Mother’s Day and What It’s Like to Be a Working Mom in the United States

Filed in American Culture by on May 7, 2015 0 Comments

In 1914, the U.S. Government deemed the second Sunday in May officially Mother’s Day in the United States. Ever since, it has become the tradition to celebrate your mother by sharing a meal, buying her flowers and other gifts, as well as sending heartfelt messages of love and appreciation. It’s not entirely different from how people around the world celebrate their mothers. What is unique to the United States, however, is the way in which we compensate new mothers for their time out of work after a baby is born. In this regard, we have much to learn from the rest of the world.

The United States is one of only four countries in the entire world that does not provide new mothers with the right to paid maternity leave. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP), “at best, only about half of working mothers in the United States can qualify for 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave offered through the Family and Medical Leave Act—but any wage replacement for the time off is at the discretion of their employers.”

Other nations around the world provide between from 12-56 weeks of paid maternity leave to new mothers. These policies are not only more generous but they take into account the long-term benefits that come when moms remain home with their newborns. These benefits include increased breastfeeding rates and better child health outcomes. Paid leave also results in higher maternal employment as women who have access to paid leave are more likely to return to work than women who do not.

It’s also important to remember an increasing number of families in the United States are led by single mothers and, in two-out-of-three families, the primary money maker is Mom. CAP explains further what’s at stake for America: “When mothers are forced to choose between their paycheck and caring for a newborn, our entire nation suffers. The importance of maternity leave for a newborn’s health is backed by years of research, and the short-term benefits for the child and the mother translate into better long-term outcomes for both, including decreased health care costs. Businesses can also save money by reducing worker turnover through improved worker benefits.”

Despite being a nation that spends billions of dollars on gifts for Mom on Mother’s Day, our government legislators lag behind in their generosity towards working moms.

Tell us – how do you celebrate Mother’s Day? How does your home country treat new mothers in the workplace?