THE AMERICAN FAMILY IS BROKEN
by Erin Byerly
It was your choice to have a baby, so why should my tax dollars pay for them?
Americans pride themselves on rugged individuality and a tireless work ethic. After spending such long hours in the office with so little vacation time, why should we be expected to subsidize the kids we may not even be having? And why should employers bear the brunt of pregnant employees and the inconvenience of maternity leave?
We may be one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but we’ve forgotten who we are. People talk about children as though they were vintage cars, expensive and unnecessary luxuries that shouldn’t inconvenience anyone but their owners.
We pay a lot of lip service to how much we love children, but when it comes down to it, we resent every last dime we collectively spend on them. We don’t want them in our restaurants or in our airplanes, and certainly don’t want the workplace to accommodate their parents.
Not everyone wants, needs, or is able to have children, but putting the entire burden of our species on the backs of individual families has become unreasonable.
Women’s roles have drastically changed since fifty years ago, and for good cause. Women should neither be kept from employment nor forced into economic dependence on men who could abandon them, die, or even become abusive.
Problem is, relative wages have dropped and most families require two incomes, yet Americans seem blind to our changing circumstances. We vilify families living on public assistance while simultaneously viewing workplace pregnancy accommodations, universal healthcare, parental leave, and subsidized daycare as selfish “entitlements.”
And we don’t want to pay for them, unlike every other developed nation on Earth.
No other First-World country fires pregnant women for medical complications or rips new mothers from the arms of their newborn babies within days of delivery. We barely acknowledge the idea that fathers need bonding time too.
No one else in our fighting class expects parents to shoulder low-quality daycare costs that exceed college tuition rates or applauds making children go hungry when their parents can’t afford lunch money.
Nothing in life is free. We’re turning our backs on the most vulnerable members of our species and our nation is paying a heavy price. Our maternal and infant mortality rates are criminal. Poverty and mental illness are reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression.
And with those costs come interest. Our child abuse, violent crime, and incarceration rates dwarf those of our European counterparts. These issues don’t arise from a handful of irresponsible parents, but a skyrocketing number of families who can barely cope with the strain.
You may not want a child and should never feel obligated to have one, but someone needs to.
Once upon a time, you were a child yourself. Not just you, but your coworkers, your boss, your friends, your family members, and anyone else you ever cared about. You grew up, as will most of the children in America today.
So, why should your tax dollars be spent on someone else’s children?
Because they are you.
They are us.
All creative expressions submitted to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature will be profiled on the blog all throughout Women’s History Month.