Child Care-less

Dear America,

Why do you hate parents?



So I’ve mentioned before that I travel for work. I get to see all the glorious places that most will only see in post cards, and I get to eat all the glorious food that you only see on Food Network. I get to experience traditions and customs that you only see on the travel channel, but there is one thing I will never get to experience…

Other countries’ benefits.

That’s right Americans, we may be home of the free and proud and stuff, but we are definitely paying a price for that. And please don’t get me wrong… I didn’t serve 10 years in the Marine Corps so I could bash on the good ol’ U S of A in a blog post. This is specifically about child care.

Once I found out about my wife being pregnant, I immediately started asking all the relevant questions… specifically those that pertain to work…

1) How does the insurance cover this birth?

2) If my wife has her own insurance, whose gets used for the hospital care?

3) Which insurance would the baby fall under?

4) Will I need paperwork from the job site in order to start the process?

but most importantly,

5) How does the paternity leave work? (that link goes to a more credible source aka Huffington Post, if you don’t want to take my word for it)

So here’s a real quick breakdown. What you need to understand is that 1) it varies from state to state and 2) uniquely varies by your specific company. I think I fall into the category that I can utilize the full benefits of my state which are;

12 weeks of “baby bonding” time

The first 6 of the 12 are at 55% of your salary

The last 6 of the 12 are at 0% of your salary.

Before Day 1 of “baby bonding” time starts, you must first exhaust all of your Paid Time Off (PTO or vacation/sick time)

Well guess what… I’ve got bills to pay.

Our Canadian friends can enjoy close to a year of baby bonding time, while getting paid approximately the same as they would if they were at work, but for both parents. Our Swedish friends get 16 months at anywhere from 80-90% of their pay. The French give more money to a family the more kids they have, as well as significant time off from work AND decreased child care AND a government furnished nanny (at extreme discount prices). Even Viet Fucking Nam gets 4-6 months at 100% of their pay (Forrest Gump Reference? Check).

We do get job security (as in, we can’t get fired for not being there), which is nice… but so does everyone else that receives some much needed-bonding time.

The unfortunate problem is apparently in America, at least big cities in America, we move too fast to slow down.  We need to continue to work to pay the bills and that shapes the problem that creates lack of bonding time, because once we have kids we have to immediately pass them off to somebody else to raise them.  There is no staying home and getting to bond with your child, or get into a routine, or enjoy the little moments… not without a huge monetary sacrifice… and to think I “SHOULD CONSIDER MYSELF LUCKY!!!!” because there’s only 6 states that even fork over any type of help for taking time off to be with your newborn.

So with that said… here’s my two cents.

It is because of the lack of time we spend with our children in the beginning stages of life as working parents, that have our youth as effed up as they are now.  Mommy and Daddy can’t establish rules if they’re not at home.  Kids can’t learn what undivided attention to family or love is if we’re waking up solely to feed, and then get the baby ready for day care (which is a whole different type of robbery) so we can work our 8-12 hour jobs and come home to try to bond with your baby then. You want to know why our youth is out in the street punching people in the face for fun and putting it on YouTube, snorting bath salts, smoking the marijuana cigarettes,  or shooting up their schools?  It’s because there wasn’t sufficient bonding time in the families during the child’s initial years….

Just my thoughts.

But it’s not exactly our fault as parents.  We’re subjected to the farm system, where we must bust our butts to make the little scrap we can, to take care of our sub-average lifestyles, pushing all the money from our wallets into something other than our banks.  Also, our free time isn’t spent correctly.  Instead of teaching morals and love, we teach rules and regulations, schedules and habit, uninterest and disconnect.

This is where we fail America.

Other countries aren’t going through this.  Other countries get to bond with their babies.  Other countries look at us like we’ve lost our damn minds… (*True Story* I know Canadians who judge us via Maury Provivch, Jerry Springer, and Judge Joe Brown.)

This is obviously not geared towards all parents and households. There are many people doing their thing right now, successfully raising future positive contributors of America. And there are those who are lucky enough to have flexibility in their schedules or have ‘Stay At Home’ status, who are likely to not have those problems.

America may be a “super power” but we’re backwards and very far behind the curve of priorities.

Unfortunately I have to work.  Unfortunately, I cannot enjoy my baby’s complete upbringing and provide all the extremely important initial time I’d like to.  I may miss the first walk and talk… and I may miss huge gaps of months.  My wife may have to be overwhelmed with the workload of a single parent, but not because I’ve chosen to leave her… but because it’s what is required of me immediately after this baby comes into the world since I have to go back to work– and all to get bills paid.  

We need to reflect as a society on the importance of the first years and how important those years are in child development.  I think only then will we begin to fix America.

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Posted in Did He Really Just Say That?, Dissapointment, Fear, Getting Ready, Parenthood, Those Odd moments...with 32 comments.


  • Martinez, I was just thinking about what you said a little more and I wanted to read over it again just to see if I can clarify something. Again… I agree with you 100,000%. But let me give you this.

    The Marine Corps is a family. A brotherhood. And that bond is what keeps people in. It’s not the salary. It’s not the glorification of “killing bodies,”… You’re a Warrant Officer in the Airwing for God’s sake… so it’s something else.

    That saying “it takes a village,” That is the Marine Corps through and through. It takes a village to raise the youth right. When we’re deployed, we knew our sig others were going to be ok. They could go to our commands and ask for assistance if they weren’t to proud to. They could get Thanksgiving dinners, and family fun days, and unit provided baby sitting for the Balls… you knew that someone you were close to back in the rear was going to check up on your family to see if they were ok. Or maybe cut the grass, or take the kids for the night… (I understand this doesn’t relate to everyone… but I know that I personally went out of my way to make my shop feel like family).

    But this isn’t true in the “corporate world.” I can’t tell you one time that my “friends” have called Arleen to check up on her when I’m “deployed” for my 3, 6, 12 month jobs. I can’t tell you how little I feel when she calls me and there’s a problem that I know she can’t handle by herself, or has nobody to turn to to help her out. She’s not one to reach out to our neighbors… and that maybe her fault, and her fault alone… but there’s not that trust established here, and no bonds that she shares with her community, because in the Corps, we’re all connected by something whether it be deployments, weekend duties, week long troubleshooting sessions… something.

    But out here… there’s nothing.

    At least here.

    At least for me.

    So again, I would never want to take away anything from my brothers and sisters in arms… but I will say this… you have in there, what we need out here… and that’s a strong support system…

    • Mark says:

      I will say this though…you are correct that other countries look at us as if we had lost our minds, and I think they are pretty accurate in that assessment. Our country is losing it’s soul, piece by piece, and it is depressing.

    • Martinez says:

      I don’t know what happened to my last post. It disappeared. But just to sum it up, we have a good thing going with the bond that forms in the Corps. Once a Marine always a Marine. And you’re right, I stay on for something else. It’s the family that I’ve since made after leaving home. Not too sure how I’ll take having to live on the “corporate world”. But it’s eventually going to come.

      • Mark says:

        Corporate world has it’s ups and downs. I like the fact that they don’t care that I got a DUI 12 years ago. And true leadership shines, when you exhibit it. The year I was a supervisor at my last job, I was recognized at all levels and the difference between my style of leadership and others was noted quickly.

        On the downside, everything Rob brought up in his blog.

  • Mark says:

    Having lived through the entire evolution of child care, here are my thoughts. Subsidized day care seems very nice in the beginning, when you aren’t making much money. The CDC’s in the military are very nice installations, for the most part, and they were subsidized by the government AND prorated. The more more money you made, the higher your costs. So, as I say, it was nice when I was a single parent, Corporal, to be able to drop Katie off somewhere that was safe and reliable, and not totally destroy my bank account.

    Flash forward a few years, when I was a SSgt, and the rates kept going up. In fact, the rates went up higher than my pay raises. So now, my paycheck was significantly higher than any Cpl’s, but I was actually poorer. Childcare was not the only factor, but it was a major one.

    I don’t have a solution, although I would say that when a family has a child, it is worth looking at the idea that one parent or the other stop working until the child starts to go to school, at the very least. I realize that is an unpopular stance in today’s world, but honestly…it’s better for the child, and it is better for the checkbook. If one of the parents is home with the child 24/7, there will be a much stronger bond with that child than if you drop him or her off at a daycare everyday.

    As for the government subsidizing daycare…I’m sad to admit that I’ve lost all hope in our government. It sounds really nice, but as Max has pointed out, the examples you mention are tiny population segments in countries that are the size of small states in the US. The Federal government is fucking broken beyond belief and those douchebags couldn’t do something right if their lives depended on it. Expecting them to be able to create a universal daycare system is similar to expect the shit out of your ass to suddenly start flushing itself down the toilet without any help from you. Not gonna happen.

  • Lopez what are you paying in taxes in NY… It’s 9% sales tax here. I know in Sweden it’s like 24% or something, but you can actually see where their money is going…. It’s safe there. The streets are clean, their kids and adults are educated… And they’re healthy.

    The population of the US paying half of what smaller countries are paying for has to even out somewhere… The difference is the corruption of where our funds go…

    I’m no politician but I’m not a retard either…

    • Max says:

      Gravey, don’t get me started. Our whole system is broken. Sweden’s system is true socialism, but to a confined populous.

  • Martinez says:

    Gravey, I think we are both on the same page here. Can things be changed?? Ab-so-fning-lutley!! I wish there was a way that it all worked. I’ve discussed many times with my wife about us moving out of the country when I retire just to start over and live our lives as we want because I don’t like the way things are going in this country. But a wise Marine once told me, if the the grass is greener on the other side you might want to consider watering your side more. That is what I intend to do. We can keep our country great, it takes us to speak our voice and make the change. I may be limited on how I express those thoughts, but non the less, it is still our country. We must look at those elected officials and make them accountable to speak our voice. Semper Fi Gravey!! I love you more for being the voice that many of us have!!

  • Martinez says:

    Gravey, I must say, mad props on the blog, thoughts and ideas you bring to the table. With that being said, I must say that sacrifices have to made in order to be a parent. When my wife was 8 months pregnant with our first son I deployed to Iraq. There was no baby bonding time and no physical touch of my first born child until he was 6 months old. I’m not writing this as a sap story to how I decided to live my life. It was a choice made by me and my wife. You’re a Marine, I don’t need to preach to you about the sacrifices that we make, but I will say that we all can not have our cake and eat it too. I sincerely hope that you can be there for all the major accomplishments that your son will have but we must all sacrifice for the greater good of our children. I knew early on that I could not provide for my child the way that I wanted had I got out of the military. The choice to stay in was a decision that we made as a family, and with that we knew we would be giving up certain things in life. Is it not the same in the civilian world?? Why would it be assumed that since you work in the civilian workforce that you are entitled to something greater? Is this something that you are saying to be institutionalized for everyone?? There are countless things that I have missed with both of my children growing up, but as a parent it is up to us to bridge that gap and ensure we do all we can to show them what family is about. Please don’t take this as anything other then another father’s perspective to fatherhood. I know you will be a great father and only have your son’s best interests at heart. I only say this to bring my personal experience to the table. I commend you for being a man that has the intestinal fortitude (<-- bet you haven't heard that in a while) to bring it to light. Once again Gravey, you know I have nothing but love for you.

    • Maybe if we stopped pushing so much money into welfare for people who use the system to NOT work, people who actually work can get a freaking break

      • Martinez says:

        I agree wholeheartedly with that!! That is one of many things that need reform.

        • Martinez, I hear you loud and clear. And I agree with you. Had I still been in the Corps right now, I wouldn’t even think twice about complaining about not being able to be with my children. Not one bit. The Corps was my life and the Marines I served with were more than enough reason to feel semi ok with being away from home. I was working for something bigger than myself. Something bigger than my family… Even if I didn’t agree with the politics, I still was doing something bigger than myself.

          With that being said… My current job is not that. It is a means to an end. It is something I can leave to find something more fitting and more tailored to current situations, hence why I’m utilizing the GI bill to further my education… So I can make myself more versatile.

          I hope to never take away anything from my military family. But as a civilian, you do have the choice to sacrifice what means most to you… Money or family…

  • Alfredo says:

    Who is supposed to pay for this? The countries you cite have much higher income tax than us, which they use to fund these kinds of programs. And then you have childless people essentially subsidizing your childcare, which isn’t very fair.

    • Max says:

      While I agree with you on the subject Gravey, Ramirez is right. Also, you must look at things as it would be in a much larger populous. Sweden’s programs work for a few reasons, much higher tax is one but the other is the size of the people paying. They have the population of New York City lol we can’t get shit straight in 1 city how do you think we’d do as a whole country. its like paying school taxes when you have no children going to school, but at least you have the option to move a few blocks away instead of another country.

  • Evelyn says:

    Amazing!!! Bravo!!!!! With a pump in one hand and a baby in the other your post made me laugh, cry and write to my congressman

  • Kelly says:

    The fact that you want to spend that much time with your baby means that it will be better off than the kids you mention. My dad worked a lot and I still remember having a great dad. Him being there all the time, etc. But yes. It’s time to revolt on our BS benefits. I heard the Canadian system is not as good as it appears though.

    • The Scared Dad says:

      My friends in the military used to brag about how great it was. But then again… Everyone in Canada is a “one-upper” and tries to validate why they’re a country anyway… Eh…

      (Kidding… Kind of)

  • Harry Tran says:

    Well said in every way. It’s tough when your hands are tied to paying bills.

  • Brian Husted says:

    Great post. I’m in the same situation. My wife is about to have baby #3 and my employer is complaining that I want to take a whole three weeks off work to be there and help her take care of our two toddlers while bonding with the new baby.

    As luck would have it, fate stepped in, I injured my elbow and will undergo reconstructive surgery a couple weeks before the birth, so I’ll be home for 8 weeks instead. :)

    • Brian!

      I should “injure” my elbow *wink wink.* I mean, if you have the time, there should be no quarrels with whoever that you want to take it off. It’s absurd.

      Hopefully you recover well, and can help out around the house as the “one-armed man!”

      Thanks for reading!

  • Sean says:

    I agree with your post, but you’ve got some major misconceptions about what us Canadians are entitled to (Spoiler: it’s still better than what you get in the U.S. by a long shot, but I’d still like to see improvements).

    Basically, we get 1 year of maternity/paternity leave that can be SPLIT between parents–i.e. only one of you can take it at a time (and it can only be the mother for the first 6 weeks).

    The Government pays 55% of your normal salary, to a maximum of about $1,000 every two weeks. Your employer may CHOOSE to top up a portion of this. For my wife, who is a teacher, she got the first 12 weeks topped up to 95% of her salary, IIRC. My employer would have provided NO top up.

    SO, in a case like mine (my wife just got off a Mat leave), she took the year off, got 95% for 12 weeks, and $1,000 every two weeks for the remainder. I got NO paid time off, except what I took out of my vacation leave/Earned Days Off. Fortunately, I had enough time saved to take the first month off and co-parent.

    IMO (and clearly in your’s, as well) the western world has a LONG WAY to go.

    • Is this the same for your military, cause those are my only sources… and I don’t believe that’s what they told me except the sharing of that year.

      Thanks for reading by the way!

  • Larry says:

    I agree with you that having more time at home with a child would be beneficial for a child and very nice for a parent. However, I think this will not cure all the issues with these days. It’s too complicate for a one step solution.

    • Larry,

      Of course it’s not a one step solution… That’s why I said “begin.”

      What I don’t think people understand is that we’re already establishing the ground rules for our future with the kids of today.

      The seeds we plant today, grow in to the trees of tomorrow!

      Thanks for reading by the way!!!


  • Powerful, powerful post. Thanks for writing it. I can relate. When we adopted our two kids, my wife got maternity leave (they give adopting moms maternity leave, yes!) but I got zilch. She got to stay home and bond while I had to work. I managed two days off, using vacation leave.

    America needs to get its priorities straight regarding this stuff.

    • First and foremost J, thanks for reading!

      And I agree with you whole-heartedly. My friends I served with wrote to me on the FB page and reminded me of the sacrifices that you make in the Marine Corps, and I really didn’t need to be reminded cause I remember, but it put something else into prospective for me. Whether or not I’m gone… I think the fact is “it takes a village,” and if I’m not around I understand that doesn’t make my kids instant hoodlums, but it does make controlling and molding children a little bit harder than our parents had it , and our parent’s parents…

      Thanks for reading again!

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