Maternity Leave -- What's Fair?

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Michele Degani

I received a job offer a few weeks ago. It was great except for the maternity leave policy, which HR told me was generous. The policy: First year of employment, you can buy short-term disability (STD), which might pay 60% of your salary while you're out, but the details are gray. After one year, the company gives you three weeks of time off with full pay, and then you get nine weeks of STD at 60% of your salary.

I'm 42, and have a one-year-old daughter. I married my husband in 2006. I think I got pregnant on my wedding night, a miracle and a blessing considering my age. We're hoping for another child soon. My biological clock is striking midnight, so maternity leave is crucial.

I don't know about all of you, but I didn't have the mental capacity to go back to work three weeks after having a baby. Not all of us can forgo our full salary, even for a few weeks, so 60 percent of my salary for another nine weeks wasn't an option either.

When I asked the HR person how others at the company were handling maternity leave, he said they save extra money so they can live on a reduced salary while on leave or they bank their paid time off (PTO) and use it for leave. I don't want to be pregnant and panicked about how I'm going to pay my bills while recovering. I don't want to go back to work after only three weeks because we can't pay bills. And what if I need my paid time off for an emergency?

I didn't end up taking the job. Given my "advanced maternal age" I didn't want to postpone trying to get pregnant again long enough to make sure I qualified for maternity leave at the new company. I decided to stay at my current company, which has a decent maternity leave policy -- eight weeks after two years of employment.

Shouldn't mothers -- and fathers -- have time to recover and bond with their newborns before rushing back to work? It makes me wonder if it's time for a change in the U.S. And if so, how do we make it happen? How have you paid for your maternity leave? What would have made it better for you, your family and your baby?

Michele Degani lives in Dallas with her husband and daughter. She is the editor and content manager for the Web site of a large consulting company.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 8, 2007; 7:15 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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First!

Posted by: Bryn Mawr | May 8, 2007 7:34 AM

Second, dammit!

Posted by: Jack Bauer | May 8, 2007 7:40 AM

What's fair? I'm not sure what's fair but each company has to decide what benefits they can afford to offer their employees. Potential employees, like yourself, make their decisions/choices based on those as well as other factors. Benefits, such as maternity leave, get better when companies want to compete for the best employees. I guess I think that's fair. Is it optimal for families planning to have a family? No...but I bet companies would think that "optimal" benefits for expecting families isn't fair to them.

Posted by: Chris 1458 | May 8, 2007 7:43 AM

Actually, that maternity leave policy does sound generous. Anything would be better than the non-existent maternity leave in the federal government. How do we pay for maternity leave? Sick time, vacation time and saving as much as you can (get rid of things you don't need like cable, eat out less, etc.) is how you do it.

Posted by: 37 weeks with baby#2 | May 8, 2007 7:44 AM

That policy does seem pretty generous. Most companies I've come by "allow" you to use your accrued vacation or sick time for maternity leave. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying 3 paid weeks and 60% salary is better than anything I or my friends have encountered when we had our children.

Posted by: Er.... | May 8, 2007 7:46 AM

Chris 1458 is right....You have a choice to not take the job if the benefits don't suit you. Fair is when both sides give up something and no side gets everything...

ditto 37 weeks...

By the way, I had 10 days with one of my kids. Someone had to teach my course after all. There was no maternity leave as University faculty were considered part time employees. This was a while ago. Hopefully, that university is better now.

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 7:48 AM

Sick time, vacation time and saving as much as you can (get rid of things you don't need like cable, eat out less, etc.) is how you do it.

You mean that you have to sacrifice to give birth to children? Get use to it, you no longer will have a life but your children will!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 7:48 AM

I have worked for utilities for a while, and the pay isn't great, but the benefits are. When my first was born, almost 12 years ago, I was given 3 weeks off before my due date, 6 weeks medical after my child was born, and then the 6 months FMLA can be used (unpaid). I was home for 9 months, 8 with my daughter, since she was a week late. Most of my friends worked for higher salaries, but worse benefits.

Posted by: pamsdds | May 8, 2007 7:49 AM

This is generous compared to my Fortune 500 firm, which pays nothing while you are on maternity leave. And don't even think about paternity leave.

Posted by: Bryn Mawr | May 8, 2007 7:50 AM

In 8 years at my job, I've accrued about 9 weeks worth of leave. I have to use that for maternity leave. The problem is, if I have another child, what do I use then??? There definitely will NOT be an 8 year gap b/w the two kids allowing me time to build up my leave again. We don't even have a leave share program. My only hope is that I time the birth juuuuust right so that I can use some of the leave at the end of the school year and then use the two months I have off in the summer to recover before going back to work full time in August.

I DO think that in comparison to other countries, we're getting the shaft when it comes to maternity leave and other such family affairs. We don't value family here like we should.

I think that weeks off at full pay followed by weeks with 60% pay is pretty darn nice and I WISH I had that option.

Posted by: jef3r | May 8, 2007 7:53 AM

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought you did not pay taxes on STD payments? So that 60% salary is closer to 90% after taxes. But I could be wrong.

I have very mixed thoughts about maternity leave. Perhaps because I have none. I work for the feds, and for all the talk I hear of great benefits, maternity leave is not there at all. You have to save all your leave for 2 years if you want 12 weeks off. That, or ask for donations.

There is an interesting topic... should you be able to get leave donations for a typical, no complication pregnany, delivery, and materinity leave? As someone who went through 6 months of chemo for cancer in her 3rd year of employement, I never had to ask for leave donations. It makes me wonder about folks who have a planned medical condition requiring leave.

Posted by: RT | May 8, 2007 7:56 AM

To be honest, I think that company's policy is beyond generous. Paid maternity leave is a great perk, but it's just that -- an extra, something to make the job more appealing. It isn't a right.

And as much as a feminist as I am, I think that's how it should be. It's not your employer's job to help you afford another child. If you can't save enough to cover 40% of your salary for 9 weeks (or at least accrue some paid leave to cover that time), then maybe it's not wise to be having another child right now.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 8, 2007 7:58 AM

Seems to me that if the pay issues associated with maternity leave are so serious for the guest blogger, then perhaps she and her husband need to re-evaluate whether it is financially prudent to have a second child at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 7:58 AM

You have to be kidding me. This is a job offer, not a place to get paid for getting pregnant and staying home to take care of your baby. The problem I have with women today who demand to be treated as if being pregnant, having a baby, or even breast feeding is that you are not special. The company is in business (even non profits) to accomplish their mission. If you can't afford to stay home without any pay at all, don*t have babies. If you think companies owe you anything - especially as a new hire, you have been spoiled. How is what you want fair to single people who work, work, work and just take their sick days when they are sick, etc. Get real, lady.

Posted by: Mimi | May 8, 2007 8:01 AM

RT you're correct. That is 60% of your gross pay, and no taxes taken out. If your using the company's health insurance you'll still need to pay for things like that though. And I agree, this plan sounds pretty good. My wife gets nothing paid from the company and can get use STD for up to six weeks after the baby is born, but only after using 3 weeks of her vacation time. So typically only 3 weeks get any money

Posted by: New dad | May 8, 2007 8:04 AM

I strongly believe that 6 weeks for women to recover from the physical of labor is a good start. But I do agree with previous posters that you have choices in where you work based on such factors as leave. There is sacrifice involved,and it does suck. It should change (especially for fed workers).

I'm very concerned about leave for dads. My husband's company offers him the option to take a couple sick days, and then his vacation time when the baby's born. Jeez, couldn't they spring for at least the hospital stay on them? A sleep-deprived employee isn't exactly an efficient one.

Posted by: writing mommy | May 8, 2007 8:04 AM

I hope this blogger realizes that she had some great options. Usually, maternity leave falls under the UNPAID FMLA. You use all of your PTO and then go unpaid if you can. Most companies I know of and the federal government work this way.

It's great that you had some generous benefits no matter which job you took.

After you read these posts your eyes will be opened to the fact that most companies do NOT offer paid maternity leave. You're on your own to save up your regular leave and money.

Posted by: Jer | May 8, 2007 8:04 AM

THe part of the story I'm having trouble with is how someone in their forties could not have any savings. PResumably she's been working for close to twenty years. During that time she saved nothing? There's more to this story than she's telling us. At that point I'd be more worired about having no retirement savings than how I was going to cover a short-term gap in my salary.

Posted by: Another Mom | May 8, 2007 8:13 AM

I think there are two issues here. First is maternity/paternity leave - the actual time off and the second is pay during that time. In the US we have FMLA which offers 12 weeks unpaid leave in companies with more than 50 employees. Compare that to other countries -- most African countries offer 14 weeks at 50-100% pay, in the Americas - Brazil is 120 days at 100% pay, Mexico 12 weeks at 100%, Venezuela 18 weeks at 100%, how about Asia -- Japan offers 14 weeks at 100%, India - 12 weeks at 100%, Saudi Arabia - 10 weeks at 50-100% - and most Europe offers 3-6 months at up to 100% pay. We are a great country in many ways -- but we are behind the world in supporting parents.

Posted by: Beth | May 8, 2007 8:16 AM

I live in Austria where you have to stop working when you are 7 months' pregnant and have to stay out until 8 weeks after baby's birth-- at full salary (paid by the public insurance.) By law your employer has to give you a job back up to 2 years after baby's birth. During maternity leave you get about 600 euros in child/family benefits-- these last longer if the father takes some leave (fathers can take paid paternity leave for 6 months-- employer has to let them come back to their job.)

I miss many things about life in the U.S. but I listen to my girlfriends who want to start families who feel they can't afford to because their benefits haven't kicked in yet.

The drawback to these "goodies" though is that I have found (and have heard from the experiences of friends) that the job market discriminates against women of child-bearing age. Some employers refuse to hire women of child-bearing age-- and it is perfectly legal to ask about family status here. (You have to include it on your resume here.)

Good and bad to both systems. I think American women have more and better career choices but I think the Europeans have much more generous leave and benefits.

Posted by: American mom abroad | May 8, 2007 8:18 AM

I kind of agree that while mat leave benefits are a nice perk, it's really not up to corporations to pay for them. Companies pay employees money to work. I think holding people's jobs for a specified period of time is one thing, but expecting companies to pay effectively TWO salaries for one job is a bit much.

Having said that I do think that it's a SOCIAL good to provide leave for new parents for a number of reasons - the health of all members of the family; establishing good strong connections which later might aid in keeping people out of very expensive jails, etc. (I am not suggesting that daycare causes people to be criminals; just saying that families under great stress may be more vulnerable to getting into drugs, etc.)

So I think IF as a society we think that some leave for parents is a good thing then there needs to be a way to fund it. In some countries it is funded like unemployment insurance, for example.

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 8:19 AM

Obviously, it is time to move. France just had a nice election!

Posted by: to Beth | May 8, 2007 8:19 AM

If you can't afford to plan out a pregnancy and be off to take care of your baby, then you shouldn't be having a baby. I've been on both sides, as an employee (who was pregnant) and an owner of a business with employees. The business is under no obligation to pay for you to be off to have a baby - so anything a company gives is a bonus and should be considered that. It urks me when people feel entitled and that someone else should pay their way through life. This is your life and the decisions you make come with circumstances. If you have a baby, plan to save beforehand, make sacrifices and face the fact that you might have to shop at yard sales for baby stuff or eat mac and cheese while your "bonding". Why do people feel someone else should pay their way in life?

Posted by: Karen | May 8, 2007 8:20 AM

I live in Switzerland. Women pay into a kind of mandatory 'maternity insurance' which allows us to take three months for each child. Pretty good eh? Although this is nothing compared to Germany.

Posted by: Sue | May 8, 2007 8:24 AM

My wife works for a small company that has no maternity leave policy (they've never had a pregnant employee!). When she becomes pregnant, she'll either have to take time off unpaid and/or use up whatever little leave time she's saved to that point (but they've got a maximum annual limit on how much you can save; two weeks IIRC). The company is too small to qualify for FMLA, too, so having 3 weeks paid and 6 weeks at 60% salary sounds good to me.

Fortunately for us, I've got nearly 200 sick days and keep my vacation leave maxed out at 30 all the time, so I'll be able to stay out once as long as necessary when we do have a baby to help her out.

Posted by: John L | May 8, 2007 8:24 AM

Michele, first off, thanks for reminding me about how well I'm managing my own personal finances.

I mean, if you are in your 40's, dual income with only 1 child, professional career and all, and you are living paycheck to paycheck and worried about paying the bills after a few weeks off work to the point where you are looking for a new company to work for solely based on their maternity leave policy, I don't really know what to say to you other than suggesting short term credit to finance the "bonding" period.


OK, I live from paycheck to paycheck too, but hay, I've got excuses: I'm in the thick of raising 4 kids, living in one of the most expensive areas in the United States, competing in a technical field without a college degree, and have a chronic illness and a severe, dehabilitating handicap.

Thanks for today's ego trip! I was feeling a little down this morning.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 8, 2007 8:25 AM

My company gives 6 weeks short-term disability (60%), then another 6 unpaid to round out the FMLA. I heard something about a week of full pay rather than 60% for every year of service up to 6, but I don't know if that's official. Should be finding out in the next month, though. Depending on how the first 6 weeks go, I'm going to try to take on some part-time work (my same job) to help offset the unpaid part. Thankfully we can live on my husband's salary alone (just not as nicely) so a couple of months without mine isn't going to plunge us into debt.

Posted by: SPC | May 8, 2007 8:26 AM

I always scratch my head at these economic arguments AGAINST societal support of childbirth and parental leave. Healthy, well-raised children are an essential, long-term investment. If you choose not to have children and everyone else your age does the same because of some of the "if-you-can't-afford-it-tough-luck" arguments, then where will you be in thirty years or so?

As with anything else necessary to the good of an entire society (roads, police force, etc.), it makes sense for the entire society to support childbirth and parental leave to a reasonable degree. The U.S. is extreme in its dismissal of the value of children. Note Beth's statistics on other countries.

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 8:27 AM

This just speaks volumes about the moral decay of society, when people now openly pay to get STD!

...ok... well, someone had to say it, and I figured it might as well be me.

Seriously though, (ok, not really), I thought this was the age of tough elitist women who can do anything. After all, your "ancestors" supposedly popped the kids out and continued running/hunting. Now wouldn't that be empowering? You would have total bragging rights to lord (or lady) over EVERYONE. Imagine going back to work the next day and being the one to set the bar so high. With the extra money you make you can even pay for daycare!

Posted by: Chris | May 8, 2007 8:28 AM

"I live in Switzerland. Women pay into a kind of mandatory 'maternity insurance'"

There you go, sounds like a tax on women! (See yesterday's blog)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 8, 2007 8:29 AM

Ha! I was just talking about this yesterday with another mom. For all of the family values blather that goes on, there is no walk behind the talk. Childbirth is hard and get harder as you get older. Miss Britney is NOT average. By failing to pass nominal mandated leave, we allow corporations to put their employees last. .0000? of Exxon's record profit would probably cover 4 weeks of paid leave for anyone who wanted it. And how about those multi-million dollar bonuses CEO's get? Let see admin. asst. at 700 week equals 2,800 for 4 weeks, times 30 people equals 84,000. Which out of a bonus of 10 million is .0084. A few less dinners at Morton's. Our priorities are warped in this country.

Posted by: NC Mom | May 8, 2007 8:31 AM

I agree wholeheartedly with Mimi.

I consider myself a feminist, and a liberal, but definitely into personal responsiblity, nonetheless. If you want a baby, YOU pay for the baby. Not your company and not (by default) your single, childless co-workers who have to shoulder your burden while you're out for two years and then re-materialize. Not fair.

I think in the rush toward mother's rights, we've forgotten that plenty of women are not mothers and don't want to be. Are we just non-entities? I don't think so.

I think we also can't forego rationale. Of COURSE I don't want to hire someone who plans to be preggers within the next month. If I wanted to have a vacancy, I wouldn't be hiring, now would I?

That a lot of muddle brained thinking parades around as feminism really infuriates me. Feminism is about women's rights - EQUAL rights - not special rights.

Posted by: DW | May 8, 2007 8:31 AM

I'm seriously contemplating finding a new job in my field (law), in part because my small firm doesn't have anything close to maternity leave, and my husband and I are going to be looking at having kids in the next few years. I love my current employer, but we're too small to qualify for FMLA unpaid leave, and we only get 2 weeks of vacation a year (which doesn't rollover). On the other hand, the large law firms almost all offer twelve weeks of paid maternity leave, because they have to in order to compete with each other for associates, and that's very, very tempting. It makes me sad, though, that I might have to leave a job I like in order to be able to afford to have kids.

Posted by: Kate | May 8, 2007 8:32 AM

I got 8 weeks paid STD leave at 100% plus an additional 2 weeks "paid maternity leave" that my firm offered, which was very nice. With my saved vacation time, I was fully paid for 12 1/2 of the 16 weeks I got. Was it enough?

Of course not. I think it's absurd that this country -- the greatest country in the world -- is hanging with third-world countries when it comes to paid maternity leave. Our government (especially our current administration) pays a lot of lip service to the importance of family and the sanctity of motherhood, but it doesn't put its money where its mouth is. I would absolutely be willing to pay more taxes in return for parents being able to be home if they choose with their kids for 12-18 months after birth.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 8:32 AM

Maternity leave is a BENEFIT, not a right. It is one of many benefits employers can offer to attract candidates. Is it fair that you are evaluating companies based on maternity leave? It seems you may plan on working for a short period before taking a long absence. What if you decided to stay home with the kids instead of returning to work? How fair would that be to your new employer who paid out $x in maternity leave for a relatively new-hire?

Posted by: Non-Mom | May 8, 2007 8:32 AM

3 weeks paid, 9 weeks 60%? That sounds great! And I agree with the others. You can't save 1 month's worth of salary to take the full 12 weeks? If you're in a 2 professional household, you need to reprioritize.

The fed system isn't too bad, but I'm so envious of my friends at big pharma. People talk about fed benefits, but really the only benefit is stability. My big pharma friends have KILLER benefits.

So, as feds, we can take all of our sick and vacation time for maternity leave. If that's less than 12 weeks, the balance is without pay. If that's less than 6 weeks we can ask for leave donations to get it up to 6 weeks (8 weeks with a C-section). If you're in this latter category I STRONGLY encourage you to ask for donations. At the NIH alone, the number of hours that people allow to expire is astonishing. It's gone, into the ether, when it could be yours! If you're one of those crazy people who has vacation time expiring, please donate it. You can always give it to someone going through chemo or recovering from surgery, etc if you're opposed to giving it to someone who got pregnant.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 8:36 AM

Non-Mom -- Of course it is fair that people evaluate a new job based on the benefits. Anyone who doesn't look at the big picture is making a huge mistake. I've had secretaries leave for a new firm because they're getting a $5 K increase in salary, and they don't realize that the new firm doesn't have profit-sharing like we do, and they're actually losing money overall. If a benefit such as maternity leave is important to you, you'd better be looking at it, because taking 3-4 months off unpaid for many people would be a financial hardship.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 8:36 AM

Older fed employee here. Unlike other feds who have already posted, I think we have good benefits. We do not have a special category called 'maternity leave', but we do have sick and annual leave, and some offices even have comp time so you can work late to build additional time off.

If you haven't saved enough sick leave, you can borrow 6 weeks worth and there is also a leave donation program. Even though it will take about 2.5 years to pay back 6 weeks of sick leave, at least there is an option to be paid during that time. You will still accrue annual leave while paying back sick leave, so it's not as if you have no leave for 2 years if you borrow for maternity.

When I first came to work, the policy was that you could only be off for the time you were physically incapacitated, i.e, 6 weeks (8 weeks for C-section). By the time I had my first, I took 4 months, fully paid because of the leave I had saved. Admittedly, I worked here for some years before having the first. The second was born 4 years later, and I also had 4 months fully paid using a combination of my sick leave, borrowed sick leave, and annual leave. It was hard coming back to work with no sick leave for 2 years with 2 kids under 5, but it just meant that we took long weekends rather than real vacations until I was again earning sick leave in addition to annual leave.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 8:38 AM

Not sure if that was directed at me, Non-Mom, but if it was: first of all, I will not stay home with the kids for more than 12 weeks. Ever. End of story. No need to get into the reasons here, but they are sufficient for me. Second, you're required to work at least a year at most of these companies to qualify for the maternity leave. That doesn't really sound like a short period to me. Third, maternity leave is a benefit. Why can't I evaluate it in making job decisions the same way someone else might evaluate health insurance or salary?

Finally, you're missing the biggest reason someone might want to move to a company with better maternity benefits: it indicates that the company, for whatever reason (social conscience, attracting better candidates, etc.), is making support for parents a priority. In a crazy-hours, fast-paced industry, knowing that your employer isn't going to value you less because you have kids is vitally important.

Posted by: Kate | May 8, 2007 8:39 AM

While I found it interesting to see how other countries handle it, I am wondering what the trade offs are.

Also, I'm not sure it is up to the business community to "value families." Seems to me, that is a parents job and while I think that we as a whole aren't doing a great job at that, I think it has a lot to do with choosing us over our kids.

If you choose to work full time while your child is small, that is your choice but you have to know going into it that you won't be as present and as involved as someone who is home full time. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, but by design you are balancing priorities.

We can't then turn around and demand the government and business "value families" and make up for any gaps left by our choice.

All of this about maternity leave and time at work to breastfeed and flexible hours so you can go to the pre-school tea--all of it is great if you can get it but it's when people start to demand it that I get nuts...someone above said they were sick of paying for other people's choices. I agree.

Posted by: Chris 1458 | May 8, 2007 8:40 AM

non-mom, people who abuse the system have to payback. You get 12 weeks FML for every year of service.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 8:42 AM

Paying for other people's choices is part of being in a civilized society. If you don't feel like participating, go hang out with the crazies in a commune or government-hating group in the midwest. At the very least quite complaining about it, because it isn't going to change. Ever.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 8:42 AM

the feds may not get "maternity" leave but we get 13 days of sick leave per year that accrue into infinity and anywhere from 13 to 26 days of annual/personal leave every year of which we can carry over 240 hours into the next year. In addition to all that, feds can use up to 240 hours of advanced sick leave (yes, we can run a negative balance), we can advance our annual/personal days (as much as we earn during the leave year) and we can apply for leave donations. Oh, did I mention FMLA?

Federal employees are out of line if they are complaining that we don't get "maternity" leave.

Posted by: federal employee | May 8, 2007 8:43 AM

Working MomX--you can stay home with your child for 12 -18 months Quit your job.

Posted by: Chris 1458 | May 8, 2007 8:44 AM

So I think IF as a society we think that some leave for parents is a good thing then there needs to be a way to fund it. In some countries it is funded like unemployment insurance, for example.

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 08:19 AM

Ummm...unemployment insurance, both state and federal, is paid by your employer. And before some of you geniuses start bleating, it does NOT come out of your paycheck. At ALL.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 8:45 AM

It seems like the free market is an important factor here. Companies have to offer better benefits if the people coming to work there expect it. Otherwise, those people will go to work somewhere else. Isn't it just as important, then, for companies to pay attention to "family values" issues like mat/pat leave as it is for them to pay attention to the salary range in the market for a given position?

Posted by: Kate | May 8, 2007 8:45 AM

Chris 1458 (obviously not the real Chris), you are missing my point.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 8:46 AM

As a society we pay for other people's choices all the time. Families are paying right now because our mental health system is broken and no one wants to pay what it would actually cost to fix it. We pay for more prisons when we decide that excellent addiction rehabilitation costs too much. The list goes on.

Posted by: NC Mom | May 8, 2007 8:48 AM

"Paying for other people's choices is part of being in a civilized society"

Then I guess I'd rather not be civilized! I don't mind paying when people can't do something (work), but if they CHOOSE not to, that's not civilization, that's being taken advantage of.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 8:48 AM

Last year when I had my daughter, I took off 6 weeks (2 weeks of my leave and 4 weeks 60% STD/40% leave) then worked part time (30-32 hours/week) for 12 weeks. During that time, my husband stayed home with the baby 2 mornings a week and I'd get 2 6-hour periods in the office per week, getting the rest done from home. This worked out pretty well but was very demanding. My employer needed me to do it because I am the manager and my group was in the midst of a really demanding project. It was kind of a blur, but we managed to put off the need for daycare until our daughter was more than 4 months old.

And for all of you who say maternity leave or taking time to be with a baby is unfair, that same year I had one employee who was off 3 times for various surgeries and took more time than I did and an employee who was off for a large chunk of time while her husband was very ill. I don't begrudge them the time they needed and they did not begrudge the time I took. Life happens and we should all try to be more decent to one another, corporations and companies and governments included.

Posted by: MaryB | May 8, 2007 8:49 AM

how come I'm not real just because someone else has my name or i have hers--i'm real darnit! :) unless it's all just a big brains in a vat philosophical thing and this is the reality i created which is a downright scary thought...

Posted by: Chris 1458 | May 8, 2007 8:50 AM

It is all about choices that you get to make for what is right and best for you.
As I seid early on, you can not have it all. You have to make choices with the limited economic resources at your disposal. Just like we all do.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 8:51 AM

to atb, so suck it up or go somewhere else.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 8:51 AM

Kate,

My husband works at a firm where they get 12 weeks PATERNITY leave - full pay. Granted, he would never be able to use it fully if we were to have kids, but he would at least be able to work from home for a while. Yea - he works a lot now. We are thinking about making a change just - making a lot of money doesn't make up for the little bit of time we have together - and he is ALWAYS tied to his Blackberry. There just a lot of trade offs. . .no matter where you go, even Austria, it sounds like.

Posted by: WAMC | May 8, 2007 8:51 AM

real life story- When I was in the AF, I had a captain for a short period of time, who was always out. It was a 2 person office, and the poor MSgt was always stuck in it and could never get ANY time off. Why? The captain kept getting pregnant. Fully within her right and all, but she was always on maternity leave, getting paid full salary to have babies, leaving one person to constantly stay late and attempt to do her job as well. She had three, one after the other, when she was on assignment there. When I came into the picture with a new (female) captain to take over, so the old captain could rotate out to get her advanced degree we were both apalled at the mess that awaited us. So little had been done in the last 4+ years! The MSgt had done as much as he could in the couple years he was there, but despite being a workaholic, the records and everything were in shambles. The new capt got deployed shortly after getting there. It took us nearly 2 years to get the place operating smoothly. Some people game the system, and it costs everyone. If it is a woman, you can not dare say anything about it because it is not PC to do so. So you get stuck with awful looking performance without any excuse. However, when I, as a man, would attempt to take part of a day for a medical reason I would get all sorts of flak from higher up- despite my willingness to make up for lost time and a dedication to always get the job done. Double standards, anyone?

You can not deny someone their right to children, but at the same time, I can see why companies may not want to lose tons of money if someone is not going to be contributing to the "mission." This is definitely something that needs balanced.

Posted by: Chris | May 8, 2007 8:51 AM

Let me get this straight, its so very important for mothers to be home with their kids when they are tiny that we as a nation should subsidize that, but when they are older it is a "choice" and a happy mommy is more important than a present one. But please give us cheap, quality childcare for our kids so we can be happy role models. So ladies, which is it - is it important to be home or not?

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 8:52 AM

Maternity leave is a relatively new thing. Remember, there was a time when women weren't allowed to work if they were pregnant, and most never returned to work once there were children. As time went on, more and more mothers joined the workforce and stayed there, even when there were not any maternity benefits at all. Now there are more benefits than ever, yet people still want more (not saying this is good or bad, just commenting). Over time, women have done what they had to do. I had a neighbor who returned to work weeks after having twins because sometimes you just do what you have to. She sucked it up and did the best she could and moved forward - I admire her greatly for this.

My point is that maternity policies have really come a long way, even if there is still room for improvement. If your company doesn't have the best policy, think of what you need to do to work around that before you become pregnant.

The lack of maternity policies has never, and will never, stop women from having babies - individual women, mabye, but not women as a whole.

Posted by: huh? | May 8, 2007 8:53 AM

I think that, if you are PLANNING a family, you should be able to plan your finances so that you can afford to take time off after the birth. I can't believe the guest blogger was complaining because she might have to take a cut in pay to stay home!

While I'm sorry for the posters who work for organizations with much worse policies, I'm glad they have let this woman know how lucky she is.

The real issue I have is, why do we only want paid maternity leave? Why not 12 weeks at half-pay (not to be taken at intervals less than 2 years, or earned in similar ways to vacation, sick time etc) for FAMILY leave -- to care for sick parents, for DADS to be home for 12 weeks after moms, or other life/health crises?

Posted by: educmom | May 8, 2007 8:54 AM

I don't have a problem with society paying for some people's choices. But it's a two-way street. An employer who seeks flexible working hours to take care of kids (or ailing parents, or the dog) is still trying to do their job, they just need to be able to do so in a less-traditional framework temporarily.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a whole other kettle of fish for people to expect that their boss (or anyone else) will pay them for a purely personal benefit. What I got from the original poster today is that she wants to have another baby, but she doesn't want to lose any of her sick or vacation time to do so, nor does she want to have to rely on savings for any of the time she wants to spend with her newborn. Basically, she wants to make no sacrifice at all so that she can have her baby and some extra bonding time. That goes way beyond the pale. If she can find an employer who will give her what she wants, wonderful. But it bugs me that she seems to think such a boon should be a right, instead of the extremely great privilege it would actually be.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 8, 2007 8:56 AM

I get 6 weeks at 60%. It's not maternity leave, it is short term disability. It's the same thing as if one of my childless, single friends fell down and broke something or had to have surgery with one exception, they might be out longer depending on what happened. The doctor can't write me a not and say I need a few more weeks to recover.

I am tired of hearing that my 6 weeks of disability is hurting the single people.

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 8:56 AM

How can this woman be 42 and not have enough savings to cover a short break in employment? Why doesn't she start planning/saving now? What is she going to do if she loses her job tomorrow?

Some small companies really can't afford to pay you for work you're not doing. Remember, having kids means a sacrifice - money, sleep, your independence. Why do you expect someone else to pay 100% of your salary for work you're not doing?

Posted by: AJM | May 8, 2007 8:56 AM

pb&j- It is only important to recuperate from what, for some, is major surgery. I think the baby issue obfuscates the whole thing.

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 8:58 AM

That IS a generous policy. Where have you been living before this? Sweden?

I mean, I understand your concerns. Believe me, I wish we had a much better family leave law in this country, but due to Republicans, we don't. Instead, we have the "screw-over-the-babies-and-throw-them-into-daycare-ASAP" policy.

Posted by: Ryan | May 8, 2007 8:58 AM

This policy sounds good to me. At my first job, maternity benefits were 2 weeks for an employee's first year. I think any time beyond that was unpaid. At my current job, the maternity benefit is 66% of your pay for 8 weeks. After that, you use your PTO, which goes very quickly. Then unpaid leave. We are allowed up to 12 weeks off, per FMLA, no questions asked but you can request more (although not many do). When I was pregnant with my son nearly 4 years ago, I requested -- and was granted -- 6 months off. We "funded" most of my 6 months off by using money we had put into savings knowing our plan for me to stay home for 6 months.

The HR response was reasonable in saying that other employees handle their leave by preparing for it (saving, etc.) I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I honestly don't think any of this was unreasonable.

I realize I'm very fortunate to work on a team that respects family time and outside responsibilities. If I had to be "wired in" to the office 24/7, I'd leave.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 8, 2007 9:00 AM

"to atb, so suck it up or go somewhere else"

That's one of my favorite trollisms. "Then LEAVE!" Not, then vote, then talk to your congressperson. Nope. "LEAVE!"

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 9:00 AM

"Ummm...unemployment insurance, both state and federal, is paid by your employer. And before some of you geniuses start bleating, it does NOT come out of your paycheck. At ALL."

In Canada, it comes out of both the employer side and straight off the employee's paycheque as a deduction.

When people lose their jobs the FIRST time they get unemployment insurance for free. (up to 9 months' worth). The second, third, etc., times, they still get benefits but have to repay a portion of them once they are back to work. The "payback" system makes the EI system replete with cash to fund maternity leave, as well as caregiving leave (up to 6 weeks to care/arrange care for a terminally ill relative).

And yes, it is a deduction and some people would rather not pay it, but that is the process of deciding what a society will or won't fund. We all vote on that in some way, so.

The Canadian system obviously would not work wholesale in the US, but I think it shows there might be ways to fund brief leaves. People in the US constantly complain that there is No Way to fund things, but there is. (Look at the military budget!)

I read that in some countries this effects employment of women. I haven't seen any stats on women working in Canada vs. women working in the US, so I don't know. As a woman I might be more apt to think of that kind of thing as a -discrimination- issue rather than a -leave- issue, as long as the employer isn't funding the leave.

If the employer has to fund it based on how many pregnant people end up in that company, of course that company is not going to want to. If the premiums are the same for every individual regardless of sex, and the company's only cost is some inconvenience (which under the FMLA the company is ALREADY required to deal with), then I don't see how it could effect hiring.

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 9:02 AM

to atb, well you said you didn't want to be part of society, which includes voting and representation, so SORRY if I made the mistake of assuming you didn't realize that.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 9:02 AM

I don't see many people complaining against people using the short-term disabliity benefits offered by their employers. But the guest blogger wants way more than that -- she's complaining that the 9 weeks she gets at 60% pay isn't enough, even coupled with her vacation and sick leave time and the three weeks of fully paid maternity offered by the employer.

I can't speak for anyone else, but it's the expectation of more on top of the already-generous policy that's annoying.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 8, 2007 9:03 AM

Let's be clear. There is no such thing as a free ride. If you are going to get "paid" for work you aren't doing - aka maternity leave, then you/someone is paying for it somewhere.

Countries with good maternity benefits have OUTRAGEOUS taxes. There is also a greater tendancy to DISCRIMINATE against women of child bearing age.

Women in America have more economic opportunities than in any other country. This is part of the price we pay. You can't have it all - low taxes, work opportunity, paid maternity leave.

Posted by: Tax ? | May 8, 2007 9:03 AM

My female counterpart has a good point in that we should not be forced to pay for the choices of others. However, the overwhelming need is for someone to be raising the kids and instilling values in them. The system needs better managed, and were that the case, I think it would not necessarily increase the taxpayer burden. If you look at the bigger picture, people have been having kids and making it work for a long time. Perhaps that means someone gets to be a stay at home parent for a while. Perhaps that means giving up an income so you can spend time with the child you chose to have. Kids are a reward, right? It might mean sacrifices, but you always pay for the choices you make, or did nobody get lessons in responsibility?

Posted by: Chris | May 8, 2007 9:04 AM

IMO, medical recovery time from childbirth, which is usually 6-8 weeks, should be treated by the employer as any other health issue. Whatever sick time policy is in place should apply to childbirth recovery. Beyond that period of time, each employer should be able to offer whatever package is necessary to attract and keep the women they wish to employ.

If I had to choose between returning to work after medical recovery, but having flexibility for sick child, dr appts, school closed days, etc OR twelve weeks maternity but no flexibility upon return to work, I would actually choose the shorter maternity leave. This is based on personal experience. The stress of working with no flexibility when you have children is much worse than the awful feelings you have returning to work sooner than you like after childbirth.

Posted by: xyz | May 8, 2007 9:05 AM

I am just trying to imagine (I have no kids) taking off twelve weeks or more of work! I am not trying to sound snarky here at all, just tring to imagine being away that long. Any other childless folk feel the same?

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 9:05 AM

Let think about this... you say insurance doesn't come out of your pay check "at all", but doesn't it really? Your employer has to pay it, which means they have less money to go around, which means your paycheck is LOWER. Duh! Do you think employers are so altruistic that THEY take a pay cut? No.

I lived in Canada for several years. Not so great. Health care is not anywhere the level of care I receive in the US - not to mention that taxes are a whopping 50%. There is no free ride. You pay for it somewhere.

Posted by: To Shandra | May 8, 2007 9:07 AM

I must say I was expecting a more positive conversation than this one!

When I had my son three years ago, my company gave me three months leave. Full pay, full seniority, full vacation/sick leave accruals. I did not have to use vacation or sick leave.

Yes, I hand-wrote a thank you note to the CEO who lived out of town and thanked personally the one who lived in town.

He looked at me, a little confused, blinked, and said "But that's how I've always thought it should be, so it was common sense to do it that way."

When I came back from leave and wanted to work an 80% schedule, it was done with maybe an hour's worth of conversation. The head of HR called me to talk to me about it because she'd done the same thing and wanted to make sure I didn't repeat some of the mistakes she'd made (like agreeing to participate in conference calls on her day off).

And, yes, doom-sayers, I worked for them another two years and got excellent performance reviews.

So, Michelle, keep looking. Make sure when you decline positions like the one you described that you tell them what turned you off. They'll never know they're offering crap unless you tell them.

Posted by: stunned by the comments | May 8, 2007 9:08 AM

I understand the frustration that women who are not mothers feel when they see the benefits that are given for maternity leave. However, these women, myself included, need to remember that maternity leave is an investment in our next generation. Should childless households stop paying property taxes that support local schools? Of course not. Educating young people is an investment in our country's future. Similarly, we need to support maternity rights and benefits, even if we are not a direct recipient of them. Unfortunately our society has become too individualistic. We need to think about our society as a whole and we need to care for the whole and not get caught up in what is she getting that I am not getting. Let's remember the common good! We should support our female colleagues in their quest for good benefits. But, mothers-to-be need to be careful to not become overly entitled and expect too much. While I support decent maternity benefits, I also feel that there must be be personal responsibility in making lifestyle changes (saving, etc.) to accomodate your choice to have children.

Posted by: Bernadette | May 8, 2007 9:10 AM

"I am just trying to imagine (I have no kids) taking off twelve weeks or more of work! I am not trying to sound snarky here at all, just tring to imagine being away that long. Any other childless folk feel the same?"

From what I saw and discussed with my wife, it's kind of surreal to take a break from your work life for 12 weeks. Add to that a new baby, and it's an intense experience.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 9:10 AM

From what I saw and discussed with my wife, it's kind of surreal to take a break from your work life for 12 weeks. Add to that a new baby, and it's an intense experience.


Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 09:10 AM
Sounds like it would be...though I suppose for a new mom (or dad) it probably flies by.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 9:11 AM

Michele - I hear you loud and clear. I just had my son six months ago and I seriously do not understand the way this country views childbirth and child rearing. There are only a few select countries in this world that do not have paid maternity leave and we live in one of them. It's a very sad state of affairs and it doesn't look like its going to change. Best bet is to save as much as possible all the time to have an emergency fund. However, it is not fair at all. http://becki325.wordpress.com/

Posted by: Becki | May 8, 2007 9:13 AM

Me -- it does fly by, but in some respects it feels like forever too. My wife got antsy and did resume phone and e-mail contact with the office after a couple of weeks -- I think it was important for her to stay in touch with her "work self."

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 9:14 AM

1) Federal employees do NOT get a separate additional leave for maternity/paternity purposes. Federal employees may use their vacation/Annual or sick leave or unpaid leave for this purpose. You can only use a maximum of 8 weeks sick leave for maternity/paternity purposes unless your doctor claims you need more. So if you have 40 weeks of sick leave, you can still only use 8 of them for maternity/paternity purpsoses. The rest has to be used from annual leave. You can also borrow (run a negative balance) and ask for donated leave.
2) When I was pregnant, I had already been a federal employee for 7 years. I had about 16 weeks of sick leave (as a single women-I was rarely sick prior to my child) and 240 hours or 6 weeks of annual leave. My daughter was born in January, so for that leave year of her birth, I also accrued 4 more weeks of annual and 13 days of sick leave. I took a 4 months off after the birth and a few weeks prior to the birth for maternity. I was on bed rest a week and half before delivery. I could do all that because I had worked for 7 years before the birth of my child. We did not plan to wait that long, I just did not marry till I was 30 years old. I can see how it would be very difficult for someone in their first year of working for the federal government to have a baby and another baby in the next year or so.
3) I think the leave that she was offered was actually generous. On top of her sick and annual leave, she was given an ADDITIONAL 3 weeks paid and a possible 9 weeks at 60% pay. That is a lot better then most companies out there and the federal government.
4) She is absolutely entitled and should look at the total benefits package before choosing a job. Your a fool not to look at the total benefits package. Your true compensation is salary plus benefits plus flexibility.
5) Over all, I think the federal government does have great benefits. Stability is a huge one but we also have good medical and now dental coverage. I am not sure why people think it is so bad. I wonder how many of them have spent time in the private sector. I have worked in private industry for a company that had great benefits too. The trade off was the amount of hours expected far exceeded 40 hours a week. They actually had unlimited sick leave but you can bet people dragged themselves into work when they were really sick to get the work done. None of this, I feel slightly sick today I will call in.
5) As far as her finances are concerned, lets not jump the gun. I think a lot of people who are two income probably don't have 40% salary socked away for emergencies. Not to mention, I bet she has it in retirement accounts and other investments that she did not "think" she could liquidate to cover a short term disability stay. If everyone waited to be able to afford kids, we would probably see a drop in the population by around 80%. Most people in this country do not have 3-6 months of their salary saved outside of retirement.
6) Even though we feel our family is probably finished, we are confident that my agency has started a short term disability insurance program. I believe we are one of the only federal agencies to do so. I am not sure if other feds will follow suit. But it allows 6 months short term disability at 60% pay. I am not sure of all the details because it is a fairly new program. But I think if I ever have a surprise pregnancy, then we will use this program. I am not sure if we will have to switch our insurance over to my husband at open season, as he is a fed employee as well. But other then that, I think if you were the sole insurance carrier, you may have to pick up the employer portion of the insurance coverage during that stay. Again, I am not sure of all the details. I will try to look them up today and get back with you guys. After my daughter was born, I still had around 8 weeks of sick leave and maximum annual leave. I was shocked how much sick leave she used after the maternity period. She has a lot of doctors appointments due to her developmental delays. So it is not wise to go down to a 0 balance or negative balance after maternity leave. Having this new short term disability leave would insure if we had baby #2, then we would still have sick leave in the balance for our two children in case of illness after the maternity period. Oh by the way, you could also use the STD for illness to you or any primary member of your family. It is for maternity/paternity leave. And if your single you could still get cancer or your mother could get sick. You can also use it for an adoption.
7) Lastly, I agree with the poster who said if you have leave that will expire, please donate it. There are some sick people out there who could use the extra leave.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 9:15 AM

To Me -
On one hand, yes, I was SO ready to return to work (part time) after 4 months at home with baby #1, but on the other, life at work does go on without you!

Posted by: 37 weeks with baby#2 | May 8, 2007 9:15 AM

I have to agree with Laura. And, I am extremely surprised at how dismissive the folks on this Board are about maternity leave. And, I am posting with an amount of disgust that I rarely felt in reading this Board.

Limited time off with little or no diminished pay is not "asking for someone to pay your way in life." It is asking for help and flexibility during an extremely difficult time -emotionally and physically- and for a purpose that benefits society as a whole. Others have noted the positive investment in parental involvement. But, also, where do you think the future generations of doctors, engineers, etc. are going to come from? Where do you think the future payees of this country's social programs -in the current form or some other form- will come from? Have we become so self-centered that we cannot see the positives of limited, paid parental leave?

BTW, I am 39 wks. pregnant and funding my 12 weeks paid wholly on my own through vacation/sick leave (I'm a fed). I have asked for nothing from anyone on this front and was happy just to know that I could fund it. Luckily, in addition to that, my supervisors are extremely understanding -moreso than many of you on this board it seems - and have been flexible with accommodating me in many ways.

I am also relieved to see what good planners most of you are. Knowing when you'll have children and how to fund XX number of children by banking your leave well enough in advance . . . how much better you must feel about yourselves to know that others are not up to your standards. GMAB. Things happen. Accidents happen. Life happens. Not all things can be planned for. And, I say this as someone who IS a planner and did plan for our child. But, I know that is not always the case.

I just wish that companies who offer little/no benefits in this area realize that they are foregoing able, loyal employees. But, seeing the cynical, self-centered opinions of the folks on this board makes me realize that those companies' views are not likely to change in the near future if the people that they are meant to benefit -parents- also don't see the value of this offerings.

Posted by: JS | May 8, 2007 9:16 AM

To 9:07: Of course there are tradeoffs.

I just think that mat leave - perhaps not the whole year long one, but a brief one - is something I would rather pay for than a lot of things my US taxes pay for (I'm a dual citizen and pay in both countries, depending on the year and the type of income and where it was produced.)

I think there is a lot of talk about the high standard of living in the US and the great opportunities for women, but I am not sure I see it globally. Yes, health care is better in the US, no question - for those who have good insurance. Yes, taxes are lower - but so is minimum wage, so if someone is at the low end of the spectrum, there may not be any difference effectively.

As someone whose generally middle-class family falls on both sides of the border, I don't see a lot of difference over the course of a lifetime. Each other's homes are more or less equivalent. The difference that I see is that my Canadian relatives do tend to do with a little less - drive older cars, etc. My American relatives don't, until something happens and they lose their job and their health insurance, or have to quit a job due to a preemie baby, and then their lifestyle tanks. (Sometimes to be regained.)

I favour a bit more social net, myself. That's where I fit on the spectrum. Obviously the majority of voters are not with me. I just think the knee-jerk "We can't afford that! Our vaunted quality of life would suffer!" is often a little overblown. Frankly I'm wondering about the Iraq war bill and what impact that debt is going to have.

Anyways I'll get down off the soapbox now. :-)

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 9:16 AM

IMO, medical recovery time from childbirth, which is usually 6-8 weeks, should be treated by the employer as any other health issue.

Anyone who has had more than one child knows that it does NOT take 6-8 weeks to recover. You don't have 6-8 weeks. I'd rather go to an office than chase a two year old 1 week post delivery.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 9:16 AM

"I seriously do not understand the way this country views childbirth and child rearing. There are only a few select countries in this world that do not have paid maternity leave and we live in one of them"

I'm surprised to read this comment since I believe that this country views childbirth and child rearing from the point of view that the mother should be home with the children until they go to school. If mothers are expected to stay home, why would maternity leave be necessary?

Disclaimer - this is not my personal opinion.

Posted by: anon for this | May 8, 2007 9:19 AM

I think those policies sound generous.
Way back when, when I was on maternity leave it was your accrued sick/vacation leave. You were welcome to take as much LWOP as you wanted.

I was in my 20s, and we got by. Baby rode in the back of an old car, at that point we didn't have a dishwasher beyond Mom, and I went back part-time after a couple of weeks. I still feel fortunate that my employer was willing to let me work a flexible schedule during that time as it allowed me to stretch my maternity leave out considerably.

If our guest blogger is in her 40s, she's senior, and presumably got more set aside to tide her over.

It would be wonderful if we had a system like the Europeans with lots of paid leave and job security -- but we don't. So I guess I think that the arrangement the guest blogger was considering wasn't all that bad.

Posted by: RoseG | May 8, 2007 9:19 AM

To: Me @ 9:05

I am just trying to imagine (I have no kids) taking off twelve weeks or more of work! I am not trying to sound snarky here at all, just tring to imagine being away that long. Any other childless folk feel the same?

______________________

Let me introduce you to my friend Clark. Clark was injured in a car accident and was out of work for six months. Oh, Clark is in his 50's, has been a fed for 30 years and all of his kids are long since out of the house so he's effectively "childless". (He's also a widower; his wife died of cancer 10 years ago.)

Then I'll introduce you to my friend Susan. Susan is single and childless; she also had a heart attack at age 27 and was out of work for more than 4 months recuperating.

(And yes these are real people and real circumstances.)

The point being that the post from "Me" implied that being out of work for 12 weeks was essentially a "vacation". It's not necessarily the case; it's a medical situation. Whem DW was having our kids, the doctors stated that six weeks was the normal recovery time for a normal vaginal birth with no complications. That's the medical reason. Now I realize I was just the husband, but that seemed to be realistic; it wasn't a "vacation" notwithstanding the small person in the room.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 8, 2007 9:19 AM

I will go on maternity leave in July. Paid 100 percent for first six weeks (eight if it is a c-section) then burn two weeks of accrued vacation (the max I'm allowed to carry over) and then zero pay for the remaining four weeks to round out my 12 weeks under FMLA.

We've been saving since January to be able to make the bills, and we sacrifice too. Our home computer recently died. Replacing it is not in the budget right now. Boy it is totally taking some getting used to, living without it. We have no credit debt and want to stay away from that pitfall.

We will make the leave work because we are preparing for it. The thing that irks me are the people who look at me "sympathetically" and say "There's no way you'll be able to stay home permanently after the baby is born?" How come they never, ever, never, ever ask my husband that?

Momma is the chief breadwinner. Momma pays the mortgage. She buys the food. She doesn't have that option. I'm ending off topic, I know. Needed to vent.

Posted by: higher.ed.mom | May 8, 2007 9:21 AM

I completely agree with NewSAHM and others who are saying that this policy is generous. When I had my first child, I used my vacation & sick time to cover what wasn't covered by the STD benefit at my company. When I had my twins, I decided to quit my job. I planned for the financial changes this would require and we got by. I'm back to work part time now and my new employer has a similar policy to what was described by the guest blogger.

To the federal workers who are complaining about not having maternity leave....I'd trade my short term disability benefits for your lifetime medical benefits that allow you to retire before age 65 :)

Posted by: MOMto3 | May 8, 2007 9:22 AM

Army brat - I was not trying to imply it was a vacation (did you read the part where I said I wasn't being snarky??). I was just trying to imagine being out of work that long. Not having children does not mean I don't realize how much and time they require.
Sorry about your friends, sounds like a rough time.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 9:22 AM

Yes unemployment insurance *does* come out of your paycheck. Don't you think you would be paid more if your employer didn't have to pay it? Or didn't have to pay their share of the soc security tax? Yes, your salary takes all that into account.

I think that the government has done a lousy job with many other programs over the yrs that I laugh when I hear that we should create more and have them run yet another program.

Yes those other countries have more leave but there is a price to pay for it. Many of it is hidden, as in europe where the average person comparatively here would be called poor.

Businesses should be able to run as they want and if they don't have the best package and you don't work there then perhaps they are losing out. They make decisions by looking at the bottom line-as they should.

We live in a capitalist society and therefore our citizens have a lot of responsibility. That's the way it is and sometimes it isn't fair.

Posted by: atlmom | May 8, 2007 9:23 AM

"I'd rather go to an office than chase a two year old 1 week post delivery.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 09:16 AM "

Then don't have a baby! Seriously, people, we all have choices to make, and there are tradeoffs (speaking as a parent myself).

Also, it seems rather unfair to give new parents 12 weeks off with pay, but those who choose not to have kids get nothing (and probably have to cover for the new parents during the 12 weeks off!). Social good or not, the burden shouldn't fall unfairly on those who choose not to, or cannot, have children.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 9:24 AM

"Yes unemployment insurance *does* come out of your paycheck. Don't you think you would be paid more if your employer didn't have to pay it? Or didn't have to pay their share of the soc security tax? Yes, your salary takes all that into account. "

The reason I made the comment about the insurance not coming out of your paycheck is that so many people swear up and down that they have an actual, literal deduction for FUTA and SUTA. I agree with your point, though.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 9:25 AM

I don't understand why some people who (a) didn't get great maternity benefits or any benefits at all, or (b) don't have children or (c) aren't planning on having them . . .

can't engage in a productive discussion of a topic that probably interests but at the very least affects us all, while looking outside of their own situations and taking into account other people's views, without getting pissy at each other. It is ridiculous. Talk about high school never ending.

Posted by: My 2 cents | May 8, 2007 9:29 AM

Anyone who has had more than one child knows that it does NOT take 6-8 weeks to recover. You don't have 6-8 weeks. I'd rather go to an office than chase a two year old 1 week post delivery.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 09:16 AM

Well, did you get your MD from the same school as my OB/GYN? You may feel fine in a shorter period of time, but that doesn't mean the internal healing is complete. Also, the 8 weeks is for a C-section.

Posted by: to pb&j | May 8, 2007 9:30 AM

Me, apologies if I took your comment the wrong way. Personally, yes I *can* imagine being out of work for 12 weeks at a time, if I could afford it. (No I'm not childless now, but I could imagine being out for 12 weeks even when I was.) There are a lot of things on my "to do before I die" list that I could get accomplished. But, I can't afford 12 weeks time off right now so those things wait.

And I'm not naive or foolish enough to think that life at my employer's place of business wouldn't go on without me were I to take 12 weeks off. It would; the company likely wouldn't go bankrupt; and things would get done. Maybe not as well (I *hope* not as well; it means I'm providing some value:-), but they'd get done.


Because that's my bias - yes, I can imagine being out of work for 12 weeks - I took your comment as implying that these 12 week absences were just long vacations. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 8, 2007 9:32 AM

As a previous poster pointed out, STD is NOT just maternity leave, it can be used for other medical purposes. In my small office (too small for FMLA), three people in the past year have taken the 6 weeks STD to recover from various types of surgery. I used it when I had my baby. I was the only one called at home with questions or asked to do work while out since the reason was that I had a baby - it's not like I was recuperating from surgery (even though I had a c-section). My boss referred to the time I was out as my "vacation." I took an extra two weeks unpaid because there are very few daycares that will take an infant under 8 weeks old. I came back to work 2 months to the day he was born.

My colleagues with older children get to work from home when their kids have a snow day... I came into the office the day my son received his first vaccination shots (husband took him to the ped - his job let him off that day, paid, since day care did not want the baby in that day in case he had a reaction). For some reason, there is concern that my having a baby will be disruptive to my work, but the people with 3 or 4 school-aged children have not been given the talk about keeping work and home separate (unless there is work to take home or our President calls me at 9 pm with a question, then it is ok for the two to mingle).

I like my job, I went on leave with enough money saved to make up the difference of the insurance that I pay for (and which is taxed,actually), I came back to work the first day I could... but why is shoulder surgery given respect and sympathy but people posting to this blog - and at my job - think maternity leave is a walk in the park? For me it was 8 weeks of getting my son on a feeding and napping schedule so I could get back to work.

And to the poster who made a comment about breastfeeding (which is an often enough discussed topic here) - yes, I expect 30 minutes a day to sit in my office with the door closed so I can pump breastmilk for my son. During that time I eat lunch and answer emails, and I still hear snide comments about my "downtime"... however, the smokers can take 5 or 6 cigarette breaks a day at 10 minutes or so a pop, and that's fine.

Posted by: New Mom | May 8, 2007 9:32 AM

Ok, 9:30, time to switch topics! ;-P

Posted by: Chris | May 8, 2007 9:32 AM

The German leave for women is generous, but only 20% of German women with minor children are working full time. As the woman in Austria said earlier, the policy encourages discrimination against women of childbearing age.

Also, they don't have to give you _your_ job back, they have to give you an equivalent job back, even if it's not located near you.

Posted by: US employee for German company | May 8, 2007 9:33 AM

pb&j, I had two c-sections. While I did feel much better sooner with my second (i.e., at the 5 week mark instead of 9 weeks as with my first), there is NO WAY I was running around for weeks and weeks. You're not even supposed to drive a car for 2 weeks after a c-section, for heaven's sake. And while I realize that not everyone has a c-section, don't underestimate the massive impact giving birth has on your body.

If you are a doctor, state your qualifications and present your evidence, but otherwise, and ESPECIALLY because you're not a mother, please pipe down and don't make such foolish assumptions. I for one don't appreciate your insinuations.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 9:34 AM

Paid leave is an option ( a generous one at that) that a company can or cannot choose to offer. I work in the public sector and can only expect to use my accrued sick leave for maternity leave.

Plus, what if you came to this company when you were 55, most likely past baby age. What do you get in return?

Posted by: Arlington | May 8, 2007 9:34 AM

I'm curious about all of the comments about short-term disability and taxes. As it's always been explained to me (through multiple employers) there are two choices:

- if the employee pays the cost of the benefit, then it's 'insurance' which is non-taxable. I don't take home 60% of my top-line paycheck, so 60% Short-term disability payments would be pretty close to what I take home now (granted, I wouldn't be making the contributions to the 401K, but that's about it)

- if the employer pays the cost, then it's a taxable benefit

So every employer I've had, except for the Feds which didn't have this when I worked for them, has the employee pay the cost of the STD insurance. Yes, it means more off my bottom line, but then so does the life insurance, the medical and dental insurance, etc.

Have I been misled all this time re: the taxability? Or do most of you work for employers that pay the STD premiums themselves (or self-insure) so the 60% is taxable?

Posted by: Army Brat | May 8, 2007 9:36 AM

9:24:She isn't getting 12 weeks of pay for having a baby. She is getting 3 weeks full paid maternity. The other 9 weeks is STD. Single childless people could also use 9 weeks STDs. Of course the alternative is you or one of your relatives is sick to use it. Not really the blessing you think it is. But she is only getting an additional 3 weeks maternity. If you think it is so great, then go off and have a kid. No one is stopping you from adopting or giving birth to a child. For all you naysayers that go on about paying her way. Did you ever stop an consider that the mother or father being home with the newborn for the very short period of 12 weeks is in the best interest of the CHILD! And of society. I mean really. Do you really think kids should be put in day care at 3 weeks of age. Get real. Also, yes people will not stop having children if they took away all maternity benefits. And yes people have made having kids work for centuries. But kids also used to work in factories. I don't think we should return to the days of bread lines and making families figure it out themselves. I think most people would agree that we want to try to improve society a little bit at a time.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 9:36 AM

A serious question to the childfree and those with children out there -- have you ever considered taking a leave of absence to do something fun/personally fulfilling, like travel or do research on something that interests you?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 9:37 AM

Chris,
Thank you for pointing out the obvious, which so many posters seemed to dismiss: life is about choices. We can't necessarily have it all, at the same time, on our schedule. The trick is *balancing* (like the title of the blog) our needs and wants. When we marry and have children (yes, I DO think it should be in that order), we have to then consider the needs and wants of our spouse and children as well.
It would be great if all employers were as considerate as we think they should be, but this is the real global economy, and many of you are competing with workers from India, China and Russia (so far, teachers are immune...so far).
Leave policies are not as fair as they should be. There is a societal cost to policy as it is, but there would be a societal cost to making them TOO generous as well.

Posted by: educmom | May 8, 2007 9:37 AM

Plus, what if you came to this company when you were 55, most likely past baby age. What do you get in return?


You get children who work after you retire funding social security and keeping the wheels of society greased for you. Please.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 9:38 AM

I actually don't think the feds are so bad in terms of maternity leave. While there is no official leave time alloted for maternity, the vacation and sick leave benefits are pretty generous, and if you are careful and don't waste your time, you can make do. I had my first child about a year and 3 months after starting to work for the government, and I took 7 weeks off with full pay when my son was born. I would have liked more time, but considering that I was a relatively new employee, I was thrilled with my 7 weeks off. This time around, I have already have 14 weeks of time accrued between sick leave and vacation. I will have more by the time my child is born in December. I will probably take the full 12 weeks at full pay. Not bad.

And I have managed to save this time even though I take two weeks of vacation every year and the occasional day off. It can be done if you are careful.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 9:39 AM

Well, did you get your MD from the same school as my OB/GYN? You may feel fine in a shorter period of time, but that doesn't mean the internal healing is complete. Also, the 8 weeks is for a C-section.

What do you do for a living? pick up garbage. Sitting at a desk is a helluva lot easier than caring for multiple small children at home, but women do it. Do you need to be completely, internally healed to sit at a desk? I think not. Its not like you are laying in bed for 6 weeks completely depleted from the delivery. With all 3 of mine I was home in two days taking care of my family - tired yes, but doing it nonetheless, so for working women to act like they "need" to be home to physically recover, I say bunk. They want to be home until they don't want to be home and then my family is supposed to subsidize that choice too.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 9:41 AM

A serious question to the childfree and those with children out there -- have you ever considered taking a leave of absence to do something fun/personally fulfilling, like travel or do research on something that interests you?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 09:37 AM

I have thought about it...not sure if I could swing it. Would like to volunteer for something Habitat for Humanity and help build a house or two. I know folks who have done that and would do it again.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 9:41 AM

xyz pointed out that it was more important to her to have "flexibility for sick child, dr appts, school closed days" rather than a long maternity leave. When I was working PT, I found the need to miss work to care for a sick child or deal with a snow day very stressful too.

A number of times on the blog, I've seen people make comments about a parent taking time off for the pre-school tea or their kids' soccer games, etc. I've never known anyone who did this. My co-workers who were parents saved any absences for the times when they didn't have much choice about it. If they used a vacation day for a "frivolous" reason, it was their business (they used a vacation day) and not done during a time when their taking a vacation day would have a highly negative impact on work.

I find it hard to imagine that so many people treat their work responsibilities this lightly. Most working parents I know were very sensitive not to have their home needs have a negative impact on their work relationships. People may have had to leave at five on the dot, but it was because the daycare closed at six o' clock sharp.

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 9:44 AM

pb&j: Most women probably do not need 6-8 weeks to recover. But I had a C-section and could not even drive forr 2 weeks. I felt great after 4 weeks but the first 2 1/2 were still extremely difficult after the surgery. I think you should not imply then all women are running around after 3 days. You should be greatful that you did not have a C-section. BTW, I think close to 24% of all births in the US are C-sections.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 9:44 AM

Educmom-

Well, the point of this article is that perhaps it shouldn't have to be a choice between time at home with your new child and getting back to work so you can pay your bills, or getting back to work so they don't fire you and give your job to someone else. I hardly think that's too much to ask.

As to the "societal cost" making maternity leave policies "too generous", exactly what would that be? What detriment would it be to our society if mothers could spend...say, 3 months at home with a newborn, instead of 2, or 1, or none? And I'm not sure why the fear of them being "too generous" is a reason to not make them more generous than they are. Many women aren't even as fortunate as Ms. Degani, in that their employers offer them no paid maternity leave at all. Surely we should be discussing the societal cost of that approach on our part.

Posted by: Xanthippas | May 8, 2007 9:45 AM

Hasn't this blog covered this topic something like 72 times already? Does anyone have anything new to say?

BTW, the 60% disability pay is probably tax-free, which makes up for a big bit of the difference.

Posted by: RM | May 8, 2007 9:45 AM

Pb&J I had serious complications after the birth of my daughter. I had three friends who also had complications. If I had been at work, I would have been out on STD at 6 weeks anyway. I am glad you didn't have any complications or didn't need to rest, but everyone is not you. Thank God we have doctors in this country who set the rules for when someone is recovered or not.

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 9:45 AM

I work for a state government, and we get NO paid maternity time. To get paid at all, we have to use up all of our accrued sick and vacation leave. Of course, that means that when we return, we've got nothing in those banks should something happen and we need a day off. To me, having even a few weeks with partial pay sounds like a GREAT deal. I have no idea why the writer would complain about such a unique benefit that even a state - the conventional wisdom provider of lush benefits - does not offer. Want to switch places?

Posted by: Amazed | May 8, 2007 9:46 AM

"What do you do for a living? pick up garbage. Sitting at a desk is a helluva lot easier than caring for multiple small children at home, but women do it."

I do have two children, 4 years apart. My four-year-old was very easy to care for. She was not clingy, played independently, and was happy to sit next to me with a book while I was BF the newborn. I could catnap on the couch while the baby was sleeping and the 4-year-old was playing on the floor nearby. In my case, working at a desk was not easier than caring for my children. I also had 2 c-sections. Walking and driving were limited for several weeks. Couldn't walk the stairs. Came home from the hospital with staples still in my stomach. Taking care of the kids was relatively easy - it was the healing that was difficult.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 9:47 AM

I think when a new baby is born in this country, the govment should flat out write the mother a check strait from the treasury.

Kinda like a Happy Birthday card from Uncle Sam, but with the Social Security identification card instead. :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 8, 2007 9:48 AM

"Well, did you get your MD from the same school as my OB/GYN? You may feel fine in a shorter period of time, but that doesn't mean the internal healing is complete. Also, the 8 weeks is for a C-section. "


She was saying the physical work involved in taking care of a one-year old is more than the physical work of her job. Or don't you think there is any work involved in taking care of a toddler?

Posted by: to to pb&j | May 8, 2007 9:48 AM

I think the globalization is a big mistake... all this talk of American Unions and integration with the European Union is scary- apart from the prophetic side... We will find ourselves in quite a bind in the not too distant future if we continue on this track. This nation was founded on the idea of less taxes on the people, giving freedom for innovation. This is becoming squashed as things are outsourced or imported- not only cutting wages, but dodging taxes, as it is cheaper to ship something in that does not even get inspected, than it is to make it here. After we sell off our country, from the smallest company, to the largest innovators like Bell labs, we will eventually wake up too late to realize we are bled dry and ultra vulnerable. I am very much for good benefits, and taking care of everyone, but through wisdom and proper management of what we have. Otherwise we will find ourselves overtaxed to support programs that do not encourage any form of work or initiative. Even France got sick of this path... hopefully it is not too late for them to turn around.

Oh, and teachers, especially college profs are not immune. I had many from overseas. My speech teacher was from China, and had only been in the US for 6 months before he was teaching the class. Nice guy, but hardly anyone could understand a word he said.

Posted by: Chris | May 8, 2007 9:49 AM

I haven't read all the comments, but once again, all I can really do is echo the sentiments of other posters: it's not the company's job to pay you to have a baby, and you should be able to afford a baby before you have one--biological clock or not. If you can't afford one by the time you're pre-menopausal, that's not the company's fault. It may not be "fair," but it's reality. I wish more people would consider their finances better before they have children.

I, like many, am only a few paychecks away from poverty. But I don't have kids, and won't until I can afford them. If that means I never have kids, then so be it. But I'd rather not bring a life into this world that I can't support, because after all, the only person you can ever really count on is yourself.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 9:49 AM

"After one year, the company gives you three weeks of time off with full pay, and then you get nine weeks of STD at 60% of your salary."

This is a pretty generous leave plan. Why would anyone complain about it?

And what's wrong with expecting a new employee to demonstrate a year's worth of loyalty to the company before extending this benefit?

I can't believe we're going back to the old days when pregnancy was regarded as illness or infirmity. Geez, even supermarkets have jumped on the bandwagon, offering special parking spaces for "expecting mothers." Isn't it supposed to be healthy to walk when you're pregnant?

This whole discussion is soooo symptomatic of the entitlement that today's parents seem to feel. Like they're owed special privileges because they're reproducing.

Frankly, I'm pretty disgusted with the attitude portrayed by today's guest blogger.

And why should a company pay an employee to bond with her child?

Posted by: anonymousjustfortoday | May 8, 2007 9:49 AM

To clarify, the earlier "Laura" posting was not me.

I support more maternity leave, but I do think today's poster might not be realizing how good she has it. It's not that long ago that employers didn't even have to provide unpaid leave for pregnancy -- in fact, you can still be fired today just for taking ANY maternity leave if you work for a company that is too small for the FMLA to apply. So, sure, consider it a benefit like any other, and treat it as such in your evaluation. But at least realize that you're choosing between two options that both go far beyond what is legally required.

Also, big misunderstanding on short-term disability: if you pay the premiums out of post-tax income (which is usually the way they set it up), your payments are tax free. That's why it's limited to 60-60% -- because it's trying to replace your post-tax salary.

Kate: be careful about evaluating the family-friendly-ness of a law firm by its benefit packages. The bigger firms generally can afford better packages because they have more profits to fund them. How do they make those profits? By working their associates 2,000-2500 hrs/yr. And at least in a lot of these places, the unstated rule is that if you don't manage that, you're not partnership material. Sure, they may offer part-time positions, mommy-track, etc. But find out what really happens to the women on those tracks long-term -- are they viewed as valuable contributors? Do they have the same chance of long-term success? To my mind, if you have a job now where you are happy and successful and respected, that's the holy grail right there -- they might not squeeze out the profits to give everyone 12 weeks paid leave, but I bet they'd have more ability to be flexible long-term.

To "Me": I'd like to fantasize about 12 weeks off, too. Here was my vision for my last maternity leave, which started before Thanksgiving and lasted through New Year's: baking dozens of sugar cookies; making luscious Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners (not to mention the latkes for Hannukah); getting my Christmas cards sent out in early December for a change; taking my daughter out of preschool early to enjoy leisurely afternoons baking assorted yummies; getting the shopping done early, and the gifts mailed in plenty of time; etc. -- basically, the "perfect" holiday, which I can never manage while working.

Now, here's the reality: one batch of cookies baked (pre-cut Pillsbury cookie shapes, so daughter could do). Scrawled Christmas gift list in front of computer mid-December, trying to snag non-horrible gifts in time for final shipping deadline. Christmas cards sent in mid-January, after daycare started. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners left to mother; Hannukah dinner left to SILs. Not one fun shopping or baking afternoon with older girl. I was just Too D@mn Tired to do any of it.

Here's the scary thing: he was an EASY baby, except for wanting to eat all the time and not sleeping more than 4 hrs at a stretch for the first 3 months. And I was still Too D@mn Tired to do much of anything. So please, when you're thinking of 12 weeks off work for maternity leave, don't think of it as a "normal" 12 weeks off to work on the garden, read books, catch up on chores, watch TV, etc. -- well, wait, you can use it as time to catch up on TV, but just be prepared not to remember anything you watched, because you can't stop falling asleep in the middle of it.

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 9:49 AM

So a couple people here confirmed it, as did my google search. That 60% of your gross salary is not subjected to income taxes. I don't know about the rest of you, but my take home is less than 50% of my gross pay. Now granted, that includes taxes, benefits, and retirement. But it seems you could give up a few months of retirement savings and the paycheck you would get from STD would be as big as you were getting before. Sorry - thats not a loss of income in my book.

Posted by: RT | May 8, 2007 9:51 AM

To Laura:
Wow...thanks for the input. You have to remember that us childless folk really don't know what it is like.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 9:54 AM

Wow RT, that's a good point. Suddenly not feeling so well...*cough cough*

Posted by: Chris | May 8, 2007 9:54 AM

I have worked with several women who have taken three months or more off after having a baby - oblivious to the fact that they have left the rest of the staff in limbo. One woman used all of her vacation and sick leave, then took all of the unpaid leave with benefits she could get, and then announced that she was quitting the job altogether since her weathy parents agreed to support her for several years. She wouldn't even come in for a few days to train her replacement.

I agree that society has made it very difficult for women to have a career and a baby. However, that is not an excuse to milk the system and expect some privileged status from your employer. If you have made the decision to have children, you need to adjust your lifestyle accordingly YEARS IN ADVANCE and save up enough money to take whatever you consider to be sufficient time off.

As someone without kids who has had to work many, many unpaid overtime hours to cover the workload of coworkers out on maternity leave, I say that 60% of salary is quite generous - especially for a new hire.

Posted by: robin | May 8, 2007 9:55 AM

I'm not going to question not having enough savings to make up for reduced income. Anyone can have something happen that wipes out their savings.

However, if you can't afford a reduction in salary for 9 weeks, I wonder what child care arrangements you have for the future. If you need 100% salary while home, you are going to need more than 100% salary if you are paying for daycare.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 9:56 AM

"We will make the leave work because we are preparing for it. The thing that irks me are the people who look at me "sympathetically" and say "There's no way you'll be able to stay home permanently after the baby is born?""

What's worse is the condescending tone they say it in, as if you necessarily WANTED to stay home. Some people like their jobs, and life doesn't always stop when you have kids.

BF's sister is about 7 months along, and when asked if she'd stay home, she said her husband said she "had" to work at least part time, so (sigh) she guess she'd just go ahead and work full-time.

Why do so many people hate their jobs, and act as if child-bearing is some kind of escape from that? Her mother wants to ask her father for "permission" to retire so she can take care of the grandson full-time. Do people really expect women to just want to bow out of the workforce? Are there really so few women who WANT to work, regardless of motherhood status?

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 10:01 AM

As someone without kids who has had to work many, many unpaid overtime hours to cover the workload of coworkers out on maternity leave, I say that 60% of salary is quite generous - especially for a new hire.

If you put up with this, it is your fault, not the person on maternity leave.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 10:02 AM

"Anyone can have something happen that wipes out their savings."

For instance, accidently stumbling on a cruise ship to the Carribean.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:04 AM

On my 46th birthday, my husband and I were in China to adopt a little girl. I took vacation to go to China. After we returned with our 18 month old daughter, I took 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave. I work for the state of Virginia, and maternity leave is considered a disability. Adoption does not fall under "disability", so you get no time. I took 6 weeks straight, then the last 6 weeks I worked three days, and took 2 days a week until my time ran out. In addition to that being no pay, I also could not accrue annual leave whenever there was a leave without pay situation. I lost 5 vacation days! The US definately needs to rethink this situation. Scandanavian countries give mothers 12 months of paid maternity leave!

Posted by: Cathy | May 8, 2007 10:05 AM

"As someone without kids who has had to work many, many unpaid overtime hours to cover the workload of coworkers out on maternity leave, I say that 60% of salary is quite generous - especially for a new hire."

I would say that if your company is requiring you to work many, many unpaid overtime hours to cover for workers who are on maternity leave, your beef should be with the company's unfair treatment of its employees, and not with the employees on maternity leave. Why should they take the blame for the company's unfair treatment of you?

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 10:05 AM

Pardon me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that the writer had two main questions:
1) How do you think U.S. maternity leave compares to other countries' maternity leave? and
2) How have you managed to make it happen?
I don't think she asked to be lambasted for her savings or lack thereof.

I am an American, but once again, I am appalled at how our desire for individuality and private property (what I call the "mine! effect") continues to trump our respect for children and the family. No wonder our schools are underfunded and low-performing - and our divorce rate is threatening to top 50%! "Me me me" comes before everything else, even investing in the nation's future.

Posted by: daisyriot | May 8, 2007 10:08 AM

12 months is a lot of leave. I think it's quite excessive.

It sounds like a way to get new mothers stuck in a situation with outdated skills, and a new kind of groove hollowed out, so that she may actually be reluctant to rejoin the workforce. After one week of missing a workout, I find it difficult to go back to the gym. I can't imagine how hard it must be to go back to work after a YEAR of staying at home with baby.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 10:09 AM

Me --

Sorry if I came off sounding snarky. You want to know the really scary thing? This was my second kid -- you'd think I'd have known better! But no, I got those visions of sugar cookies dancing in my head, and wanted to create the "perfect" holiday with all of my new-found "free" time. LOL! Rule no. 1 of parenthood: set the bar really, really low. :-)

But you know what? When I finally gave up on doing it all, we were all able to relax and have a really fun holiday anyway. And the boy DID start sleeping, finally (just in time for me to go back to work -- another big plus for 12 weeks' leave!).

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 10:10 AM

I don't like the idea of maternity leave-- it HAS to be family leave-- non-gender. Otherwise there is too much risk of discrimination against child-bearing women. Shawdra, isn't that what Canada has-- I thought someone posted here that both men and women are equally entitled to take such leave-- and that therefore employers are unlikely to discriminate.

Furthermore, I think those who are pointing out that the cry for paid maternity leave is at odds with other feminist issues such as good quality daycare for infants. It seems like the feminist movement can't decide whether daycare is truly as good as having mom stay at home with the baby so it tries to have both-- argue that moms need lots of time of for maternity leave to not only recover, but also to bond -- but it also says that daycare can be a wonderful, safe option for babies and there is no ned to worry about parental bonding. Well, which is it?

I'm sure I've mentioned here before that I took off two years unpaid with my first, but I am planning to take off not much time at all with the next one. Part of the reason I took off so much time was because I was afraid to leave my child with someone else, but there is on-site daycare where I work and I've noticed that even babies that have been at the daycare since they were 8 weeks old love their paretns and their parents love them.

I guess it is, and should be, a very personal decision-- but whatever society does decide it wants to do regarding maternity leave it must also do for paternity leave.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 10:11 AM

I sympathize with the guest blogger.

When I had my first kid, my organization offered STD insurance and was large enough to qualify for FMLA, so I took three months, with six weeks paid at 60%.

My new employer is too small to qualify for FMLA and does not offer STD. I get two weeks vacation and 5 sick days a year, with no rollover. When we're ready for the next kid, I'm looking at six weeks unpaid, as mandated under state law. Financially, that's not a big deal for us. But I can't imagine going back to work six weeks after giving birth (I know some women have no choice).

But, other than quit, that's my only choice. And jobs are thin on the ground and disappearing in my field, so quitting would be a huge act of hubris.

I think back to when I was hired here. Should I have said, "Sorry, won't take it. Your benefits suck"? Could I have? I'd like to have that kind of moxie, but, frankly, I can't be a one-woman market force.

Posted by: tough choices | May 8, 2007 10:12 AM

I think it's ridiculous that American women are not hammering their representatives in Congress for more generous maternity leaves and other benefits. In other developed countries of the world, women get a lot more leave and government support to take care of their families. The current government seems to be all about family and religion and what not, so why aren't they changing this truly insulting maternity leave policy - or lack thereof???? I think this should be a major issue come next presidential election and women need to stand up for their rights to stay at home with their newborns. Why aren't we all outraged????

Posted by: Bogyo | May 8, 2007 10:12 AM

Mona --
"After one week of missing a workout, I find it difficult to go back to the gym."

I'm sure you must realize that's ridiculous comparison.

Yes, the world is changing fast, but no one's skills are going to become outdate in 12 weeks.

Posted by: Arilngton Dad | May 8, 2007 10:13 AM

"Anyone can have something happen that wipes out their savings."

For instance, accidently stumbling on a cruise ship to the Carribean.

hahaha - actually my husband became ill and required surgery and was out of work for 15 weeks. he worked for a small company which did offer sick leave, but it was just a fraction of his pay. We burned through our savings making up the difference for 15 weeks and paying his share of the medical bills that weren't paid by insurance.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:15 AM

Laura,
I can really empathize. When I was pregnant with my son, I envisionsed my maternity leave as a restful period, when I would hold the baby, sleep, read books, and lounge around peacefully with a cooing baby to keep me company. What I did not realize is that sleep in 1 hour intervals is not very restful, and that the baby would be screaming (and not cooing) every evening from 6 pm until 2 am. Actually, going back to work was a bit more restful than staying home. At least I could have a cup of coffee in absolute peace.

I still have this fantasy about the perfect maternity leave though. This time, I plan to focus less on housekeeping and more on sleeping. We'll see.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 10:15 AM

both-- argue that moms need lots of time of for maternity leave to not only recover, but also to bond -- but it also says that daycare can be a wonderful, safe option for babies and there is no ned to worry about parental bonding. Well, which is it?

Amen - no one seems to want to answer this because I think they realize the hypocrisy.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 10:17 AM

daisyriot: yes, the author of this guest blog asked those two questions, but only after first:

- disparaging the maternity benefits of a potential job which turn out to be, in the eyes of many people, very generous; and then

- making comments which many readers interpret as showing either financial naivete or selfishness

Actually, this discussion has stayed more on topic than many in this blog, and the responses really haven't been too impolite (IMHO). Yes, a lot of people have responded directly to the writer's "background information" (the two points above) rather than limiting their responses to her two questions. But that's not surprising and it's not really inappropriate. Since logically "false" implies any conclusion, it's fair to challenge a premise that you believe to be false rather than blindly accepting it and trying to argue against a conclusion.

And a number of people have addressed the two questions directly.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 8, 2007 10:17 AM

Personally, I have trouble getting worked up over maternity leave policies for working women when there are so many people in this country who don't have basic health insurance and many people who work full time and still don't earn a decent living.

Posted by: ??? | May 8, 2007 10:18 AM

Robin,

Personally, I think that if a woman takes all of that leave and etc. et.c as you mentioned, then decides to stay at home, she should have to repay every penny from the time she left work. This woman, and many like her, have taken complete advantage of the system and if more people where held accountable on this level, it might be a step towards curbing corruption at higher levels.
Having children is a choice, having shoulder surgery or cancer treatments really aren't. There is a difference. I think we should guarantee a woman the right to have her job back, but only for 6 months or so. I think it is fine if you want to take vacation or sick leave for some time off, but really, a company is all about making money. That is the reason they exist. Its not in their best interest to fund these extended leaves.
A lot of us live in houses are that too big for one salary, with a lot of what truly are unnecessary extras. A lot of us could live on a lot less money if we really wanted to. Now - I am saying we should, just that we could. We can move to parts of the country where it costs less to live, too. There are a lot of ways to make things work if we want to stay home or not.

Posted by: WAMC | May 8, 2007 10:22 AM

"Also, it seems rather unfair to give new parents 12 weeks off with pay, but those who choose not to have kids get nothing (and probably have to cover for the new parents during the 12 weeks off!). Social good or not, the burden shouldn't fall unfairly on those who choose not to, or cannot, have children."

I think the 12 weeks a lot of posters keep referring to is the requirement for the Family and Medical Leave Act requirement, which I believe can also be used to care for a sick relative (such as an aging parent). The 6 weeks that people are referring to is usually short-term disability, which is available to all people who get sick (such as the 27-year-old friend heart attack patient an earlier commenter brought up).

So in most cases (obviously except when a company has a definite "maternity" leave policy, which I have rarely seen), women are using their FMLA time or their short-term benefit time to take off for a child. So it's not as if only pregnant women get the time off and everyone else is paying for it. If you're not having an children or you're a man, you might still have a heart attack, a very sick parent, or some other disability that would allow you to take that time off too. Just a thought.

Posted by: DCcommenter | May 8, 2007 10:23 AM

"but there is on-site daycare where I work and I've noticed that even babies that have been at the daycare since they were 8 weeks old love their paretns and their parents love them."

This constitutes an epiphany for the all-knowing Jen - the realization that parents and children love each other even when the parents make DIFFERENT CHOICES than Jen made. Will wonders never cease that such a realization passes for enlightenment amongst the wingnuts.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:23 AM

But if everyone does indeed follow your advice to wait to have kids until they can "afford it" (meaning they have stored up enough money to get by on one salary for several months) then people will be having kids in their thirties and forties, when the rate of complications of pregnancy and delivery is high and the cost of medical care is therefore also high. Premature births and other bad outcomes are also more frequent. Backing couples into a corner where they have to delay childbearing this long is bad public policy that ultimately results in higher health care costs for everyone.

Posted by: m | May 8, 2007 10:24 AM

I like father of 4's idea :)

I'm currently childless, but don't mind the idea of "supporting" people who want to have children. My sister-in-law had a baby last year and it took a long time for her to be able to sit down without a donut for comfort - so sitting at a desk all day wouldn't have worked for her.

Maternity leave is a benefit, as is STD. People have the right to evaluate those benefits before taking a job. It's a simple as that.

I'll be glad that I work for an employer that offers STD at 66% when I have surgery in July.

Posted by: nno | May 8, 2007 10:24 AM

Jen and pb&J: I think the answer is pretty simply. There is a difference in the fact that once a child is bonded to the parent, day care becomes a viable part time arrangement. Prior to bonding, having multiple care givers may be a problem. Of course no one can fully say when bonding actually takes place. Some may say 6-12 weeks and others may say a year. I know stranger anxiety does not come into play till around 6 months of age. My day care provider prefers her clients to start prior to 6 months of age for that very reason. But bonding is not just for the infant. I think the actual term is attachment. It is also for the parent. I think people forget that a lot of parents do not instantly attach to their infant. Especially it if they are first time parents. But to compare bonding with a 2 week old infant to day care of a 12 month baby is similar situations, is kind of silly.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 10:26 AM

Okay, this is a little bit off-topic, but for those who argue that their jobs have to be safe from global competition, consider this quote:

"To limit my e-mail obligation further, I rely on outsourced personal assistants in India to manage my in-box and handle other time wasters. The cost: just $4 to $10 an hour."

(It's from http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/04/magazines/fsb/4_hour_week.fsb/index.htm?postversion=2007050712,
an article on how to run a successful business on 4 hours a week.)

The point is that technology is allowing more and more jobs to be outsourced. Given distance learning methods, and improving technology, it really wouldn't surprise me to see a number of colleges start offering courses that are proctored by a local graduate assistant and taught by a professor in India or Thailand who works for about 30% of a typical US faculty salary. I think it'll be here sooner than you think, under the guise of offering expertise from top schools that isn't available locally.(Think: India Institute of Technology - IIT - or India Institute of Management - IIM - which really are two of the top schools in the world.) Sorry, educmom. :-(

(This post has been partially inspired by my brother's employer, a multinational firm which has recently announced that they're closing the plant he runs in North Carolina at the end of this year and moving production to China. The lower employee costs more than make up for the lack of quality, political risk, shipping costs, and other factors, in their opinion. If you can't compete against a global workforce, you're in deep trouble in the future.)

Posted by: Army Brat | May 8, 2007 10:31 AM

"Scandanavian countries give mothers 12 months of paid maternity leave!"

Yeah, and they also have socialized medicine. If we had that here, you'd get a whopping long time off for maternity leave, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:32 AM

"As someone without kids who has had to work many, many unpaid overtime hours to cover the workload of coworkers out on maternity leave, I say that 60% of salary is quite generous - especially for a new hire."

People here seem to think that all employers operate like welfare states. You can't necessarily blame the employer for expecting people to cover the slack when someone is out because the work doesn't stop - customers still expect the same level of service, projects need to be completed on time, etc. In addition, if they are paying someone 60% of their salary for 0% productivity, it hardly leaves much money left over to hire a temp - especially since any skilled temp will cost a fortune.

Assuming the person out on leave is an essential staff member, it will always leave a talent gap that places an additional burden on other team members.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 10:34 AM

Why should we pay for bonding between parent and child? Look no further than the VA Tech shooter. That's the kind of thing that can happen if a child doesn't bond to a parent or primary caregiver if the parent goes back to work. And guess what, other people pay the price.

At no time was there a safety net for that kid. Not at birth -- although he was in another country and not in the US, but even if he had been his mother likely would have been at work within a week. Not at school or when he got in trouble, because the mental health/judicial systems lack the financial resources and the backing of society in general to be proactive with regard to our welfare. We failed that child, and we are paying the price.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:34 AM

In a lot of companies STD is an insurance that either the employer or a combination of the employee pay into. The actual 60% does not come from the employer. Just the employer portion of the premium comes from the employer.

Posted by: adoptee | May 8, 2007 10:35 AM

"Personally, I think that if a woman takes all of that leave and etc. et.c as you mentioned, then decides to stay at home, she should have to repay every penny from the time she left work."
_________________

Right. Well, I went on maternity leave during a period of pretty serious downsizing. My bosses boss decided not to allow any telecommuting, a benefit advertised by the company as a recruiting tool. My contact with my internal clients was 100% phone and e-mail. Making the return to work logistically difficult facilitated that director reducing headcount by one (me, not returning from leave). It was market forces at work. It delayed her having to give the axe to another employee for awhile anyway. So, I don't feel guilty about taking the pay, and I don't have hard feelings toward her about it. It was just business.

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 10:37 AM

My company gives ONE week paid to moms and dads. After that it's vacation time, sick leave and STD. I love my company overall, but like many others, they make you think they're being generous. Thank goodness for some of the grandparents friends who sent us checks instead of gifts. We know where that money went.
Sad, sad state of affairs.

Posted by: Mama | May 8, 2007 10:39 AM

What about adopted children? Does the fact that they missed the early time make them different, less bonded or less special? So you can spend a few weeks with your baby and that's it - they don't need any more. If it is important to be with them, then its important period - not just when you decide its important.

Posted by: to foamgnome | May 8, 2007 10:40 AM

"Personally, I think that if a woman takes all of that leave and etc. et.c as you mentioned, then decides to stay at home, she should have to repay every penny from the time she left work."

Only if that leave is on top of additional benefits that the employee earned prior to the maternity/paternity leave. Meaning if an employee has to use accrued sick and vacation leave, they should not have to pay anything back because they have already earned it. Besides the employer would be forced to pay them out the annual leave they had accrued given they quit due to any other circumstance. But if there is an additional specific alloted maternity/paternity pay then they employee should forfeit it if they quit within a reasonable time. If the STD is covered by insurance, then the employee again has already earned the right to use that and should not have to pay anything back. They have already paid their premiums and earned the right to use the insurance.

Posted by: adoptee | May 8, 2007 10:41 AM

"Mona --
"After one week of missing a workout, I find it difficult to go back to the gym."

I'm sure you must realize that's ridiculous comparison.

Yes, the world is changing fast, but no one's skills are going to become outdate in 12 weeks.

Posted by: Arilngton Dad | May 8, 2007 10:13 AM "

She said 12 MONTHS. That's a long time, no matter what industry you're in. And I'm assuming that you think my comparison is ridiculous because how could you ever compare a week away from the gym to a year away from the job? That was exactly my point. If it's that hard to get off my tuchus to go back to the gym after a week off, imagine how hard it must be to get back to work after a year at home with your new little one! My suggestion was that such an extended amount of leave time might be said country's way of squeezing new moms out of the workforce by making them unnecessary.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 10:42 AM

BTW, Mine was accrued vacation and sick leave plus the 60% covered by STD insurance as mandated by state regulations. The company didn't pay on top of that.

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 10:44 AM

My point is that no one can decide when attachment actually takes place. I most certainly think adoptive parents need time to attach to their child (regardless of age of the child). In fact even more so because adoptive children often come after the age of stranger anxiety. BTW, I am adopted. My point to pb&J and Jen is that attachment time is difficult to pin point when it happens. And it also silly to assume that a newborn infant attachment can be compared to a child who has already bonded to their primary care giver and is placed in a part time day care arrangement. But you definitely bring up a good point that adopted children need that time regardless of the age of the child. I definitely did over look that.

Posted by: to to foamngome | May 8, 2007 10:44 AM

"Why should we pay for bonding between parent and child? Look no further than the VA Tech shooter. That's the kind of thing that can happen if a child doesn't bond to a parent or primary caregiver if the parent goes back to work. And guess what, other people pay the price."

This is a completely unreasonable statement. No one knows why the shooter did what he did. We don't know whether or not he bonded to parents, and if he didn't, we don't know if it was because of his parents or in spite of them. Many children and parents do not bond, but the children don't all grow up to be shooters. Many parents go to work after childbirth and are still able to bond with the children.

Your statement is absurd.

Posted by: anon this time | May 8, 2007 10:45 AM

To anonymous at 10:34 AM who wrote: "Look no further than the VA Tech shooter. That's the kind of thing that can happen if a child doesn't bond to a parent or primary caregiver if the parent goes back to work."

According to yesterday's WaPo, the VA Tech shooter didn't really start to fall apart till AFTER he left home. Evidently he was either autistic (what his family told a relative in S. Korea) or had a milder form, like Asperger's Syndrome.

Posted by: catlady | May 8, 2007 10:46 AM

Emily, laughing ruefully with you. BTDT on the colic, too (ish).

The best week of my maternity leave was the last. Plan was to start daycare a week early, so I could spend a few hours a day there with him, moving on to leaving him there for a little bit, then a little bit longer, so he could adjust gradually (something we couldn't do for my daughter when her daycare fell through the week before she was due to start). Well, he was completely happy and settled within the first 30 minutes of the first day (like I said, EASY baby!). So I found myself with a few hours a day of unfettered free time -- plus he was sleeping 6-7 hrs a night, so I actually had energy to get some of those chores done (thus explaining how the Christmas cards finally got done mid-January). Now THAT was almost like a vacation! :-)

How far along are you now?

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 10:46 AM

10:34, I don't think we can blame Cho Seung-Hui's mommy for not staying at home with him when she was, you know, working to put food in his mouth and clothes on his back. Lots of children grow up with even harder situations and don't shoot up colleges. You're insulting every mother who's had to work hard for her children, and every child who's been blessed with such a mother. I don't think it's fair OR accurate for you to lay the blame of one mentally ill young adult at the feet of moms who work or companies who won't pay them to stay at home. There is no litmus test for who will grow up well and who won't.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 10:47 AM

"My suggestion was that such an extended amount of leave time might be said country's way of squeezing new moms out of the workforce by making them unnecessary."

While that may be true for some industries, for me, it would not have been because of eroded or outdated skills/knowledge. I could keep current enough for a year through reading professional publications and networking with colleagues. It would have been personal/psychological factors in my case.

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 10:47 AM

"Personally, I have trouble getting worked up over maternity leave policies for working women when there are so many people in this country who don't have basic health insurance and many people who work full time and still don't earn a decent living."

Yep. Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:47 AM

Once upon a time, I might have taken the harsher line favored by some posters here: If you can't afford a baby, don't have one. Then, I became accidentally pregnant, despite the best precautions, at age 39. I am the primary breadwinner in the household as I make considerably more than my spouse. We live in a part of the Northeast where the mortgage alone can approximate twice the entire month's household bills for most of the rest of the country. My company offers no paid maternity leave except the option of short-term disability insurance, which I took, and which I am now discovering may pay as little as four weeks of benefits given all the loopholes. (I have been with this company for nine years.) I do have some savings, but given the cost of living in this part of the country, I will go through it quickly and there will be little left over for emergencies after the baby is born. To all the "You chose to have a baby, deal with it" posters, may I wish an unplanned pregnancy on you? Just as they say nothing turns a man into a feminist quicker than having a daughter, nothing turns a formerly child-indifferent professional pro-family faster than an accidental pregnancy.

Posted by: T.R., Connecticut | May 8, 2007 10:48 AM

Gee, my baby is 14 and I would still rather be home with her than at work.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:48 AM

But you definitely bring up a good point that adopted children need that time regardless of the age of the child. I definitely did over look that.

So is "maternity leave" needed as a health benefit or time to bond with your child? Is 12 weeks the amount of time it offically takes to bond with a child? After that it doesn't matter who cares for them? You can't have it both ways!

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 10:50 AM

"But if everyone does indeed follow your advice to wait to have kids until they can "afford it" (meaning they have stored up enough money to get by on one salary for several months) then people will be having kids in their thirties and forties."

I agree that there is an increased risk of complications with older mothers, but the main thing that continues the cycle of poverty is young parents having kids before they are psycologically and emotionally ready for it.

I would be willing to bet that a huge percentage of the debt and bankruptcy problems in our society occur as a result of people having children without proper financial planning and/or unwillingness to make sacrifices.

I also know a large number of people who have had perfectly healthy babies in their 30's even 40's and also have taken the steps to arrange their lives to give their children privileged lives.

Posted by: robin | May 8, 2007 10:50 AM

"Backing couples into a corner where they have to delay childbearing this long is bad public policy that ultimately results in higher health care costs for everyone."

m,

No, it doesn't. Those couples who delay having children will have fewer children, thus reining in health care costs.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:50 AM

"Shawdra, isn't that what Canada has-- I thought someone posted here that both men and women are equally entitled to take such leave-- and that therefore employers are unlikely to discriminate."

Canada has 15 weeks maternity leave which can only be taken by the mother - it's designed for physical healing and to establish breastfeeding (if she so chooses). The remaining 35 weeks (for a total of 50 weeks; the other two weeks are not covered and are presumed to be 'vacation') can be taken by either parent in any combination - at the same time, consecutively, or fully by one or the other. They are required to give employers written notice of start and end dates for the leave.

The leave is (I just looked this up) 55% of one's salary up to a cap of $413 a week, so under 1700 a month. It's not luxury living.

In practice from what I understand mostly if someone's going to take the full year, it's women, although again from what I understand that may be changing.

The social attitude seems to be, overall, that the benefits of having that first year at home (for those who can afford it) results in overall savings to the system... health care costs included, 'cause kids do often pick up things at daycare.

You have to understand though that Canadian culture is different. Kids are not as dramatically seen as some kind of personal choice like chosing a car; they are perceived as the ones who benefit from these leaves, not the parents' luxurious lifestyle.

From an employer perspective, which I've heard about at length, some actually prefer that someone take the full year. It's a great period of time to hire on a contract basis - worth training someone new for, give someone in the company a shot at experience in a high-level position, or get some new ideas in. (Obviously this depends on your industry; in sales it's harder 'cause it takes so long to build contacts.) However the people on leave are expected to be on call for their expertise; field questions and sometimes show up for staff meetings.

It really is apples and oranges but as I said, I *personally* find it frustrating that the discussion in the US is constantly shut down by the "it's impossible! our quality of life would go down!" argument, because to me that doesn't take into account the downside.

A sleep deprived parent may make mistakes at the job that will cost them way more in "career building" than being a woman who might take some mat leave would. It's hard to measure, but I think saying "we have it great! don't mess with it!" is not my own personal solution.

Maternity leave for *a year* might not be feasible but would 6 or 12 weeks be possible with a very small deduction... why are these questions not examined more closely? Well that's a vast political argument brewing, but I do believe that currently it is not a question of MONEY but of priorities.

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 10:51 AM

TR, some of us HAVE been stricken with accidental pregnancies. Some of us know what we're capable of, and don't bite off more than we can chew on someone else's dime. There are alternatives other than just throwing up one's hands and saying, "well, I guess I'll just have to have this thing."

Posted by: anon this post | May 8, 2007 10:52 AM

"According to yesterday's WaPo, the VA Tech shooter didn't really start to fall apart till AFTER he left home. Evidently he was either autistic (what his family told a relative in S. Korea) or had a milder form, like Asperger's Syndrome."

The autism speculation is a slippery slope. Many severe mental illnesses have an onset in the college years or through the twenties. I'm not saying he was not autistic, by IMHO, it's likely that he his psychosis was the result of some other mental illness, perhaps on top of autism, that wasn't clear during his growing up years. If he had autism, it may have made the onset of the symptoms of mental illness difficult to see while he was living at home.

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 10:53 AM

I think everyone should have plenty of bonding time. Canada has a wonderful 1 yr plan!

My only question to those that think we are grossly unfair, is: who is going to pay for this? As a small business owner I can tell you that I need to pay people competitive salaries to get/retain quality employees. That while being squeezed by customers.

(Yes, I am a mother of two, and had no break from business after either delivery, we just slowed the business growth down.)

I would love for everyone to have a year off, so how about we socialize our medicine/healthcare, and leave, and raise everyone's payroll taxes to cover it?

Posted by: about that maternity leave | May 8, 2007 10:53 AM

pb&J: I believe most companies and the federal government state that 8 weeks is for recovery (health benefit) and an additional 4 weeks is for bonding or attachment ( the correct term). And if you asking who cares for them being the adoptive parents or the biological parents. Your darn right. It is the point that the child needs a consistent bond to someone who is their primary care giver. The day care worker is NOT the primary care giver.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 10:54 AM

"How far along are you now?"

I am only 9 weeks along, so I hope I am not jinxing myself for talking as if this pregnancy were a done deal. But if feels like it is sticking. I am in almost a constant state of nausea these days, which seems to let up for a couple of hours after breakfast, but comes back with a vengeance after lunch. Yay!!!

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 10:54 AM

"How far along are you now?"

I am only 9 weeks along, so I hope I am not jinxing myself for talking as if this pregnancy were a done deal. But if feels like it is sticking. I am in almost a constant state of nausea these days, which seems to let up for a couple of hours after breakfast, but comes back with a vengeance after lunch. Yay!!!

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 10:54 AM

Regarding bonding, a number of studies have been done on the importance of attachment during the first couple of month's of a person's life. So yes, 12 weeks works out to a couple of months, and bonding is very important during this time. Issues can often arise later in life if a child has not bonded with at least one caregiver during the early months -- attachment disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial tendencies, to name a few. There is disagreement as to whether switching caregivers during the first 12-16 weeks of a child's life can cause problems, but it is a fact of life for many of us who have children and return to work soon after delivery, handing our children over to another while we're at work.

Posted by: Social Worker Mom | May 8, 2007 10:55 AM

Everyone wants to compare our benefits to those in other countries, but no one wants to talk about the differences in culture. Does anyone here want to pay 50%+ in taxes? How about a cut in pay? That's what it takes to compete in the global economy and get these benefits everyone wants. In the US, our taxes are fairly low and many companies have shifted more of the responsibility of these types of benefits on the employee. If they didn't, they would probably offer less competitive salaries. If you want "European" benefits, take 20-30% of every paycheck and put it in the bank. When the times comes to take time off for maternity leave, that account should more than cover the unpaid time off.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 10:56 AM

right, foamgnome-- "no one can fully say"-- and that is why the idea of having a national policy to have X weeks off (or X year(s) off) of paid maternity leave is a bad idea in my opinion. Every woman, child and employer is different and they all need to work this out themselves.

I don't understand the insult from the anonymous poster-- was it wrong for me to share this ephiphany as you call it? this trend of women going back to work and placing their children in daycare at 8 weeks post-partum is realitively new to our society-- right? And there are studies out there that say it is terrible to do this to children, and there are studies that show it is wonderful-- so someone who is currently pregnant and anxious over her options may want to hear that in fact it CAN be wonderful. they can hear this from the perspective of someone who actually did stay home and knows what that was like and to some extent regrets that don't go that route. Perhaps you just can't handle it when someone admits they were wrong-- shows a bit of humility? Really-- "all-knowing Jen"-- where in the world do you get that? I'm an idiot and I've never suggested otherwise! But I don't have an agenda and I suspect that all the childcare experts out there do have such an agenda and it is helpful to hear unbiased perspectives.


Posted by: JEn | May 8, 2007 10:58 AM

Gee, my baby is 14 and I would still rather be home with her than at work.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 10:48 AM


Why? Do you still breast-feed her?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 10:58 AM

Welcome to the real world - very few women and men enjoy the comfort of generous maternity leave plans. This issue is bringing out the greediness in new mothers and fathers.

Very irresponsible on Michele's part - accepting a job not knowing the benefits? Then wants to bad-mouth the company?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:01 AM

Shoot, the company I left before having my daughter even had restrictions on how much SICK leave you could use for maternity leave. I thought that was outrageous. I mean, I earned the leave. It was part of my salary. And you're telling me I can't use it???

Basically your only option at this place was to use your vacation and unpaid family leave.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:01 AM

regarding losing skills over some time period:

I have a friend whose company sent her to get her MBA (full time away at a very prestigious university for one year: paid salary, trips back home, paid her MBA tuition, ..., the works). Evidently, upon returning to her job one year later with a new degree in hand, she had a tough time with her colleagues who felt she was out of touch with company issues. This is a VP, a woman who has worked for this company for years, who was well considered and placed enough for the company to send her to get her MBA, and she felt she had to restart her career after being out for a year.

Be careful what you ask for with respect to leave, because you may get it, and then you can't get back.

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 11:03 AM

Jen,
I agree that you do not deserve the snarkiness of that anonymous poster. You had an insight and shared it. Good for you. And shame on the poster who used it as a reason to be petty and mean.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 11:04 AM

Yay Emily -- sounds like my second successful pregnancy, too (big difference in nausea levels between the ones that stuck and the ones that didn't). Got my fingers crossed for you.

BTW, if you didn't figure this out from your first, the only thing that helped me the second time around was to schedule snacks and lunches for before I got hungry -- by the time I realized I was getting hungry, I had about 3.2 seconds to get food in me before the nausea came back, and then I'd be on my office floor for the next hour or two. But when I forced myself to eat something every 3 hrs, even when I didn't feel hungry, it really helped me get through that post-lunch swoon.

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 11:04 AM

daisyriot

"I don't think she asked to be lambasted for her savings or lack thereof."

Maybe she did; maybe she is a masochist.

Couldn't she see any of these comments coming?

Posted by: Officer Krupke | May 8, 2007 11:04 AM

TR, some of us HAVE been stricken with accidental pregnancies. Some of us know what we're capable of, and don't bite off more than we can chew on someone else's dime. There are alternatives other than just throwing up one's hands and saying, "well, I guess I'll just have to have this thing."

Everyone doesn't believe in abortion either and maybe adoption wasn't in the cards. Also, calling a baby a thing is exactly why you shouldn't be a mother.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 11:04 AM

Gee, my baby is 14 and I would still rather be home with her than at work.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 10:48 AM


Why? Do you still breast-feed her?

Absolutely not - that stopped when she was 7 weeks old. (yes weeks - not months). I'd rather be home because I am happier there than at work. I am definitely one of those working for the money because I need it, and not for some sort of personal fulfillment from my career.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:05 AM

People should be very careful about asking for "fairness." "Fair" would be to treat maternity in exactly the same way as any other medical condition.

Posted by: Demos | May 8, 2007 11:06 AM

My company gives 6 weeks paid to men, and 3 months paid to women. It's very generous. But the company reeps benefits in the long run, and I think other companies should consider moving to a similar policy. It sets my company (a law firm) apart from competitors in recruiting and retaining good people. I would have left a long time ago, and the firm would have missed out on a large amount of revenue, as I become more and more profitable each year. And for most people you are talking about one maybe two times in their lives where they take the time off. But They are very likely to stay with the company for many years because of their loyalty or because they are planning on having another child some time down the road and want to take advantage of the benefit again.

And the PR for doing this is great. My company is in Fortune's best 100 places to work list, and on Working Mother's list. People read these lists and think to themselves, this sounds like a great place to work.

I think the downside for giving the time off is small, and in the long term you reap benefits by setting yourself apart from other companies out their competing for good employees.

Posted by: Lawyer Dad | May 8, 2007 11:06 AM

"Every woman, child and employer is different and they all need to work this out themselves. "

Well in Canada I know they do, 'cause my relatives have all taken different lengths of leave, from 3 months to two years. Not everyone takes it all. And then in Quebec, home of $7/day daycare, my SIL's job let her split 4 years' salary over five years, so she took an extra year off. 'Course then she was at home with toddler twins, God bless her. :)

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 11:06 AM

Anon at 10:52: "TR, some of us HAVE been stricken with accidental pregnancies. Some of us know what we're capable of, and don't bite off more than we can chew on someone else's dime. There are alternatives other than just throwing up one's hands and saying, 'well, I guess I'll just have to have this thing.'"

So you honestly think there's nothing wrong with a country that has such bad policies on maternity leave that it will force some people to chose between aborting a fetus and paying for groceries and housing? Don't you find that a bit sick? This is supposed to be the country of "family values"?

Posted by: T.R., Connecticut | May 8, 2007 11:08 AM

"Very irresponsible on Michele's part - accepting a job not knowing the benefits? Then wants to bad-mouth the company?


Posted by: | May 8, 2007 11:01 AM"

Very irresponsible on your part for not reading correctly. She was offered the job but did not accept it.

Posted by: to 11:01 | May 8, 2007 11:09 AM

"Also, calling a baby a thing is exactly why you shouldn't be a mother."

Which is exactly why some women terminate. Having the working parts does not automatically qualify you to be a good mother, and there's nothing wrong with a woman who understands that.

Posted by: anon this post | May 8, 2007 11:10 AM

Sure there is when she uses abortion as birth control. Plus, you just restated my point?

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 11:12 AM

As a soon-to-be mother, who is highly educated and highly qualified in my field, I am shocked by the lack of commitment by companies to offer truly generous maternity packages to attract and retain talented women. Further, as a society, we claim to hold family in the highest regard. If this truly our value, why have we not enacted a national paid parental leave policy as nearly all other industrialized countries have in order to benefit families? The reality of the situation is that many families are not built as 'planned' and saving and planning in advance does little to help them.

I am fortunate in that my company offers a fairly competitive maternity policy--6-8 weeks (depending on mode of delivery) at 100% pay under STD and then the remainder of the 12 weeks (as provided by law) is taken either without pay or via PTO.

What works in my favor is that I work in a field in which women are under-represented and I am able to shop for a company that values my family as much as I do. Unfortunately, not everyone is in that position.

Posted by: KNK | May 8, 2007 11:14 AM

Marian wrote: "The autism speculation is a slippery slope. Many severe mental illnesses have an onset in the college years or through the twenties. I'm not saying he was not autistic, by IMHO, it's likely that he his psychosis was the result of some other mental illness, perhaps on top of autism, that wasn't clear during his growing up years. If he had autism, it may have made the onset of the symptoms of mental illness difficult to see while he was living at home."

Totally agree. Various forms of schizophrenia and bipolarity frequently have their onset when people are in their teens and early twenties. Re the VA Tech shooter, it was a relative in S. Korea who was quoted in the news as saying that, when asked about their son's withdrawn behavior, the parents had CLAIMED it was due to autism. As you also rightly note, one mental illness does not preclude another at the same time. Sadly, our health care system still does not generally provide adequate medical care for the mentally ill. As someone noted earlier today (and on past days), we need to vote to let our views on subjects (including this one) be known to those who are in a position to improve conditions in our health-care system.

Posted by: catlady | May 8, 2007 11:14 AM

"TR, some of us HAVE been stricken with accidental pregnancies."

And some of us have been accidental pregnancies.

My parents have never said this, and never would - but I'm comfortably certain I was an unplanned pregnancy. My parents had been married about a year when I was born. My dad was still in college, my mom was working as a substitute teacher, and they were living in an attic appartment so small that my dad couldn't stand up straight in the bathroom (the roof sloped).

I have no desire to minimize the disruptions and difficulties an unplanned pregnancy can cause. But the unplanned pregnancy carries the same potential for a full and useful life as a planned one.

Posted by: Older Dad | May 8, 2007 11:15 AM

"So you honestly think there's nothing wrong with a country that has such bad policies on maternity leave that it will force some people to chose between aborting a fetus and paying for groceries and housing?"

There's a lot wrong with this country. I find it absurd that elderly people die from a lack of air conditioning every summer, or have to decide between paying for meds and paying for food. I find it absurd that many people can't afford health insurance. But I don't think improving maternity leave will cause fewer abortions. I do, however, think that people should examine their finances before they have children. If they don't, of course, the damage has been done and they have to find a way to deal with that, but I think it would be prudent for all of us to make sure we can afford children before we have them, as you yourself have done. If you really thought it was your company's responsibility to pay for your time off post-pregnancy, would you have accrued the savings you have before even this accidental pregnancy?

And please, don't go wishing unwanted pregnancies on people! Even if your desire would be to punish the woman, you'd be punishing a child as well, and I'm sure you don't want that!

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 11:17 AM

I am not feeling generous toward corporate america today. If they can find hundreds of millions to compensate executives they can afford maternity leave.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 11:18 AM

Coming from the UK where we are allowed at least 6 months maternity leave with pay, I thought my current employers were not very generous allowing only 3 months with full pay and even allow maternity leave for adoptions. On hearing this, I shall stop complaining.

Posted by: ladyjanegray | May 8, 2007 11:19 AM

And please, don't go wishing unwanted pregnancies on people! Even if your desire would be to punish the woman, you'd be punishing a child as well, and I'm sure you don't want that!

She didn't say that she wished then on people. She said should I. Come on lawyer read close.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:19 AM

Older Dad-why couldn't your parents say you were unplanned? There is no stigma is being unplanned. Indeed. Two of my kids know they were ooops. Other than the ick factor associated with even thinking your parents have/had sex, it isn't even a itty bitty deal. It is just facts.

As teens, they're more concerned about the upcoming prom.

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 11:19 AM

unplanned <> unwanted

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 11:21 AM

To - Posted by: stunned by the comments | May 8, 2007 09:08 AM

I hope you know that you live/work in la la land. Totally not the norm. but thanks for gloating

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:21 AM

"In addition, if they are paying someone 60% of their salary for 0% productivity, it hardly leaves much money left over to hire a temp - especially since any skilled temp will cost a fortune."

_someone above

One thing I get sick of hearing on this blog is the workers left behind during maternity or STD, blaming the employee for having to take up the slack when someone is out for an extended period of time.

In these cases (longterm), the blame should be placed squarely on the employer. If the worker on leave is using FMLA (unpaid) or STD (paid by insurance), the employer is actually saving money by not filling the vacancy since they are not paying the employee on leave. Although there are costs associated with keeping the employee on the payroll (employers portion of health insurance comes to mind), they should have the forethought and the means to hire temps if the workload is too big for the remaining employees.

So all of you comlaining about the employees taking leave should really be complaining about your employer screwing you, not your fellow employee.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:21 AM

Mona, I am glad somebody on this discussion finally got it right.

To all of the people who are comparing this to taking off because of a medical condition - irrelevant. Nobody chose to get into an accident or to get sick. Having a baby was a conscious choice.

Posted by: General comments | May 8, 2007 11:23 AM

To all of you who talk of 1yr maternity leave and similar benefits of other countries let me ask you this: Are you willing to double or triple your annual taxes to cover the cost?

Go to any other industrialized country and you will also see smaller houses, more fuel-efficient cars, more people walking to work and to the store, and fewer 60 inch LCD TVs in people's houses.

Can't have your cake and eat it too, unless you are in Bush's top 10% tax cut demographic.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 11:23 AM

"So you honestly think there's nothing wrong with a country that has such bad policies on maternity leave that it will force some people to chose between aborting a fetus and paying for groceries and housing?"

Not trivializing your difficulties, but there are more options. Not preferred options, mind you, but things that many do. Move in with relatives. Sell house and rent for a while (both of my children were born while we lived in an apartment). Cut back on savings, emergency and retirement. Use the dreaded credit cards - while I understand the desire to not have credit card debt, it is a possible short term solution. DH and I don't beat ourselves up over our cc debt. We just accept that we will not travel the way would like and we will not retire as early as we would like or as extravagantly as we would like. The positives of having children far outweigh the negatives of having our cc debt.

Posted by: to TR in Connecticut | May 8, 2007 11:23 AM

"But the unplanned pregnancy carries the same potential for a full and useful life as a planned one."

Got that right...my sister and I were both unplanned. Mine will (hopefully) be planned, and for now, Yasmin is working just fine. The idea of motherhood at this point scares the cr*p out of me. I am having a hard time getting funding for law school--imagine how hard it would be to support a child with my situation! And some people do it with less, although I don't know how.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 11:23 AM

dotted, the same thing can happen in the Fed environment. A friend of mine was a high-level civilian in the DoD. He was selected to attend a prestigious "war college", which is supposed to indicate that you're on the fast track. Unfortunately for him, during the year he was gone the agency he worked for re-organized. Since he wasn't there to defend his turf and his career, he came back to find he had no job. Oh sure, he remained an employee - he wasn't terminated. But he certainly lost status and set his career back a few years.

And yes, the same could happen to a woman who took a long maternity leave (or a man who took a long paternity leave). It's short-sighted on the part of the employer, because they "lose" an ostensibly top-notch employee for a period of time (or forever) and thus lose their investment, but it happens.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 8, 2007 11:26 AM

taxes and long gov't sponsored leave: I thought that we'd been through this before. European taxes are very similar to ours, but they use their tax revenue for things like leave and medicine, while we use ours for the armed forces.

unplanned for pregnancies: You still get 9 months to save. It may be hard, but it's generally not that big of a surprise when you go into labor.

Someone said something about once the guest writer goes back to work she'll have to pay daycare. If they can't make it on 60% leave, how will they make it then? VERY GOOD POINT!

the fed benefit: I just wanted to clear up something. You have to use all of your sick and vacation leave before you can use donated leave. If your s and v are more than 6/8 weeks, you can't get donated leave. Donated leave can only be used for the medical portion of your "maternity" leave.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 11:27 AM

emily-- thanks for the support! i normally ignore anaonymous attacks, but I was really baffled.

shandra-- thank you so much for sharing your info about the way things are in Canada. I think it is very interesting-- I recall that in the 70s they were paying "baby bonuses" to parents -- checks for every child they had just as incentive to help bolster the population. i wonder if they still do that?

the quote of mine you posted shows a bit of my idiocy-- of course i don't really expect an infant to sit down and negotiate its needs with the mother and the mother's employer-- it's just a recognition that some infants have different needs than others and both the parents and the employer may have to make adjustments beyond themselves.

for example, yesterday I heard a "Screamer" baby at the neighborhood playground. Screaming non- stop. the mother was doing everything to try to quiet the baby and nothing would stop it. I guess some kids are just like that. Grow up to be a rock star/opera singer, but in the meanwhile . . . I wonder if I would have gone to work much sooner if I had had such a child! I don't think I have the patience that this mother has. I guess I could have surprized myself, but oh man this baby was so LOUD!!

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 11:30 AM

taxes and long gov't sponsored leave: I thought that we'd been through this before. European taxes are very similar to ours, but they use their tax revenue for things like leave and medicine, while we use ours for the armed forces."


This is pure BS. The tax levels here and in europe are very different. Americans would revolt if we paid their socialist taxes.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 11:34 AM

The day care worker is NOT the primary care giver.

When the child spends the majority of their time with the day care worker and is fed, put to sleep, changed etc... by this worker they are the primary care giver. They may not be the parent, but they are delivering the majority of the care necessary for this child to live. Coming in after 8 -10 hours picking up your kids, feeding them dinner and putting the to sleep is not primary care giving.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 11:35 AM

I never thought I would say this, but I am SO glad we got our daughter into daycare at 15 weeks. She's only been in for a couple weeks, but has started with stranger anxiety THIS week, before 4 months, the early end of the spectrum. There is something to be said about going back to work at 3 months instead of 6...

And 12 weeks goes by FAST. I was hoping to get a manuscript written. HAH. I was lucky to get a shower.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 11:35 AM

"Older Dad-why couldn't your parents say you were unplanned? There is no stigma is being unplanned. Indeed. Two of my kids know they were ooops. Other than the ick factor associated with even thinking your parents have/had sex, it isn't even a itty bitty deal. It is just facts."

Given that I'm more than twice as old now as they were when I was born, of course they could.

They wouldn't, though. It's difficult to explain just how thoroughly they made me feel loved. I never once, as a child or even an adolescent, doubted that my parents loved me and wanted me.

Given their personalities, it's something they simply would never say. They've talked about marrying young, living poor, etc. But, they're both very careful, discrete people - and some things just don't need to be said.

I may not be doing a good job of expressing this, but while they'll correct a child, they'll never do or say anything to undermine a child's sense of love and belonging. (And if you think that's unusual, you should see what kind of grandparents they've turned into!)

Posted by: Older Dad | May 8, 2007 11:36 AM

You know, they know what causes pregnancies now. If you don't want to become pregnant, don't partake in the behavior that would create one. Don't complain when it happens - nothing is foolproof.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:37 AM

"One thing I get sick of hearing on this blog is the workers left behind during maternity or STD, blaming the employee for having to take up the slack when someone is out for an extended period of time."

Everything you say may be true with the following assumptions:

1) The person on leave actually returns within 6-8 weeks without requesting an extention of time off.

2) A temp worker with an identical skill set and zero learning curve is available to perform 100% of the permanent employee's duties at a comparable rate of pay.

In my experience, neither of the two things above have ever happened and that is certainly NOT the fault of the employer. I'm not saying that the mother should be blamed either unless they are clearly abusing the system, but the fact remains that in most cases I have seen maternity leave puts a strain on remaining staff.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 11:38 AM

"To all of you who talk of 1yr maternity leave and similar benefits of other countries let me ask you this: Are you willing to double or triple your annual taxes to cover the cost?"

Taxes are not that different in Europe. In the UK we do not have to pay large amounts for medical coverage either. A very small National Insurance Contribution is deducted from your salary to contribute to the nation's health care services. Apart fron that, all health care is free at the point of service.

Posted by: to 11.23 | May 8, 2007 11:38 AM

I'm currently at home on maternity with baby #3. I work for a Fortune 500 company and the maternity leave, I feel, is generous. I got 4 weeks paid short-tem disability 4 weeks before the baby. 6 weeks paid short-tem disability after, then up to 12 more weeks unpaid, FMLA. I am taking 7 of that. I could return to work part-time until I use the remainder of the FMLA, but I won't. I'll return full-time. My husband works for a large mid-western University. He gets one month paternity leave. He'll tack his on to my leave, when I go back to work in June. Hence, I'm not complaining. Eventhough the 7 weeks unpaid will eat at my savings, I won't even remember the pain of it this time next year. Good luck, ladies.

Posted by: kweenbee | May 8, 2007 11:39 AM

General comments you are right I planned to have a baby, but one of my co-workers at work also planned a party, had too much to drink, and wrecked his car. He was out on STD for months. Should he not be given his benefits because he planned an accident?

What about planning to go skiing and breaking your leg on the slopes or smoking and getting lung cancer? Wow, shoots holes in your argument doesn't it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:41 AM

I can't read all these comments so I expect I'll repeat. I'm wondering what kind of jobs you've been in that the maternity leave at that company looked bad to you. From what I've seen in the government and the jobs of the various people I know, that was an amazingly good deal. Maybe it wasn't perfect but it was a heck of a lot better than most places give.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 8, 2007 11:42 AM

pATRICK wrote: "Americans would revolt if we paid their socialist taxes."

Maybe. Or maybe not. It might depend on whether Americans decided that the benefits and services they received as a result were worth paying higher taxes for. Consider the case WorkingMomX described at 8:36 AM today, where an employee leaves a job with better benefits for one with higher pay, though not a high enough increase to offset the concomitant lost benefits. Perhaps the real questions should be, are the majority of Americans that short-sighted? Is the notion of the self-reliant American accurate or just a libertarian (or romantic) myth?

Posted by: catlady | May 8, 2007 11:44 AM

"Go to any other industrialized country and you will also see smaller houses, more fuel-efficient cars, more people walking to work and to the store, and fewer 60 inch LCD TVs in people's houses."

Sounds like heaven to me. Which is why I walk, have a fuel-efficient car I use as little as I can get away with, and don't have a 60-inch TV.

But yes, taxes in Western Europe are higher than they are in the US. Where does the person spouting that think the money o pay for the social programs comes from? Our taxes aren't paying for this war--it's being paid for on credit.

Posted by: This is supposed to be bad? | May 8, 2007 11:44 AM

am shocked by the lack of commitment by companies to offer truly generous maternity packages to attract and retain talented women.

Posted by: KNK | May 8, 2007 11:14 AM

Why? I mean, why do you think talented women are so special that they deserve special perks for working? What about all those talented women who don't want to (or already have) have children? What about all those talented men?

Right now, there are more than enough talented PEOPLE out there to fill the jobs industry requires. When there aren't and businesses needs more talent they may well find that generous maternity packages are the way to get that.

The downside for employers is that generous maternity packages attract women who intend to have children, which for an employer means at an employee who will not be present for at least the amount of time they offer for maternity leave. They also face the possibly of losing that employee for good as we all probably know of at least one mother who has said she is coming back to work and didn't.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:44 AM

I have a 5 year old, and, had to use my benefit time when I had him (still trying to accrue it again, btw). It only covered part of my leave.

60% pay with the ST disability is generous.
http://careerandkids.com

Posted by: Elizabeth | May 8, 2007 11:45 AM

pATRICK:

Married with 2 kids, making a total of 50K euros/ $68K:

US takes home 83% after taxes
UK 73%
France 76%
Germany 72%
Switzerland 82%
Sweden 58%

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 11:46 AM

they're both very careful, discrete people

ALL people are discrete. But are they discreet, too?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:46 AM

The day care worker is NOT the primary care giver.

When the child spends the majority of their time with the day care worker and is fed, put to sleep, changed etc... by this worker they are the primary care giver. They may not be the parent, but they are delivering the majority of the care necessary for this child to live. Coming in after 8 -10 hours picking up your kids, feeding them dinner and putting the to sleep is not primary care giving.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 11:35 AM
The primary care giver is the person who is legally and morally responsible for the child. If you really believe that children in day care, on average, are more attached to the day care workers then their own parents, then you have little to no experience with day care. Is the school teacher who has your child for 6-7 hours of the waking day and gives the child lunch, educates and plays with the child then the primary care giver.

Posted by: seriously? | May 8, 2007 11:47 AM

That was from Forbes, btw.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 11:48 AM

Maybe employers could offer maternity leave as an optional benefit. NN$$ salary with no maternity benefit or NN$$ minus 10 percent salary with 12 weeks paid maternity. Keeps those happy who want maternity leave as well as those who do not choose to or can't have children.

Posted by: why not | May 8, 2007 11:48 AM

"I was lucky to get a shower."

ATB, that stinks. :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 8, 2007 11:49 AM

"it's just a recognition that some infants have different needs than others and both the parents and the employer may have to make adjustments beyond themselves. "

Jen - couldn't agree more and I didn't think your quote was idiotic at all. :) My son was a relatively easy baby, but as a toddler he's proving to be quite a handful. I work from home but when the nanny arrives I am glad; I don't think I would want a leave!!!

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 11:50 AM

I would love your maternity leave policy. FMLA only guarantees a company hold your position for 3 months of leave. So I opted after a first year of employment to buy short-term disability (STD), which pays 80% of my salary while I'm out. But first I will use all my sick and vacation time. I am 31 pregnant with my second kid and the primary breadwinner in my household. So this is what I found to be a decent maternity leave. My last job only provided FMLA where they held my job for three months with no pay out at all during maternity leave. I would love 8 weeks paid maternity leave.

Posted by: Very jealous | May 8, 2007 11:51 AM

No, I stunk. Like spit-up sour milk.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 11:51 AM

This poster was offered a job, but found that one of the benefits important to her, maternity leave, was not as generous as that at her current employer, so she didn't take the job. Thus, the new employer lost out on a potentially good employee because of their lack of a benefit, and her current employer was rewarded with retention of a good employee but providing generous benefits. This is exactly how market capitalism is supposed to work, and how we get progress in terms of such benefits. Hopefully both companies learn that to recruit and retain quality employees, they need to offer quality benefits.

But the response here is "how dare you think the benefits offered were not generous, they are better than I get", instead of "oh, my benefits aren't very good, am i in a position to look for a job that offers better benefits (and thus indicate to my employer that the benefits offered are not adequate)?" This is how we will get progress on this issue, if enough people indicate it is a benefit that is important to them, and are willing to vote with their feet, then it will become standard.

And the "you can't have it both ways" argument about daycare is just silly, because daycare is very different for children of different ages - an 8 year-old (or 8 month old) does not need the same care as an 8 day old.

Posted by: Kathrina | May 8, 2007 11:51 AM

"When the child spends the majority of their time with the day care worker and is fed, put to sleep, changed etc... by this worker they are the primary care giver. They may not be the parent, but they are delivering the majority of the care necessary for this child to live. Coming in after 8 -10 hours picking up your kids, feeding them dinner and putting the to sleep is not primary care giving."

So wait the sleep time the day care provider counts to primary care giving but not the night time sleep for the parent? Sorry a week is 168 hours less 50 hours at daycare = 118 hours
awake time at daycare 50 hours less 2hr/day nap equals 40 hours
118 hours less 10hrs/night(70hrs) and 4hrs nap on weekends = 44 hours so even with a long time at daycare (many kids are there less especially with on-site), not counting sick days and holidays and vacation the time comes out slightly heavier for home and holidays & vactions & being the one to take care of them when they are sick do count.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 11:53 AM

"You know, they know what causes pregnancies now. If you don't want to become pregnant, don't partake in the behavior that would create one."

Ooh, yay! Sexless marriages for everyone! Now that's healthy!

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 11:54 AM

"Thus, the new employer lost out on a potentially good employee because of their lack of a benefit, and her current employer was rewarded with retention of a good employee but providing generous benefits."

The new employer still may have gotten a good employee because there are many potentially good employees available who may not care about the maternity benefits.

The old employer may have retained her because of the benefits, but those benefits apparently weren't enough to prevent her from considering leaving. It sounds as if she would have left if she weren't considering having another child. So basically, maternity benefits only affect retention of those employees who are female and wish to have babies.

Posted by: xyz | May 8, 2007 11:58 AM

Mona-may I nominate your post at 11:54 as Post of the Day? I like your emphasis on health...he he he

Army Brat-time out always hurts doesn't it?

Life isn't perfect all the time. There is a lot of blaming of others when things aren't perfect, imho.

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 11:59 AM

I'm not saying that the mother should be blamed either unless they are clearly abusing the system, but the fact remains that in most cases I have seen maternity leave puts a strain on remaining staff.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 11:38 AM

But do you blame the guy who has a heart attack the same way for the strain on the remaining staff?

Because from the employers point of view, they are exactly the same, with the exception of the advance notice the employer gets for maternity leaves.

Really, having a baby, while being a choice, is also part of life, just like heart attacks and skiing accidents. While people can (usually) choose when, pregnancy and childbirth will never go away. So the fact that it is a choice really has no bearing on the discussion of how the employer handles missing employees. The fact that they know it is coming means that they should be able to manage it better for the employees left at work. The fault for the stress on the remaining employees, all of it, remains with the employer.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM

pATRICK:

Married with 2 kids, making a total of 50K euros/ $68K:

US takes home 83% after taxes
UK 73%
France 76%
Germany 72%
Switzerland 82%
Sweden 58%

Forgot about a few taxes, gasoline taxes nearly 4 per gallon, much higher corporate taxes, vat tax on everything nearly etc. All this adds up and that is why unemployment runs nearly double to what it is here.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM

If paid leave is mandatory, I simply won't hire women. Sorry to be honest.

Posted by: Bob | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM

The primary care giver is the person who is legally and morally responsible for the child. If you really believe that children in day care, on average, are more attached to the day care workers then their own parents, then you have little to no experience with day care. Is the school teacher who has your child for 6-7 hours of the waking day and gives the child lunch, educates and plays with the child then the primary care giver.


This is not about who has legal guardianship of a child. An infant instinctively tries to attach to whomever he/she perceives as the primary caregiver, which would in fact be the person seen during most of the waking hours. I'm not saying that an infant can't attach to more than one person -- just that they need to attach to someone as a part of the developmental process. Your comparison with children in school is not valid. We are talking about infants who are incapable of speaking their needs.

Posted by: Social Worker Mom | May 8, 2007 12:02 PM

"If paid leave is mandatory, I simply won't hire women. Sorry to be honest."

But women make 77 cents on the dollar when compared to men !!!

You could hire post-menopausal women only. Wait, that wouldn't work. They could use surrogates.

LOL.

Posted by: to Bob | May 8, 2007 12:03 PM

To all of you who talk of 1yr maternity leave and similar benefits of other countries let me ask you this: Are you willing to double or triple your annual taxes to cover the cost?

Go to any other industrialized country and you will also see smaller houses, more fuel-efficient cars, more people walking to work and to the store, and fewer 60 inch LCD TVs in people's houses.

Can't have your cake and eat it too, unless you are in Bush's top 10% tax cut demographic.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 11:23 AM

OMG! Fuel efficient cars and walking - those poor poor people! Maybe this is why America is the fatest nation in the world. Maybe you should stop eating cake!!!!

I am so glad to live in a place where my child is valued and not seen as commodity. This view sickens me.

Posted by: not telling | May 8, 2007 12:04 PM

If paid leave is mandatory, I simply won't hire women. Sorry to be honest.

Posted by: Bob | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM


And you'll pretty darn fast be looking down the business end of a huge lawsuit that'll cost your company a lot more to fight than what the paid maternity leave would be. If you work for someone else, they'd be justified in firing you. If you're self-employed, your business will go under.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:04 PM

The primary care giver is the person who is legally and morally responsible for the child

No, that's the parent. The primary care giver is the person who is providing the bulk of the care necessary for the child to survive. Kid yourself if you want that you have the same relationship with your kids as someone who is at home with them - you know its not - otherwise you wouldn't ask for the leave to be with them.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:09 PM

"Backing couples into a corner where they have to delay childbearing this long is bad public policy that ultimately results in higher health care costs for everyone."

m,

No, it doesn't. Those couples who delay having children will have fewer children, thus reining in health care costs.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 10:50 AM

They may have fewer children but they'll have higher risk pregnancies more likely to result in pre-term births that will result in higher medical costs. And/or more fertility treatments (for some) that result in higher medical costs.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 8, 2007 12:09 PM

If paid leave is mandatory, I simply won't hire women. Sorry to be honest.

Posted by: Bob | May 8, 2007 12:00 PM

Bob raises a good point and points toward the slipperly slope. All this complaining about the strain maternity leave puts on staff and this complaining about not getting enough benefits -- it makes it less appealing to hire a woman. Since you can't ask whether a woman is going to choose to have a baby in an interview, one can assume that any woman will have a baby and be "part of the problem." Sure it's illegal, but when there are many qualified candidates, how do you prove discrimination? Slippery slope.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 12:11 PM

Kid yourself if you want that you have the same relationship with your kids as someone who is at home with them - you know its not - otherwise you wouldn't ask for the leave to be with them.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:09 PM

If this is true, 90% of dads have an inferior relationship with their children, no wonder people think dads are inferior parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:11 PM

"If this is true, 90% of dads have an inferior relationship with their children, no wonder people think dads are inferior parents."

That's what most fiction says......

Posted by: Elaiine | May 8, 2007 12:13 PM

I think somebody is a little whacked if she thinks her biological clock is running out and can't wait another, what, 4 months to delay a pregnancy to qualify for 3 weeks paid maternity leave.

Entitled? You bet! But what do you expect from a 42 year old?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:14 PM

Katherina, the "you can't have it both ways" argument that I was trying to point out (and not very well evidently) is that trying to have a rallying cry to provide excellant, affordable daycare facilities for 8 week old babies AND a rallying cry that women NEED to have at least 3 months of maternity leave not only to recover but also to bond with the infant-- these cries seem to be at odds with each other.

One indicates that eight week old babies in daycare is obsolutely fine and all of us can comfortably get behind it without fear of unbonded, wild children. The other policy indicates that eight week old babies in daycare is shameful for a society and must be avoided and that as a society we are willing to do what it takes to allow the mother to stay home during this critical period.

I am convinced that there is no one sized fits all solution, so neither of these arguments have much pull with me.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 12:14 PM

If this is true, 90% of dads have an inferior relationship with their children, no wonder people think dads are inferior parents.

Maybe that's why when people are on t.v. they say "Hi mom" and there are significantly more calls on Mother's Day than Father's Day. I think moms do have a more significant relationship with their kids than dads especially those who are at home. I also think that at home dads have a more significant relationship with their kids than their working wife.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:14 PM

At our non-profit org (about 40 employees), we get two weeks maternity & paternity leave. If/when we become worker-members (have to apply and be voted into the membership), it jumps to 4 weeks maternity & paternity (includes adoption). We have a 4 day work week (32 hours per week), 21 days vacation (at 4 years), 10 days sick days for non-parents, 15 days sick days for parents, flexible hours/telecommuting allowed. Working here is how I try to achieve my balance. I did the corporate 60% Short term disability with my first child and this great maternity leave with our 2nd (maternity plus vacation and sick days). I think I took 10 weeks total and then worked from home for months after that.

Posted by: BMG | May 8, 2007 12:16 PM

pATRICK, OK, then we'll use the other total misery points:

highest France: 166
lowest UAE: 18

US (TX):95
US (NYC):115

UK:111
Switzerland:106
Sweden:151
Germany:130
Canada: 111

I'm still not feeling your argument.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 12:17 PM

wow PB&J, citing TV references as proof that SAHM is better than working moms and fathers. Quite a well-reasoned argument.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 12:19 PM

I don't get it. The world is over popoulated now and there are people out there who think we should pay people to have babies????????? The way some people reproduce, being pregnant would be come a full time job. Quite frankly, if you cnanot live off 60% for a few weeks, you cannot afford to have another baby.

Posted by: Debbie | May 8, 2007 12:20 PM

My friend was incapacitated for four months after her "uncomplicated vaginal delivery" because her stitches tore three times. And, yes, she had to take care of her newborn the whole time on her own. It left her body permanently damaged. Just because you were back to normal after three days doesn't mean everyone is. I needed all eight weeks of recovery for my second C-section. I was still bent double with pain but they only give you ten days worth of the good pain medicine. Then it's tylenol for you!

Posted by: m | May 8, 2007 12:21 PM

pb&j
"Maybe that's why when people are on t.v. they say "Hi mom" and there are significantly more calls on Mother's Day than Father's Day."

Agreed. And why the majority of Oscar winners don't mention their fathers in their acceptance speeches.

Posted by: Office Krupke | May 8, 2007 12:22 PM

Debbie- Upper middle class folks who can afford to raise and educate kids aren't the ones overpopulating the world. Just sayin.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 12:22 PM

To: not telling

>


The point being made was that Americans are not willing to scale back their lifestyles and pay higher taxes for get better social services. Many parents I know have big McMansions in the x-burbs and have long commutes in gas guzzling SUVs yet would be appalled at the idea of scaling back one bit.

No one was saying a child is a commodity (whatever THAT meant), but someone's got to foot the bill and parents can't realistically expect to get everything paid for without some sacrifices in other areas.

Posted by: anon | May 8, 2007 12:23 PM

I don't think it is just childbirth..it seems that many surgeries that used to require hospital stays are now outpatient. While I am sure some of it is due to improved surgical techniques, you have to wonder how much the insurance companies drives the procedure times. I think they refer to it as "drive-by surgery".

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 12:23 PM

wow PB&J, citing TV references as proof that SAHM is better than working moms and fathers. Quite a well-reasoned argument.

Awesome arlington dad!

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 12:24 PM

"If this is true, 90% of dads have an inferior relationship with their children, no wonder people think dads are inferior parents."

That's what most fiction says......

Posted by: Elaiine | May 8, 2007 12:13 PM

Really? You actually believe that people (not you or me personally) think dads are equal or superior parents than moms?

Because as a dad, I know it sure feels like the majority of people think moms are the better parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:29 PM

Arlington dad - that was reference - singular. You still weren't able to refute my assertion.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:31 PM

"Really? You actually believe that people (not you or me personally) think dads are equal or superior parents than moms?

Because as a dad, I know it sure feels like the majority of people think moms are the better parents. "

Or the lesser of two evils....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:35 PM

Your "assertion" was more of a judgement. I can't change your mind about what other people do.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 12:36 PM

When my first son was born in 2001, a woman could qualify for maternity leave for six months with 50 percent of her wage (up to a capped limit ), with a guarantee that her job would still be there at the end of the maternity leave, I had to work at least 700 hours to qualify for it in a work year.

When my second son was born in 2005, by this time, a woman could have a year maternity leave with the same benefits. A father could share the year with parental leave while the mom went back to work.

I think a year maternity leave is great, most moms here take advantage of it to stay home with their babies. It's a win/win situation in my opinion.

Posted by: Mom in Canada | May 8, 2007 12:36 PM

wow PB&J, citing TV references as proof that SAHM is better than working moms and fathers. Quite a well-reasoned argument.

Awesome arlington dad!

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 12:24 PM

C'mon, Arlington Dad you just posted a slippery slope arguemnet for women of childbearing age. How is this any different?

We men work more hours, SAH much less than women and usually handle far less of the childrearing. How can you not expect the perception of people to be that mothers (as a group) are the better parents? It is the same mechanism that causes employers to view women as more of a hiring risk than men?

While both perceptions are usually wrong when applied to the individual, they come from a normal human reection to what we experience.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:38 PM

Maybe be happy with the one child you do have? Why do you have to have another?

Seriously. Maybe the company's policy is a message.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:40 PM

Issues can often arise later in life if a child has not bonded with at least one caregiver during the early months -- attachment disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial tendencies, to name a few.

Social Worker Mom,

I'm sorry, but you haven't read the research. These things can and are attributable to not having a good bond with a caretaker (or two), but it's throughout childhood. The first few months, or even a year, of upheaval do NOT guarantee a personality disorder, nor does it guarantee that there will be one.

It's not one instance of abuse on the part of one family member that predisposes a child to borderline personality disorder, it's the continued abuse by a trusted/primary family member that "does the trick".

As for paid maternity leave, well, I'm a federal worker and was for all the births. I did it the hard way, I saved up my leave for years, just in case.

Hindsight says that the author may have opted out of a perfectly good solution for many, but not for her. As she already has a child, she knows about self-sacrifice and commitment.

Good luck with making & bearing #2--perhaps you and your new husband can financially manage it together, with a little luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:42 PM

Maybe you should try to take other people's experiences into account when forming your opinions. Just because you felt like running a race two days after giving birth does not mean that others do. You also seem to watch a lot of TV. It does sound like you need to expand your horizons a bit.

Last, I'd suggest you phrase your opinions in a way that is less offensive to others if you actually care about discourse and not just about irritating people. If the latter, then I guess that just makes you a troll with a name.

Posted by: to pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:44 PM

this trend of women going back to work and placing their children in daycare at 8 weeks post-partum is realitively new to our society-- right?

Posted by: JEn | May 8, 2007 10:58 AM

No, it's not right. From birth, women have had to return to work to support their families and feed their newborns for centuries. The idea of either staying home or staying home for a maternity leave as long as 8 weeks is the modern contrivance. Slave women took their newborns to the fields to reap cotton. Their babies were either on their backs or placed in a basket or on a blanket at the end of the row. Women worked in factories for 12 hour shifts and left newborns with older siblings - older as in 5, 7, maybe 10 years old. Women in tenement housing in all US cities, including NYC, in the late 1800s had to support the family by sewing, and were paid by the piece. They were working - not feeding or watch their children. Entire villages in developing nations have to work in the fields or otherwise support themselves every day.

Travel to anywhere outside of your comfortable little suburb and you'll learn that many, many moms have no maternity leave and no option to "stay home" if you mean by that, to not earn a living that feeds her children. They didn't have that option in the 30s, or the 50s, or the 70s, either.

Studies don't report that making any of these choices is "terrible". They report specific findings that parents can review, determine if those findings are relevant to their families, and either discard or attend, at their option. Stop tossing labels around. Read a little history. Stop being a defensive ninny.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:46 PM

Poor pb&j, clearly she had a lousy daddy AND watches far too much t.v.

Remember dear, just because they say on t.v. that it's a miracle pill that will diminish the fat from your body does NOT make it true!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:46 PM

Maybe you should try to take other people's experiences into account when forming your opinions. Just because you felt like running a race two days after giving birth does not mean that others do. You also seem to watch a lot of TV. It does sound like you need to expand your horizons a bit.

Last, I'd suggest you phrase your opinions in a way that is less offensive to others if you actually care about discourse and not just about irritating people. If the latter, then I guess that just makes you a troll with a name.

Posted by: to pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:44

Look, a personal attack followed by a "you should be nicer" admonishment. Maybe you should take your own words to heart.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:48 PM

To the person who posted at 12:42, I have read the research -- it's my job. And I NEVER said that failure to bond in the first few months ensured problems later in life -- I said it COULD.

Posted by: Social Worker Mom | May 8, 2007 12:48 PM

this trend of women going back to work and placing their children in daycare at 8 weeks post-partum is realitively new to our society-- right?

Posted by: JEn

No, only for white women of a certain economic class and background. If you were African American, Polish, Irish or one of many other turn-of-the 20th century immigrants, you were expected to WORK.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 8, 2007 12:50 PM

"The primary care giver is the person who is legally and morally responsible for the child."

I'm legally and morally responsible for the maintenance of my automobile. That doesn't make me a mechanic.

Posted by: Demos | May 8, 2007 12:50 PM

"I think a year maternity leave is great, most moms here take advantage of it to stay home with their babies. It's a win/win situation in my opinion."

Yep - and so do I. It's one of the many reasons we're whipping your butts economically.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:52 PM

"You also seem to watch a lot of TV. It does sound like you need to expand your horizons a bit."

And so does moxiemom and scarry and more than several other regulars on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:52 PM

yep, Maryland mother not only expected, but they had too.

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 12:52 PM

Just because you felt like running a race two days after giving birth does not mean that others do

I never said I felt like running a race, I indicated that I had responsibilities that continued regardless of how I felt, so I got up, took my advil and took care of my family. Why should we expect the men to be the only ones who do the heavy lifting. BTW, I had a terrific father but my wonderful mother did all the hard work and was the most present in my youth.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:57 PM

"Travel to anywhere outside of your comfortable little suburb and you'll learn that many, many moms have no maternity leave and no option to "stay home" if you mean by that, to not earn a living that feeds her children"

Oh, no I can't do that. That would upset all of my notions of "superiority" and one-upmanship.

I can't be an uber mother when compared to the real world, so I never enter the real world. Neither do my children.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 12:58 PM

I am in my seventh month of pregnancy. We relocated to take care of a terminally ill mother-in-law and I got pregnant before finding a new job. Since we didn't know if I could get pregnant we were thrilled about the baby, even with the awkward timing. I am a career professional and if things had been normal I would have stayed in my old job right to labor and then taken three months' leave with flexibility to take calls/telecommute whenever my firm needed me. I just enjoy work and my old firm - generally a conservative place in a conservative industry - stands by family values. (With other female colleagues who have taken time off at different firms I haven't noticed the office falling apart in their absence. After all, having a baby implies a project management schedule and can be planned for by both parent and firm. I do wonder about companies that can't handle employee absences - it sounds like a chaotic environment). As it is, I am waiting for the baby and looking forward to finding a new job after the three months. We are fortunate because we are yuppies and with belt-tightening and doing without my husband makes enough money to support us and his mother. This year I won't have any retirement savings and the baby will be wearing second-hand clothes. The lack of retirement savings is obviously more of a hardship than what the kid will be wearing... My husband will take a month off to be with us so he has the experience of his newborn. He'll use his vacation time and unpaid parental leave. If either one of us were inclined to be stay-at-home parents I think we'd do everything we could to make it work but we both enjoy the contributions we make in our jobs. So, our lives aren't quite how I had thought they would be before my mother-in-law's illness but its not unbearable.

I do shudder to think of what life would be like if we weren't in this fortunate economic bracket (ie if we were making minimum wage) or if the pregnancy were unplanned, or if I was single or widowed, or my husband suddenly disabled, or if the baby has medical needs or if I experience complications. More importantly, at this point my mother-in-law is doing ok, but in time she will need care. What if she has a stroke or emergency before she is ready for full care? What kind of choice does an employee have in a sudden emergency? Keep working and ignore an elderly parent or ask to take unpaid time off, or leave the job and have no income? Its not fair to ask a small employer to foot the bill/cover the risk on these external events but it is reasonable to provide for an emergency fund through a family leave covered by unemployment insurance.

I understand the emails about personal responsibility and choices but when the dialogue is about personal life events that aren't controllable it seems that the answer really is a Family Leave Act that will accommodate time off and offer enough financial aid at least to cover rent and utilities. As a society that is looking at an aging population parent care will become more of an issue. No one has issues with raising new funds for military spending so why is there a sudden frugality toward allocating funds for a healthier society within the country's borders?

Lastly, I still can't get over the concept that somehow having a child is a 'woman' thing, when I look at how thrilled and involved my husband is and how very much he is looking forward to this child. If men weren't terrified of losing their jobs more would sign up to take advantage of parental time off. Jobs come and go but some things in life - like having a child or saying good-bye to a dying relative - need to be respected. Before we are employees we are human beings.

Posted by: FLA | May 8, 2007 12:59 PM

Issues can often arise later in life if a child has not bonded with at least one caregiver during the early months -- attachment disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial tendencies, to name a few.

No--you sound "often", not "could"; you then link it with one pernicious personality disorder and imply others.

Scare tactics are not necessary when mentioning things such as "antisocial tendencies", for example.

Cite your sources, please.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:00 PM

When my daughter was born, I lived in New York. I got my 2 weeks vacation time and then under NY state law, I was eligible for (at a minimum) 2 weeks state funded disability pay before my due date and 6 weeks after. When my son was born 10 years later in Florida, I got my 2 weeks vacation pay and that was it! No disability, public or private. But I was lucky, I got to keep my job. I was on the job less than 1 year when I got pregnant (unexpectedly). I worked in a 2 person office, me and the boss, and Florida is a "right to work state" (the right being up to the employer, not the employee), so I could have been fired at any time.

Posted by: Claire | May 8, 2007 1:01 PM

I think that companies that ignore women's needs are being shortsighted. The demographics are changing and a labor shortage is coming. Companies that turn their back on off half of the labor force talent will pay. I think we should just mandate something and deal with it.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 1:04 PM

ha anon if you count spongebob as a lot of tv then I guess you are right.

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 1:06 PM

We have maternity leave at my company. I am not sure exactly what the policy is but I know 80% of the women who take it quit within 6 months of their return. We also are pretty flexible. I work in technology and they let anyone work from home at least 2 days a week. I can't say I would advocate for increasing maternity leave here because people seem to use it to transition to stay at home motherhood. So the company expends money on this benefit, so people can quit.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:10 PM

I had a terrific father but my wonderful mother did all the hard work and was the most present in my youth.

Posted by: pb&j | May 8, 2007 12:57 PM

Why do you say your mother did all the hard work? Was you father disabled?

If you childhood was typical, while your mother stayed home, who do you think was out in the world working to support you and your mother. The fact that you can ignore the work your father did, shows your biases really well. You only see the work women do as valuable and have no respect for those that don't stay home with their children. (Or maybe your dad wasn't terrific after all.)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:13 PM

You're kidding, right? You want to leave your job with pay for an extended period shortly after joining the company? You've got a lot of nerve, lady.

Posted by: jp | May 8, 2007 1:17 PM

Speaking of TV, I got rid of mine this weekend. I thought I'd miss it, but I don't. What do you know?

Maybe I should try the same for junk food and soda!

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 1:17 PM

"Women worked in factories for 12 hour shifts and left newborns with older siblings - older as in 5, 7, maybe 10 years old. Women in tenement housing in all US cities, including NYC, in the late 1800s had to support the family by sewing, and were paid by the piece. They were working - not feeding or watch their children"

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 12:46 PM

It was worse than that. The mine and factory owners paid fathers so little, not only did mothers of small children have to work in the sweatshops -- their children also had to work. Many children did child labor, amid swiftly-running wheels and wildly-banging machines, in hot and dirty shops. Their heads got addled, their eyes grew dark -- dark from tears and sweat. Other children stayed home with their mothers, sewing piecework at home.

Beginning with a court decision in Australia in the 1890's, the idea spread that a worker is entitled to a "living wage," meaning enough to support a wife and three children with food, clothing, housing, heat and medical care. The unions, with the full support of the first wave feminist movement, struggled for decades until the 1930's, when the passage of the Wagner Act enabled unions to bargain for a living wage. For thirty years after that, not only a miner or a steel worker, but even a deliveryman for a Pittsburgh newspaper earned enough to support a family.

Where are the unions today? Where are our elected representatives, who pass globalization like NAFTA and WTO and sit back while American breadwinners have to compete with maquiladora labor in Mexico, coolie labor in Singapore, child labor in India, prison slave labor in Red China, and undocumented immigrant labor on job sites right here in the USA?

"Banks of Marble

"I've traveled 'round this country
from shore to shining shore
It really made me wonder
the things I heard and saw

"I saw the weary farmer
plowing sod and loam
l heard the auction hammer
just a-knocking down his home

"But the banks are made of marble
with a guard at every door
and the vaults are stuffed with silver
that the farmer sweated for

I"'ve seen the weary miners
scrubbing coal dust from their backs
I heard their children cryin'
"Got no coal to heat the shack"

"But the banks are made of marble
with a guard at every door
and the vaults are stuffed with silver
that the miner sweated for

"l saw the seaman standing
Idly by the shore
l heard the bosses saying
Got no work for you no more

"But the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the seaman sweated for

"I've seen my brothers working
throughout this mighty land.
l prayed we'll get together
and together make a stand

"Then we'll own those banks of marble
with a guard at any door
and we'llshare those vaults of silver
that the workers sweated for"
--Les Rice, 1950

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | May 8, 2007 1:19 PM

ha anon if you count spongebob as a lot of tv then I guess you are right.

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 01:06 PM

Spongebob is awesome. Sometimes when I am flipping channels by myself, I find myself inadvertantly watching it. I change the channel when my wife wolks int he room though. ;)

Posted by: different anon | May 8, 2007 1:20 PM

Mona

"Speaking of TV, I got rid of mine this weekend. I thought I'd miss it, but I don't. What do you know?

Maybe I should try the same for junk food and soda!"

Did you ditch the TV before or after The Tudors was shown on Sunday night?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:22 PM

Surely I'm not reading the comments as "well gee, slaves wore their babies on their backs so everyone should just shut up and do that"? There are reasons that death rates for women and infants were a lot higher then.

I had two very different labours. With my daughter, labour was terrible, I probably would have been in serious trouble had I not been in a hospital, and 8 weeks later I still felt like death warmed over. With my son, I was feeling pretty well even a day later, although I had a lot of heavy bleeding for 3 weeks. But later came down with mastitis and that probably would have killed me if I hadn't been able to rest and have antibiotics.

So I'm not sure the "pioneer women did it and so should you!" argument holds a lot of weight with me.

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 1:23 PM

The best thing that happened to me is I was laid off when I was pregnant. I worked
until 2 days before she was born but knew I was not coming back to the job.

I collected sick leave (she came a week
before my official due date), maternity leave, severance pay, and then was able to apply and get unemployment pay.

I loved my baby but it was hard work. She was up 16 to 18 hours a day, cried a lot, and went to pieces if she could not see me. Now at age 5 she has matured. She loves me but she says good by after knowing when my return. She sleeps throught the night and rarely cries or even gets sick.

It was her rough first year that really discourages me from having another. Also I am 40 and DH is 49. Another factor is my father-in-law is one of set of twin boys.

Posted by: shdd | May 8, 2007 1:24 PM

pb&j you are so totally ridiculous--and bad at math.

If your child spends 8-10 hours a day (as an infant they will be sleeping at least 1/2 of that time) for 5 days a week that is at maximum 50 hours a week that a child care provider is responsible for your child.

Since there are 24 hours in a day, the parent is responsible for the child for 14 of those hours 5 days a week and for 48 hours on the weekend, how do you surmise that the parent is not the primary care provider?

Posted by: toth | May 8, 2007 1:24 PM

1:22, I don't know what the Tudors are. I've never heard of it. And here I was thinking I watched a lot of TV. At any rate, I carted the thing to my mom's place over the weekend, haven't watched since last Thursday. My living room looks a little blank because of it, but considering I'm moving out at the end of the month, it looks blank for other reasons as well. ;-)

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 1:25 PM

Wow! two poster skipping over the part where I specified DAYCARE for 8 week old infants as new for this society!

Of course mothers have been leaving their children with family or just plain old continuing to work out in the field with child strapped (dare I say "attached?") to the mother for eons, but dropping off an infant in daycare seems to be a new thing.

Just because I point out that something is new doesn't mean that I think it is BAD-- it just means that people aren't familiar with it. Most of us on this list, we were cared for as infants by our parents or by family members-- a few wealthy kids may have had nannies, but you were still raised at home.

What percent of working mothers today were left at daycare at 8 weeks old? Probably less than 1%. And yet many of us are considering such an option for our own children and there are fears because it is unknown and new. Sure, you can look at studies that say that daycare at such a young age is really just fine, but I'm sure I 'm not alone for not trusting the "experts"-- especially since one study will say one thing ane one will say another. Don't tell me that every study that has been done indicates that all children are perfectly OK with being in daycare at 8 weeks. THAT MAY BE TRUE but you know there will be people that can twist the stats to show the absolute opposite. In fact, I've seen such reports.

so what do you do? Well I hope that sharing my observation that daycare for infants seems to be absolutely fine with the children I have seen use it is of some value. But it really has to be an indvidual decision.

why do i get the feeling that unless you are an ideologue, you just are doomed to be misunderstood on this blog?

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 1:28 PM

You meant "At will" employement. "Right-to-work" refers to a place of employment not being a union shop.

Posted by: To Claire | May 8, 2007 1:29 PM

Someone mentioned the limit on the amount of sick leave you can use for maternity leave. It's that way in the federal government. Six weeks for standard birth, eight weeks for C-section. The rationale is that the sick leave is meant to help the mother physically recover, not to spend time with the baby. So not only does the federal government make you use sick and annual leave, it limits how much of it you can use.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:30 PM

pb&j should change her handle to
"know-it-all martyr mom." Has a nice ring to it.

Posted by: Get a grip | May 8, 2007 1:32 PM

There are reasons that death rates for women and infants were a lot higher then.

Yes, the death rates were higher for EVERYONE back then. Actually, the death rate holds steady at 100%, eventually.

Not washing hands between delivering babies was prevalent by the physicians of the time, and that wiped out a lot of women and babies. So did diseases, accidents, starvation.

Childbirth is dangerous. Always has been.

No one is saying that wanting 12 weeks of leave to take care of your child is a bad thing--but it is NOT a world-wide historical mandate. If you are not able to enjoy such, it's not a new thing.

And it costs to have it--someone, somewhere has to bear the costs of it. Whether it's spread out throughout a defined society (Switzerland, for example) or you and your little familial unit bear the cost alone.

Nothing is free.

But when given the choice--I recommend you have the baby in the hospital (just in case you DO need an immediate medical intervention) and never say never when it comes to an epidural. You may want one, it really doesn't minimize the experience (you know when a contraction is occuring), it simply takes the edge off the pain. In my experience anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:32 PM

1:22, I don't know what the Tudors are. I've never heard of it.

Actually, it's who the Tudors were (English monarchy). Fascinating in the usual way that bloodthirsty demogogues usually are. Henry the VIII ring a bell?

Posted by: to Mona | May 8, 2007 1:35 PM

Why do you feel you have to have the company pay you at all? They should hold your job and anything else is a bonus. What happens to females who decide not to have kids - they actually stay behind and pick up your slack and get nothing in return??? Just because you decided you had to add to the gene pool in an already over-populated world? Get a grip and a bit of gratitude. Save YOUR OWN money and buy more health insurance. If you want the rug rats that bad you will find a way.

Posted by: Kris | May 8, 2007 1:37 PM

Jen: I actually think an 8 week old child can fully attach with both their parents and the day care workers. If the child has not gotten stranger anxiety, and again this happens at different ages, then the child is perfectly content (in general) with all reasonable care givers at 8 weeks of age. But what you are forgetting is a lot of day cares will not take an infant as young as 8 weeks of age. Not because of attachment issues but because they are 1) more work 2) feeding may not be established 3) more risks of illness. A twelve week mandatory un paid time for child birth (new borns) is probably a good idea. Minus a paid maternity leave, I am not sure why anyone cares if someone uses their own vacation/sick or unpaid leave for 12 weeks. You can use it for any family illness. As far as adoption, you probably should allow 12 weeks for bonding. Regardless of the infants age, adoptive children and their parents need some time to become a family. Are you all just angry about the paid maternity or just leave in general?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 1:38 PM

What happens to females who decide not to have kids - they actually stay behind and pick up your slack and get nothing in return???

wah wah wah

Kris, you are part of the bigger problem, please see Bob's comment

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:38 PM

P.s.-- I don't live in the suburbs (rather, downtown DC) and my child attends his neighborhood public school/aftercare from 8:30-6 so he is certainly in the "Real world" -- but I guess I'll have to plead guilty to being a defensive ninny!

Boy, it just really bugs me when people misunderstand me, but I guess it is my own fault for not being clearer. I'll try harder in the future!

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 1:39 PM

Mona,

Actually, if you're forgoing t.v., pick up a copy of "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey for a slightly different view of the Tudors.

Fun read.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 8, 2007 1:43 PM

Foamgnome-- I'm mostly angry about the concept of wmoen getting it but not men-- mothers but not fathers. If society wants to provide mothers with 12 weeks paid leave, I think it should be family leave-- men and women and allowed for other events beyond childbirth/adoption. Making FMLA paid, essentially. On the other hand, I'm worried about the efect it has on small businesses-- and that is why I really appreciate hearing about how Canada (and other countries) makes it work.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 1:44 PM

Just because you decided you had to add to the gene pool in an already over-populated world?

Posted by: Kris | May 8, 2007 01:37 PM

There would be one less a$$ho!e if you would just off yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:44 PM

My adopted daughter is a borderline. All of her psychiatrists have stated that her failure to bond when she was an infant is part of what has caused this. We adopted her at 9 months. They said that bonding with a caregiver between 0-7 months is absolutely essential.

Social Worker Mom, I understand what you're saying, but it is hard for moms who choose to work or have to work to accept it. Jen, it is interesting that it's only recently that babies as young as 8 weeks have gone into daycare, and it will be interesting or maybe scary to see what happens to them in the future.

Posted by: anonymous for this post | May 8, 2007 1:45 PM

Cute, "to Mona." I'm sure NO ONE else thought of that one.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 1:45 PM

Surely I'm not reading the comments as "well gee, slaves wore their babies on their backs so everyone should just shut up and do that"? There are reasons that death rates for women and infants were a lot higher then.

So I'm not sure the "pioneer women did it and so should you!" argument holds a lot of weight with me.

Posted by: Shandra | May 8, 2007 01:23 PM

Shandra, there was no "argument" that pioneer women did it and so should you. The statement you seem to be quoting above was in direct response to Jen's statement repeated below for your convenience.

"this trend of women going back to work and placing their children in daycare at 8 weeks post-partum is realitively new to our society-- right?"

Posted by: JEn | May 8, 2007 10:58 AM

Women have been going back to work and not primarily caring for their children for centuries. The need for childcare so that they could do so has -- not surprisingly - also been around for centuries. The only difference between 2007 and 1967 -- in the US -- is whether that care is provided by neighbors, grandparents or older siblings (taking the word, "older" to mean nothing more than older than 5, maybe), or provided by trained, paid caregivers. Few women have the luxury to opt out of the work force today, and even fewer had that luxury in the past. Only the wealthy and predominately white get to sit around and contemplate whether to go back to work after reproduction.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:46 PM

The U.S. number seems wrong...
Married with 2 kids, making a total of 50K euros/ $68K:
US takes home 83% after taxes
UK 73%
France 76%
Germany 72%
Switzerland 82%
Sweden 58%
------------------------------------
------------------------------------
I know my tax rate is higher because I don't have kids - but that is my salary and 83% is not in the ballpark.

Is that leaving out state taxes?
Not to mention property taxes...
(p.s. Patrick we do pay something in gas tax, sin tax, and sales tax as well)

My impression is our tax rate is closer than some want to admit - it is just spent very differently (interest on the debt + military is far and away the biggest chunk).

Posted by: ????? | May 8, 2007 1:47 PM

Jen: I think that is why I like FMLA. It can be used by any gender for any family illness. So the childless couple, single person, people with adult children no longer at home can use it. As far as paid, I actually like an insurance concept more. Sort of like the Canadian system or just a STD insurance that is used by some private companies. I tried to find information my agencies STD plan but since it does not go into effect till July, the information was not on the website yet. But having the employer and the employee jointly share the burden for the insurance makes the most sense to me. Also as I understand it STD insurance is available to men and women under a number of circumstances including child birth, adoption, and illness.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 1:47 PM

"So not only does the federal government make you use sick and annual leave, it limits how much of it you can use."

Why is this a problem? I work for the government also and believe they are generous in their leave policies. I am so surprised that people want additional maternity benefit when they already have generous leave benefits. I know it's hard to not use your leave when others around you seem to be having fun and taking great vacations with their leave and you are saving yours for maternity reasons. But that doesn't mean your employer should grant extra paid time.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:48 PM

Foamgnome-- I'm mostly angry about the concept of wmoen getting it but not men-- mothers but not fathers. If society wants to provide mothers with 12 weeks paid leave, I think it should be family leave-- men and women and allowed for other events beyond childbirth/adoption. Making FMLA paid, essentially. On the other hand, I'm worried about the efect it has on small businesses-- and that is why I really appreciate hearing about how Canada (and other countries) makes it work.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 01:44 PM

6 hours and over 300 posts later, someone thinks about the dads. Yay, Jen.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:48 PM

One other thing, Foamgnome-- where do you get it that I said that I didn't think babies could bond with more than one person-- I really think you-- and several others it seems have me confused with someone else.

Posted by: JEn | May 8, 2007 1:49 PM

The way our tax system works, it would be hard to actually know what we pay in total taxes. We would all probably scream if we found out. Have you ever looked at your phone bill? The phone company charges like $30 for basic phone service. The other $23 worth is taxes and fees.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 1:50 PM

jen: No I was agreeing with you that babies can bond with multiple people. Not saying you said they could not.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 1:51 PM

interest on the debt + military is far and away the biggest chunk).

Posted by: ????? | May 8, 2007 01:47 PM

Of course Europe doesn't need all that military spending, they know if they get in real trouble, the US will bail them out again.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:51 PM

Where's pb&j? Are the soaps on now, or is it Oprah?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:53 PM

Happy Mother's Day!

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in
their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer weiners and cherry
Kool-Aid saying, "It's okay honey, Mommy's here." Who have sat in rocking
chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair
and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse. For all the
mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And for
all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And
the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on
their fridge doors. And for all the mothers who froze their buns on
metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the
warmth of their cars, so that when their kids asked, "Did you see me,
Mom?", they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the
world," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store
and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice
cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but
realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained
all about making babies. And for all the grandmothers who wanted to, but
just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat. For
all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year - and
then read it again, "...just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their
shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted
for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their
daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little
voice calls, "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know theri own offspring
are at home - or even away at college.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with a stomach
ache assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get a
call from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them
up. Right away. This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who
can't find the words to reach them.

This is for all the step-mothers who raised another woman's child or
children, and gave their time, attention and love ... sometimes totally
unappreciated!

For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14
year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the
mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors,
and the mothers who sat in front of their T.V.s in horror, hugging their
child who just came home from school, safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and
now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good mother anyway; is it patience, compassion, broad hips,
the ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner and sew a button on a shirt all
at the same time? Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache you feel when you
watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school
alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes you from sleep to
dread, from bed to crib at 2:00 a.m. to put your hand on the back of a
sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2:00 a.m. when
you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again
in your home? Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child
when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying? The emotions
of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers
stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... and mature
mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.
Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. For all of us. Hang in there. In the end we can only
do the best we can.

Home is what catches you when you fall - and we all fall.

Posted by: mountainS | May 8, 2007 1:54 PM

T"he primary care giver is the person who is providing the bulk of the care necessary for the child to survive. Kid yourself if you want that you have the same relationship with your kids as someone who is at home with them - you know its not..."

I personally don't have a pathological need to insulate my child from the love and attention of other caregivers for fear that he will love me less if he is in daycare. My son's daycare experience was stimulating and rewarding for him as well as for me. Yes, he did attach to his daycare providers, but at the end of the day, he was happy to see me. After all, no one nursed him except me, and he loved to nurse. At the same time, he was independent and outgoing, made friends easily, and felt comfortable with other people. In short, he was a very happy, well-adjusted child. I considered our daycare workers an extended part of our family, and one of them still visits our families. Working mothers don't need to worry. They children know who their parents are, and the need of some sah parents to insist that the relationship that working parents have with their kids is somehow insufficient or lacking says more about the sah parents neediness and insecurity than anything else.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 1:57 PM

Xanthippis,

There is also the choice of living in a small house, or in a less prestigous neighborhood, or driving a cheaper car, or postponing childbirth.

This discussion doesn't seem to include the "work or eat" population -- that's a different discussion entirely, and one I don't have time to address right now. Suffice it to say, anyone in that position need more fundamental help than even paid maternity leave would provide.

So:
Do you suggest that the government mandate 4 months' paid leave -- making it an entitlement, not a benefit?

Where, exactly, do you think the money will come from to provide this benefit?

Are you interested in paying higher taxes, so that moms can stay at home? I'm not -- and I was a SAHM for 7 years.

Do you think corporate America, as a whole, will leap at the chance to pay moms to stay home for three months? Really??

How long do you think maternity leaves are in Bangalore? You DO realize we operate in a global economy, right?

What about fathers? Now we're talking SIX months' paid leave.

And what about childless couples, empty-nesters taking care of elderly relatives, and single people with same-gender life partners? When to they get THEIR 3 months off for life crises?

Sometimes there are no great choices -- like I told my children, and I tell my students, sometimes life is just not fair, you can't always get what you want, and when that's the case, you have to learn how to cope.

Posted by: educmom | May 8, 2007 1:57 PM

A parent who lets their child have weiners and Kool-Aid is NOT a good parent.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 1:58 PM

Foamgnome--ahh--- very good! someone actually "gets" me-- yay! the word "actually" in your post made me think you were correcting me, but that was obviously the wrong assumption-- I'm just hyper-sensitive right now. My bad.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 1:59 PM

I personally don't have a pathological need to insulate my child from the love and attention of other caregivers for fear that he will love me less if he is in daycare.

So we've finally identified the real reason why pb&j and her ilk are so obsessed. They're AFRAID OF BEING ECLIPSED IN THEIR CHILD'S AFFECTIONS BY A BETTER CAREGIVER.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:01 PM

I find it appalling that some people begrudge new mothers the six weeks of disability pay to recover from childbirth. My obstetrician and pediatrician were both very conservative and encouraged plenty of physical recovery time for me and avoidance of exposure of my newborn to communicable diseases. The ped advised not taking the baby into public places until twelve weeks. Just because we have drive-through deliveries now doesn't mean that we should be blase about recovery time.

For those who think new mothers should just strap on the babies and get back to the fields, some numbers to think about:

The maternal mortality rate in 2000 was 20 maternal deaths per 100,000 lives in developed regions and 440 maternal deaths per 100,000 lives in developing regions. The number for Sub-Saharan Africa is 920. The lifetime risk of maternal death in Sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 16.

These numbers are from the World Health Organization and according to them, "they are indicative of orders of magnitude and are not intended to serve as precise estimates."

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 2:03 PM

"Most of us on this list, we were cared for as infants by our parents or by family members"

Jen, I'm not sure if this is really quite true. Way back in 1970, I was in daycare all day, every day -- my mom was a single parent. Through the 70s, there were a number of federal initiatives relating to early-childhood care and education, likely corresponding to (1) a growing understanding of the importance of early-childhood intervention (Head Start), (2) attempts to address racial and economic problems in inner cities (same), and (3) women entering and remaining in the workforce in larger numbers. I'm 41 now, and seem to be one of the older contributors to this blog, so if this was around way back then, I suspect it's been even more prominent in the lives of the younger contributors.

And I do think this is much more an issue of the middle- and upper-middle-class. There have always been daycare arrangements in poor neighborhoods -- yes, might be grandma, but might also be a second cousin or neighbor who takes in a bunch of kids to supplement her income. Or might be latchkey kids. What we have seen more recently is a much increased focus on the QUALITY of daycare -- official centers, NAEYC standards, etc. (things that would make me much more comfortable than leaving my kid with the neighbor just because she's there and cheap -- or the 8-yr-old sister because she's free).

I do agree that center-based daycare seems to be more prominent than in 1970, and I share your interest in seeing whether and how this affects today's kids. But I suspect not a lot. Speaking as a daycare kid myself, my mother was a MUCH more powerful influence on me -- watching her work to support both of us, watching her live her belief that career and family were not mutually exclusive, and seeing her live her life without making any apologies for the choices she made were all FAR more important contributors to my view of life and motherhood and careers than the fact that I went to daycare so she could do it.

Of course, YMMV (I'm sure there are other kids who hated daycare with a passion). But like you, I've found it interesting to watch my kids adapt to the various situations they've been in, and it never ceases to amaze me how adaptable and happy they seem to be. I suspect the most important thing is finding the situation that fits your values and your kids' personalities the best, be it SAHP, nanny, family care, small in-home operation, center-based care, etc. And we're always watching and evaluating and trying to make sure that whatever we do meets our kids' needs at the time.

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 2:07 PM

A parent who lets their child have weiners and Kool-Aid is NOT a good parent.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 01:58 PM

Judge much? Weiners and kool-aid is a perfectly good meal for a child once in a while (especially if they use ketchup and relish to get fruit and veggies).

Out of that entire post, the thing that you picked out as bad parenting is the weiners and kool-aid?

A person who judges other based on superficial impressions is NOT a good parent, and unless you see every meal a child eats, what they are having this meal is none of you business.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:08 PM

I agree with Laura. While my mom was a SAHM she was sick a lot when I was a kid. I was shuffled between friends and family a lot growing up while my mom was in the hospital. I also went to head start.

Posted by: scarry | May 8, 2007 2:10 PM

Laura -- you should send your last post to your mom in her Mother's Day card. Beautifully said.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 2:10 PM

Laura - I am also an older blogger and did go to afterschool daycare for a while and enjoyed it.
One thing that also seems to be different - someone earlier mentioned that she taught her children how to cope when things didn't go there way. Good for you! When I was growing up, we just learned how to deal with issues and problems...my parents did not hover over me and make sure I never skinned a knee, etc. Doesn't seem to be the case these days.

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 2:11 PM

A parent who lets their child have weiners and Kool-Aid is NOT a good parent.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 01:58 PM

Judge much?


The poster was talking about a kid throwing up from getting sick from the wieners and Kool Aid. Parents should control what their small children eat.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:12 PM

Laura,
I have to agree that you post was a beautiful tribute to your mother. She sounds like a remarkable woman.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 2:13 PM

At my former job, I had 2 weeks before my due date paid at 60% (and they took taxes out of my STD payments), plus 6 or 8 weeks after the birth (depending on vaginal or c-section birth) paid at 60%. Depending on how long you worked at the company, you got paid anywhere from 60% to 100% of your salary out on STD (I worked there for 5 years before my kid; 11 years gets you 100% STD). We had what was called "bonding time" that any employee could take with the addition of any new child to their family - biological or adopted. This was unpaid and you went on "inactive" status - so the company paid your insurance but nothing else. Bonding time was 12 weeks and could be taken any time in the first year of the baby's living in your home. Most women took it straight after their STD leave - so I got 18 weeks off with my first. Most men took 1-2 weeks off right after the birth to help mom get situated at home. It was not encouraged for men to take their bonding time, and a co-worker of mine was warned by his manager that taking a week off after his son's birth would affect his career negatively. Other men did it with no problems, so I think a lot of it was just how big a jerk your manager was.

My current company gives you 6 or 8 weeks paid (depending on method of delivery) at 100%, and then unpaid (though encourages you to use vacation/sick/floating) for the rest of the time up to 12 weeks. I am not sure which system I prefer - more money or more time. I think more time. It sucked to go back to work with literally $17 in the bank (I get paid once/month, at the end of the month, and am the primary breadwinner for the family) and the first few weeks back were very rocky financially. But you can always charge groceries (I know it's not the most fiscally prudent) - you can't get back that time.

Both these companies are Fortune 500 companies.

Posted by: MplsMama | May 8, 2007 2:13 PM

Army Brat,
I teach elementary school, so I'm probably safe for a while...but I'm sure that school systems will eventually hop onto the H1B visa wagon.

Posted by: educmom | May 8, 2007 2:14 PM

The poster was talking about a kid throwing up from getting sick from the wieners and Kool Aid. Parents should control what their small children eat.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 02:12 PM

Maybe I am judgmental also, because that was my first thought also - no wonder the kid is throwing up! I don't think hotdogs and koolaid qualify as "food"

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 2:14 PM

It saddens me when women want multiple kids and they dont have their finances airtight with significant reserves. It is not going to get easier. This is a major reason why I dont want kids--your focus shifts to spending for the child instead of saving for your future. The average person will need MILLIONS in 30-45 years to live well. To avoid preparing today is a mistake.

Posted by: emergency savings | May 8, 2007 2:15 PM

"The poster was talking about a kid throwing up from getting sick from the wieners and Kool Aid. Parents should control what their small children eat."

Oh please. I am all for feeding kids healthy meals, but the occasional hot dog and Kool Aid is harmless. Enough of this hypervigilant, obsessive, helicopter parenting. It's ridiculous and unnecessary.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 2:16 PM

Hmmm... I see that my efforts to make people cry :) were a complete and utter failure. Snarkiness must just be in the air! I will try again another day - must be the peace keeping Canadian in me :)

Cheers!

Posted by: mountainS | May 8, 2007 2:17 PM

Seems like this is a tough choice because it's social policy.

I think 3 weeks off is reasonable.... after all the woman's body does have to recover.
But the pay issue? It gets tricky. I work in a place where one woman got hired, took 12 weeks off (3 weeks paid at 50%). We had to cover for her. 2 years later another baby, the same story- we covered the work load, 12 weeks isn't time enough to get a temp. trained.
Why should she get paid for me to do her work?
Neither of the two of us who covered for her got more money.
It would have been much more reasonable for 3 to 6 weeks off, then 3 to 6 weeks off for the father, with NO option to have one parent take all the leave.

At least then the work load put on others would be shared.

Posted by: barb | May 8, 2007 2:17 PM

A parent who lets their child have weiners and Kool-Aid is NOT a good parent.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 01:58 PM

Judge much?


The poster was talking about a kid throwing up from getting sick from the wieners and Kool Aid. Parents should control what their small children eat.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 02:12 PM

No, the poster made a blanket statement that serving a child weiners and Kool-Aid makes you a bad parent.

The rest of my post still holds. The poster has no idea what the child usually eats and therefore has no standing to judge the parent for a single meal of a child. The sickness could be flu related.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:17 PM

educmom--
You asked, "How long do you think maternity leaves are in Bangalore? You DO realize we operate in a global economy, right?"

Would you like to have India's maternal mortality and infant mortality numbers?:

540 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in India vs. 11 in the United States.


36.41 infant deaths per 1000 live births in India vs. 6.37 in the United States.


Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 2:18 PM

Emily, you know the old line about 2 things you don't want to see being made? One of them is sausage. THat includes wieners.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:19 PM

"The poster was talking about a kid throwing up from getting sick from the wieners and Kool Aid."

Kids get sick and throw up from just about anything. Babies vomit breast milk pretty much every time they drink it. Surely you wouldn't call that unhealthy, though...

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 2:19 PM

wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer weiners and cherry Kool-Aid

NOT THE FLU.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:21 PM

"Oh please. I am all for feeding kids healthy meals, but the occasional hot dog and Kool Aid is harmless. "

So is a little second-hand smoke, from time time.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:21 PM

Maybe I am judgmental also, because that was my first thought also - no wonder the kid is throwing up! I don't think hotdogs and koolaid qualify as "food"

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 02:14 PM

No maybes about it.

The fact that you would assume that one meal of hotdogs and kool-aid would make child throw up and make you consider the parent a bad parent proves it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:21 PM

oh no, MountainS, mission accomplished!

Did you write that yourself or was it reprinted from somewhere?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 2:22 PM

"Emily, you know the old line about 2 things you don't want to see being made? One of them is sausage. THat includes wieners."

I would imagine that there are plenty of foods that you wouln't touch if you had to see them being made. An occasional hot dog is no big deal. It shouldn't be a staple, but who hasn't had one at a ball game or amusement park or circus? On the other hand, making your kid eat tofu should be considered child abuse.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 2:23 PM

"oh no, MountainS, mission accomplished!

Did you write that yourself or was it reprinted from somewhere?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 8, 2007 02:22 PM "

It sounds very familiar.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:24 PM

wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer weiners and cherry Kool-Aid

NOT THE FLU.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 02:21 PM

HOW DO YOU KNOW?

Like the poster above said, kids throw up all the time, it often has nothing to do with wht they ate.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:24 PM

"Oh please. I am all for feeding kids healthy meals, but the occasional hot dog and Kool Aid is harmless. "

So is a little second-hand smoke, from time time.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 02:21 PM

Not THIS again?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:24 PM

All this talk about hot dogs makes me want to go home and fire up the bar-b.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:24 PM

Certainly life is unpredictable. Anyone can suddenly come down with a life-threatening illness, be in an auto accident, or have to care for a seriously ill family member. However, childbirth is not unpredictable. You don't find out you're going to have a baby in just a few days - you have warning at least six months in advance, and if you've been planning a family, you've had much more time than that. So it is not unrealistic to expect parents to have some savings so that they're not in the position of needing 100% reimbursement of the mother's salary for weeks or months after the birth.

I just don't understand why folks can't live on one spouse's salary for a month or two, if they've had plenty of time to prepare. If you're that close to poverty, maybe you really cannot afford children yet.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:25 PM

SAVE YOUR MONEY AND PLAN AHEAD...Then, you can do whatever the hell you want to do. Who cares how long it takes to recover from pregnancy. That's a personal issue and if you are prepared ahead of time, then you don't have to worry about getting paid for the time off.

Posted by: Me Again | May 8, 2007 2:25 PM

From an English perspective, it's been pretty interesting reading all this.

Employers in the United Kingdom cannot discriminate against employing female employees and one's CV does not have to reveal anything about one's family.

In the Uk from April 07, pregnant women are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave of which 39 weeks are paid at a statutory rate.

Statutory maternity payments - 6 weeks at 90% of earnings - the next 33 weeks at a flat rate of £112.75 p.w ($225 p.w)

However a number of employers pay over and beyond this minimum. A majority of employers offer 12 weeks maternity leave with full pay. Ford UK offers 100% of basic pay for the full period of maternity leave up to 12 months.

Adoptive parents get exactly the rights under the statutory adoption leave.

Employers get reimbursed 92% of (Statutory Maternity pay) by deducting it from payments to Inland Revenue. Small businesses can recover up to 104.5%

Women who are on low incomes or do not qualify for maternity pay (the self-employed, recently employed) get paid social security payments of £112.75 p.w ($225 p.w) for 39 weeks.

Fathers get 2 weeks paid paternity leave of £112.75 p.w ($225 p.w) - the UK government is also planning to offer Fathers 6 months of UNPAID paternity leave.

After deductions & allowances, Tax in the UK is 10% on the 1st £2,300 ($4,600), 22% up to £35,000 ($70,000) and then 40% on anything above.

Posted by: London eye | May 8, 2007 2:26 PM

No maybes about it.

The fact that you would assume that one meal of hotdogs and kool-aid would make child throw up and make you consider the parent a bad parent proves it.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 02:21 PM

Where did I say I thought the parenting was bad? I was strictly speaking about the food being bad - then again I am an organic eating hippy. :-)

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 2:27 PM

'The average person will need MILLIONS in 30-45 years to live well.'

The average person with kids is content to live well enough rather than well in retirement. Kids bring their own riches.

Posted by: anon this time | May 8, 2007 2:27 PM

making your kid eat tofu should be considered child abuse.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 02:23 PM


Check out the Post's vegetarian chats with Kim O'Donnel. You'll learn that tofu can be prepared very deliciously (esp. marinated & grilled).

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:28 PM

It saddens me when women want multiple kids and they dont have their finances airtight with significant reserves. It is not going to get easier. This is a major reason why I dont want kids--your focus shifts to spending for the child instead of saving for your future. The average person will need MILLIONS in 30-45 years to live well."


Hmm where to start, where to start. Live well huh? You may be dead in 2 weeks or 40 years.Life is made to live and enjoy and money is a tool for that end. You have turned it on it's head, money for money's sake. You will be like some of my clients who have hoarded money and yet spend your life alone because you couldn't part with a nickel. Lighten up Scrooge. My son's soccer goal and the intense joy and pride I felt at HIS happiness far outweighs your bank balance any day.


Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 2:28 PM

MountainS, I am bawling my eyes out right now -- no fair, I'm at work!!

Laughing at the hot dogs and Kool-Aid thing -- I immediately presumed the kid had stomach flu (that's one of the things that gave me the lump in my throat, having only recently spent several hours on the bathroom floor with my daughter when we both got stomach flu at the same time, as my husband ran around trying to clean up after both of us -- before he got sick, of course!).

But even if the kid was sick from eating bad food, ummmmm, isn't that pretty much a traditional childhood rite? Part of the fun of going to a birthday party or fair or boardwalk is being able to eat all the cr@p your parents would never let you eat at home!! (funnel cake, anyone?) Well, at least not my mom (I was always the kid with the apple instead of the Cheetos, the homemade macaroni and cheese casserole instead of the blue box I so desperately wanted -- dangit!). When I hear hot dogs and Kool-Aid, I think 1970s birthday party, not Tuesday dinner. But maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 2:29 PM

In the UK, healthcare is free. Dental care is free for children aged 0 -16 (19 if still in full-time education) and also for pregnant women and new mothers until the child is 1 yr old.

Every child regardless of parental income gets a social security payment called child benefit of £18.10 p.w ($36 p.w) for the 1st child and £12.10 p.w for each additional child until the child is 16 (or 19 if in full-time education).

Since 2002, the UK governement gives each baby a voucher for £250 (£500) which can be put into a savings account or invested in a mandatory Child Trust Fund. The money cannot be accessed until the child turns 18. Low income familes get a voucher of £500 ($1000)

* After deductions & allowances, Tax in the UK is 10% on the 1st £2,300, 22% up to 35K ($70,000) and then 40% on anything above

Posted by: London eye | May 8, 2007 2:29 PM

"Check out the Post's vegetarian chats with Kim O'Donnel. You'll learn that tofu can be prepared very deliciously (esp. marinated & grilled).'

No disrespect intended. I am sure a lot of people find tofu tasty. I will try almost anything, and I have found tofu to be on my list of top 3 repulsive foods, along with eggplant and okra. It is a texture thing for me.

But I acknowledge that it's very very healthy.


Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 2:31 PM

"12 weeks isn't time enough to get a temp. trained."

barb -- Having a baby is usually not a secret for long. If a woman works in a position that can be covered by a temp, then the company literally has months to plan for the leave and bring a temp in early to get trained by the pregnant employee.

I had 12 weeks leave per FMLA, and 8 weeks of that was STD, paid at 60%. I had to give my employer a check to keep up my share of benefits payments for that 12 weeks. We started saving for that leave when we started trying to get pregnant, and lived frugally through that time, during the pregnancy, and during my leave. We ended up not even dipping into that savings until about week 9.

Not to barb, but the group as a whole: While I agree that financial stability should be a precurser to starting a family, we can't foresee the future. Husbands, wives, significant others can be laid off, die, get permanently injured. Families may be faced with the challenge of paying for the long-term medical care of a parent or other relative. The child may be born with disabilities that require far more resources than anticipated. Fill in other disaster too awful to contemplate. Child-bearing and -raising should not be a privilege reserved for the upper middle class and wealthy. Let's keep the finger-wagging to a minimum here until we've walked a mile in their shoes.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 8, 2007 2:31 PM

Tofu is hard to prepare so that the texture isn't a problem. I sometimes get the tofu at the Whole Foods hot food bar - they know what they are doing!

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 2:33 PM

Vegas Mom...what's your point? Of course there are unforeseen life events...duh?

How does your point relate to employers paying for maternity leave?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:35 PM

anon this time

"The average person with kids is content to live well enough rather than well in retirement. Kids bring their own riches. "

How do you know? Who are these people who are content?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:35 PM

Check out the Post's vegetarian chats with Kim O'Donnel. You'll learn that tofu can be prepared very deliciously (esp. marinated & grilled).

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 02:28 PM

Yeah, so, it is still TOFU. (gross slimy textureless ... can't go on)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:36 PM

"How do you know? Who are these people who are content?"

ME! Me, me, me, me. I'm content.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 2:39 PM

The people who are content are on truemomconfessions.com.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:40 PM

To anon at 2:35 -- My point about unforeseen life events didn't relate to the topic, but my quick browse through the comments turned up a lot of judgmental remarks about people not having kids if they can't afford them.

My remark was directed at those (somewhat off-topic) comments, not at the Michele's guest blog.

Last time I checked, going off-topic here was highly encouraged, not a punishable offense, LOL.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 8, 2007 2:41 PM

"How do you know? Who are these people who are content?"

I am also one of those content ones. Not rich. Probably will never be rich. But the kid is so worth it. And we live well enough to be happy. No VLIs could make it any better.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 2:41 PM

Hey WorkingMomX,
Don't tell these people on this blog that you are content...They will get jealous and attack everything that you say from now on. They will call you rich, educated, happily married, and worst of all...a well balanced working mother.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:43 PM

We are content as well. We may have less financially because we have a child but her love is worth it to us. I guess if you did not want children, then the financial sacrifices would not be worth it. But for those that do, having kids is well worth an extra cruise in retirement.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 2:43 PM

Didn't know so many people are living in retirement....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 2:43 PM

In the UK, healthcare is free. Dental care is free for children aged 0 -16 (19 if still in full-time education) and also for pregnant women and new mothers until the child is 1 yr old. "

I can only shudder at the thought of going to essentially a government dentist or doctor. You fail to mention the compromises of such a system and the wait involved in care. Go to a free clinic and then you will see socialized medicine at its finest. NO THANKS!

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 2:45 PM

Wow Laura! That was really beautiful! Definately Mother's Day card material!

Since my comment was focussed on the issue of 8-week old infants in daycare, not Headstart and latchkey kids ages, may I ask you how old you were when you started daycare-- or, to get back to the fundamental issue of today's blog, how long your mother took for maternity leave? I know it would only be anecdotal, but to hear you speak with such love and respect for your mother really makes me wonder (and I'm sure others feel the same) about more of the details involved. Your mom sounds like a real inspiration, regardless of whether she took off 2 weeks or 2 moths or whatever, but it still could be instructive to others.

I really hope that my children speak of me in such ways when they are 41!

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 2:45 PM

'The average person with kids is content to live well enough rather than well in retirement. Kids bring their own riches. "

How do you know? Who are these people who are content?

--Well, I'm content. Not retired yet, but still content. More money is always nice, but I have a decent place to live, clothing, food. No big-screen tv, old cars and will probably never buy a new car again but will buy used cars, no foreign travel, no second home.

Myself, DH, and children are healthy and happy. Good extended family relations. We will probably have to downsize in retirement, but that's OK.

We are both hourly workers, not highly paid professionals. Most of our friends are similar status. None are miserable with their lives. The couple who seem the most concerned about saving for the future (money-hungry types) are the ones with the most health problems who may actually have less years in the future than the rest of us.

We are not big consumers. Almost fell out of my chair last week with talk of $400-500 hair treatments. Don't care about designer shoes, bags, or anything else.

Love the beach, but we're OK that it's Ocean City and not the islands (although tat would be nice :)

I know I can't speak for everyone, but we are happy that we had children, even at the expense of the type of lifestyle we would have with no children or even an only child.

Posted by: anon this time | May 8, 2007 2:46 PM

Count me content!! I wouldn't trade me kids for all the money on earth, they are irreplaceable!

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 2:46 PM

Hot dogs and kool-aid ain't nothing. I puked a combo of cola, ravioli and jelly beans one easter.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 2:48 PM

"Don't tell these people on this blog that you are content...They will get jealous and attack everything that you say from now on. They will call you rich, educated, happily married, and worst of all...a well balanced working mother."

Oh, honey, I am RICH -- in love. I am well educated, too -- my teachers are my children, my husband, my family, friends and co-workers. And I am very, very happily married now for almost 10 years. But well balanced -- well, now you might be barking up the wrong tree! Happy for sure, though.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 2:52 PM

I'm content AND we can still put money into retirement. The rugrats have to pay for their own college, though. CHILD ABUSE!

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 2:56 PM

No, I didn't write it. My aunt sent it to me for mother's day with author unknown. Mother's day is bittersweet as I enjoy time with my adorable son and miss my sweet daughter...

I'm glad my mission succeeded despite the hot dog (yuck!) debate!!

Posted by: mountainS | May 8, 2007 2:59 PM

NewSAHM hit the nail right on the head!
"It's not your employer's job to help you afford another child. If you can't save enough to cover 40% of your salary for 9 weeks (or at least accrue some paid leave to cover that time), then maybe it's not wise to be having another child right now."

You were being offered a VERY generous package and shouldn't behave as though you are ENTITLED to anything above the unpaid FMLA.

Posted by: 545DenMom | May 8, 2007 3:00 PM

The couple who seem the most concerned about saving for the future (money-hungry types)

Posted by: anon this time | May 8, 2007 02:46 PM

People who save for the future are not necessarily money hungry types (which sounds like slam to me). If you are not saving for the future, you are being irresponsible, if you put saving for the future before living in the present, you are being paranoid.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:03 PM

mountains,
That was very sweet. And I am not crying - it is the pollen.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 3:04 PM

I consider myself a feminist but I don't have much sympathy for the blogger -- in fact, I think her attitude is harmful to women. We want to be treated fairly and then demand special treatment??

I am five months pregnant and both my husband and I are self-employed -- not only do we have to budget for the time we will have to take off of work when the baby comes, but we also have to pay for all of the medical costs associated with the pregnancy and birth because the private health insurance we have won't cover it. We spent four years planning and saving to have this baby...it's our choice and our responsibility.

I used to work for a large corporation and when women took time off to have their babies it wasn't like the company was hiring people to do their work while they were gone. It fell to those of us still there to pick up the slack. How is that fair? And to try and be "family friendly" my company would let women bring their babies to the office when their leave expired. Talk about a distraction both to the mom and to everyone else.

As for those who mention time off needed for a serious illness -- I don't think you can make a comparison. You choose to have a baby -- I don't know anyone who chooses to get cancer.

It's up to the individual to manage life outside of work. It's not up to your employer to help you pay for the life you choose. If taking 60 percent pay is such a sacrifice then maybe the blogger and her family need to consider whether they can afford another child. My baby isn't born yet but the sacrifices began a long time ago! I think that's the first lesson of parenting.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 3:05 PM

They said that bonding with a caregiver between 0-7 months is absolutely essential.

Doesn't mean it has to be a particular person, simply has to be somebody.

Your child may have been abused by their primary caregiver (see by whom, how long, in what fashion), or perhaps your child simply had a pre-disposition NOT to bond.

Sometimes, kids are simply born with a more limited capacity to bond; others have it denied to the point where they don't bother.

As for working--I prefer working to living without health insurance, in a cardboard box on the side of the road. Poverty is not something I wish to put my kids through. Unless there are people willing to send $1 to a post office box for me?

Not to mention that I love my job.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:05 PM

Go to a free clinic and then you will see socialized medicine at its finest.

Go to any dental school and enjoy the finest dental care available at 1/10th the cost.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:06 PM

Jen --

Hmmm, well, my folks had me in college, so there wasn't really a maternity leave or time off (mid-semester, no less -- her grades definitely suffered). I know for a while both grandparents traded off watching me, which was great, because they sure couldn't have afforded to pay anyone to watch me. I guess that means I do fall more into the demographic you were talking about; I just don't remember it, because I was so little. They also watched my cousin, because her parents (my dad's older brother and his wife) were also still in college.

As far as I know, real "daycare" started @ 2 1/2, when they graduated and moved to a different state and both started jobs. By 7, I was a latchkey kid, as there really was nothing by way of after-school care like there is now. But as a total introvert, I really liked the time to putz in the house by myself. Except for the day the tornado sirens went off -- that was a scary 20 mins. down in the basement!

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 3:10 PM

Re: borderline child

Depressed parent(s) can also predispose children to borderline personality disorder, as they are unable to care for their child(ren) or significantly incapacitated.

Some kids are simply very, very sensitive to anything/everything and THAT can also lead down the path of personality disorders.

Get this--no parent is perfect.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:11 PM

I'm a veg who hates tofu unless it's fried to death, which eliminates any health benefits. Try bean curd instead. It's more solid and less slimy. It can be prepared to taste arguably something like chicken, pork, or beef--not that I'd know, I don't know what they taste like, but it's good even if it doesn't taste like the real thing.

While I don't have anything against occasional junk food, the "flu" argument doesn't fly with me. I'd much rather a kid barf from eating too much junk while healthy than because I fed him hot dogs and cherry Kool-Aid while he had the flu. Aren't you supposed to feed them food that's easy on the stomach when they're sick? When I have the flu, I can only handle Saltines and ginger ale.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 3:11 PM

I used to work for a large corporation and when women took time off to have their babies it wasn't like the company was hiring people to do their work while they were gone.

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 03:05 PM

And you consider this the fault of the employee? The company was saving money by not hiring people to replace the people on leave. You should blame them not the employee as I am sure someone noticed that the woman was pregnant and would be out for a while. Managers need to manage, thats what they get paid for.

"As for those who mention time off needed for a serious illness -- I don't think you can make a comparison. You choose to have a baby -- I don't know anyone who chooses to get cancer."

Posted by: Jen | May 8, 2007 03:05 PM

The choice has nothing to do with the way a company should respond, the end result is that an employee is out for a period of time due to a health related issue. People choose to drive and get in car accidents, they choose to ski and get in skiing accidents, they are entitled to medical leave. Childbirth is a part of life and always will be, to assume that it doesn;t exist in the working world is burying your head in the sand.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:15 PM

I can only shudder at the thought of going to essentially a government dentist or doctor.

Patrick, you don't go to the VA?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:15 PM

BF Skinner raised one of his babies in a box. She turned out fine.

So much for bonding, maybe the baby box wil be the next fad for progressive parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:15 PM

"The couple who seem the most concerned about saving for the future (money-hungry types)

Posted by: anon this time | May 8, 2007 02:46 PM"

Sorry, I should have worded this differently. The money-hungry description was specifically for the couple I know, not for everyone who saves for the future. this particular couple is obsessed with their level of wealth, both current and future, and are the ones least likely to have a long life.

Posted by: anon this time | May 8, 2007 3:16 PM

"As for working--I prefer working to living without health insurance, in a cardboard box on the side of the road"

I live in a van down by the river with DH and 6 darling kids. We are on welfare, WIC stamps, food stamps, surplus food, and whatever else we can scam out of food pantries. We haven't saved a penny toward the future; we live on credit just like the rich folks. Bankruptcy is a pretty sure thing in the next years or so.

My kids don't receive free lunches & breakfast at school since I started home schooling (mostly Bible schooling them). I don't want my children exposed to the Devil and his wicked, wicked ways.

No one in my family will ever have more than a 4th grade education, but I am not worried. The Lord and the taxpayers will provide. They always do.

Posted by: Virgie | May 8, 2007 3:17 PM

"I'd much rather a kid barf from eating too much junk while healthy than because I fed him hot dogs and cherry Kool-Aid while he had the flu. Aren't you supposed to feed them food that's easy on the stomach when they're sick?"

Maybe I misread something, but I did not see anything saying that it's good to feed kids with the flu hot dogs and kool aid. When my son and I had the stomach virus last fall, we couldn't keep anything down for a couple of days. Hot dogs would have just made it worse.

When I was a kid, I remember that we got Coke when we were sick. It was the only time my mother bought it. Apparently, she thought it would soothe our stomachs or something.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 3:17 PM

Nope, sorry, but short term disability benefits are 100% taxable. They might not take the taxes out, but will issue you a 1099 form at the end of the year.

When I had my child 6 years ago, my company had no paid maternity or paternity leave. I used 2 weeks vacation time for the first 2 weeks which were not covered by s.t.d. then took the remaining 6 weeks s.t.d. I recall even having to have my doctor "certify" that I could not return for full-time work until 8 weeks (a minor complication), as the s.t.d company viewed 6 weeks as the standard for "normal delivery" leave! We had the option of paying for coverage that would have given me 100% of my salary, but when it was time to sign up for that, I was not yet pregnant. If your company offers that ability to up s.t.d. coverage, do it (cost is minimal) even if you don't think you'll be pregnant this year.

Now, my husband's law firm gave 2 weeks paid paternity leave.

Honestly, I'm on the fence about this. If a company wants to compete for the best candidates, it's in their best interest these days to offer some form of paid leave--and YES, having employer-paid s.t.d. IS a form of paid maternity leave. But mandating it? I do think this is patently unfair to those without kids (married or single). Others have to take time to care for parents, their own illness, etc. and have to foot the bill themselves for time off. Parenthood is a lifetime responsibility, and starts with good financial planning for that pregnancy and beyond.

Now, requiring companies to keep your job (or an equivalent one) for you after maternity leave is s.t. different--as many women find out whose companies don't have to follow FMLA rules. I'd say the same goes for other medical reasons you might have, like illness, care for family, etc.

Posted by: RestonVAMom | May 8, 2007 3:17 PM

While I don't have anything against occasional junk food, the "flu" argument doesn't fly with me.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 03:11 PM

It doesn;t have to, but to assume the kid is puking from the meal is just that, an assumption.

In my experience, your kid will only come down with a stomach bug after you just fed him spaghetti, meatballs and chocolate milk. The truth is, any meal that comes back up is pretty gross no matter what the color.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:20 PM

As a grad student I went to a dental school clinic. It was a great clinic. Most people who go to a dental clinic can't afford anything more than to have teeth pulled, so they were fighting over a chance to get to do some reconstructive work with me. They actually did a better job than the first replacement of this tooth. This was the 3rd time I'd knocked out the same front tooth. I now always have dental insurance.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 3:20 PM

Posted by: Virgie | May 8, 2007 03:17 PM

Is this for real? If not, excellent satire.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:23 PM

I think Virgie is a joke.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 3:25 PM

"It can be prepared to taste arguably something like chicken, pork, or beef--not that I'd know, I don't know what they taste like, but it's good even if it doesn't taste like the real thing."

OK, you have mentioned that you do not eat meat, but have you NEVER eaten it? Every vegetarian I know is converted but they did eat meat as children.

Posted by: to Mona | May 8, 2007 3:25 PM

FYI-- the Jen that posted at 3:05 isn't the same Jen that has been posting earlier today and for the past several weeks as "Jen."

eh-- it was bound to happen!

Laura, thanks for the added info. So . . perhaps my guess that only 1% of working women today were in daycare as infants is a new thing for our society could still be valid.

Posted by: Jen the first | May 8, 2007 3:29 PM

YES, having employer-paid s.t.d. IS a form of paid maternity leave. But mandating it? I do think this is patently unfair to those without kids (married or single).

Posted by: RestonVAMom | May 8, 2007 03:17 PM

STD, is not limited to pregnancy and can be used by anyone who is temporarily out of work for a health related reason. Giving birth is health related for the mother.

I think mandating it be available for all employees is a reasonable requirement. Whether employers pay for it or not should be up to the them.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:31 PM

Laura and Mountain: I liked both of your posts about your moms.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 8, 2007 3:33 PM

can only shudder at the thought of going to essentially a government dentist or doctor.

Patrick, you don't go to the VA?"


Hope you weren't going to use Walter Reed as your shining example of govt medicine.......

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 3:34 PM

perhaps my guess that only 1% of working women today were in daycare as infants is a new thing for our society could still be valid.

Posted by: Jen the first | May 8, 2007 03:29 PM

this trend of women going back to work and placing their children in daycare at 8 weeks post-partum is realitively new to our society-- right?

Posted by: JEn | May 8, 2007 10:58 AM

if you could decide on a particular point, we'd be in a better position to debate it. Now it appears to be about whether working women were in daycare as infants - and it seems as though your definition of daycare excludes family members and neighbors, groups that traditionally have provided daycare to infants and toddlers for generations. When you decide what you're saying, validity will be more easy to determine.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:35 PM

"Maybe I misread something, but I did not see anything saying that it's good to feed kids with the flu hot dogs and kool aid."

You didn't misread--no one said it was a good thing, but the impression I got was "maybe the food didn't make him sick--maybe he had the flu!" And it seemed odd to me that someone would feed a kid with the flu hot dogs and cherry Kool-Aid anyway. Not that anyone would actually do that, I'm sure. That's just asking for trouble, isn't it? The truth is, the Kool-Aid/hot dog argument got out of hand; someone picked apart the Mother's Day thing and lots of people unwisely joined in, myself included. ;-)

"To Mona," I have had meat before, but it's been over 10 years, and I don't remember what it tastes like. I wasn't much of a meat eater at any point, and only had it as a kid, and when we were kids, we couldn't afford meat very often anyway.

When I was waitressing I met a kid who'd never had meat. I found that interesting. I plan on "raising" my family meatless--to the extent that I will cook; I'm sure future husband will feed them meat when he cooks. So I'm sure my kids will have meat if they want it, but they won't get it from me. I bought meat once for BF and felt sick doing it. Still, I do love the orange "beef" at Vegetable Garden, but I have no idea if it actually tastes like beef.

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 3:37 PM

"Nope, sorry, but short term disability benefits are 100% taxable. They might not take the taxes out, but will issue you a 1099 form at the end of the year."

Actually, it's more subtle than that. The general rule for disability benefits (short-term or long-term) are these. If the employer simply pays them as if you were still actively at work (essentially as a continuation of salary), then they are taxable (just like your salary would have been). If, on the other hand, they are provided through disability insurance, then it depends on who pays the premium. If the employer pays the premium, then they are taxable. If you pay the premium, then either the premiums are taxable, or the benefits are taxable. So, if you pay the premiums with pre-tax dollars through a cafeteria plan, then the benefits will be taxable. If you pay the premiums with after-tax dollars, then the benefits will be taxable. Some employers - such as mine - let you choose whether to pay your disability premiums with pre-tax or after-tax dollars. (Guess which most people pick?)

Posted by: Demos | May 8, 2007 3:38 PM

Walter Reed changed their care from government employees to private industry. This is when service deteriorated. Sort of like pre-9/11 airport screenings done by a private industry for Logan airport. And we all know how that one turned out....

Posted by: to patrick | May 8, 2007 3:38 PM

first of all-- I already HATE my new screen name.

Second, it's uncanny how much I have in common with the other Jen! Very weird . . .

third-- to the "other" Jen, who am I to say I was "first"? Maybe you've posting before I did, just not as often-- at least not as often today. So how about if you stay "Jen" and I'll switch over to . . . JS?

Posted by: Jen the first/ js | May 8, 2007 3:39 PM

Mona -- LOL -- I didn't read the post as saying she had fed the kid a hot dog and Kool-Aid as a response to stomach flu -- my GOD, NOO!! I read it more as the 3:20 poster: you found out (the hard way) that your kid had stomach flu, AFTER they had already eaten [insert name of cr@p food here -- usually highly colored or otherwise identifiable].

Posted by: Laura | May 8, 2007 3:39 PM

"Maybe I misread something, but I did not see anything saying that it's good to feed kids with the flu hot dogs and kool aid."

Neither did I, but for some reason, that horse has been dead for a long, long time today.

Posted by: Larry B. | May 8, 2007 3:40 PM

I've known adult Hindus and Seventh Day Adventists who were raised in vegetarian families so had never eaten meat.

Posted by: To "To Mona" | May 8, 2007 3:41 PM

This company's benefits actually sound quite generous. My company does not offer any maternity leave, forcing you to take FMLA. I'm beginning to think that this is more the norm than anything else, which is disheartening. Just another example of how sexism in the workplace is institutionalized. Woman much more so than men are forced to make difficult life balance decisions inhibiting their ability to progress in the workplace at an equal rate. COmpanies talk a good game touting how family friendly they are and promoting equality in the workplace, but then they don't offer maternity leave or subsized daycare for employees. Unfortunately, we can't change biology. I can't tell you how many times I've felt like as a professional woman, I've been held back because people look at me and think "one of these days she'll just get pregnant and quit or want to go part-time". I really think this is the biggest reason why woman make 20% less than men in comparible positions. Of course, it's my right to quit and find another company that offers better benefits, but that's never as easy as one might think. I'm afraid quality benefits are a thing of the past as companies worry more about cutting costs and boosting stock prices.

Posted by: stephanie | May 8, 2007 3:42 PM

There are a lot of strict vegetarian SDAs in/around Takoma Park.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:46 PM

Sorry, my fingers got ahead of my brain. It should have been:

". . . If you pay the premiums with after-tax dollars, then the benefits will NOT be taxable. . . "

Posted by: Demos | May 8, 2007 3:46 PM

Jen, a poster with the handle JS has already contributed to this blog 73 times.

Try again.

Posted by: Blog Stats | May 8, 2007 3:52 PM

as a professional woman, I've been held back because people look at me and think "one of these days she'll just get pregnant and quit or want to go part-time".

Stereotyping.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:54 PM

"Walter Reed changed their care from government employees to private industry. This is when service deteriorated. Sort of like pre-9/11 airport screenings done by a private industry for Logan airport. And we all know how that one turned out...."

Not exactly true. Walter Reed is under the authority of the Army. Very disingenuous
of you......

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 3:54 PM

"To all of you who talk of 1yr maternity leave and similar benefits of other countries let me ask you this: Are you willing to double or triple your annual taxes to cover the cost?"

Yes.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:54 PM

to anonymous-- Yes, I said that DAYCARE is a relatively new thing and by DAYCARE I meant "center based". That is the common understanding of the word DAYCARE. who calls having their relatives watch their infant "daycare"? women who continue to work while keeping the infant with them don't refer to it as daycare! It childcare while at work or something, but it isn't "daycare."

The two issues I raised are obviously related-- first, daycare for infants as young as 8 weeks is a new thing for this country and, relatedly, because it is new, working women today generally have no personal experience as being an infant in daycare so they are understandibly concerned about the effects. I don't personally know anyone that was in daycare as an infant. I haven't heard from anyone in this board that was! If there were such a person on this board, i wish theyy would speak up and talk about the issue as I feel it would be instructive.

anyway, the two issues i raised are totally interrelated and it baffles me that you don't see that! If in fact daycare for infants is not a new thing, then not only would my hypothesis fail for the first point, it would also fail for the second-- and vice verse.

Posted by: JS | May 8, 2007 3:54 PM

"To all of you who talk of 1yr maternity leave and similar benefits of other countries let me ask you this: Are you willing to double or triple your annual taxes to cover the cost?"

Yes.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 03:54 PM


Who says its really that much more? I'd have to see it to believe it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:55 PM

If the mother fed her kid one of those nasty vege-dogs, no wunder the kid puked.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:57 PM

thanks Blog Stats! I'll go with Jen S. then.

Posted by: JS/ Jen S. | May 8, 2007 3:58 PM

Just another example of how sexism in the workplace is institutionalized. Woman much more so than men are forced to make difficult life balance decisions inhibiting their ability to progress in the workplace at an equal rate.

Posted by: stephanie | May 8, 2007 03:42 PM

There is no law saying that you as the woman must be the one to go part time or stay home. It is just one example of how sexism in the family is institutionalized. If you don;t want to be the one staying home, marry a man who makes considerably less than you or has no career whatsoever. Then when the discussion comes up about who stays home, you can say "since I just so happen to make more money than him, it makes sense that he be the one who stays home"


"one of these days she'll just get pregnant and quit or want to go part-time". I really think this is the biggest reason why woman make 20% less than men in comparible positions.

Posted by: stephanie | May 8, 2007 03:42 PM

If a man is making 20% more, the positions are not comaparable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:00 PM

If the mother fed her kid one of those nasty vege-dogs, no wunder the kid puked.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 03:57 PM


It was Oscar Meyer, so meat.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:01 PM

as a professional woman, I've been held back because people look at me and think "one of these days she'll just get pregnant and quit or want to go part-time".

Stereotyping.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 03:54 PM

Based on reality. (still wrong)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:02 PM

If a man is making 20% more, the positions are not comaparable.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:00 PM


BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:05 PM

Jen/JS --

No offense, but can you better define center-based daycare? Does it only include free-standing buildings that serve as childcare facilities, ala La Petite Academy and other chains? What about companies that provide on-site care?

I know you don't count relatives. But what about women who run home-based daycare, who typically keep 6-8 children and must be licensed by the state/city/county? Does this meet your definition?

I think that's still common (it was our solution), and I suspect it was even more common when we were children. No official stats to back this up, so please don't flame, but I think there were more SAHMs available 20+ years ago willing to earn some extra money by watching babies/children in the neighborhood.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 8, 2007 4:05 PM

Comparitively, today's author is in an extremely enviable position overall, has a choice between maternity leave options which are generally considered extremely generous in the overall culture in which it exists.

What would be best of course is to make her extremely generous offer into something commonplace. If the workforce demands it enough, it will happen.

We can haggle over specifics, but I generally think 3 months is reasonable enough for all sides.

I also see nothing wrong with very few people deciding to ever have children, thus eliminating this as a big issue to begin with. But I understand the unlikelihood of that happening.

True, just because parents in the old days (oddly enough all those days people bring up when they want to point out how sucky the next generation is becoming) didn't have these options and had to deal doesn't mean we should keep ourselves in the dark ages.

But it should give us some perspective and identify what we NEED versus what we WANT, and to make sure our expectations of ourselves and eachother seem to be realistic.

Posted by: Liz D | May 8, 2007 4:05 PM

Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner...

Remember that jingle?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:07 PM

It was Oscar Meyer, so meat.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:01 PM

Try "meat byproducts".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:11 PM

If a man is making 20% more, the positions are not comaparable.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:00 PM


BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:05 PM

I take it you disagree? Prove me wrong. If the positions are in the same comapany, the woman can easily sue (and win). If they are in two different companies, the position are obviously not comaparable because the pay scale is different.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:11 PM

It was Oscar Meyer, so meat.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:01 PM

Try "meat byproducts".

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:11 PM

Still meat, just not the best parts.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:12 PM

I'm pleasantly surprised that we stayed relatively on topic all day! Maybe we don't agree with the blogger's opinion, but at least she got us all talking! :-)

Posted by: Mona | May 8, 2007 4:13 PM

Not exactly true. Walter Reed is under the authority of the Army. Very disingenuous
of you......

They still contract out a lot of services. So does NIH. So it LOOKS like a smaller government on paper, but there are more people than ever doing the job(s), and getting paid really well for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:14 PM

Now it appears to be about whether working women were in daycare as infants - and it seems as though your definition of daycare excludes family members and neighbors, groups that traditionally have provided daycare to infants and toddlers for generations.

Don't forget wet nurses for those who didn't want to nurse or raise their own kids. That's a historical truism too. Can't be letting those mammaries get flat and saggy--wouldn't be sightly.

Not to mention it interfered with wealthy, pampered chained-to-the-home wives with all that socializing that had to happen.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:16 PM

It was Oscar Meyer, so meat.

In theory!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:16 PM

Ummmm, Actally the wage gap is well documented....

Her Pay Gap Begins Right After Graduation

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 29, 2007; Page F01

"For years, women have outnumbered men on college campuses. Overall, they get better grades than men. And yet, just months after they toss their mortarboards into the air at college graduation, men start to pull ahead of women in pay.

Though the pay gap between men and women is well documented, it is startling to discover that it begins so soon. According to a new study by the American Association of University Women, women already earn 20 percent less than men at the same level and in the same field one year after college graduation. Right at the beginning, before taking time off for childbirth or child-rearing, women find themselves behind."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:16 PM

If the positions are in the same comapany, the woman can easily sue (and win).

NOT. It's a long difficult process suing. Must file with EEOC first, which does a long study, then decides whether to take the case or not. In-house lawyers will drag out a lawsuit for years, to break the ex-employee financially and emotionally.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:19 PM

It all comes down to what kind of country we want to live in. The US has enormous wealth. If we want to live in the kind of society that allows parents to bond with their babies without having to worry about finances and job security, we can. So far, the US has chosen not to. I think that says a lot about our priorities that most mothers have to choose between job and financial security and their babies.

Posted by: chicagomom | May 8, 2007 4:20 PM

, Actally the wage gap is well documented....

Her Pay Gap Begins Right After Graduation

By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 29, 2007; Page F01

"For years, women have outnumbered men on college campuses. Overall, they get better grades than men. And yet, just months after they toss their mortarboards into the air at college graduation, men start to pull ahead of women in pay.

Though the pay gap between men and women is well documented, it is startling to discover that it begins so soon. According to a new study by the American Association of University Women, women already earn 20 percent less than men at the same level and in the same field one year after college graduation. Right at the beginning, before taking time off for childbirth or child-rearing, women find themselves behind."

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:16 PM

This has been discussed for weeks on this blog, the wage gap is not based on "comparable jobs" it is based on full time employment and nothing else.

The work done by the AAUW is one of many studies on the DOJ data set and in my opinion is very biased. They base all there comaprisons on data obtained from self reporting studies. Most of the other studies show that the wage gap is considerably smaller, on the order of a few percetage points.

So if the gap is really 20%, the positions are not truly comparable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:26 PM

There should be no maternity leave or other benefits - pregnancy is a choice and any benefits are unfair to single people and people who choose not to have children.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:29 PM

Some people are, for many reasons, unable to afford unpaid leave. It's possible that there are women who return to work as soon as possible after birth in order to resume earning their full paycheck. I really don't think that these women, who may still be in pain and are also probably quite sleep deprived, are very efficient once they get back to their desks. They are also at futher risk of stress and depression -- very productivty limiting conditions -- because of the separation from family and the fatigue they experience. So, even if women return to work ASAP, the employer still "pays" for it.

Also, I once knew a father who returned to work within a week of the birth of his first child. His wife then suffered from post-partum depression and his child did not begin sleeping through the night until after 6 months. This employee became brutally stressed out and sleep deprived. In an effort to find relief, he subsequently tried to resign. Fortunately, he was talked out of it. The cost of having no paternity leave at our company was that we almost lost our highest-producing manager. He was literally irreplacable; How do you put a price tag on that?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:29 PM

There are a lot of women in the United States that have done nothing all their lives but sponge off their husband's economic success.

That says a lot about America too.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:30 PM

We look at smoking studies done by tobacco companies as suspect. We look at studies by oil companies on global warming as suspect. We look at enviromental studies by greenpeace as suspect.

Why don't we look at a study on discrimination by the American Association of University Women as suspect?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:30 PM

Some people seem to think it's not in the best interest of society to avoid disincentives to women regarding childbearing.

The reason France has generous maternity benefits is that it is in a position of having its current population replaced through migration, not in-country births.

The U.N. Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs thinks it's an important enough issue to publish a report: "Replacement Migration: Is It a Solution to Declining and Ageing Populations?". The U.N. defines replacement migration as "the international migration that a country would need to offset population decline and population ageing resulting from low fertility and mortality rates."

I've sensed a misogynist undercurrent in many of today's comments regarding professional women's place in the workforce and childrearing. What result are you looking for? Do you want to reduce the birthrates of educated, professional women? It's not that I'm advocating businesses having to pay maternity leave specifically. It's that I think we as a society need to consider the impact that hostility toward working mothers will have for our future.

I second what pATRICK said earlier:
"I think that companies that ignore women's needs are being shortsighted. The demographics are changing and a labor shortage is coming. Companies that turn their back on off half of the labor force talent will pay. I think we should just mandate something and deal with it."

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 4:32 PM

I would argue most mothers return to work earlier than they would like and earlier than is reasonable due to financial and job pressures. Most women in the US do not earn enough to take off months to be with their babies, and most do not have the job security to get many, many months off without losing their job. Most other western countries offer so much more. Why not us?

Posted by: chicagomom | May 8, 2007 4:32 PM

An ala carte benefit menu might be something to think about. You could change it once a year or if life circumstances change (birth of a child, marriage, divorce). For example, a fifty year old single woman doesn't pick maternity leave benefits. She might opt for employer paid schooling instead. A twenty five year old male might choose to have an extra week of vacation instead of a raise.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 4:32 PM

I started a new job six weeks after learning I was pregnant. I hoarded sick and annual leave, received donated leave and banked three days worth of "credit hours" and got myself to five weeks and four hours of paid leave. Then, because my husband is a full-time graduate student, I went back to work six weeks after the birth of my daughter. It has been incredibly difficult for our whole family, and if we had to do it again, we would have tried to find some way for me to stay home a little longer.

I think it hurts our nation and its families that family leave is not more generous, and I do hope that policy changes will be brought about soon.

Everyone's so concerned about choice when it comes to abortion, but what choices do some women really have with existing family policies in this country? I have an involved husband and extended family nearby who could help us with childcare and support in general, but what about a single woman without such a support system who needs to return to work immediately? What choice does she really have with her pregnancy?

Posted by: Ashley | May 8, 2007 4:33 PM

Vegas Mom-- I think of "daycare" as encompassing any situation where the caregiver is a paid professional. Some are run out of the caregiver's home and some are not-- those that aren't are called center based. Whether free-standing or "on-site" I think they are referred to as "center based" daycare facilities.

I think you are absolutely right that there used to be more SAHMs "back in the day" who were available to run such "family based" daycare facilities. i still suspect that it is relatively new to leave 8 week (or even 12 week) old infants at such daycare facilities, whether they are family based or center based. And that, relatedly, very few working mothers today received infant daycare at any type of daycare facility.

Again, I'm not saying such facilities are bad-- just that they are new. Although I have seen how happy and "normal" the children are that attend the on-site daycare facility since they were infants, it would also be helpful to hear from those who experienced daycare as an infant. Of course they won't actually remember it-- my son doesn't remember the two years I spent with him as a SAHM-- but it would be interesting to hear their impressions on whether they felt it was beneficial or not. It may help those of us who are trying to decide whether to do it or not and what to look for if we do do it. Personally, the idea of family based daycare facilities in general just "hits my ear" better than "center-based" but perhaps that is, as you suggest, because they have been around for longer than center-based facilities.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 8, 2007 4:34 PM

'So if the gap is really 20%, the positions are not truly comparable"

I disagree - for example if a company is hiring two people for the same position - one male one female, the company decided the salary range for this position is 40-50K. The woman, as we discussed extensively last week, doesn't want to come across as agressive asks for $40,000 and the company agrees, the man going for the most he can get asks for $55,000 and is negotiated down to $50,000. The job descriptions are the same - the only difference is the man asked for more - sorry the salary difference doesn't make his job not comparable. As for discrimination - lawyers let me know if this is true - if the request is documented and the only reason they are paying her less is she asked for less I wouldn't regard this as discrimination on the company's side.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 8, 2007 4:34 PM

There should be no maternity leave or other benefits - pregnancy is a choice and any benefits are unfair to single people and people who choose not to have children.

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:29 PM

So is not having children, I don;t see where you get the right to choose others people's benefits based on your decision. An employer offering benefits you choose not to take advantage of is only unfair if you view the world through your self-centered prism.

Life isn't fair, live with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:36 PM

KLB SS MD- You're a smart cookie. Aren't you an academic scientist?

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 4:36 PM

atb,
Not a scientist, I am a nurse at Walter Reed (which gives excellent medical care by the way - it is the admin side of the house that has been found to be lacking - contrary to what some people have been led to believe).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 4:38 PM

Countries that are not family friendly and do not have sufficient immigration are doomed. The problem I think is that so much of America is small busineses. These businesses would have a tough time paying for these leaves. I know my father's small business could not handle paying employees for a year and stay in business. Having said that, WE the people would have to subsidize the cost somehow. I don't know what the particulars would be but higher taxes would be inevitable.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 4:39 PM

JenS- I picked a center over home-based because I felt there was more safety with more eyes. It's the same reason I didn't go with a nanny.

Posted by: atb | May 8, 2007 4:39 PM

'There should be no maternity leave or other benefits - pregnancy is a choice and any benefits are unfair to single people and people who choose not to have children."

Okay, but in their old age, such people should move somewhere where they can be self-sufficient without the services of all the young people whom they did not help to raise. Why should they benefit from the hard work of parents who raised the next generation of workers, doctors, scientists, lawyers engineers, nurses etc.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 4:40 PM

An ala carte benefit menu might be something to think about. You could change it once a year or if life circumstances change (birth of a child, marriage, divorce). For example, a fifty year old single woman doesn't pick maternity leave benefits. She might opt for employer paid schooling instead. A twenty five year old male might choose to have an extra week of vacation instead of a raise.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 04:32 PM

No way - that idea makes WAY too much sense to ever work!!!

Posted by: Me | May 8, 2007 4:40 PM

The job descriptions are the same - the only difference is the man asked for more - sorry the salary difference doesn't make his job not comparable.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 8, 2007 04:34 PM

True, I guess salary alone does not make it uncomparable, but as you said, it is not discrimination either. The wage gap was brought up as an example of "institutionalized sexism in the workplace", the argument I was badly trying to make is:

1. It is not as big as the AAUW say when controlled for variables that affect wages.
2. It is not always a result of "institutionalized sexism in the workplace" (discrimination)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:44 PM

atb,
Not a scientist, I am a nurse at Walter Reed (which gives excellent medical care by the way - it is the admin side of the house that has been found to be lacking - contrary to what some people have been led to believe).

(except for the mold and the rats of course)
Part of my picking of Walter Reed is that it is a high profile institution and if that plum hospital delivers crappy services than you can only imagine what it would be like in south central LA,or Podunk Mississippi

Posted by: pATRICK | May 8, 2007 4:44 PM

pATRICK,
I repeat - the medical care we deliver is good. Very few of our injured soldiers have complained of their actual doctors and nurses. Like someone above said, the actual working of some of the ancillary services has been contracted out wherein lies the problem. Directed by DOD, not just the Army.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 4:47 PM

Really good point atb about "more eyes"!

Also, the family based centers are a bit unreliable in the sense that if the provider gets sick or wants a vacation, you could be really stuck, whereas with center based facility they will hire substitues, etc to cover.

Very rare to have a center based daycare facility suddenly unavailable to you.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 8, 2007 4:48 PM

Really good point atb about "more eyes"!

Also, the family based centers are a bit unreliable in the sense that if the provider gets sick or wants a vacation, you could be really stuck, whereas with center based facility they will hire substitues, etc to cover.

Very rare to have a center based daycare facility suddenly unavailable to you.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 8, 2007 04:48 PM

Depends on the family daycare. In almost 5 years, ours has never been closed when it was supposed to be open. It does close two weeks in the summer but you know the dates months in advance. Some may still consider that inconvient but I find that the center-based daycares cost quite a bit more.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 4:55 PM

Jen S. -- I'm about Laura's age, and don't know yours, but I think one thing playing into women's choices to remain in the workforce is education. Many more women go to college now than 20+ years ago. My mom didn't go to college and the money she brought to the family working in the lingerie department at a department store was negligible, so she stopped working when I was born. Both of my grandmothers graduated from high school, but one received a lot of pressure to drop out because the family wanted her to get a job and help support the family. She took a lot of heat for putting her foot down and staying in school. Her sisters all dropped out by 15 or 16. My other grandmother wanted to go to college after high school and was poo-poo'd by her father, who told her girls shouldn't go to college.

However, if you go back even further than that (pre-1920s or so), most women DID work, as did their children (from a young age), in order to support the family. If the children weren't working, they were being cared for by neighbors, grandparents, or older siblings. The type of work was different (mostly manual labor and/or piece-work, contributing to a family farm), but the 1950s June Cleaver image of motherhood is actually very much a product of that specific period in history.

We are fortunate to have so many more choices than our mothers and grandmothers, whether that choice is to stay home or work (or some combination thereof).

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 8, 2007 4:55 PM

Emily, you make a great point about retired people needing the benefits of the next generation.

From the U.N. report I mentioned earlier:

"During the second half of the twentieth century, the industrialized countries have benefited from population sizes and population age-structures that were the result of a history of moderate levels of fertility and low mortality. These favourable demographic circumstances made possible, to a large extent, the provision of relatively generous benefits to retirees at comparatively low costs to workers and employers. However, these age-structures were not permanent, but merely transitional.

"During the first half of the twenty-first century, the populations of most industrialized countries are projected to become smaller and older in response to below-replacement fertility as well as increased longevity. The consequences of significant population decline and population ageing are not well under-stood as they are new demographic experiences for countries. Keeping retirement and health-care systems for older persons solvent in the face of declining and ageing populations, for example, constitutes a new situation that poses serious challenges for Governments and civil society.

"Stabilizing the age structure at 3 persons of working-age for each person of retirement age would also require very large numbers of immigrants. "

Posted by: Marian | May 8, 2007 4:59 PM

Lots of people are talking about having children as a choice that people have to pay for themselves. First of all, getting pregnant is not always a choice. Birth control is just not 100%. Second, a choice to have children that you raise to be taxpayers, doctors, police, teachers, nurses, etc., is a choice that benefits everyone, including those overworked, childless co-workers. Third, as someone pointed out, there are a lot of choices that people make that get them out of work on sick leave, such as choosing to eat horribly while not exercising and having a heart attack, choosing to skip mammograms and prostate checks and getting stage 3 or 4 cancer instead of stage 1, choosing to drive too fast and getting in a car accident, choosing to smoke and getting emphysema and cancer, choosing to stay in an abusive relationship where you end up in the hospital for a week, choosing to try to fix the roof yourself and falling off, rather than hiring a professional in the first place, choosing not to wash your hands often and getting the flu. I could go on, but I think the point is made. Most absences from work involve choices people make.

Posted by: Anon again today | May 8, 2007 5:13 PM

Family daycare, eyes, closures, etc.:

I understand the concern about having more eyes in a center vs. family-based care, and it was the reason we initially visited daycare centers rather than check out family-based options. We visited half a dozen facilities, and there was only 1 I would leave my child in. I got on their waiting list 11 months in advance and was told I would definitely have a spot. Then, a month before I was supposed to go back to work, they told me they didn't have room.

We checked out licensed family daycares, and I had concerns about a lot of those too, but we were fortunate to find a true gem. Our sitter has been watching children in her home for more than 25 years. She keeps photo albums full of their pictures and corresponds with many of the "kids" who are now adults. Her experience was a huge help to us since we didn't have family nearby. Even though our daugher is 8, she still visits her on the occasional school closure when I can't get time off. She will also watch DD occasionally in the evening to earn some extra money.

Closures -- she always let us know months in advance of any vacation and lined up other licensed home-care providers in the area who were willing to take an extra child or two for a short time. Most of the time, we just scheduled our vacation at the same time. Once we availed ourselves of another provider, whom we visited and chatted with first. Our sitter was also always closed on the regular school holidays (except winter and spring break), but we figured it was a good idea to get used to that schedule anyway.

Research is the most important part of this story. You can't start looking for a sitter two weeks before you go back to work. And I can't tell you how many people chose a daycare center or sitter (without checking it out) because it was around the corner and they passed it every day. Geography should not be the overriding issue here! We had a pretty wide radius we were willing to consider. I recommend our former daycare provider all the time and so many parents haven't even considered her because they would have to drive "too far."

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 8, 2007 5:15 PM

Vegas mom, how often do you think parents left their infants with people who weren't related to the child (neighbors, as you put it) pre 1920s? I suspect it was very rare. Maybe something that only the very wealthy did-- a la the "wet nurses" referred to by someone earlier.

I agree it is wonderful that we have so many more choices. Part of me suspects that one of the reasons that we have so many choices is because nothing is mandatory-- that if there were mandatory paid maternity leave, this would inhibit the further development of excellent choices for infant care.

I guess one way to test this is to compare the quality of choices for infant care in US to Canada and other countries that do offer paid maternity leave. someone ought to look into that!

Posted by: Jen S. | May 8, 2007 5:17 PM

If you think it is unfair for an employer to not want to pay you a full salary to take off to take care of your child after working for them for a little less then a year, then you are full of it.

And I agree with the other posters. You've been working for 20 years and you haven't saved up 1 months worth of salary? And you want us to boo hoo for you? How about the women who get NO salary for 12 weeks? What the heck do you think they do?

Women who chose not to work either cut expenses, save like demons, or marry up. Don't expect us to feel sorry for you because your employer won't pay for you to have kids. It used to be you were fired just for getting pregnant. Now at least they will hold your job open for you, they just won't pay you until you return. And you are crapping all over a policy that will pay you 60% of your salary AND keep your job open for you until you return? Puhleesee!

Please select someone with a real issue to be a guest blogger.

Posted by: tlawrenceva | May 8, 2007 5:25 PM

I just moved to Germany with my husband for his job and in every interview the topic of my "family" and my "newlywed" status came up. Why ? Well these employers do not want to deal with me potentially getting pregnant and leaving them in the lurch for up to three years. To be honest I do not blame them but I am not ready to have kids yet so I do not want to be punished for this. I try to make this point in all my interviews but these employers have been burned so many times before that they don't trust me. I still have 60K of Grad school debt hanging over me so I need to work and can not hang out on the tennis courts like the other Expat wives. Not to mention that American expats have to pay both US and their residences taxes over anything over 82K so a second income is needed to cover our double taxation. So while many people think the benefits in Europe are great... the downside is that higher paid professional women are just kept out of the workplace instead, you know just in case they do get pregnant and inconvenience everyone. The topic of non-existent day care in Germany can be left for another day.

Posted by: New Expat | May 8, 2007 5:27 PM

"taking off twelve weeks or more of work!"

that's laughable! staying home to recover from an unplanned c-section and being thrust into caring for a new born was the toughest job I ever had. it was a vacation to get back to the office!! it's not a picnic people - it's really hard (and rewarding) work when done well.

Posted by: snort! | May 8, 2007 5:28 PM

"I don't get it. The world is over popoulated now and there are people out there who think we should pay people to have babies?????????"

Posted by: Debbie | May 8, 2007 12:20 PM

Overpopulated? If you're a teacher, where do you think your next students are going to come from? If you're a retailer, where are your new customers going to come from? If you're a landlord, where are your new tenants going to come from?

Without population growth, economic growth will screech to a grinding halt -- or grind to a screeching halt -- or whatever.

"There should be no maternity leave or other benefits - pregnancy is a choice and any benefits are unfair to single people and people who choose not to have children."

Posted by: | May 8, 2007 04:29 PM

"Okay, but in their old age, such people should move somewhere where they can be self-sufficient without the services of all the young people whom they did not help to raise. Why should they benefit from the hard work of parents who raised the next generation of workers, doctors, scientists, lawyers engineers, nurses etc."

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 04:40 PM

Emily is right. As the old Union song goes, "Who's going to take care of you? How'll you get by, when you're too old to work, and too young to die?" Especially if today's adults are too busy chasing the almighty dollar to have children.

What's going on in Europe today ought to serve as a warning. The Europeans are worn out, tired of living, so they are not reproducing themselves. Fortunately, Canada and the U. S. are "a land that's still young, with a future that's still unsung," with "a promise of great things to come."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | May 8, 2007 5:43 PM

"as a professional woman, I've been held back because people look at me and think "one of these days she'll just get pregnant and quit or want to go part-time"

This has been described as "stereotyping"

Another description would be "playing the odds"

Statistically, women are much more likely to "get pregnant and quit or want to go part-time" than men.

We can talk about the possible reasons all night (biology, at least for the "get pregnant" bit; social expectations; differences in male and female psychology; a grand patriarchal conspiracy to subjugate women), but there you have it - in many cases, "stereotyping" is nothing but ad hoc social bookmaking, based on personal experiences.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 5:50 PM

Jen S. --

Are you assuming that care by a relative is superior to care by a non-relative?

Maybe I'm in the minority, but, even if my parents or in-laws were available and willing, I'd still rather DD spent her baby-hood with the caregiver we selected. Both my parents and my husband's parents had no interest in having a child in the house full-time and would have resented the intrusion. My mom won't even babysit for my sister's kids more than one afternoon a week, and they live less than a mile apart and my sis is a single mom with a limited income.

I do know some grandparents who take care of the grandkids full time and love it. But I see more who are stressed out by having infants and toddlers in the house full time.

Anybody else with experience in this issue?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 8, 2007 5:54 PM

While I think its nice that some (many) companies offer some sort of package, and while I think its nice that the federal government guarantees that companies of more than 50 people have to hold a job for you for 12 weeks under FMLA - I in NO way think I am "entitled" to that time off. What is it? "Congratulations, you are fertile, heres some time off with pay" - since when should that be a requirement?

*I* made the decision to get pregnant. *I* should be able to afford it. My company was REALLY generous in giving me 8 weeks STD at 100% and then another 2 weeks paid leave, and 2 that I took for vacation - but I never saw that as a requirement, and I am certainly not going to whine and cry about how our policies are so bad when it was a CHOICE to have a child.

Posted by: Jolie | May 8, 2007 5:58 PM

I think the guest writer's benefits are actually pretty good. I switched jobs in January and as a newly engaged woman, maternity leave was one of the benefits I used to compare companies when I was interviewing. I was lucky in that the companies I was interviewing with all had decent benefits. The company I work for now has 4 weeks paid leave, then it goes to STD benefits at 60% of pay for the rest of the FMLA time. Before the STD kicks in, you have to use up all of your sick time. We get 10 sick days per year. We don't have to use our vacation as part of the maternity leave, so we still have that to use for doctors appointments and emergencies after returning from maternity leave. I get 15 days of vacation, 20 after working here 3 years. I think this is a very generous plan.

Do I think any of this should be mandated by law? Absolutely not!! Each employer needs to do what it feels it must do to attract and retain the best employees for its workforce. My employer values its employees and is willing to compensate us highly through benefits, bonuses, and salaries. But, it also makes a lot of money and can afford to do this.

On the other hand, my mother works in a small dental office, with only a handful of employees. If her dentist had to pay women for their time off for maternity leave, he wouldn't have a practice. As it stands now, he doesn't fall within the FMLA guidelines, so their jobs are not even guaranteed. So many small businesses like this make up America.

It is very difficult to make a one-size fits all solution. People love to try to make blanket solutions and try to regulate everything. Instead, let the free markets work it out. Let women make the choices of employers based on the total compensation packages they provide. Whenever I switch jobs, I look at the complete comp package - 401(k) matching, healthcare co-pays, maternity leave, vacation days, sick days, salary, bonuses, etc - to determine whether it is a package I am willing to accept. If we can get more women to do this and to say, "I am not taking this job because I don't like these benefits" then companies will have to start changing.

Posted by: Eliz | May 8, 2007 6:05 PM

My mother does a lot of pinch hit babysitting for me. But I think full time daycare would have been too much for her, and my son would have been bored to death. Don't get me wrong. He adores his grandmother, but she is not as much fun as a bunch of other kids. These days, he goes afterschool sometimes and on the occasional snow day or school holiday. He is older and better able to entertain himself. She also does not have to chase him around, since he is older now.

I like having my mother as a pinch hitter. If I relied on her daily, I would feel guilty about the burden. Right now, it works at perfectly since she gets to spend time with her grandson and I have a reliable back-up.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 6:07 PM

"Most absences from work involve choices people make.

Posted by: Anon again today | May 8, 2007 05:13 PM"

What a load of crap! Breast cancer is not preventable. Many women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30's (and in some cases in their 20s) well before mammograms are even recommended. A friend's husband died at 39 of colon cancer. Again, well before the recommended screening age. A doctor I worked with died at 53 from lung cancer and he never smoked a day in his life.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 6:14 PM

While I agree that cancer is not a choice, there are a lot of workers out there whose absences are choices, and all those workers aren't parents. In my particular office, we have a big problem of tardiness and absenteeism among the younger, childless crowd. I think some of it is due to partying too late on work nights, and some of it is poor work ethic.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 6:18 PM

No offense meant here - but why should the reest of that company pay you to take time off - are you going to pay for me to take time off because even though I can't have kids, I want to sit home for nine weeks and be depressed? Yes, that's right - I can't afford to sit home and cry and mourn because I can't have kids - why do you expect me to pay you to have it all? Be thankful for your blessings and shut up and stop complaining.

Posted by: sara | May 8, 2007 6:18 PM

Emily, The person I was responding to said "most" absences not the occasional hangover, flu, sprained ankle and specifically mentioned cancer, emphysema car and household accidents. According the them anything that happens is our fault and we should never leave the house or try to fix something (might have an accident).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 6:22 PM

My point, KLB, is that in my office, most absences are comprised of hangovers or mental health days. None of these young people is seriously or chronically ill. And they have no leave saved up. They use it as the earn it, often calling in sick up to one day a week. So I am not interested in hearing their complaints when they have to cover me when I go on maternity leave. I will still have more leave than they do when I come back, and I will still be more reliable.

Posted by: Emily | May 8, 2007 6:29 PM

I am childless, but simply want to add my rant about maternity leave, as I don't think my situation has been described as yet.

I work for a small law firm; our client contacts are OVERWHELMINGLY females that work in some aspect of Human Resources or Recruiting. Our attorneys spend lots of one on one time training our contacts on the broader points of business immigration law. Despite the fact that our office does the work, employers of foreign nationals need to be aware of specific laws and regs they need to follow.

I've been doing this work for several years, and can attest to how many times we have to re-train contacts due to regular contacts being out on maternity leave, and how MANY of these women never return to work. It is CONSTANT training for us and I'm amazed at how lax employers are in this regard to begin with (keeping abreast of business immigration regs and laws). Most of our clients appear totally unprepared for the HR employees absence, leaving a gaping hole in immigration knowlege when they leave. It happens so often that when the weekly/monthly announcement comes that yet ANOTHER client contact is out on maternity leave, we usually respond with "Well, it was about time" followed by: "Ten bucks says she never comes back." This is an extremely common phenomena. I see our attorneys, over time, become less and less willing to invest training time with our clients, given that they would probably have to do it again months later! Again, I can only imagine how tiring this would be for the employer.

If it is problematic for US, and we are merely a vendor, I can't imagine how are clients are running the rest of their HR departments.

Posted by: ALP | May 8, 2007 6:43 PM

London eye,

Wow! As disparaging as I've been to the original poster, I have to admit that England's maternity leave policy sounds fabulous.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 8, 2007 7:25 PM

'There should be no maternity leave or other benefits - pregnancy is a choice and any benefits are unfair to single people and people who choose not to have children."

Okay, but in their old age, such people should move somewhere where they can be self-sufficient without the services of all the young people whom they did not help to raise. Why should they benefit from the hard work of parents who raised the next generation of workers, doctors, scientists, lawyers engineers, nurses etc.

_______________________________

I HATE this argument.
I pay 20% of my salary to the feds - the guy down the hall with 4 kids pays 0%.
I pay property taxes to educate the next generation.
I receive less "pay" from my employer because my health insurance is cheaper than that for a family.
(I think the above are how it should be by the way.)
I am a engineering prof. working long hours to mentor students in an economically needed field of expertise.
The idea that I deserve a miserable demise with no care because I not to be a parent in cruel.
p.s. I heard a news story claiming that it is most often single women who spend the most hours caring for aging parents. Do you really think karma is that much of a ****?

I know you were responding to an idiot - but two wrongs do not make a right.

Posted by: to Emily | May 8, 2007 7:51 PM

Emily, I think you are missing the original reason I answered anon poster. "Most" absenses from work are not from a day here and a day there and their statement that "most" absenses are caused by people's neglect is blatantly wrong.
Also, it is much easier to take over or let something slide for one day than it is for months. Not that the day off or days off are not aggravating as we all have to cover for someone else on occasion.
I spent years as a floor nurse who would be asked/told at quitting time that I had to stay another 8 hours because someone called in - patients had to be cared for. How often was it on a Friday night? Holiday weekend? Lots. But that doesn't address what the original anon stated which annoyed the crap out of me as a health care professional.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 8, 2007 8:15 PM

klb - Thank you for staying those Friday nights. It wasn't me there as a patient, but a sincere thank you anyways!

Maybe nurses should have an on-call system or something. A double shift just because someone won't do their job doesn't seem right.

Where is NC Lawyer, alias Megan's Neighbor? I miss her!

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 8:33 PM

still think the walter reed comments are disingenuous (insincere)?

sorry i did not have time to quote the entire wapo series, but i guess you need full citation.

you could have merely disagreed, as others do, or said my ideas was untrue, but i assure you i was sincere.

Posted by: yo, patrick | May 8, 2007 8:44 PM

"My point, KLB, is that in my office, most absences are comprised of hangovers or mental health days. None of these young people is seriously or chronically ill. And they have no leave saved up. They use it as the earn it, often calling in sick up to one day a week. So I am not interested in hearing their complaints when they have to cover me when I go on maternity leave. I will still have more leave than they do when I come back, and I will still be more reliable. "

So are you saying they managed to take more than their standard vacation allotment full of hangover and mental health days and didnt get fired for it? I want to work where you do - if I can get 12 weeks of paid leave for hangovers (heck, I'll even take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for hangovers), sign me up!

Posted by: Jolie | May 8, 2007 8:51 PM

If you are on late I am still wondering about a post you made about regretting engineering many moons ago. I mentor some young women engineering students - but do not have kids myself. I am interested in hearing more about your perspective on the pros and cons.

Posted by: hey dotted | May 8, 2007 8:55 PM

"Are you assuming that care by a relative is superior to care by a non-relative?"

Nope. I make no assumptions because I figure every family's situation is different. Sometimes a relative's care is the best choice, sometimes a non-relative. Again my only point is that leaving infants with non-relatives is new.

Oh "all knowing" Blog stats, just how often have I repeated this tired old point of mine today?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 8, 2007 9:21 PM

You have got to be kidding me. That company was WAY more than generous with those benefits. You did them a favor by not taking the position so they didn't have to pay for your child.

So, you make the CHOICE to have a child, but now companies need to subsidize this, along with the government? Who says you have a right to these benefits? Your employer has no choice as to when you have your child, but you want them to help pay for it?

Posted by: Unbelievable | May 8, 2007 9:22 PM

Patrick said "I can only shudder at the thought of going to essentially a government dentist or doctor. You fail to mention the compromises of such a system and the wait involved in care. Go to a free clinic and then you will see socialized medicine at its finest. NO THANKS!"

Patrick, dont knock it if you havent tried it -

our health-care system is nothing like a 'free clinic', neither is it 'socialised medicine' -

Part of the taxes we pay in the UK goes towards funding the NHS (our health-service) and while it isnt perfect (what health service anywhere in the world is?), the standard of care is generally excellent and the doctors & nurses are extremely well trained, committed polite professionals - I should also explain that 90 - 95% of health-care professionals work within the NHS, so there is no 2-tier health system - everyone rich or poor gets the same generally excellent standard of care -

Posted by: london eye | May 8, 2007 9:41 PM

to hey dotted: Real quick here.

engineering pros: fun, exciting, interesting, challenging, good starting pay,

engineering con: constant learning required, if you take time off for any reason, you may not be able to get a job in your field at all when you return. Think VERY carefully about this. In addition, Ageism is rampant (though unacknowledge). Engineers > 40 may be considered to be unknowledgable about how work is done nowadays, even if it was their original work in the first place. Don't even think about looking 50 (whether male or female). It is just a youth-oriented job. Work constantly, all hours, management doesn't get what you do, on and on. And then there is the killer: if you specialize in one area: you are *in* for a few years, but inevitably that area goes out and now you can't get back into anything. The key is to strategically learn what will be *in* in a few years constantly...back to the constant learning issue, so you will keep your job. As lesson in point, see all the IBM/etc layoffs to realign their workforce to what is currently *in*. If you aren't *in*, you are *out.* Just try to do all this constant learning on your own time, sure it may be fun, but there are many other fun things in this life to do too.

some say engineering is good, because you can go anywhere with an engineering degree (MD, JD, MBA). That is the best pro of the degree, but in that case, the student might never be doing any engineering.

I sound depressed here, but I'm not...just getting way close to my beddie=bye time

Posted by: dotted | May 8, 2007 9:59 PM

"Married with 2 kids, making a total of 50K euros/ $68K:

US takes home 83% after taxes
UK 73%
France 76%
Germany 72%
Switzerland 82%
Sweden 58%"

However, in the UK there are no further payments from one's take-home pay to pay for health insurance -

Then there's a statutory 4 weeks paid annual leave & tax credits available to subsidise child-care for working parents etc -

UK unemployment rate (5.5%) - USA unemployment rate (4.5%) - a little higher but nowhere near being nearly double what one poster suggested. There is VAT on most purchases but no further sales tax or state tax.

Not trying to 'demonstrate' a better off/worse off position, just showing the way it is over here -

* After deductions & allowances, Tax in the UK is 10% on the 1st £2,300 ($4,600), 22% up to £35,000 ($70,000) and then 40% on anything above that.


Posted by: london eye | May 8, 2007 10:17 PM

thanks dotted - my perspective is a bit skewed by academia. Ageism is not such a problem (probably a bit of an understatement) - but flexibility / financial security before age 35 (ie kid years) can hard to come by. I thought the grass might be greener for young female engineers than other professionals to get flextime, telecommuting options, etc.
The skill changes part sounds hard if you are looking for an extended time off rather than just flexibility... so far none of my friends have tried that.

Posted by: hey dotted | May 8, 2007 10:24 PM

Jen S: if you're still there...

We are having an au pair come to live with us in a few weeks. She will be a part of our family (I already feel she is). We have never met her in person. We will be paying her a salary.

However, I don't see much difference with this situation than with a neice/cousin/whoever coming to live with me and being a part of the family. She will not be treated like the 'hired help,' she will be part of our family - invited to do whatever we do, etc.

My friend sent us an invite to a small party for her newly born daughter and I indicated to her that we were bringing our au pair. She will have been in the country a week and I would see it as rude for us to say: see ya. My friend referred to her as the 'hired help,' and I quickly corrected her - no one who is helping to look after my kids will ever be treated as the hired help. I find it rude to use that term to begin with.

My mom had a live in nanny for us til I was four or five (I'm the youngest). It was normal. My grandmother had kids but had to work - so she went to work - I suppose when her kids were little they were looked after by her mom, but I bet by the time they were 7 or 8 they were home alone after school (with NYC as their playground). There was no aftercare. My mom's cousin lived in the same apt building and he would be with them too as his mom had to work (and his dad left soon after he was born) - my grandfather passed away when my mom and her sister were under 10.

My grandmother was working from the age of 8 or so as well since her parents could hardly afford the children they had. That's the way it was.

Here we have the luxury of discussing how much leave we will have and how much we will decide to take for it. Years ago no one had that luxury - every able bodied person worked. They only didn't work if they could not work (not did not want to work).

Posted by: atlmom | May 8, 2007 10:34 PM

Getting to the party late, but pATRICK, just fyi, it is pretty conventional wisdom in health care circles that if you are sick your best case scenario is to (a) be a veteran and be able to go to the VA [which is not the same as Walter Reed] or (b) be rich and go to the Mayo Clinic. Both, in different ways, are single-payer systems.

Posted by: aging mom | May 8, 2007 10:52 PM

atlmom, we're about to meet our second au pair. It will be tough to say goodbye to the first one, but it's been a good experience. I hope it will be the same for you.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 8, 2007 11:07 PM

to hey dotted

I was in academia too...tenured even. The pros and cons of academia itself are a whole other story. Basically, you can never take time off until after tenure and, even then, requires a complete restart of your research career. Engineering research doesn't take summers off. Students have to be paid and all.

Posted by: dotted | May 9, 2007 3:26 AM

To people who complain about not being able to complain about women's absences because it isn't "pc": Complain. Learn how to do so constructively, and try to figure out solutions to the problems. You aren't doing anyone any favors by keeping your mouth shut until you can become a blog troll.
To the people who said that regardless of maternity leave policies, people will have kids--actually it is demonstrated that some policies do influence people's decisions to have kids. Part of the reason that Germany and other European countries subsidize new parents so much is because they don't have a high rate of population growth. Germany actually has a negative population growth rate outside of immigration. I would imagine that in Saudi Arabia it is based on family values : )
I believe in federally funded family leave, more than we get in the US, because I think that new parents are providing an important economic service to the country. I don't think it is a great idea to overburden companies, although I think they should try to value their workers enough if they can to provide some kind of leave to expectant parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2007 3:35 AM

London eye:

Please continue to read WaPo blogs and articles and continue to contribute your insights. They are valuable.

Posted by: late posting | May 9, 2007 9:23 AM

hi altmom-- it sounds like you think that having a live-in nanny or an au pair is "normal." I understand that you are familiar with it personally so I'm sure it seems that way to you and your mileau, but I'm pretty certain that was only an option for the upper income part of society when you and I were babies! I beleive your mother was a unique trailblazer for leaving you in the care of a professional while you were a baby.

blame it on sex discrimination in the workforce or what have you, but the reality was that it often more better economical sense for a new mom to take extended maternity leave rather than continue to work and hire a professional to care for the baby--- unless the mother was in a high income level to afford the professional. and I bet that's is where your family was.

I'm sure it's more common now-- because women are earning more money, etc.-- but I think such live-in professional care is still out of reach for most American families. Even if not because of the cost, but because of the comfort level on hiring an in-home nanny or au pair.

What I mean to say is "congrats to you" for evidently currently being at least above middle income level--- and "lucky you!" for being brought up in such circumstances that you are comfortable with the additional daycare options that the extra money affords you.

another reason that I think hiring professionals to care for infants is fairly new to our society: baby bottles. I imagine before these were invented, the only professional baby care one could get would have been a wet nurse and I recall reading that that was a VERY lucritive profession and that such women were among the most well fed, etc. in the community and typically only fhired by the extremely well-to-do.

also-- formula-- and power breast pumps.

I feel idiotic for not thinking of these things earlier as reasons for why leaving infants in daycare is relatively new. Daycare for infants couldn't exist without these inventions preceding it.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 9, 2007 10:40 AM

To all of you nay-sayers who think that paid maternity leave is a special privilege: I'd like to remind you that if you're not having babies, someone else has to do it. If no one did, who do you think would be paying for your Medicare and Social Security when you're too old to work? The fact of the matter is that only women can have babies and it's not too much to ask that we be accomodated.

Posted by: Liz. S. | May 9, 2007 4:09 PM

I don't want to hear about all your breastfeeding, and your breast pumps and whatnot. It's all good, but why do you feel the need to discuss that in a public forum? TOO MUCH INFORMATION - no thank you

Posted by: Sandy | May 10, 2007 2:22 AM

Late posting:

thanks for your very kind words.

Posted by: london eye | May 10, 2007 6:55 AM

Coming in way late here - I think the lack of standards for maternity leave are an embarrassment. FMLA sets up a good framework (not perfect) but I know a lot of people who aren't even eligible to take advantage of this.

I was very lucky - my company offered me 3 months leave starting when my baby was born. The first two months were paid in full - the third month was unpaid, but I opted to use two weeks of vacation leave (I could've used all four but I wanted to save time to take vacation!) so really I only went unpaid for 2 weeks out of almost 10.

I know many people who got only 6 weeks off - and completely unpaid. Frankly I think it's criminal.

I was eager to return to work after my leave was up and my transition back to work was much easier knowing my baby and I had bonded, that she was growing and thriving, and since I'd had time to recover and become more focused on returning to my job.

I know better than to wish for European-style maternity leave benefits (although it would be fantastic) but I don't think asking for 3 months off, fully paid, should be so treated as so unacceptable and luxurious. I think it's time people just accept the fact that a huge percentage of mothers in the US are working mothers and try to make it work for American families.

Posted by: Vienna Mom | May 11, 2007 7:42 AM

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