You guys may have heard about Netflix’s new parental leave policy, the one that we mentioned the other day as the ideal model for any workplace that can actually afford it. The policy was met by most right-thinking people as not only generous, but monumental, the kind of parental leave policy that should be modeled after.
But not everyone agrees, and by that, I mean one woman who wrote a piece in Time magazine disagrees, believing that the policy could actually hurt mothers.
Netflix’s New Parental Leave Policy Could Make Things Worse for Women
Let’s take a look at her arguments, shall we?
“There are several problems with this new policy.”
No, you’re wrong. Unlimited maternity or paternity leave for one year, while being paid and with a guarantee of returning to your job in whatever capacity best suits your family (full-time, part-time, flexible)? There literally could not be a better parental leave policy, unless it were two years, or three.
But sure, go ahead. List your “problems” with Netflix’s parental leave policy. I’m listening.
“Offering an unlimited leave policy in the first year to new moms and dads means the remaining employees who don’t fit the bill will be left to pick up the slack. This will likely, in turn, strain relations among co-workers and make the workplace environment less effective.”
You don’t think very highly of people, do you, Suzanne Venker? You don’t trust that the remaining employees won’t be OK to pick up a little extra slack for the opportunity to work for a company that’s so generous to its employees? You don’t think that ten guys will be happy to share the work of one missing employee, comfortable in the knowledge that he will do the same for them when and if the time comes? Have a little more faith in mankind.
And you know what really strains relations and makes the workplace environment less effective? Employees who are there, but have checked out they’re thinking about their newborn at home, or stressing about how to fit the numerous doctor’s appointments into their daily schedule, or trying to figure out how to provide care for their sick child because it’s the first year, and children are always sick that first year. You know what else makes the workplace environment less effective? Exhausted employees, and all first-year parents are always exhausted. This is a fact.
Second, it isn’t fair to babies. By encouraging mothers, who are the still the primary parent at home, to bond with their baby for a long period of time with the expectation they’ll return to work at the end of the year means the baby will become even more attached to his mother, and separation may become intolerable.
You’re kidding me with this, right? It’s not fair to the babies? It’s not fair for the baby to bond with their parents during that critical first year? It’s more fair to the babies to put them in the care of a series of nannies and daycare providers feeding the child breastmilk pumped on their mother’s break out in the parking lot because fuck-Os like Donald Trump can’t stand the “disgusting” thought of seeing a woman pump breast milk? You’re worried about separation anxiety?
Yeah, maybe the first couple of days are hard on a one-year old whose mother or father have to go back to work, but it’s also hard on a three-month old whose mother and father have to go back to work, but at least a secure bond has been built. This is one of the most soft-brained arguments against extended parental leave I’ve ever heard. Is this woman being contrary? Or is she serious?
Oh wait, she’s the same woman who argued that women should be financially dependent on their husbands. The same woman who argued that marriages are soulless now because those goddamn feminists don’t need their husbands, so they don’t take care of them anymore.
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize we were dealing with a crazy woman from the 1920s.
Tell us more, Suzanne.
Same goes for the mother. Her attachment to her baby, or her re-thinking of her priorities during this time, may make her even less likely to return to work—thus negating the whole point of the policy, which is to get her attention back on work and off of baby.
Oh, you mean that women aren’t capable of successfully dividing their time and emotional resources to both a baby and a job? But dudes can? Or is it just that Dads are inherently bad parents, and should go ahead and focus all their energies on their work, leaving the parenting duties to Mom? Or are you saying that a more limited parental leave policy will make the mother even more effective at her job because they won’t care as much about their baby?
You really don’t trust that people complex enough to care about two things at once, huh?
Finally, being home with one’s baby doesn’t mean a parent’s worry will magically vanish. Most parents, mothers in particular, do worry about what’s going on at home in their absence. That’s the point. Most women change when they become mothers. They aren’t the same people, let alone the same type of worker.
As a society, we’d do better to acknowledge the fact that women (and men, for that matter, though in a different way) change as a result of having children, and often do care less about work. And what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that why people have babies? To make life more meaningful? And, dare I say it, less focused on work?
This all sounds like bullsh*t to me, and I can’t speak to everyone, but I do know that both my wife and I became more driven and focused at work — after the exhaustion-filled first year — because we had children at home to support, and to model for, and that the time we do get to spend with our children is more meaningful and valuable because it’s not unlimited, although this is certainly not the case for all parents. Staying at home is, of course, are very noble choice, as well, if you have the resources and attention span to do so (personally, I find that work is a respite from the oftentimes more taxing child care duties, and that if I had my children were in my care all day, I’d be a lousy father because I would be a crazy person, but this is — again — not the case for everyone).
But I do agree that the “worry” does not vanish, but that’s the case whether we are at work or not.
Offering new parents full pay for up to one year is akin to putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. The needs of children are huge, and they do not end at one year. On the contrary, they just begin. Taking a year off of work to meet those needs merely scratches the surface.
Oh for Christ’s sake! Why didn’t I just read this paragraph first. This whole argument has been an end-around to suggest that women shouldn’t work at all while they have children at home! But no, she’s not saying that women can’t have it all. She’s merely saying that they can’t have it all “at the same time.”
I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize we were dealing with an anti-feminist of limited capacity. Oh what’s that? She’s Phyllis Schlafly’s niece? Oh, well, it’s so generous of Time Magazine to give her a space in a publication where her opinions might be taken seriously.