[Parentsgroup-list] more thoughts

Ryan Larsen rlarsen at deas.harvard.edu
Sun Jul 31 20:02:48 EDT 2005

hi Parents,
Now that the tone of the conversation has calmed a little bit, I'd like 
to add  my two cents in a calm and respectful way that will hopefully 
not offend anybody.

At a first glance, the policies in other countries of more maternal 
leave seem like a great thing for families.  I think they are good 
policies in countries were all mothers work for all the years of her 
child's life (expect perhaps the first year when they get the extended 
maternity leave).  In this country it is common for mothers of toddlers, 
and even older children to be at home more, sometimes part-time, 
sometimes full time.  For such families, long and generous maternal 
leave policies increase pressure, both economic and social,  for moms to 
go back to work when the maternal leave ends.  It's getting very hard 
for single-income families to maintain good standards of living, 
especially in areas like New England and Europe where there are so many 
double-income families that have pushed costs of living very high (for 
more insight into this see "The Two-Income Trap" by Elizabeth Warren and 
Amelie Warren Tyagi, at Harvard).  In the red states, by comparision, 
having a single-income family is far more economically feasible because 
it is more common, although that is changing too.

I am sympathetic with the need for more maternal leave.  But is so 
important to me that we not turn the single-income and 1.5-income family 
into a dinosaur (or a dream for only the richest people).    The big 
fancy maternal leave policies will be for full time workers, and many 
people in this country see the double-income lifestyle as more stress 
then they desire.

At this critical time for Harvard, I fear that Harvard policies are 
going to re-enforce the growing society belief that if a mom or dad 
works less to take care of their own children, he or she is not pulling 
their weight in society.  I have written to the Task Forces and Harvard 
administrators asking them not to forget the various Harvard families 
(and student families) who make economic sacrifices in order to have a 
parent work part-time or not at all in order to spend more time raising 
their children.  I have shared this letter with the group and received 
many positive responses.

There are many values that most of us, conservative and liberal, can 
agree on.  I am convinced that there are intelligent and family-oriented 
people on both sides of many of these complicated issues.


Brandeis McBratney-Owen wrote:

>Dear Colleagues-
>This is plea to all on this list to please remain involved with the Parents'
>Yes, much on the political front can divide us, but it very clear that relative
>to other countries the US does not have a lot of 'family values' policy in
>place despite 'family values' rhetoric being a huge part of the lingo coming
>from ALL corners of the political spectrum.  Feminists, red and blue
>politicians, green groups, and so on all support 'family values' in their
>speeches and platforms, but very little is being done in this country regarding
>policy from governmental institutions to private businesses to support those
>values.  And, according to the French article, we will best be able to put our
>money where our mouths are when the policy is in place----than we can all live
>those 'family values' instead of just talking and dreaming about them.
>So let's start at Harvard---our families and our selves as students need the
>support right in our own little corner of the country.  Maybe we can set an
>example for other Ivy Leagues and the rest of the nation.
>And I just need to add that besides your job being help for you for a year while
>you are on maternity leave in Australia, you also get $3000 AUD (that is about
>$2250 in US) for the birth of each child.  Not too shabby!
>Most sincerely,
>Brandeis McBratney-Owen
>Brandeis McBratney-Owen
>Ph.D. Candidate
>Biological Sciences in Dental Medicine
>Harvard School of Dental Medicine
>Department of Oral and Developmental Biology
>188 Longwood Avenue, 4th floor
>Boston, MA 02115
>Parentsgroup-list mailing list
>Parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu

More information about the Parentsgroup-list mailing list