Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Am Not Selfish For Having A Child

I once worked for a very successful company where the CEO was a true family man. He worked his ass off but also made time to spend with his family and encouraged everyone else to do the same. Even though it was a predominately male company, they were very understanding and accommodating to the needs of pregnant women and the men with small children at home. Long weekends and time off during summer were encouraged and we were always reminded of what was truly to be valued in life.

I took this scenario for granted. I thought all companies were like this so when I left, I discovered that many other environments were not family friendly in the sense that they seemed to want to test or punish me for being a parent with outside obligations. I know it may seem dramatic, but I felt as if I were being tested to prove my loyalty and ability to do my job by being forced to work long hours for no reason and given a hard time about taking paid days off I was entitled to even when those that did not have children did not face they same issues when they needed to take time off.

 I went on about this on a previous post but the reason why I bring this up again is because it seems as if I am hearing more and more that those that don't have the money to stay home, work part time or pay for ridiculously expensive childcare should not have children at all. 

The conversation is shifting from leaning in and finding ways to work while having a family to not having a family at all.

Don't get me wrong, I get why people choose not to have children; its a personal decision and I can see why people are turned off based on the high divorce rate in this country and the high cost of raising a family. I think it is unfortunate and hurtful that those that choose to not have children are often referred to as being selfish and narcissistic. However, I am seeing and hearing more and more those that do have children are being labeled as narcissistic and selfish for expecting certain benefits at work as far as flex time and maternity leave and those seeking affordable childcare.

I am tired of being told that I am selfish for having a child. I am selfish for working my butt off at work in order to pay for housing, food and childcare because I believe our government can do more to provide affordable options for families.

Why do we not see the importance of investing in our children, the future generations of innovators and creators? Do we really think the only children worth giving a damn about are those that are already born into privilege? That parents that may not have money because their wages remain stagnant or they can't find a job should not have a right to have children unless they can afford the high costs of everything?

Our leaders and politicians talk about values. Family values, protecting babies, the institution of marriage. Those that have families outside of the white, upper middle class married structure seem to not fit in with those ideals and are treated as if they are not valuable to society. Only when they are in the womb of their mother are children worth fighting for.

I am tired of living in a country where so much money is spent to incarcerate the prison population while not offering real solutions to the factors that land so many people, particularly young, black and Latino men and women in prison in the first place.

With all of the money spent on war, prisons and aid to foreign countries, I hate the fact that children in this country, our future generation, are treated as a financial burden. With the rising cost of living and stagnant wages, a dual income home is in many cases a necessity.

We go to work for major corporations, companies where CEO's get multi million dollar bonuses and the average person struggles to pay for their most basic expenses. 

We slave away, work longer hours than generations before us had to and forgo having children to be able to do so all in the name of living comfortably.

I get there are people that are unemployed, or not emotional and mentally stable or prepared to make the sacrifices that come with parenting or have the ability to handle the life changes having children make. I just can't help to feel on the defense every time I hear one of those "you should stay home if you want to have kids" or "single parents are bad parents" type of comments.

This has nothing to do with personal responsibility. There are many educated, hard working families that are having difficulty making ends meet because of death, illness and disability. They are having difficulty in finding quality, affordable childcare so that they may work and contribute to society and pay taxes.

With all of the parents and families that are in similar situations, how is it that we let a minority of out of touch politicians and managers determine our status in society?