Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Switzerland (and almost any land) is Better for Working Parents

Do working parents have it better abroad than in the United States?

Most experiences of working parents abroad appear to say yes.

About a month ago, The Frau wrote this piece for the Wall Street Journal Expat section: Working in Switzerland—What’s an Expat Woman to Expect?

Now back in the U.S. and witnessing the realities of
working American parents, The Frau is ever grateful that her
daughter was born abroad.
In case you want the short answer—an American woman can expect better work-life balance and extremely more supportive policies when working in Switzerland, despite a sometimes backwards mindset that a woman’s place is still in the home.

Stories of working parental woes are all over the American press lately.

Last week, a powerful New York Times opinion piece from writer Pamela Druckerman, The Perpetual Panic of American Parenthood, agrees that American parents have it best working elsewhere. The subhead: “Make our country great, by making it a bit more like the rest of the world,” pretty much sums up The Frau's feelings exactly.

Says Ms. Druckerman on leaving the U.S. for Paris, “I gradually understood why European mothers aren’t in perpetual panic about their work-life balance, and don’t write books about how executive moms should just try harder: Their governments are helping them, and doing it competently."

Another great quote from her piece was from writer Ms. Partanen, who, in her book, The Nordic Theory of Everything, says, “While Nordic citizens often don’t realize how good they have it, Americans seem not to realize how terribly they are being treated.”

That’s what really confounds The Frau. The great majority of Americans she talks to have no idea how bad they have it. No idea. They think the stress of trying to work and parent with no legalized parental leave, no legalized vacation time, and no legalized sick time is their fault.

Blaming the individual for what’s wrong instead of looking beyond to greater causes is sadly an American thing. We're very individual and we like to blame the individual too. We need to stop.

Even when moms have access to parental leave in the U.S., they face hassles to get it. On the cover of the Chicago Tribune’s Life+Style section last Sunday was an article about how insurance paperwork issues interfere when new mothers just want to nurture their babies.

Yes, the American system is broken. And The Frau plans to keep writing about it (global outlook included) until it is fixed.


Tamara said...

I can't read "the long version" as i am not a newspaper subscriber.
However being an HR person I do know that we have it GREAT in Switzerland, compared to the U.S. at least.
So are you going to meet Hilary so the two of you can fix it?

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