Parents have it tough these days, especially American ones
Parenting is a challenge no matter where you live, but if American parents seem to feel the crunch more, it’s probably partially due to the lack of support we get from the government. Which is one of the many reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton this November.
A recent column in The New York Times discussed the stark differences between childcare policies in several countries, and makes the oft-repeated point that the United States lags for behind. And it’s putting a strain on parents.
In a piece titled “The Perpetual Panic of American Parenthood,” Pamela Druckerman posits that parents are negatively positioned thanks to passive policies from our politicians. (Okay I’ll stop now.)
But she’s not wrong.
In her piece, Druckerman cites a forthcoming study from The American Journal of Psychology suggesting Americans with children are 12 percent “less happy” than non-parents. Of the 22 rich countries surveyed, it’s the largest “happiness gap” of all. She also points out that even a non-rich country like Ukraine offers paid maternity leave and highly-subsidized preschool, as well as something she refers to as “per-baby payments equivalent to eight months of an average salary.”
In Ukraine, baby pays you!
In a country that so often boasts its superiority, it’s absurd that we’d even bother comparing ourselves to other nations. Aren’t we supposed to lead? I feel like quoting Jeff Daniels’ speech from “The Newsroom”: “When you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about! Yosemite?!” (We’re certainly not talking about “The Newsroom” because that show sucked.)
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. (If so many people weren’t so disgruntled they’re considering voting for Donald Trump). And make no mistake, both candidates agree the country’s parental policies are lacking. Many Americans are fed up, regardless of who we’re voting for, and parents are among the most upset.
No one is claiming that having kids isn’t worth it (well, I do sometimes, but that’s mostly when my six-year-old wakes me up at five AM for no reason). The best parts of parenting – rare as they can be – are able to make the worst parts, no matter how frequent, seem meaningless. But there is plenty of room for improvement. The government can’t make your kid listen, or eat his vegetables, but it can make the burden of raising our greatest natural resources a little easier to bear.
In the Times piece, Druckerman – – who is an American living in France and has written a book on “the wisdom of French parenting” – discusses some of the ways her new home makes raising kids less of a struggle, lists each candidate’s proposals for paid leave and other measures, and exhorts parents and aspiring parents to vote for Hillary in an effort to catch America up to the rest of the world.
American parents are miserable. But if we elect the right people, maybe we won’t always have to be.