[Parentsgroup-list] more thoughts
rlarsen at deas.harvard.edu
Sun Jul 31 20:02:48 EDT 2005
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:
>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!
>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
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