Paid Maternity Leave is Still Not Second-Nature in the U.S.

Being a mother is a full time job in and of itself. From feeding to dressing to putting a baby down for a nap, the basic tasks of motherhood take a great deal of time. In fact, it takes two minutes and five seconds to change a diaper, totaling up to two 40-hour workweeks per year!
And despite the fact that moms in the U.S. are putting in the hours, they aren’t getting the time or money they need to fully execute their duty as mothers. In fact, the United States is on the list of several other countries that don’t offer paid maternity leave at the federal level.
But unlike the other countries on this list, the United States is the only advanced economy.
So what does that say about the value of the working woman? The debate for paid maternity leave is not only a moral issue, but a social and an economic one, to boot. In total, women make up almost half of the workforce (47%). Yet despite this, a whopping 88% of working women don’t have access to any sort of paid maternity leave.
And for working mothers, it doesn’t always paint the prettiest picture.
Despite the stereotype of the woman who “has it all,” with a blossoming, kick-ass career and a baby bouncing on her perfectly proportioned hip, the truth is, the perfect mother doesn’t exist.
“Women want to be perfect at work, and we want to be perfect at home, but it’s hard to be perfect at anything,” says Pamela Lenehan, author of the recently released My Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know.
In her book, Lenehan reports the findings of a study in which she surveyed 1,000 grown children and working mothers. And despite the inevitable imperfections and shortcomings of being a working mother (likely without paid maternity leave), Lenehan found that grown children with working mothers have a strong work ethic, a marked sense of independence and resilience, and a sense of preparation for the work world. This is especially true for female children with working mothers.


And luckily, influential companies are catching on to the value and importance of paid maternity. Dow Chemical Co., which is now listed as among the 100 best companies for moms themselves by Working Mother Magazine, is now offering a minimum of 12 weeks’ paid maternity and two weeks of paid leave for the non-birthing parent.
Hopefully, the rest of the country will catch on soon.

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