Monday, July 15, 2024

Post Partum, Sex, and Child Poverty in the US

March 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Parenting From Balance©

I am not purporting to have any answers here, just wondering…and wanting to look at some things with you.

I think we are underestimating postpartum in men.  In fact, we may even be ignoring it altogether.

Now, I am not saying that women are well taken care of and supported in the arena either. By any means.  I mean, in one extreme yet common example, a friend pointed out to me that her health insurance has benefits for erectile dysfunction surgery, but nothing for post pregnancy vaginal reconstruction.  And how does this figure into postpartum in men?  I am not sure, but everyone should be ensured equal rights to great post partum sex, shouldn’t they?

Clearly, the priority here is not in support of family.  Yes, 80 year old fathers everywhere can move on and procreate gleefully with 29 year old virgins, while their ex-wives are still trying not to pee their pants every time they sneeze at a man.  Policies like this just breed separation and disparity: they make this all into an “us and them” dynamic, that we then perpetuate with our passive acceptance.

So it is critical that we pay attention to the post pregnancy transition for both partners  and how it affects the Family Bond.  Oxytocin is the bonding hormone: it plays an important role in the neuroanatomy of intimacy, specifically sexual reproduction.  It is emitted with the loving touch from a partner, and also before and after childbirth, especially during breast feeding.  Breastfeeding fills the momma with the same lovey, feel good satisfaction she used to seek out from her lover, via Oxytocin release.  (And who said motherhood is a thankless job?!!)  This might result in a lower libido (if the pure exhaustion, lack of time for a shower or grown up conversation hasn’t already wiped out any desire for intimacy already! 😉

And so where does that leave our male partners?  It is a vicious circle: momma has no desire for sex and moreover no energy for any additional connecting, and so daddy feels abandoned  (and understandably so, since noone has explained to either mommy or daddy what will happen to their intimacy) And now they are burdened with having to ‘up’ their income to provide for their brood.  Now surely some of this ‘need’ is a story in their head, coming from social pressure and how they were socialized as a child:  what does it mean to be a man, anyway?  …. but some of it is also true.

Having children is a life changing transition.  The least insult of parenthood as a job is the working conditions: it a job that would have the Department of Labor on your employer’s tail within a week of commencement. I mean, even minimum wager earners are entitled to a 15 minute break every 4 hours!  And what other job requires you to nurture the one who is screaming at you?  And the transition from pre to post motherhood is a bon voyage journey from our sweet lithe pure and fully functional bodies into something, well, different than that.  We will never be that same person again, in every sense:  physical, mental, spiritual.  Forget about job benefits and there is no worker’s comp.  It is a one-way trip.  (The essay on why we would ever make this choice is coming soon. 😉  )

So, our country is simply not set up to support stay at home parents.  Our country’s value is anti-family.  According to a recent study, we are the only country that offers NO mandatory paid maternity or paternity leave in 47 states.  And so the cycle remains.  And it is a downward one:  our men becomes stressed out and dissatisfied, not really sure why they ever agreed to procreate in the first place, and they leave their family.  This creates in many instances more children in poverty (we have much higher rates of children in poverty than most other developed countries In the world; we rank right in line with Romania!)  This seems to be a cycle that is dragging our country down and changing it from the inside out, for the worst.

Single parent homes work harder to make ends meet and therefore have less time to spend with their children.  The children and parents suffer.  Where is there time to live those family values you once understood innately?   And if you aren’t living them, then your children are not learning them.    If I tell my kids something that I am not being, then I am a hypocrite.  Period.   And even though I aspire to spend hours on end of deep connected time with my children, and I personally don’t want electronic devices to be a pacifier for them,  I need a break from being selfless and present with other people.  AND I am on a budget.  I cannot always pay someone else to be with them when I need some time  to be with just me.  And so television becomes an easy fix for needing a no cost vacation from parenting  (or, forget vacation… How about just time to remake the beds or shower?)

Again, I have no answers, just wondering about things today.

As one friend said, “it would be amazing if our country was set up in this way, where maternity and paternity leave were no brainers and an automatic right for every person.  I see value, however, in our freedom to set our own lives up in this way ourselves.  Let’s realize the importance of family bonding, and structure our lives to be more supportive of our values.”    We can make the tide turn in our own backyard.

Maybe if we, as a country of voting people, reshuffled our deck of important things, we could slow down or stop this unnatural cycle.   It is making us into a country of dissatisfied and disconnected mall rats.   What is the point?  Maybe it is all in the grand plan John Taylor Gotto speaks to in his book “Dumbing Us Down.”

Or maybe it isn’t a conspiracy at all.  Maybe we are just blaming things on the government (which is US, after all) because it is easier to blame than to wake up, take possession, and create the life we desire.

Lots of Love,

Linda Shannon


Sources of Interest:

Family Leave Policies by Country:  (US is lowest by far at 0% mandatory paid leave)


Child Poverty Rates by Country (US is #34 of the worst 35, behind Latvia and nearly equal with Romania!)

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