Raising a child is a family enterprise. Childcare costs should be compared against total family income—not just the mother’s. If the goal is a family that shares responsibilities at home equally, both parents need to take leave so that family duties don’t calcify along gender lines.
“Even if he earns much more, he should take some leave and you should take some leave, because it’s not just economics and it’s not just short term,” said Ariane Hegewisch, program director of employment and earnings at the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research. “If you take all the leave and he takes none, then the gap in earnings widens enormously and the division of labor becomes more petrified, so that you as a woman do all the work at home and he has an advantage in the labor market. “
Think beyond your own family
Every family has to navigate the process of figuring out how to make work and family life fit together. So if everybody’s doing it, why does it feel like such a hectic, lonely scramble to find a solution that works?
“It’s so seen as an individual issue that we just put out heads down and think for ourselves,” said Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute. “The problem is that no one speaks out about it, [so] it stays as a problem that doesn’t get fixed.”