Dec 19, 2012

Good Read on American Families

Spurred by a New York Times recommendation, I just read "How Older Parenthood Will Upend American Society." 

First, OK, yes the title might be a bit much. And a second caveat, it's a little science-y. Especially for me. But I'll give you the layman's summary:

People are waiting longer to have kids (in 1970 the average age for a woman to have her first baby was around 21; now it is 25) and as much as there are benefits like general maturity and financial stability to that, there are also risks. Risks include fertility struggles, the child's health, a smaller family "village" to help raise the child and the economics of a shrinking population.

Young parents, on-par aged parents, old parents - all that aside. I really like the way the article ends: with a call to action for a more family-friendly society. There are lots of ideas about what that means. With my thus very limited scope, if I were Queen of the World, I would start with family leave and up it to at least the following
  • 6 months maternity leave
  • 6 months paternity leave (and somehow make it totally normal and expected by employers that new dads actually use at least most of it)
  • partially-paid for the full duration, funded by the government
And then as Queen of the World, I'd move on to these things which have a variety of reasons for being more family friendly than what is happening now
  • More job-sharing, starting with, you got it, government jobs
  • Make "work-life balance" an everyone's issue, not a women's issue (starting with making the Mitt Romneys of the world also ask men what time they need to get home for dinner with the family)
  • Public pre-school because early education is important for the long-haul and as icing on the cake, this would reduce the years that working parents pay for full-time childcare
  • Free prenatal health care. Because duh.
  • Free childhood immunizations. Because duh.
  • Stabilize the cost of college so that educated wanna-be-parents don't have to choose between paying off college loans and baby-related expenses
  • Increase incentive (maybe reduced interest rate on federal loans? partial loan forgiveness?) to finish a 2 year degree in 2 years and 4 year degree in 4 years so young adults are ready to enter the workforce quicker and can get their feet under them younger
If you were Queen (or King) of the World, how would you make it more family-friendly?

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