I think it’s great Facebook is so generous to its employees, I really do. But this hits a nerve for me and I’m sure for many others.
For most Americans who live in the real world and yes, that means they live paycheck to paycheck, maternity leave is NOT something pleasant or a time of joy. It means a missed paycheck, maybe more than one. It means lean times all the way around as you figure out how to pay bills and rent and finance things a new baby needs or your recovering body needs, on even LESS income than you had before.
I’ve raised four children alone. There was no “PAID” time off available for any of them. In some cases I wasn’t even sure I would still have a job when my body recovered and I returned. I worked up until the day I went into labor with all of them, except my 4th because extreme stress took it’s toll and landed me in the hospital and then on doctor ordered bed rest 3 weeks before she arrived.
I can’t even tell you the financial burden that incurred–because again–no PAID time off. With all but my first child (I was 18), I was back to work in 2 weeks or less because I couldn’t “afford” to stay home. Not to mention the pain and guilt involved with having to leave your newborn all day, five days a week, in the care of someone other than you. And the added guilt of knowing they will basically be raised in daycare because if you don’t go to work all day, every day, then there is no money for anything let alone all those things that as a mother you want your child to have and experience. You come to dread basketball signup sheets, fundraiser packets, picture day, field trips, all of it because it just means MORE money that you have to figure out how to come up with from somewhere, someway, somehow. And most can’t count on child support to help at all because unless they were impregnated by someone in the 1%, it’s virtually impossible to receive it on a regular basis, without the help of an attorney, which you can’t afford. If you do get receive it, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the expense of raising children and comes very sporadically or coupled with an ex who is angry about giving you money and so thinks they can complain about how much they pay to everyone they know and/or question you about where “their child support” goes.
So I think it’s great Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife have the luxury to stay home with their newborn. Their child is extremely lucky. I think it’s great that they have such a great plan available for their employees because those children will benefit greatly.
I think it’s just extremely sad that we allow so many other companies to get away without providing such a needed benefit….we know it makes better families, we know it makes better employees, we know that leads to happier communities and yet—I don’t see any boycotts of companies that don’t give their employees PAID maternity or paternity leave.
We have more families than ever breaking apart early in a child’s life. We have fathers killing their children and/or the mothers. We have mothers killing children. We have children killing each other and children killing themselves.
And yet we just shake our heads, post how sorry we are or how tragic it is.
Or worse, we take the easy way out, and we blame the parents when issues in families become overwhelming. When the continuous rat race becomes unbearable. When parents and their attention deprived children just suddenly snap and make news headlines. That’s when we care but only until the next one comes along.
So WHEN are we as a society and a nation going to insist that employers recognize the importance and value of spending quality time with our families? I think we’ve failed as a country hugely in this regard.
I think I’ll be doing some research about companies without such liberal PAID parental leave policies.
When I have the list, I’ll pass it along. You can decide for yourself whether to stand aside or stand up for families!