In addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s also Attachment Parenting month. The theme of this year’s Attachment Parenting month is “Giving our Children Presence.” API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International, is holding a blog carnival of presence to bring awareness to how we can give our children our presence in the upcoming season of presents (the carnival ends Oct 15, so there’s still time if you want to participate — p.s. there are prizes).
With the economic crisis, U.S. election and banking bailout dominating the news, I have been hearing so much from Republicans about how the bailout is, horror of all horrors, a first step towards socialism! The next thing you know, the US will be, dum dum da dummmm, Europe! As someone who was one of those Republicans before moving to Germany over 6 years ago, a country with social welfare, public healthcare, and generous parental leave, I have to tell you that I am now a believer. The system here works.
Germany pays me to be a stay at home mom.
Germany makes it easy for me to be a stay at home mom. For the first year of a child’s life, the government gives the stay at home parent Elterngeld (parental allowance) of 60% of their pre-child salary, up to 1800 Euro a month, with a minimum monthly allowance of about 300 Euro a month. In addition to this, the parents receive a monthly Kindergeld (child allowance) of 154 Euro for each child, up until at least their 18th birthday, plus there’s a tax credit. This money allows me to stay home without worrying about making ends meet, giving my son an extra 35–40 hours a week of my presence that I’m not sure I could give him if I was living in a country that didn’t provide these kinds of benefits.
Then after this first year of paid leave, the stay at home parent’s job is protected for up to two more years of unpaid leave. That means a mom (or dad) can stay home with their child for three years and still go back to their job. This along with public healthcare and other benefits of the social welfare system here in Germany, allow me to relax and be more present for my son. Everything is taken care of, our healthcare, even his college tuition. In Germany, we will only need to pay college fees. Sure we pay a lot of taxes for these benefits, but even if my husband were to lose his job, we would still have these benefits, we wouldn’t be forced to live in a car, our son could still attend university. You wouldn’t believe the kind of peace of mind this gives me, freeing me up to read, build towers, and play choo choo all day long with my little one.
How do other industrialized countries handle parental allowance?
- Denmark provides parental allowance for 12 months, the allowance is 100% of the pre-child income for the first six months and 90% of the pre-child income for the second six months.
- Norway provides a parental allowance of 80% of the pre-child income for twelve months, or 100% of the pre-child income for ten months.
- In Sweden, the parental allowance is 80% of the pre-child income for thirteen months.
- In Finland, the allowance is 70% of the pre-child income for nine months.
- Estonia provides 100% of the pre-child income for one year.
- There is no parental allowance based on previous income in France or Great Britain, but rather a lump sum amount paid based on the number of children.
- You can find a comprehensive list covering most other countries at Wikipedia’s page on Parental Leave.
How do you give presence to your children? Has the country you live in made a difference?