Let there be no mistake… Most of us care about the welfare of children. We look into a child’s eyes and we see a being we want to protect and love. We look at parents in local stores and wish they would speak more kindly to their children and we watch sad stories on the news and cry over the children suffering in the world.
But here in our own cities and towns are we doing our best to raise happy healthy children? We have WIC, the Oregon Trail Card, and the Oregon Health Plan… but many people are resentful of programs that give handouts. Do we allow mothers to stay at home and nurse their babies for a year or two and help them re-enter the workforce when they are ready? Many are quick to say that life begins at conception, but once a baby is out in the open air all bets are off and they are left to struggle in their mother’s arms.
You may say, ‘We have programs!’ Yes, we do. But those programs are in constant jeopardy of being cut and having restrictions placed on them. Politicians who demand more paid parental leave are thought to be left-wing radicals or socialists. Right now we are operating under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that requires employers to give a new parent 12 weeks of unpaid leave…. You get three months with your new baby WITHOUT PAY! How many families can really afford to do that? When you look at world statistics we are the only developed country that does not mandate paid leave for new parents. It has been proven that the longer a mother is able to nurse her baby the healthier that baby will be… Stronger immune system, fewer allergies, and those benefits last into adulthood.
Of course we don’t want to create people who continue to have children just to maintain benefits. And we don’t want to hurt small business (or really any business)… Perhaps a benefit that decreases with each successive child… Here is my idea, it will not make people rich but it hopefully will keep people afloat during this time. Pay new parents minimum wage (whatever that is in your city) for six months… If minimum wage is $12/hr that is roughly $2,000 a month. You get this for your first two children. After that the benefit decreases to half that and with each successive child the benefit decreases by half. That is a lot of money… Yes, it is… Who will pay for that? We all will… Who will benefit? Us. Because in the long run we will have stronger families, healthier children, less stressed parents and a better society. We should be striving to do our best for our children, for our country, and for the future of the world….