Workplace policies and having children

Brookes Ebetsch took only a long weekend off work after giving birth to her daughter in Texas in 2011. Her employer didn’t offer paid leave, and she and her husband couldn’t afford to take the financial hit of having her take weeks off. Her daughter, Sabina, arrived on a Thursday and Ebetsch was back at work on Monday.

“I wish I could work less,” says Ebetsch, who now lives in northern Illinois, where she moved to be closer to family after her daughter was born. “When I have another baby at some point, I would love to take three months off or more. There absolutely are advantages to working: You get mental exercise and my daughter gets to play with other people. But part of me thinks, wouldn’t it be great to be home a little more and not go to bed thinking about work? To think about my family instead?”

Ebetsch isn’t the only parent to face such a dilemma, and though the Catholic Church takes pride in its reputation as an institution that prioritizes family life, there is a much broader range of “pro-family” issues than the ones most people define that way these days.

Things like adequate child care, family leave policies, union membership, and many more issues have a direct impact on whether men and women feel financially prepared to have children and spend adequate time with them. Though the workplace is in many ways the opposite of home, its values and policies have a direct bearing on employees’ family lives, and many wonder why the church isn’t more vocal about such issues.

High price of parenting

This is an expensive era in which to be an American parent. Since 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been keeping track of how much it costs to raise a child from birth to age 17. In 2011, the latest year for which numbers are available, two-parent, two-child households with incomes of less than $59,410 spent between $8,760 and $9,970—or about 25 percent of their income—on necessities such as housing, child care, and food per child a year. Continue reading


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