How American Families Suffer Without Paid Parental Leave

by Regan Long
Originally Published: 

Have you ever lay awake at night with tears streaming down your face, literally ill at the thought that you have to hand over your very newborn child within the next few hours?

I have.

And these nights didn’t consist of days, nor weeks, nor months, but rather years when added together.

Have you ever held your breath in the checkout line as they scanned your credit card, as you surveyed the few items you simply prayed to God your account had enough to cover the cost?

I have.

And guess what? It was declined.

Have you ever stood in the window with a baby in your arms and children latched to each leg, watching as your vehicle was taken away?

I have.

Yet at that very moment, I knew that I would walk across fires in order to be able to provide for my family to get it back.

Have you ever fought for your marriage to the point you didn’t know if it could withstand one more financial battle? How it couldn’t go through one more argument, how another bill was going to be paid and how you were emotionally going to survive another day away from your baby?

I have.

And there were times I couldn’t believe we made it—by the sheer grace of God—and are still here…together.

Have you ever had to quietly sneak into your kids’ rooms to get to their piggy banks in order to try to scrape together enough to buy groceries for the week?

I have.

And it very well may have been one of the most heart-wrenching, most humbling moments of my entire life.

Have you ever walked out of your caregiver’s house or day-care center and felt as if hundreds of daggers were piercing each part of your body, from head to toe? Knowing behind you are toddlers and babies screaming, reaching with every fiber of their being to get you to walk back through those doors?

I have.

And it’s the most significant and severe pain I wouldn’t wish upon any human being who ever walks on this earth.

Have you ever dreaded that walk to the mailbox, as every day it was filled with another notice, another late fee, another warning that something was going to be taken or shut off?

I have.

And yes, things were taken, and things were shut off.

Have you ever felt that living in the most powerful country in this world, as a working parent, is probably the biggest slap in the face that an American hardworking parent could get?

I have.

But now. I’m done. I will not. I can not any longer.

I refuse to accept what isn’t acceptable.

I refuse to remain silent.

I refuse to stand by and watch other families crumble, literally be crushed at the seams, emotionally and financially.

A lot of you probably had the same or similar responses as myself above.

And you know what I say to that?

Bullshit. I simply call bullshit.

We live in the most powerful country in the world.

And we are the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer a paid parental leave for its working parents.

They say don’t wake a mother bear as she and her cubs are sleeping soundly. Well, I say don’t ruffle an American hardworking mother, forced with no other choice, but asking her to leave baby after baby.


Because her claws just got a whole lot longer.

Our United States Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, hits it spot on by saying, “We’re making people choose between the family they love and the job they need. No other nation on the planet is making these choices.”

Maybe I’m reaching for the impossible? Probably.

Maybe I’m half-crazy. Well, that’s already clearly been established.

But maybe, just maybe, one day we will get to say, we believed we could…and we did.

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