Did you know that moms who work in Switzerland are given up to 480 days of paid maternity leave? Dads are given 60 days. That is two months of paid leave for fathers, and this is given per child. Do you know how many days of paid leave the United States mandates for parents? Zero. No, that is not a typo. Moms and dads receive zero days. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation to not require any paid maternity leave.
Children are born in the United States every day. Parents are continually being faced with tough decisions regarding work, quality of life, and child care. Parents often have to sacrifice time with their children in those most critical months to work in order to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. What about childcare? This becomes an issue almost immediately. Will someone stay at home? Do we hire a nanny? We cannot afford a nanny. Do we put them in daycare? Wait. There are lists, and we did not make it on the list, and daycare is about half my salary. So, do I leave my child with a complete stranger because I need to go back to work to buy food for the baby and pay my bills? All of these questions and more infiltrate the mind and create unnecessary tension between mom and dad before their child takes his/her first breath. Think of how difficult this must be for single parents. So what can we do about it?
In 2013 there was a White House petition requesting that paid maternity leave be mandated, but the petition did not pass legislation and was archived because it did not meet the signature requirements. I’ll be honest. I didn’t even know this was important until my wife became pregnant. I just thought moms stayed with their kids until they could go back to work. I honestly had no idea. I was ignorant. We need to speak up. You can share this knowledge with your Human Resources Department. Create awareness on your blog or social sites. Let people know.
Draft A Letter
This is one of the most intentional things we can do. Draft a letter to your state representative or senator. Do not be negative, but promote the benefits. Promote family. Promote companies that are doing this well. For example, The NewYork Times reports that Google now offers five months of paid maternity leave to mothers, and this has increased their retention of female employees by fifty percent. Research more amazing examples like this and share in your letter the positives of paid maternity leave.
Invitation to Lead by Example
If you are a business owner or friends with business owners, invite them to lead by example. It may be that some businesses just cannot afford the overhead, and that’s okay. However, there may be smaller things they could do to communicate value to working parents. Some examples may be to offer subsidized childcare for employees, allow parents to telecommute a couple of days a week, or offer flexible hours for parents because children will need to go to the doctor. Certainly, if we are all intentional and working together we can figure something out for our families.
Help Our Moms Out
Laws do not change quickly. In the mean time there are things dads can do to help eliminate stress on moms. Whether a mom is a stay-at-home mom or working mom, we should intentionally look for opportunities to serve her. This is a true quality of leadership. We can help with the dishes, get the groceries, do laundry. No, I am not assuming anything here. You may already do these things. If so, find some other ways you can help out mom. Maybe you can plan a day for her to go hang with the girls. It may also mean that we dads make the choice to sacrifice our career for a time while mom continues to focus on her career. This may be the easier choice if mom brings home more income. Nevertheless, you are a dad. You play a huge part in this. You will make sacrifices too. If you are planning on becoming a father and having a family one day, talk to your spouse about this. Are you willing to make such a sacrifice?
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