Paid Maternity for Childless Women

Monday, December 23rd, 2013 By

Is Paid Maternity a Privilege or a Right?

Parenthood is as sacred a thing as exists for human beings. What's fair is what the child needs, not that you keep up with Martha Jones' in number of vacation days. (Photo: flickr.com)

Parenthood is as sacred a thing as exists for human beings. What's fair is what the child needs, not that you keep up with Martha Jones' in number of vacation days. (Photo: flickr.com)

I think that America has the wrong idea when it comes to work-life balance. The wheels of business have to turn for our economy to function, but do we honestly have to spend the vast majority of our waking lives (and sleeping lives, if you dream about work) at work to keep the engine running? There a host of other countries – many of them European – that aren’t mired in poverty. Salaried employees there tend to have more time outside of the office than Americans. I’d wager that they’re happier for it.

Take Paid Maternity Leave, For Instance

Compared with other nations like the Czech Republic, America’s paid maternity leave is pathetic. Certainly it’s an expensive venture to cover a woman’s salary while she’s away from work for an extended period of time. No short term loans can cover that kind of gap, which means tax dollars must be used. And I understand that some object to using their tax dollars to subsidize another woman’s pregnancy. But I simply cannot agree with people like those who would claim that they’re entitled to the same amount of paid maternity leave as a new mother.

2,000 U.K. Women Were Surveyed

Bethany Sanders writes in Forbes that 74 percent of childless women surveyed want paid maternity leave, too. The survey, which originally ran in the Telegraph, shows that most women want the same year of maternity leave (39 weeks paid) that new U.K. mothers receive.

Is it envy? Is it an overwhelming desire for justice and fair play? Or is it all of the above? Whatever the case, it seems to me that the entire point of childbirth, parent-child bonding and the handing over the keys to the kingdom from the old to the young is undervalued. Do they think it’s all a blissful vacation? Being a parent is joyous. It is also a great responsibility – and a time where parents get little or no rest. Such is the way of parenthood. And remember: we all started out as children. Bonding time with parents is invaluable.

Businesses Do the Spit Take

Businesses certainly aren’t warming to the idea of paid maternity for everyone (men included, as paternity). Of course, if the work-life balance was handled properly to begin with, they’d be conditioned to granting more time. The Industrial Revolution took us down the wrong path in this regard, and much of the world still hasn’t recovered. Yet if everyone had a sufficient-sized pool to draw from, perhaps there would be less squabbling and more relaxation.

Childless Men and Women, Listen Up

Your desire for time off is justifiable. And your time is as personal and valuable as another person’s. Yet you’re missing the point. Children are a class of society that deserves privileged status and special treatment more than any other. Having this early time to bond with parents should not be optional. It should be considered a requirement like eating, breathing, sleeping and pooping. Give children that and the odds are even greater that societies to come will be more well-adjusted and happy. Give the children time and we will be rewarded as a whole.

Pregnant women also need extra time to recuperate (or at least to take a stab at recuperation). If you’ve ever been there, you know. I helped keep one alive – twice – so I’ve at least seen it.

Do the Childless Deserve Paid “Maternity?”

They absolutely do not. But we all deserve more time away from the working world. We neglect personal development and family time at our peril. Knock Humpty from the wall and see just how inadequate short term loans are to put him back together again. But if things were different and we needed to buy diapers we couldn’t afford (child or adult diapers) between paychecks, short term loans would be a reasonable option.

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This post has one comment

  1. Peter Stone says:

    Oh, absolutely not – maternity leave is supposed to be for those that need it…due to maternity! They need the time off to attend to their children. Granted, I also think that employers should be able to deduct any monies spent on maternity leave from their income taxes.

    That is true about the U.S. – Euro paradigm of work, isn't it? We're not allowed nearly the same amount of time off, and we have this notion about working which is kind of foreign to the rest of the world. Our lunch breaks are way shorter, and we start earlier, end later. We also have far less union labor than any other industrialized nation. On a weird aside, did you know that German workers often have a clause in their labor contracts which mandates that they must (at least some of them, not all – doctors are probably right out of this equation) be allowed a certain number of beers they are allowed to drink per day?

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