As the majority of parents are now a part of the workforce, the decision to have a child often raises financial concerns. How much support a company will give new parents is largely determined by where they live.
On one of the issues that polls highest with American women -- pay equity -- we sink even lower, to 67th, right below Yemen. We did beat out Saudi Arabia at 111th, no doubt because women in the U.S. are allowed to drive to work.
In the workplace, today's families navigate a process historically referred to as "maternity leave," a term that really doesn't apply to (a) adoptive families or (b) same-sex families where the couple happens to be male. Kyle and I brought both circumstances to the table.
Overtime pay is not just to be kind to workers. It also counteracts the absence of a federal statute that sets a ceiling on weekly work hours. What's to keep an employer from routinely asking for 70 hours and firing employees if they refuse?
Without state support for early parenting, being present in those precious early months is a class-based privilege, one that ultimately exacerbates the very class disadvantage that creates unequal access to the luxury of parenting in the first place.
Taking care of the little bundle isn't a female thing. It's a parent thing. But if men continue to back down and employers persist in dissuading fathers from taking leave, children will remain a "women's issue," which can be detrimental to both men and women.
It is ironic that the individuals who champion family values and cry it from mountain tops left and right (mostly right) are the ones that are conspicuously absent when it comes to providing families with such an important provision as a decent parental leave.
For flex-time, leave and even telecommuting policies to be fair for all, parenthood has to stop being the central focus behind their development. Here are three ways these kinds of policies could be made more equitable.
The challenge facing advocates for fair family/work policies is to provide evidence that these policies are money makers; they can boost the bottom line over the long term. It's not as tough a sale as one might think.
From the aging population and the need for work-life balance for both genders, to the struggles of the working class to adapt to a weak economy, culture is part and parcel of the top five issues affecting working families today.