America lags way behind the rest of the world when it comes to family leave. We are the only industrialized country, and one of only six countries in the entire world, that doesn’t provide any paid parental leave whatsoever. Even though women – many of whom are moms – comprise a huge percentage of the workforce, our cultural model is still stuck on working dads, stay-at-home moms. And so, although we have so much problem-solving potential as a society, we haven’t applied ANY of that to helping working parents successfully navigate their home and work lives.
When people like you and me decide to create a family, we make these enormous sacrifices on an individual level, where we’re taking on debt and burning through our savings just to take the time to bond with our newborns. We’re emailing our jerk bosses while we’re nursing at 4 am. We’re pumping breastmilk in the bathroom and we’re feeling ashamed for having to take time off work to care for our sick kids. We’re not willing to give up on our families but we’re not willing to give up on our careers either because we know we have these amazing contributions to make. So we sacrifice ourselves, our well-being, and our relationships. Meanwhile, our employers are forcing us out and making our lives miserable because they’re too short-sighted to recognize the creativity and passion and brains that we bring to the table.
The problem is we as a society don’t actually believe that women have the capacity to be amazing moms and amazing workers. We pay lip service otherwise, but fundamentally we think there has to be a choice. And let’s be clear, this doesn’t just affect moms. Men who love their children and who care tremendously about being good fathers understand that it’s not acceptable for them to take the time and space to be the parents they want to be.
Crumiller P.C. created the Rights@Work series to help balance the scales – giving you a space where you can learn more about the rights you have in the workplace and ask whatever questions you may have about those rights.
Our vision is to create a cultural shift where we honor and respect parenthood and family as a legitimate and important part of the lives of workers, and we make space to do both by making the commitment to be more honest about our lives and our priorities. We believe that all of us can live happier, healthier and more connected lives if we as a society decide that we can recognize individuals as both workers and family members. And ultimately, we can create a world with more honesty and more authenticity and where our talents are free to shine.