry opinion as being against mothers and against women. I am obviously the exception to that.

    • If you’ve had a child, you are aware that bleeding lasts for more than one day. You can’t just “take a sick day” if you can’t walk because you have stitches holding together your lower half. Should I also bring 5 changes of pants with me every day for when my postpartum blood seeps all over the chair? Will I then be required to pay for the chair, because it was my blood that stained it? And, how do you suggest trying to hide the wet milk stains on my shirt from my breasts leaking through the breast pads?

      • Hmmm…had you read that sentence in its entirety, you would have seen that it said “take a sick day….because you are on your PERIOD.” I said nothing even close to what you think I said. I have a feeling you just skimmed through my post looking for little nuggets to get you all fired up. Calm down and read, absorb.

        • I read it. I assumed you meant postpartum bleeding because, as a mother, you know that you don’t get your period for quite some time after birth. In fact, it is often many months. You also know that pp bleeding and a period are completely different beasts. Therefore, having our periods has nothing to do with this argument. FTR, I would never, ever take a sick day for a period. Postpartum bleeding, which is what happens after a baby is birthed, is what I would take time off from work for and part of the reason why more maternity leave is needed. Not because of a period, which I’ve had once a month since I was 14. I’m pretty sure I can handle my period.

    • Also for the record, I completely agree with this statement: “But I take issue with all the posters here who believe that companies should be responsible for paying a woman for a lengthy period of time so she can raise her child. ” I’m not a radical leftist burning my bra like you are, as I understand, assuming. So perhaps you can benefit from your own “read, absorb” advice? I’m not asking for what you stated – I’m asking for a fair solution for mothers, business and government.

      • When did I assume you were a bra burning radical leftist? I understand you are passionate, and I sincerely appreciate that. However, there is a difference between passionate debate and making snide, nasty generalizations. We are all here just trying to express our thoughts, just as you are. Your hostile attitude is evident in nearly every single reply to those who disagree with your opinion.

        Regarding the bleeding comment….I did not mean what you think I meant. I see now how that may have been confusing. I wasnt talking about having a period after childbirth- I just meant a regular period that any woman has. Sorry if I wasn’t clearer.

        • Are you kidding me with this? MomsinMaine is defending her stance to the naysayers that are commenting on the post. What, do you need it sugar coated? It’s the freaking Internet!! People are being hostile and inflammatory and she is defending her stance. You all are making huge assumptions and making statements that set the progress of the feminist movement back incredibly far. Give me a break!!! Get over yourself, NewMom…

          • Katie, if you think that my opinions or statements are anti-feminist, I believe you missed the point I was trying to make. Some women want to be regarded as equal to men, yet they demand what I believe to be special treatment. Having a child is a woman’s choice, and, in my opinion, her employers and fellow employees shouldn’t be responsible for paying for a lengthy leave or bearing a heavier workload in her absence. If a company offers it, fantastic! But to call out those who don’t as being against women and mothers is presumptuous and selfish. Should an employer put his or her business at risk to support an employee who chose to get pregnant? For a woman to expect everyone else to support her in HER choice, to me, seems to be taking a step in the wrong direction, as far as feminism is concerned.

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  126. All the country’s you are comparing the US to have socialist governmnets with government health care. They are immigrating here, not the opposite way. 6 ways off is standard time off. Welcome to the real world. Businesses can’t operate without their employees. Ludicruos to thing 2 years off is realistic.

  127. And women wonder why they are sometimes not paid at the same rates as men.

    The premise of the idea that the “government” provides a mandatory maternity leave benefit is flawed. This benefit is bore solely on the backs of those that employ these women, and indirectly those that buy the goods/services from the company. The government does not provide for it, but it may mandate it. But that begs the question: Who PAYS for all this paid time off?

    IF you want to have children stay at home and have children and adopt a lifestyle that allows for that. If you want a career, then by all means have a career. Sorry that we men can’t have kids and be an option for starting a family, but that’s just not the way it is. Life isn’t fair.

    • “Sorry that we men can’t have kids and be an option for starting a family, but that’s just not the way it is. Life isn’t fair.”

      You say that as if it isn’t sperm that fertilizes the egg. Why do all of the responsibilities have to fall on the woman? IMHO, your realization should make you compassionate toward what women have to endure during childbirth, not give you a “tough shit” attitude.

  128. Well this just re-iterates my dismal view of family values in the United States. My masters degree hasn’t helped me make the millions i need to stay home because I chose to work in the nonprofit community. When I got pregnant, why yes…it was accidentally because that happens, I got 6 weeks….which I had to provide a doctors letter to receive….and 2.5 of those weeks were spent at a NICU bedside because my son was premature….they don’t know why…I had NO pregnancy complications and I’m a healthy 30 year old…..I didn’t marry a wealthy man, he’s a blue collar guy who works his butt off, but we adore our son….I went back to work after 6 weeks…..I was exhausted, unfocused, emotionally drained…..and barely performing because they kept telling me I needed to make up for my time away………..oh and then 2 weeks later I had to have surgery because my gall bladder gave out….by the way I’m not overweight and I don’t eat that unhealthy….I had to pay back the days I had to take because I had used what little leave I had to cover part of the 6 weeks.

    Why should they have given me more time or paid leave? Because 4 weeks after returning…feeling burned, exhausted and facing termination….I was actually not underperforming..nothing had gone undone while I was gone because I did it ahead of time……….I got a job at a different agency. 6 months later…..the ability to not come in when my son is sick…..has resulted in higher results than they experienced before…why? Because I am more than happy to work the 40-60 hours a week on my salary knowing that when my son gets sick I can stay home even though Idon’t have sick leave yet….knowing I can work from home if something happens…..and I am out performing my peers int he rest of the state I work in ……thats why you want to pay for it….the better the environment for women and men……the better your results…….studies show it…….it is safe for me to be a mom here….and so I don’t worry about what is going to happen to my son or my job if he gets sick. …or if there is any emergency…instead of being treated like a liability because I had a baby…….I am treated like a valued member and so I add value………..

    You know it is a choice to have a baby and how many people here would rather I terminated my son so as not to inconvenience my organization? Its good business practice to support would-be mothers AND fathers honestly because your employees will give back and work harder……..and I know the man who said his wife returned to their small business after having her baby within days…that is awesome…..you know the truth is…..she could take the baby with her..and breastfeed and be there…….thats not an option for a lot of people……..

    And you know kids are expensive so unless you somehow made all the right and best decisions about your life or live in a cheap community or had the plan and were able to follow it to save and have it all worked out…….affording one or staying at home…..its not an option for all of us……or most of us…..anyway..I know there is no convincing many of you because your experience says differently and thats okay…..I know my reality and I loved this article……..and I do believe that the United States needs to start to value its families as much as it values its money. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-51067230/family-friendly-policies-from-family-friendly-companies/

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  130. > Canada, up to 50 weeks at 55% paid.

    So some company is supposed to PAY you to take a year off because you want to have a kid? Come on! If you can afford to have a kid, do so. If you can’t, wait. But don’t ask for everyone else in the world to support YOUR family decisions and PAY you for having children.

  131. Great article, and I totally agree with you 100%!!
    I once worked for an employer (a doctor in private practice) that only offered 4 weeks — that’s 20 working days — of unpaid maternity leave. In his employee handbook, he also included that if an employee wanted to take additional time they would need to use vacation/sick leave (an additional 15 days), and anything after that would be unpaid as well. Since he only had 3 employees, he had no legal obligation to provide anything under FMLA. I had worked for him for 4 years when I became pregnant. I was a loyal and dedicated employee and helped him to open and get his practice established. I was employed as his medical assistant, not only did I room patients (getting vitals, med lists, and so forth), I ran his lab too — doing phlebotomy and certain tests he was allowed to run in his practice. Oh, and I was also responsible for filing, calling in prescriptions, sending out letters and calling patients to relay lab results, and setting up referrals to specialists. Although he complimented me often, his wage increases were meager. The time came for me to tell him about my pregnancy, I discussed with him taking 8 weeks for maternity leave. I explained to him I was concerned about recovery with the physical demand of my job if I came back after only 4 weeks. I still worried about only 8 weeks, but I figured it’d be better than 4. Amazingly, he was agreeable to it! He stated I had been a loyal employee to him, went on about how devoted I was and a hard worker. I was so relieved, and thought I was so lucky that he as understanding. That was on a Friday.
    The following Monday, I went in to work to find a letter sitting on my desk. He stated he was sorry, he could not allow me to take 8 weeks off, it would be too much of a hardship on the practice, and that I could only take 4 weeks. He thanked me (in the hopes) that I would understand.
    I was so enraged!! I couldn’t believe he’d go back on his word, after all I had done for him and how hard I worked the last several years to prove what a valuable employee I was. Apparently, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was the bottom line…….$$$. Not for his practice, but for his lifestyle of excess where it was Christmas nearly every day for his kids. I’m not exaggerating. His practice brought in almost 400k.
    And, imagine, this is a man who had 2 little boys and his wife to stay home and take care of them full time. They both made a decision for her to be a stay at home mom, to take care of their boys, the housework, cooking and shopping, and because it was important for raising their family. I guess as his employee, the importance of staying home and taking care of a newborn and recovering from labor didn’t apply to me.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge her — I think it’s important for moms (when they can) to be home with their children, ideally until kindergarten. It’s crucial for all areas of development.

    I think it’s interesting that in the animal kingdom, in most species, the young stay with their mother until they reach a level of maturity where they are healthy and able to survive on their own. I even wonder if the young would stay longer if not for the mother’s instinct to abandon them at maturity. Occasionally, there is the mother, for whatever reason, that abandons her young too early. What happens then? Well, their chances of survival drop, and the younger they are, the more likely they are to die. Why is that? Because everything an animal learns to survive on its own, it learns from its mother in the amount of time that has been designated by nature. The longer the young are with their mother until maturity, the greater the chance of survival.
    Now, look at our society. How the family values have declined, and social problems have increased, over the last 30-40 years. I believe the root of the problem lies with mother’s being forced to work because most families now need two incomes to survive. Mothers were forced to gradually start weaning and separating from their children at earlier, and earlier ages. Today, it’s as early as 4-6 weeks, right in the middle of that crucial time of bonding and attachment which sets the foundation for healthy relationships in the future. I believe it’s also important for mother’s to be with their children the first several years as well, as during these years the foundation is set for family values. Kids today are forced away from their mother’s too early. This has resulted in so many of the social issues we see in schools and young adults who are the product of this early separation: behavior and mood disorders, anxiety, decline in empathy and respect for others. Also, many young men today lack work ethic and motivation to provide for their families.
    Anyway, I guess, that’s what I think about the matter. In the end, I miscarried that pregnancy (very early), and quit my job. Before becoming pregnant again, I found employment working for a bigger organization so I would be allowed the full 12 weeks for recovering and bonding with my baby. I absolutely resent having had to work through my kids early years. It is painful to be away from your little one, while someone else gets to hear her first laugh, see her first steps, hear her first word; and eventually she will ask why I can’t go with her on her first school field trip.

  132. Awesome. The only thing I’d add is even if you ARE eligible to cash in on that FMLA “benefit”, it’s not comparable to the paid maternity leave in other countries. All it lets you do is use up your sick time and and vacation time, so you have none left when you return to work. God forbid you or your baby gets sick.

  133. You have an incredibly well-written article here and I give you the BIGGEST kuddos for this! I have SO much compassion for moms that have to back to work so soon. My heart hurts for them and their babies.
    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for opening the eyes for hundreds, if not thousands. Hopefully the petition will be the first step of a HUGE change that we Americans need.
    -Patty Williams-Brutlag (Petula Pea Photography)

  134. I just have a question; in Countries that offer longer maternity leave who does the job of the mom on leave while she is away for so long? I am lucky enough to have had a wonderful employer with great maternity benefits with all three of my children but there was a huge strain put on my branch when not one but two of us were out on leave at the same time. The company was not able to fill our positions even temporarily which left the remaining staff to pick up the slack without any additional compensation. As much as I would LOVE to have stayed home for a few months longer, the people who are left to do their job and pick up the slack of the mom on leave deserve to have time with their loved ones too. I have taken three maternity leaves which were great for me but not so great for the people who had to do my job and their own. My mom who stayed home with me dispite being very poor always said “we live within our means”. As mothers we all sacrifice for our children but it is not our colleagues responsibility to sacrifice for us.

    • I believe that in other countries, they get temporary staff to fill in positions. Kind of like some employers do here in the U.S. I agree that maternity leave should not put an unreasonable amount of work onto other staff. And, as I’ve said, I don’t the the employer should have to absorb all of the cost for this. But, I’d just like to note that the same problems could come up if an employee goes out on STD for any reason, not just child birth. If someone get sick or has an accident…it would be the same issue.
      And, the same problem happens frequently when these companies lay off employees but expect smaller staffs to produce the same amount of work.

  135. How about this one? When I was six mos pregnant and my husband was laid off and we lost our benefits–unless we could pay $1500 / mo for COBRA–being told my whole family (two year old son included) was not eligible for private insurance until after the baby was born. Go USA!

  136. It is absolutely when people think that is okay to treat parents like shit. Have some respect for yourself. A society is only as goid as it’s children and the US has some serious issues. The decline of family values is the reason for all of these. Makes me sick.

  137. I so hope you have submitted this to Time as a response to their article. Thank you for raising the rage level!! I am urging all my friends to share it and spread the rage!! Rage for all!

  138. Thank you so much for this article and also for sparking a very interesting conversation. It is eye-opening to hear what people think about this issue; it is rarely discussed so honestly in our real lives. It is a difficult topic and there are many sides to this, but in the end, I fully agree that mothers and their babies must be supported by their community–all of us. If we see ourselves as a part of a larger whole, as an intertwined people, it is only natural for us to care for each other–particularly for those in need and for the vulnerable. Quite frankly, I find it sickening that anyone would shun a person for having a baby and for wanting some time off from work. I can’t imagine feeling that way, just as I can’t imagine not wanting to help an elderly person open a door. People can unfortunately be very. very self-centered in our culture. It will come back to bite them someday when they are old and feeble 😉

  139. THANK YOU THANK THANK YOU!!!! Finally someone speaks up. I have been fortunate to be able to be home with my daughter unfortunately that has also put a HUGE financial burden ob my husband to work extra jobs and live in poverty. I will definitely be passing this article along so that all my friends sign the petition and get things changed.

  140. I do believe the mothers need time off. That’s why breastfeeding has gone so downhill. It’s too impossible now.

    But I take a different view on getting the government involved. I know from reading that the health system in France is billions of dollars in the red. Not sure about the other countries. Our own government is so in debt now that I can’t believe anyone would suggest more debt.

    I am old enough to remember when most households did not have a need for two people to hold down a job. Why, oh why, do we not ask what changed?

    Why do we act like it’s a Utopian idea that we have a society where it does not take two incomes to support a family. It worked before, but now it’s off the table. Why?

    It’s the tax burden, people. Plus, families lived in smaller homes and had one car. The government wasn’t in debt either.

  141. thank you for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting info. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” by Clive Staples Lewis.

  142. Definitely believe that that you said. Your favourite justification seemed to be on the internet the easiest thing to understand of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while other folks consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out the whole thing with no need side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you!

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  144. I really like the look of your website. I lately built mine and I was looking for some style concepts and you gave me a couple of. May possibly I ask you whether you developed the site by youself?

  145. Thank you for writing this. I couldn’t agree more. And to Matt’s comment, we experienced the split FMLA leave firsthand. I took all 12 weeks which forced my husband to use all his vacation time to spend ONE month (if that) with our son. Lovely…this is what we moved across the country for? To boot we worked for the department of education in a very large city, which you would think would understand the value of family and kids. SO not the case. And don’t even get me started about pumping. I am probably some kind of statistic, but after 4 months of working, commuting, and pumping and having my kid in daycare for 5 days a week for 11 hrs a day, I quit to stay home with him. I have to admit that I wasn’t at all prepared to feel so unsupported by my job. One more thing – Maine is where I grew up and I love having found this website!!

  146. This was a great article with one exception – its not called day care. Any reputable caregiver uses the term childcare, as day care has a number of negative connotations that the field is trying to step away from. As a childcare provider, I wish every day that parents not only got more rights and benefits, but that there was more of an effort made to take the cost burden of childcare off parent’s shoulders. Education is a right in this country, but apparently it only applies to children over the age of 5. The childcare industry remains one of the lowest paying industries in this country because the only way to increase wages is to increase parental cost, which for many families is impossible. When we we realize that investing in families is a much better bet than investing in corporations?

  147. Trust me i know. I worked 12 hour night shift mamaged to qualify for FMLA but because both me and my husband worked for the same company we had to share the 6 weeks i dont mean we both got 6 weeks i mean he got 2 and i got 4.had to pump in a bathroom stall sometimes falling asleep due to the fact that i was manuvering around night shift and a newborn and recovery. Not to mention the company trying to intimidate me into taking leave early cause the thought of me going into labor at work was just too mucj but that would have left even less time to recover…so happy im not working at Arvato anymore

  148. What did this mom do? Can you imagine the crap this kid is going to catch over the next 10-15 years? It’s not alway about the mom.

  149. Amen. I worked in corporate America and was always appalled by the maternity leave policies. Most young mothers need every paycheck. I got six weeks disability and could take another 6 weeks unpaid. And I worked for the largest mutual fund company in the world. The other kicker…my bonus. It was up to the manager so my single male manager pro-rated my bonus because of my maternity leave. Here’s what he said “I don’t think it is fair to pay your full bonus when you weren’t here and others were”. My response: “Is it FAIR that I have to carry and give birth to the baby and the men don’t?” BTW, the men got two weeks paid paternity leave….but they didn’t get their bonus docked.

  150. I could not agree more. I am Canadian but was living in the US when I had my daughter. I was shocked to the point of nausea when I found out that I would have to leave my tiny baby in someone elses care and return to work after. I did not have STD at my job so any leave I took would have been unpaid. So fair right?
    I quit my job when I had her and moved my family back to Canada.
    This all ties in to how America treats health care. You deserve more.

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  152. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been saying this for years, but you said it so much better. I live in Missouri, which now ranks 50th in its income ceiling for childcare subsidies. So embarrassing.

    Moms need to quit the bitchy middle-school drama and realize that while we’re fighting, the man — literally — is keeping us down.

    Thank you! I will sign the petition.

  153. Please do not compare this country to socialist countries. It just doesn’t make sense. The other countries, it’s fine, but seriously that should have been a real obvious no-brainer to not include Canada and the UK where the tax rate is mind-boggingly high in order to pay for healthcare and maternity leave.

  154. FMLA is actually for anyone (supposedly), even if you do not have children or a spouse. I have FMLA because I have chronic illnesses that may require leave regardless if I have enough leave to take it. I have no children and no spouse.

    I never plan to have children or marry, and I have very important reasons why I won’t be doing that. Society as a whole does frown on that Many of my friends and relatives have had or adopted children, and I’ve witnesses some great relationships with work places and some poor ones. At the same time that I feel that a slight (very slight) bias exists in society against those that do not have children, when it comes to hiring practices and FMLA leave, problems can arise if you are of childbearing years, have children, or are planning to have children when it comes to compensation. I’ve seen people, particularly women, turned down for positions because of concern about them having a child. I have also seen some people (not just women) also attempt to obtain sympathy and “perks” because they reproduced (this is very rare, but it does happen). This makes it difficult for those that actually do need support, time off, etc. for what they need to do, especially in that first 6 months.

    Somehow, a balance has to be struck between the company’s and coworkers needs as well as the worker’s needs, and I do not think it should require either to “suffer”. If other countries are capable of doing such things without the infrastructure falling apart, then I believe we should be able to do it.

    Finally, and people may not like this, but I think women, especially those from different backgrounds, are always going to have a conflict over leave simply because of socioeconomic, not to mention other cultural and social, circumstances. We saw this with both first and second wave efforts to change the position of women in society when others were (intentionally and unintentionally) left out. I’m not blaming either one of those movements, just stating an observation as a student of gender studies. In the end, I don’t think you can encapsulate everyone’s needs with one magic dart. I think it is going to have to take a significant amount of maneuvering and personalization for this to work to the most people’s benefit.

    • AE, I completely agree with your statement: “Somehow, a balance has to be struck between the company’s and coworkers needs as well as the worker’s needs, and I do not think it should require either to ‘suffer’.” That’s exactly what I’d like to see.

  155. Sean from earlier, “why can’t women go back after 6 weeks?”

    I was still bleeding pretty heavily with activity and I have a very physical job, that’s why. In case you aren’t aware, you can’t just put a tampon in after birth either if that’s your defense. I had an easy, normal birth with a healthy baby too but 6 weeks just wouldn’t have been feasible. I wouldn’t have been able to do my job well or at all at 6 weeks. I don’t think people should pay for women to sit at home for a year but I do think a more appropriate maternity leave is NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK. I am very healthy and never go to the doctor except my annual visit with my OB-GYN and the dentist twice a year for preventative measures like I am supposed to yet I pay for A LOT of other people to sit at home and do NOTHING. Why shouldn’t I get to stay home 12 weeks to take care of my newborn baby for, what, maybe 2-3 times in my entire life?!? When I contribute to society every other week for the rest of my life?

    Also, “how do you bond with a baby, kids don’t have their first memory until they’re 3”. You must not have children. If you don’t then you have no leg to comment on. However I will say, do you think a 1 or 2 year doesn’t know who their parents are? Go adopt a 1 year old Chinese baby and see the difference the moment you try to pick them up. My child is 8 months old and completely knows I am her mom. She has known it and been drawn to me since the moment she was born. I could say so much
    more but I’m guessing it will go in one ear and out the other. I’m just so glad I have a wonderfully supportive husband who gets it and supported me and continues to do so as a working mom 100%.

  156. Out of curiosity, if a new mom had some health complications and needed to stay home longer than 6 weeks, couldn’t she just go on short term disability. Just curious.

    Now for my opinion: it is human nature to cheat. As sad as it is, people will use their children (or yet-to-be-born children) to cheat the system. Therefore, if somehow the US (a country I love btw) enacted a law that forced employers to give 16 weeks paid leave, some women would go and try to get hired while they were pregnant. Work a month or two, then get 4 months paid leave, then quit. It is true.

    I’m all for leave, even up to 6 months, just not paid. Moms should be able to take the time they need, just not at the expense of their employer.

  157. Thank you for such a thoughtful read. I’ve shared this on my FB page and I hope others do the same. Rock on.

  158. So, you make great points and very valid points. But that cover is much too “sexy” (look at tight jeans and tank) to depict real motherhood and breastfeeding. To each his own but that cover sends a perverted message. Especially the way the boy’s eyes meet yours. When I breastfed, my children’s eyes met mine. THAT IS BREASTFEEDING!!! Oh, and I was not in skinny jeans and a tank that made guys stop to check me out….I was in my comfy clothes so that my child would be comfy….

  159. I’m a breastfeeder, co-sleeper, and a full-time working mother. I thought that was where I stood on the mom wars. You have seriously opened my eyes! I’ve been fighting the wrong war. Mothers absolutely need more support from the government and employers. Thank you for waking me up!

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  161. Great article and lots of good comments here. Early in my career, I was at a prominent research and advisory organization focused on women’s advancement in the workplace. One of our mantras was that maternity leave is one of the few types of leave you can plan for. There are so many ways to address – and support – the fact that women have babies and [gasp] many are career women! At the same time, there is a very real issue around leave and return to work that affects employers and co-workers. While I do think employers benefit from happy employees and should make it possible for them to work effectively, healthfully, etc., their main concern must be the bottom line – that’s really what keeps everyone on payroll. The truth is, absence of an employee can affect productivity, particularly in a smaller company or in a situations where someone is a designated representative for a locality or region. What happens for co-workers when mom gives birth and goes out on leave? They absorb her workload, of course. And what happens when she returns? They sometimes continue to carry some of that load because she may have a flexible work arrangement or has to leave “on time” to pick up from child care. The rest of us are left to keep a process moving or meet that critical deadline because that’s our responsibility and obligation. It’s part of what we get paid for. Saying good night to a colleague-parent at such times, no matter how apologetic they are (and I know many feel genuinely guilty), can be angering. There’s a silent implication that the rest of us don’t have a “real reason” to leave. And to add insult to injury, we get the pleasure of powering through whatever it is that needs to get done. I have spent years – decades, actually – sharing the joy of birth and motherhood with bosses, colleagues and assistants. I’ve been fortunate to have so many women – in more than a few organizations – that I’ve cared about and loved as good friends, and my happiness has always been genuine. With each birth/leave, I’ve been there to make sure our dept maintained good standing – and profitability – in delivering services. And my colleagues have always returned with gratitude. While it’s nice to be a “hero” their re-entry does not suddenly relieve the additional duties. Getting them up to speed, accommodating their transition (being tired, getting used to the schedule again, etc) takes time, and then dealing with the fact that they now have to be “out by 5pm” is an adjustment for everyone around them. The problem I have with this article is in what I perceive to be a sense of entitlement among working moms. That we should all bend to accommodate your choice, so that you can be the best parent you can be. There is no doubt family must be a top priority but part of family planning has to be about the “after” – who works, when do they work, can they maintain the same job, with the same responsibilities, the same salary, and so on. Fairness is not just for moms…it is for everyone.

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  163. These negative comments are really ridiculous. For most women, I don’t think the argument is about being paid or not. For women like me, it is about having enough time to fully heal from giving birth before being forced to go back to work. It’s about being able to breastfeed for a decent amount of time. And it’s about knowing we will have a job to go back to.
    I had 12 weeks off(6 unpaid) with my first child. When I had to go back, I was not healed and had to give up breastfeeding. My son was a preemie and I really thought I would breastfeed until at least a year old. But pumping at work was nearly impossible. After getting everything set up, I had 5 minutes 2x a day and 1 15minute break. After 2 weeks, my son was on formula.
    This time around, I am quitting my job to heal and breastfeed. I’ll just pray I can find a job after that.

  164. After reading the article and looking at some of the comments I had a few things to add to the discussion. While I appreciate the plight of the working mother, I would be hesitant to support legislation that tells a person how to run his/her company. My concern is where does it end? If you think that it won’t go to a stupid place, you have far more faith in the system and the demands of the American people than I do.

    I don’t think it is fair to take one issue from only select countries and claim it is superior. While France and Germany may have more maternity leave, they also have conscript systems. Would you be willing to trade two months of paid maternity leave if it meant your child would have to serve two years in the military? How much more in taxes would you be willing to pay for those extra weeks? Reading the comments, seeing that a company could legally force a woman to sign a contract stating that she would not have children (and knowing that accidents do happen) I would not consider the German system to be fully superior.

    Most importantly, I would like to say that while you are “fighting the wrong fight” you might not be winning because you don’t have the right allies; men. So much parenting advice is aimed at women. I stopped reading parenting magazines because the articles were insulting. It was like men are idiots that are lost when it comes to changing a diaper. If a man changes two diapers a week he is superdad. That is crap. Commercials depict that the house is a smoothly running machine until mom leaves and then everything goes to crap.

    My wife had two months of maternity leave and then she went back to work. She actually went back a week early and I was left with a 7-week-old baby to take care of. Best decision of my life and being a stay-home-dad was some of the best times of my life. But dads are not treated like “parents” we are “babysitters”. The perception is that moms raise kids and dads just watch them from time to time. Look at some of the blog links in the comments. Check some of them out, where is dad?

    Instead of treating us like idiots or worthless parents, how about treating us with the respect we deserve? People will live up to, or down to the standard you hold them to. The reason why some guys don’t change diapers is because they are not expected to. While some guys talk about not liking to change diapers, I don’t think it is the act, but why they are changing it. I think some guys object to being treated like a second class parent, but being nagged into doing the dirty work. I know it seems silly, but if were part of the team we would shoulder more of the work.

    Many politicians, CEOs and other decision makers are parents. If they felt it was in the best interest of their child, and for politicians the vote, they would change policies. But I doubt they will come to the negotiation table when they feel like they are not real parents and on the defensive for being horrible people as well.

    I don’t disagree with many of the points that mothers are making, but how they present their arguments might be hurting the cause. I have been a stay-home-dad for most of my daughter’s life. I am a good parent but I am not inspired to join a lot of “mom causes” because I am left out. That is just my two cents.

  165. All I have to say is Thank you for writing this. I am Swedish and we get 400+ days 80% paid by the government and the remainder 20% paid by your corporation if you are working. Here in the US it is crazy. The good thing is that i can take off 1 year with my company but it is unpaid. Totally 3rd world county in the US when it comes to maternity leave.

  166. While I put myself into a position where I have super awesome benefits (comparatively) and I do intend to use them, I think the reason we don’t have better mandatory maternity benefits is because we don’t need them. Women work for employers that don’t have good benefits ANYWAY. Women have children ANYWAY. We don’t need to encourage reproduction because it’s happening and we aren’t in any position (as a group) economically to refuse to work for companies with shitty benefits. So short of everyone refusing to breed and everyone refusing to accept employment from businesses with shitty benefits all we can do is petition the government….which isn’t going to care because of what I said earlier. Also, if we do mandate a certain amount of paid leave for new parents PLEASE JESUS let it be for men and women, because if you make it a burden to hire women then businesses will do less of it. I already have to have more education and more relevant experience for the same pay, don’t make it seem more expensive or more of a hassle to hire me because I am of childbearing age.

    • Vanessa- what we have now is a lot of suffering by mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, siblings. No doubt I would have been a better human being had I had better maternity leave options for my first child. My first child would have benefitted as well. I feel fortunate that I had a better option for my second child. Yes I would have had my second child regardless and SUFFERED NEEDLESSLY to grow the family I want and the career I want simultaneously. That’s the point- the suffering is needless. We as a society are essentially chicken feces for not stepping up to the plate on this one – we stand by as woman after woman, mother after mother, takes the hit in terms of money, stress and fatigue, when we as a nation have the wherewithal to offering paid leave to women. This will benefit the country in countless ways but I won’t get into the details here, suffice it to say the health of our citizens and our economy BOTH benefit in the end. Fathers are suffering too but not in the same way and not as permanently so its a whole different debate on that front. BUT we should live up to our own priorities as a country and support paid maternity leave for working women, anything else is standing by and letting the suffering continue, and that is unconscionable.

  167. Wow! Love all the comments especially those people who understand that children are the future, hands down. America has become a less then civilized society as it supports war, bailouts to banks, tax cuts to large corps (which looks like welfare on a much larger scale) while at the same time not representing the best interest of the people of this country. At this point in history I don’t believe in the future of this country unless there are some major changes in government. It’s such a large cumbersome entity which seems impossible to repair. There is also a great split in this country in regard to the intrusion of the law into our personal lives. This split is very extreme and there doesn’t seem to be a point of compromise on either side. Short tempers and volatile reactions are usless and I believe there are interests out there that encourage this behavior and foster it. Many would like to return to the “Consitution” but only if it favors their own ideas. Washington is not capable of monitoring itself for the good of the people as at this point in history the checks and balances aren’t working. Power has been limited at the executive level but no where else. The senate, the congress and the judicial branch of government also need to have limits because as we know power corrupts and absolete power corrupts absoletely. Many committees have had the same chairperson for 20, 30, etc. years and the judicial branch have lifetime seats on the bench. This just doesn’t make any sense but do you think any of these people want a change, probably not. I would hope there is someone out there that would bring this matter to the American public for a vote. I know this does not address the issue of motherhood directly but in the end the governing powers hold the strings to what is civil and right. And yes we could take some lessons from other countries if they are doing something that works, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Collaboration and compromise doesn’t seem to be one of America’s strong points. I am not anti-America, I love this country but not for some of the things it now stands for and greed seems to be at the top of the list. Sorry if I’ve digressed. I know that motherhood is the most important job in the world, the hand that rocks the cradle……………………..

  168. Wonderful article that really makes people think. I wish the right people would read this, and not just the moms who know you are so right!

    I decided to stay at home with my son – it was more important to me to be with my son and we just muddled along with one income. I feel for any mom who has to go back to work weeks/months after giving birth – it’s heart-breaking and so detrimental to breastfeeding, and like you mentioned, longer breastfeeding periods would benefit children’s health so much.

    The people in power in the U.S. care more about profits than the health of the nation. It’s embarrassing, and it’s so wrong. Wake up, people, and have your voice be heard!

    Here is one of my posts: http://dagmarbleasdale.com/2012/05/attachment-parenting-isnt-martyrdom-its-about-following-your-instincts/

  169. I agree with you 100% and yet not at all. As soon as we are dependent on the government’s assistance to parent, we have failed.

    “How about, instead, we get on our government’s ass about giving us more time to do what we are meant to do – to just be parents.”

    The solution; we go to our employers and state how much time we will be gone. If they won’t grant it, I walk and find another employer. (It’s scary, but not all that difficult.)

    My work schedule is on my schedule. It’s not dependent on an employer and certainly not on the government.

  170. Michelle,
    We were just discussing the Time cover & article in my prenatal yoga class.
    Thanks so much for bringing the discussion from what makes people uncomfortable, to what is truly important – Mom being there with her baby. A deep change in perspective is needed and I hope that this helps us Mothers to find the power within to make it.
    See how poorly the US rates on page 43 of a report that came out from Save the Children: http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/STATEOFTHEWORLDSMOTHERSREPORT2012.PDF


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  172. I think in addition to a fiscal and governmental regulation change, there should also be a change of mindset of a father’s role in the family. Why should a mother have to “do it all”? Why cant there be a balance of responsibility between husband and wife around the house when it comes to work and family? Of course Sweden has at least attempted to answer this: http://rsa.revues.org/456

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  174. This is a total crock. I don’t want a single DIME of my tax money going to pay moms to not work their job for 12 weeks.
    Also, what if a woman gets a year paid…what’s to stop her from getting knocked up again during that time and getting another year off? That would basically mean she would come back to work for about 3 months and then be off for another year. That sounds like the company would really be getting some excellent value for their money.
    Childbearing is NOT A RIGHT. If the child was ‘unplanned’ then well I guess you learned a hard lesson in being more careful when you have sex.
    The bigger issue is once we start paying for this crap we still have women who took 8 months off to play with junior wondering why they aren’t being paid the same wage as the man or woman who has been on the job that whole time busting their hump.
    Eff you. You wanna have a kid? Great. You want me to pay for it? Nope. Save your nickels and dimes. IF you can’t afford to have a child keep your legs closed and tell your husband/boyfriend to wrap it up.
    Stuff like this is exactly why I don’t hire any and I mean ANY women at my company. (and before you fools start crying about that, I’m a small enough business to where I’m exempt from laws that would say I can do otherwise) when I hired women all I got were ‘personal health days’ 5 days a month for ‘her time of the month’ and maternity leaves and ended up holding the bag as my business struggles to survive as I have now been left to do everything. Since I implemented a ‘no women’ policy profits and productivity are through the roof. It has been the greatest decision I ever made in my life and my wife agrees with me on that point.

  175. Thank you! I have wanted to comment on this cover page since the first day I heard about it. I am so very tired of women being pitted against other women. Why should it matter to anyone how this mother is choosing to raise her son? Do we actually think she is doing something that will harm him? Does this look like a child that is being abused or neglected? Why are there so many people willing to stand up and voice their opinion about this, but when they see a child get yelled at or hit by a parent in public they don’t step in to stand up for that child? I can’t seem to find the logic in that. I am frequently amazed by how passive we can be as a people when faced with something that should demand our attention and action, and yet how vocal and passionate we can be when presented with something that neither requires nor deserves it at all.
    When someone stands up for what they believe in, why would we ever try to knock them down? To this woman I say, please, keep standing for everything you believe in. Stand for those who are unwilling or unable. Please, stand.

  176. This piece is the best thing to come out of the provocative Time article. Well said, and great job moderating. I didn’t expect to be quite so captivated or shocked by some of the responses. Well done and thanks for speaking up for us moms.

  177. Thank you for this post. I signed the petition. We moms need to come together to voice what you just did here in this post in order for change to occur, for government to get it, to realize that they’ve got to really open their eyes and start caring for the people in this country. Moms are critical to healthy family units. Families are what make up the people in this country so bent on its screwed up priorities. Of who gets paid the most. Of who’s got the best careers. Of who breastfeeds the longest. Of who’s the most capable super mom. We must ignore the silly ploys of media to pit mothers against each other, when we’ve already got enough mompetition going on out there as it is. Working moms absolutely need paid maternity leaves of at least 12 weeks. There is a reason why moms in certain other cultures observe a mothering the mother period that typically lasts 30-40 days, of why obstetricians see new moms at 6 weeks….it takes this length of time for the body to recover from childbirth. This is a vulnerable period in which 1 out of 8 new moms fall prey to postpartum depression (PPD).

  178. Please! Do not blame the feminist movement on the current maternity leave policies. I can just see the powers that be rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of further dividing women & mothers.
    These policies are instituted for one reason. The bottom line. Corporations write the public policy in this country. That’s the problem.
    And sdragon – please stop using false talking points. The coffers of social security are not empty. The 2011 annual report for the Social Security trust fund indicates that there is $2.7 trillion in the fund. That is enough to pay out benefits for the next 3 decades without ever taking in another cent. Do we need to deal with the fact that there are multitudes of baby boomers retiring and less tax revenue coming into the fund, yes, but let’s be honest about why that is and get our facts straight. If we had not fought two unfunded wars, had not cut trillions in taxes to the wealthiest among us, and had not passed Bush’s Medicare part D we wouldn’t find ourselves in such a deep fiscal crisis.
    If our country put the needs of children & mothers first, before the bottom lines & CEOs of corporations we’d be a wealthier country. Switzerland does it, other European countries do it. They pay a living wage and people live well. It can be done, but we have to hold our elected officials accountable. It takes active engagement, but most people are checked out. Understandably too busy & exhausted with the hard struggle for existence. Right where the powers that be want us.

  179. I have worked full time for a small business in California for the past 3 1/2 years. I have helped build the company from one employee (me) and the owner to our current team of 11. When I told my boss that I was 5 weeks pregnant he celebrated with me and told me he wanted me to feel free to take as much time as I needed after my baby came. That I would still have a job when I returned. Because my company is small I didn’t expect paid leave, but having the support to take the leave I will need and having that time be negotiable has left me feeling incredibly fortunate. Now, at the end of my pregnancy, as I prepare to file for disability I am wrapping up my duties and distributing them amongst my team. I am so thankful to everyone who is taking on my workload and who have not only excitedly support me in my choice to have a child but are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the “company” baby. Through all of this I have felt loved and taken care of by my company and I am eternally grateful for this. On the flip side I find it incredibly ironic that I have to plan to be “disabled” in order to receive “benefits” for the time required to take care of my newborn instead of having my taxes pay for my time spent at home with my child. I agree with Karen and think that everyone in society has a job to do. In a healthy society parents are supported in their job as parents, not only financially but also in policy. If we have family values as a society we must honour the children who are our future and ensure that they have the opportunity to be well cared for, fully nourished and educated to the best of our collective abilities. I wonder what this country would look like today if we in fact had a family leave policy in which parents were encouraged to care for our children instead of forced to compete for .employment schedules that are geared toward non-working, single employees? Thanks to my amazing company NextSpace for giving our employees the opportunity to shine at our jobs while caring for our families.

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