In a discussion this weekend with a group of peers, the topic of child support and alimony came up. One of the girls was Dutch, and clearly had a different perspective to offer. Apparently, in Holland, the father can choose to “disassociate” with the mother and baby in the first 3 months of the pregnancy, avoiding responsibility. This is commendable in my opinion, as it gives some power back to the man for choosing the life of a child. If there is child support involved, it is only for two years.
The big difference is that in Holland, a mother has both child care and health care taken care of on some level. If I knew I had child care and health care, I would not be wavering so much on the logistics of having a child on my own. The NYT has been full of articles pointing this out this week (see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/opinion/sunday/why-gender-equality-stalled.html).
Child support is a topic that is interwoven in my life – which is ironic, as I don’t have a child and have never been married. But two of my closest male friends are deeply involved in child support, and it effects their lives heavily. Both make a lot less than their spouses, and both struggle in their own ways to pay the system. In one case, he can no longer travel out of country, because they stop you from getting your passport if you can’t pay.
When the gender roles start to become equal, and you have a situation like my friends where the males are making significantly less than their partners and do not have custody – what happens then? Is this just a upper-middle-class problem?
I think if we solve the child care and health care problems, then we can get much closer to an ideal – and women can work effectively. Working a 40-hr-a-week job *just* to have healthcare is some modern perversion on the meaning of “health”. I realize people work for money, but there are other ways to make money besides a desk job. Starting your own business is a huge risk – and impossible for a mother who needs, absolutely, to keep her insurance.
Health insurance + child care = independence for the modern woman, whether she is in a stable relationship or on her own.