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Mothers Across Globe Feel Guilty Of Leaving Their Babies And Resuming Work

Essack says she is "very nervous" about going back to work, but her baby, Salma, will be looked after by her mother and mother-in-law for free.

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WORKING MOTHERS
Ferzanah Essack, 36, a software developer, and her husband Hassan Essack, 37, a software developer, pose for a portrait with their 4-month-old baby Salma on the morning of Ferzanah's first day back to work, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 18, 2019. VOA

Many new mothers worldwide express anxiety and guilt about leaving their babies to return to work, and some worry their nations’ maternity policies reflect societies that value productivity over raising children.

In a series of interviews for Reuters ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, mothers from the United States to Uruguay to South Africa to Singapore told of their concerns about stopping work to give birth and look after their newborns.

An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report in 2016 found that among OECD countries, mothers are on average entitled to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave around childbirth.

But the range is vast. While some countries — such as Britain and Russia — offer many months or even several years of maternity leave, the United States is the only country to offer no statutory entitlement to paid leave on a national basis.

FILE - Blanca Eschbach, 32, poses for a portrait with her daughter Olivia on her first day back at work after a 10-week maternity leave in San Antonio, Texas, March 4, 2019.
Blanca Eschbach, 32, poses for a portrait with her daughter Olivia on her first day back at work after a 10-week maternity leave in San Antonio, Texas, March 4, 2019. VOA
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Blanca Eschbach, a new mother in San Antonio, Texas, returned to work this week after taking 10 weeks off to have her baby. “I think as a society we value productivity above family life,” she said. “You almost feel rushed to get back to work.”

Eschbach said she’d like longer to be at home with her child — ideally 16 weeks — but her family can’t afford it.

Tatiana Barcellos, 37, a civil servant for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Brazil, also told Reuters she was “anxious and worried” about going back to work, and concerned that “my absence causes stress to my baby.”

Tatiana Barcellos, 37, a civil servant for the Federal Prosecutor's Office, her eight-month-old daughter Alice, and her husband Marcelo Valenca, 39, a teacher at a navy school, pose for a photograph on the day Tatiana went back to work, at their home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan. 28, 2019.
Tatiana Barcellos, 37, a civil servant for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, her eight-month-old daughter Alice, and her husband Marcelo Valenca, 39, a teacher at a navy school, pose for a photograph on the day Tatiana went back to work, at their home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan. 28, 2019. VOA

In the Netherlands, Lucie Sol, a 32-year-old social worker and mother to baby Lena Amelie, said returning to work “comes with a lot of guilt.”

“I feel bad leaving her behind,” she told Reuters. “She’s only five and a half months old, so I want to keep her close.”

Sol took an extra three months off, extending her leave to 27 weeks in total. Her boyfriend, Rudie Jonkmans, got two days of official paternity leave and added three extra weeks of holiday time to be with his family. Paternity leave in the Netherlands has since been extended to a maximum of five days.

FILE - Lucie Sol, 32, a social worker, her boyfriend, Rudie Jonkmans, 34, a cook, and their 22-week-old baby Lena Amelie pose for a photograph inside their house on the first day Lucie went back to work, in Purmerend, the Netherlands, Feb. 18, 2019.
Lucie Sol, 32, a social worker, her boyfriend, Rudie Jonkmans, 34, a cook, and their 22-week-old baby Lena Amelie pose for a photograph inside their house on the first day Lucie went back to work, in Purmerend, the Netherlands, Feb. 18, 2019. VOA

In Belarus, however, things are a little different for 28-year-old Alesia Rutsevich, who is returning to work as an ophthalmologist after having her son three years ago.

Under statutory maternity leave in Belarus, mothers are paid their average monthly income for 70 days before birth and 56 days afterward. Child care leave can be taken for up to three years after the birth by any working relative or child’s guardian. Recipients are paid a fixed sum according to the number of children in the family.

FILE - Alesia Rutsevich, 28, an ophthalmologist, her husband Pyotr, 28, a programmer, and their son Daniil, 3, pose for a photograph at their house in the week Alesia went back to work, in Minsk, Belarus, Feb. 23, 2019.
Alesia Rutsevich, 28, an ophthalmologist, her husband Pyotr, 28, a programmer, and their son Daniil, 3, pose for a photograph at their house in the week Alesia went back to work, in Minsk, Belarus, Feb. 23, 2019. VOA

Rutsevich says she feels happy to have had significant time with her baby, and says her country’s policy is good.

“The duration of the child care leave is quite optimal,” she said. “I believe that by three years the child is growing up, and his health is improving, and his behavior.”

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Ferzanah Essack, a 36-year-old mother and software developer in South Africa, says the law there allows for four months maternity leave — although employers are not obliged to pay employees during this time — and 10 days paternity leave.

Essack says she is “very nervous” about going back to work, but her baby, Salma, will be looked after by her mother and mother-in-law for free.

“We pay [for child care] in love and kisses,” she said. “With lots of love, because it’s the grannies.” (VOA)

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71% Parents Feel That Video Games May Have Positive Impact on Kids

71% parents believe video games good for teens

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Video Games
86 per cent of parents agree that teeagers spend too much time on video games. Pixabay

Seventy-one per cent of parents believe that video games may have a positive and healthy impact on their kids’ lifestyle, while 44 per cent try to restrict video game content, says a new study.

According to the CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health in US, 86 per cent of parents agree that teeagersspend too much time gaming. Parents also reported very different gaming patterns for teenage boys than girls.

Twice as many parents said that their teen boy plays video games every day compared to parents of teen girls. Teen boys are also more likely to spend three or more hours gaming.

“Although many parents believe video games can be good for teens, they also report a number of negative impacts of prolonged gaming,” said poll co-director Gary Freed from University of Michigan.

Video Games
Parents can play an important role by setting clear rules about appropriate content and how much time is too much time spent on video games. Pixabay

“Parents should take a close look at their teen’s gaming behaviour and set reasonable limits to reduce harmful impacts on sleep, family and peer relationships and school performance,” Freed added.

Overall, parents surveyed said that gaming often gets in the way of other aspects of their teen’s life, such as family activities and interactions (46 per cent), sleep (44 per cent), homework (34 per cent), friendship with non-gaming peers (33 per cent) and extracurricular activities (31 per cent).

Parents of teens ages 13-15 (compared to those with older teens) are more likely to use rating systems to try to make sure games are appropriate (43 per cent versus 18 per cent), encourage their teen to play with friends in person rather than online and to ban gaming in their teen’s bedroom.

Parents polled also use different strategies to limit the amount of time their teen spends gaming, including encouraging other activities (75 per cent), setting time limits (54 per cent), providing incentives to limit gaming (23 per cent) and hiding gaming equipment (14 percent).

The researchers noted that while gaming may be a fun activity in moderation, some teens -such as those with attention issues — are especially susceptible to the constant positive feedback and the stimulus of video games.

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This may lead to prolonged play that is disruptive to other elements of a teen’s life, the researchers added.

“Parents can play an important role by setting clear rules about appropriate content and how much time is too much time spent on video games,” Freed said. (IANS)