Features May 20, 2015 at 4:00 am

Washington State's Failure to Mandate Paid Parental Leave Hurts Gender Equity, Parents, and Kids

I can either stay home with my child or maintain my current career trajectory—and I'm one of the lucky ones because I get to actually make a choice. George Pfromm


What really kills me is hearing from all the supposedly caring, good moral human beings---so many of them heterosexual men---who highly praise motherhood---and yet these same people don't support any proper health care funding for it.
Well, since we have subscribed to the "People will stop driving and vote/pay for options if we make it really difficult and expensive" perspective on transit, I suppose this falls squarely in line with that same thinking. The last thing we need is more American children using disproportionately more resources...so make it very expensive and difficult???
Goddamn Gandhi, shut the fuck up.
OK... I get it. But now I'm going to say something different.
Ya know how gay people were complaining that married people get so many more advantages that civil unions don't offer? Well - I say to hell with you all!
Why do married people get ANY advantages?
As a single person, I can't afford the apartments that a working couple can afford. (In fact, I had to leave my last apartment because I have health issues and couldn't hack the 6 flight walk-up any more... and then had to change cities because rents had gone up to the point that I couldn't afford anything decent any more on my own; If I were part of a couple, I probably wouldn't have even had to move out of the city of my dreams...but I did.
I don't get the moral and physical support that a couple give each other; if I'm ill, I don't have someone there to comfort me, make my meals and hold my hand. When I get decrepit, I'll have to get shunted off to a public facility somewhere, because I won't have a mate or children to look after me... and YOU'RE complaining?
I have to do it all alone, and that isn't a single person's fault that they are single necessarily... some are too fat, too old, too ugly, too... whatever... or simply have the bad luck not to find the person of their dreams. So on top of that, they have to be discriminated against by the fact that married people or people with kids get all the extras offered them that a single person doesn't? And we even pay more income tax sometimes...to pay for the other people's kids' education or whatever...
Tell you what. When you militate so that there are NO differences in the largesse for people JUST because they are married, I'll maybe find it in me to feel sorry that you aren't being paid to stay at home to have kids that YOU chose to have.
- KenelC
@KenelC. I am sorry that you are lonely but many single people make a family for themselves from friends, don't give up. I have also noticed jealously that people with live-in partners have a financial advantage cause, duh. I have the added burden of dependents so I should get all the benefits!!! But I don't think it amounts to much for me right now. Seriously though, the benefit to you for your tax dollars and why we should pay even more if necessary- especially for a fucking bus system- is a society that you actually want to live in with happy families that make well adjusted children that get good educations and make intelligent voting choices. Re-watch Idiocracy.
Two issues here: re-entering the workplace with no loss of status/pay and paid leave.
I'm completely in favor of allowing employees to plan an extended absence from a job with their employer. What I think we have to be careful with is extended paid leave. People planning a child need to make allowances for the financial impact. The issue of temporary loss of one income aside, kids are expensive. And if people haven't made allowances for this, perhaps spending a few more years building up savings might be a good idea.

One thing that I find particularly disturbing: Quite a few companies (that I've worked at) have extremely flexible policies with regard to alcoholic employees. Extended time off for treatment with no impact on job position isn't really an issue. Nor is just letting them come in and sleep off a three martini lunch in the afternoon (on company time). So what's up with a person who sees an absence coming (9 months ahead) and can make allowances for it?
@KenelC, from the description of your situation, it sounds as if there may be a small chance that you could receive government support at some point over your lifetime (maybe medicare or social security or some other government funded benefit). Those social programs are supported by taxpayers like you and me. According to USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/natio…), birth rates are declining to below replacement rates. I'm with @HandlebarWallace, re-watch Idiocracy.
Employers have a relationship with the employees, equal compensation for equal work. The government supports children, mostly in the form of a 130K education. By all means, the government should pay for preschool and free medical care for children, or pay the parents a 30K care stipend for the first year. But that's the government. Forcing employers to provide child security is a bad idea. LIke for starts, don't hire breeders if you're planning on keeping costs down.
@3, @9, @10, @11, @13, @16, & @18: All the reason why my own personal decision to remain childless fully supports my original comment @1, don't you think?
"Equal work, equal pay". Right. Try working in an orgaization thats 80% women. There isnt anything equal about it. You cant schedule meetings because every time some one has child care issues the world has to stop. You cant get business done because every time somes child has a low grade fever, the world has to be rescheduled, and every time someone has a child-induced migrane, a project has to be shifted. If you're a man in such an organization you consistently get passed up for promotions for women who are more skilled at planning the weekly office potlucks and shopping online for co-worker retirements and weddings than getting people paid on time, but when the technolgy breaks down or they cant figure out how to turn on their monitor, the man is the first person they call. Piss on women in the work place and piss on moms in the workplace. If you want to get knock-ed up do it and stop complaining how the world wont work around you. And for those women out there who think that men are nothing more than someone who can do something for you when you need it, remember this, without men, women are nothing more than walking, talking jokes of which came first, "the chicken or the egg"
@20: Is your penis the only reason why you're employed in a working environment where women outnumber men 4 to 1?
Yow...kind of a hot issue!

The difficulty I have with a lot of this is the expectation that stepping out/off of the treadmill to have a baby is different from doing the same in order to, say, sail across the Pacific for 8 months.

I'm Mr. Mom in my family so that my wife's career can continue, post maternity leave (for which she is not paid), and I'm also a manager. If someone isn't at the office, I have to make sure we have coverage: someone has to make sure the work gets done. Many childless (or non-primary parents) both male and female complain they are required to pick up the slack for another employee, and all the more bitterly when they perceive (rightly or wrongly) that they're expected to do more work for the same pay/compensation. It is very hard to explain why it's fair that Jane has to take PTO to go for a round of golf on Friday morning (and we all have to reschedule around her) while Mary expects to do the same for child/medical purposes and not take leave.

Having children is a voluntary choice and it does impact your ability to do other things which are similarly demanding of your time and attention. I do think we'll have less inequality as more men are similarly in the role of primary caregiver, though I seriously doubt men will get the same kind of leave women already enjoy, simply because the men will be similarly off the career ladder.
Why Does Becoming a Mom Mean Potentially Losing Your Job?

Because America is a banana republic where most of the culture has yet to progress out of the 19th century like the mouth-breathing dipshit at @20.
For an educated middle/upper middle class women in the United States, getting pregnant and having kids is a very "eyes wide open" choice. The situation is crystal clear in terms of the obligations and sacrifices that will unfold once the new human arrives. If given the chance, I would vote 'yes' on Scandinavian level social benefits in this arena, but I am continually surprised by how shocked some new parents seem to be when baby arrives in 21st century U.S.A (seriously, every sitcom, melodrama, lifestyle magazine and blog past and present has covered each minuscule detail of procreation and its aftermath). I don't know if I'll have kids, but I won't be shocked by any of the responsibilities and missed gym/sleep/socializing time if I do.
The adult with the better career trajectory should go back to work, the one with the lesser career trajectory bites the bullet and becomes the primary care giver. If you have no partner and decide to have a kid, well, that's your bad. Having a kid is a sacrifice. c

@23 Why call yourself Mr. Mom when Dad works perfectly well?
@10: Being married isn't a requirement to have a two-income household. Lots of unmarried people do it, it's called having roommates (or live-in romantic partners). There's nothing about a wedding ring that makes rent cheaper.
@23, and others: The idea that "having children is a voluntary choice" is true for some people, but to generalize this statement to all of American women is classist, at best. Not all women have access to sex education, birth control, reproductive health care--all necessary ingredients in the prevention of pregnancy. And sometimes--frequently--women just want to bear children! It's a natural part of what our bodies do and to tell women to "wait until you have the resources to sustain yourself through childbirth and recovery" shamefully ignores that. It's not anyone else's decision, just as it isn't the business of anyone else if a woman wants to use birth control or have an abortion.
Too often, women must make a decision between caring for children and keeping their jobs or career trajectories. For me, it just means that I have to fall back in my career development. For many, too many, American women, it means that they lose the means of obtaining the resources needed to feed their children--and this is the most urgent reason for paid parental leave in the United States. The point of this article is to address the fact that some countries do support a healthy balance of child-rearing and professional security/advancement--because the choice to bear children is personal and shouldn't be dictated by anyone other than the person bearing the child.
Is there really anyone who doesn't believe creating and nurturing a new generation of people is a BAD thing? Sure, overpopulation is rampant and our consumption of resources and generation of waste is harming the planet - or more correctly, negatively affecting our ability to survive on it - but I don't really hear anyone aside from the most strident ecological extremists suggesting that we should just stop having babies altogether. And if we're not at least making some modest effort to continue the species, and hopefully improve things - if even just a bit - for future generations of human beings, then honestly, what's the fucking point?

So, I find this "I got mine, fuck-all y'all. I ain't lifting a finger to help you or your nasty spawn" attitude of some to be, frankly, disturbing. There is not a person alive today, particularly in the so-called First World, who can claim to be absolutely independent from their fellow human beings; even in the most primitive society imaginable, some form of cooperative, collectivized activity must take place between groups of individuals for their mutual survival. No man (or woman) is an island unto themselves, isolated and apart from the contributions of others to their well-being. And yet, some continue to operate under this delusion of total self-sufficiency, as if their ability to generate income (itself entirely dependent upon the willingness of others to exchange currency for their labor) to pay for basic necessities and elective luxuries (again, almost all of which is provided by someone else) not only proves their superiority, as if they were the modern equivalent of an Oklahoma sod-buster or successful completer of the Oregon Trail, but which somehow grants them a moral license to divest themselves from any service to their fellow human beings beyond directly purchasing the specific goods or services they personally desire. In short, they appear to lack any sense of attachment or obligation to a larger social contract.

I don't have children, and at my age and situation the likelihood of that happening is pretty much nil. But, I recognize the inherent value to society and to our species as a whole, of both bringing a new generation into existence, as well as the importance of giving those who choose to raise them the necessary opportunities and resources to do so properly; because the alternative will inevitably lead to a diminishing of the very society we all depend upon for our health, livelihood, and well-being. Anything less strikes me as greedy, spiteful, amoral, short-sighted, and I must say, pathologically anti-social.
I generally despise children, but I also understand and support the societal need for paid maternity/paternity leave, education and so on. If a DINK like me can see this, what the fuck is wrong with the rest of you?

As far as childless folks having to "pick up the slack", it's a bullshit excuse that causes the working classes to fight amongst themselves. It doesn't matter if you have children or not, we all have lives outside of work and should be able to take leave accordingly. It's management's job to properly staff a place of employment and if they can't figure this shit out like those all over the world have, it's their own fault for sucking at their job.
This article starts out talking about women with graduate school educations, and right there it establishes two facts: 1) the writer is going to ignore the father's role in producing and subsequently caring for the child, and 2) working-class women's lives are going to be ignored because they don't have the luxury of staying home with their children or thinking about their "career trajectory". Really tiresome.
It's telling that this is coming from a first-time parent.

I'm all in favor of longer paid leave for parenting, and for other things as well. But even if you're given two full years of paid leave, you'll still have a child at home in need of full-time care when that leave is up.

Being forced to face this reality before you've even recovered from childbirth is no fair, and I sympathize. But that new child is going to need you or your partner or a paid caregiver nearby all day every day for years, not just six months.
Thank you @28. Jesus, @10 is really looking for reasons to feel sorry for him/her self. Get a roommate, you're not a victim of the married overlords.
I'd like to add that choosing to become a mom, begins before the baby arrives, which actually expands the gap in our employment for those who were already unemployed, and seeking work. I'm pretty fed up at 34 weeks pregnant with hearing people tell me how damned disabled I'm going to be, when I've been perfectly capable of working thus far. Hell, a little bit of a schedule from going back to school has actually made me healthier. Silver-lining, I've managed to find that working for myself will be the next phase in my career. So, good job to every HR department that passed me up just because I'm pregnant now, and oh no, that means I'm going to be a mom soon so that means I should be the one to stay home even if my partner is better positioned to.

And to hell with all you "breeder"-haters, too. I've contributed to the damn tax base for the past 11 years, and this is the shit I get. If your premise is world overpopulation, do us a favor and go work in a 3rd world country where the population growth isn't a negative number. I'm paying taxes for my parents, and I'm going to have someone to care for to fulfill my life, take care of me when I'm older, and thus complete what I find meaningful in life. Get a clue, my values are just a relevant as your sterile outlook on society.
Wouldn't it be nice for everyone to get blown to do the expensive things that they choose to do. Parents get special blowjobs? Why not artists or Hungarians or Buddhists? Go fund yourselves parents, you are making a choice that is not anyone else's responsibility.
Because lawmakers work for the Upper Class ( and MOST mothers are not members of that small percent of citizens: ever thought of contacting the National Organization for Women? --- http://www.now.org ).
@30 Can I have your babies?

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