Maternity leave is a hot button issue for mothers in a country that lags far behind most first world nations in providing for new moms. But the ACLU of New Mexico isn't looking to fight for some time off from your job right now. They're too focused on trying to set up a teen maternity leave.
That's one way to deal with the teen pregnancy problem, huh? Get these girls more time away from school?
The plan would enable teenage mothers to have 14 excused absences per semester from school rather than the typical 10. There's also talk of another 10 days on top of that for these girls to spend at home, be it to recover from birth or to bond with their babies.
Reading details, I'm more mixed than I expected to be when I first saw the words "teen maternity leave."
Maternity leave is certainly beneficial to both a mother and her baby. Time together allows a mother to develop important routines that will enable her to be successful at breastfeeding. It promotes healthy practices that benefit kids far beyond the baby stage. It shows a mother that she has value as a mother! Considering statistics already show that the children of teen mothers generally have a decreased chance at success in comparison to their peers, these kids (and the moms) could use a little extra help.
But what are we talking about here? Four extra days per semester? That's hardly enough time to get a breastfeeding routine going or recover from the trauma of giving birth. We aren't actually talking about anything that would positively impact the lives of these girls or their babies.
Instead, I fear, it will sound like a special perk for the pregnant girls, something other teens will say "aww, no fair" about and maybe even be drawn to. As for the moms, I fear it will encourage them to spend more time away from school, to be pulled into the ranks of the one-third of teen mothers who never end up getting a high school diploma or GED.
Perhaps, instead of putting emphasis on getting these kids more time away from school, we need to push schools to improve their sex education. We need to push schools to be more accommodating for teen mothers overall, not necessarily by giving them extra absences but by providing alternate means to earn a diploma to ensure that these girls do graduate.
What do you think of the teen maternity leave plan?
Image via RaeAllen/Flickr