As the Senate continues to battle over the fate of its Obamacare replacement legislation, Strong Opinions Loosely Held is here to remind us that the United States is still the only industrialized country without a national paid family leave policy. Perhaps more worrisome, working mothers typically make 4% less than their childless peers, while low-income moms face even steeper financial disadvantages. Unlike Norway, Canada, and Germany — countries that offer financial assistance to help offset the costs of child-rearing — American moms often undertake this economic and emotional burden alone. Elisa Kreisinger sat down with experts including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and author Jessica Valenti to ask why American moms put up with this lack of support — and what we can do now to make the labor of parenting more equitable.
Below, find this week’s full episode of Strong Opinions Loosely Held, and catch an excerpt of Elisa’s conversation with Jessica Valenti.
What inspired you to write Why Have Kids? I’m especially interested in how you make a really strong case for why we shouldn’t have kids and expose the institutionalized power of the motherhood penalty. Can you talk a little bit about those factors, and why you ultimately decided to have kids in spite of them?
“I signed up to write the book when I was six months pregnant, and its idea began as something completely different. I wanted to look at ideas of feminist parenting and the gender divide at home, but then I got really sick during my pregnancy. My daughter was born three months early, she was in the hospital for a long time. I really beat myself up about everything that happened to her medically, and my reaction afterwards. So the book ended up becoming about the unrealistic expectations that women put on themselves as …read more