Paid leave to be a parent — lots of countries have healthy policies for it. Why don't we?
Not being able to take paid family leave places families in tough corners.
Many years ago, after a difficult night of trying to calm my asthmatic 2-year-old's respiratory cold, she took a turn for the worse. She began to have "chest retractions," which is what happens when the lungs aren't doing the work of bringing in and expelling air efficiently, so the torso muscles start actually pumping the lungs for survival.
This is what those look like. It's terrifying, and when this happens, oxygen levels in the blood can get dangerously low.
Lack of paid family leave forces people to make terrible decisions.
I got her admitted to the hospital at about 5:00 a.m. and needed to report to my job at 9:00 a.m. I wanted nothing more than to stay by her side, but with her chronic asthma, I'd already exhausted my normal sick leave that year and calling in could have meant losing my job at the giant behemoth corporation I worked for. If I lost my job, I'd lose the health insurance she needed so desperately.
In one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my life, I called in a family member to take my place and tore myself away from her bedside to report to work, crying the entire way there.
My daughter made a recovery, mostly outgrew asthma, and I went on to work for an employer with much better paid leave policies (yay Upworthy!). But I never forgot that day and I never forgot how if we went through it, others are going through something similar every day.
America lags behind nearly every other developed nation when it comes to family leave.
An organization reporting for the United Nations found that, among 170 developed countries assessed, only two didn't have defined and guaranteed benefits for paid family leave — the United States and Papua New Guinea. A renewed effort to help America get up to par has been underway, but new House Speaker Paul Ryan has yet to make it a priority.
A new video from AmericanWomen.org hopes to change that. In the video, a bunch of famous women and men (like Mila Jovovich and Maggie Gyllenhaal) are asking, "Who do I have to ____ around here to get paid family leave for Americans?"
This video combines tons of celebrities, some shocking information about just how far behind America is with this, and a funny and surprising twist on how we can get there.
"Do I have to ____ the entire Senate? Because I will."
"I'll ____ them all!"
Everybody who has a family needs to see this! The time has come for no more heartbreaking choices for moms and dads when it comes to our families and livelihoods.