Ivanka Trump — maternity leave and outsourced labor
© Twitter/Ivanka Trump

The controversy surrounding Ivanka Trump's maternity leave policy reflects two incredibly ignored issues in American culture: motherhood in an era of dual-income families and the complications of outsourced labor.

While rigid commentary may question why women opt to leave the home, 21st century economics make it difficult to stay afloat with one paycheck.

It is easy to criticize Trump based on her lifelong history of privilege, she may genuinely support maternity leave having truly believed that the company’s bare minimum offering was the American way.

According to the Families and Work Institute, income remains flat while expenses excessively climb.

Further compounding the problem, many Americans do not grasp the definition of paid maternity leave. Unfortunately, a common belief is that decent maternity leave includes keeping your job when pregnant.

I’ll never forget the moment when I, a woman well into her childbearing years, and member of the workforce for more than a decade, realized the misconception.

I was sitting in a coffee shop with my colleague, a mother of two, who stated that her government job does not grant paid maternity leave.

I confidently responded, “But you can leave for a minimum of six weeks and still have your job.” She replied, “Yes, by exhausting every hour of sick and vacation time essentially leaving me financially stranded in the event of a future emergency.”  

And this ladies and gentleman is the policy offered by what society defines as a good job.

I was momentarily stunned. What kind of battered worker syndrome did I suffer where I thought it was above average to merely keep my job if I have a kid?

In most developed nations, the value is clearly understood and embraced. Not only will you keep your job, but you’ll also be paid while home with your newborn, forging bonds that allow children to successfully thrive in the classroom and beyond.

We fail to equate a strong, powerful civilization to a woman’s ability to nurture her child and simultaneously contribute to her family’s financial survival.

Politics cause us to argue that basic maternity leave is a privilege when it should be an irrevocable right.  

Trump is the norm. Sub-par maternity leave is the norm. But how does she leap into this national conversation without realizing that her outsourced partner does not grant paid maternity leave? This is yet another blazing sign of the Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE campaign’s novice nature and a safe indication that policy gurus are few.

The very nature of selecting another company to uphold the principles of your brand is a huge risk. You select this frugal pathway without considering where the reduction takes place.

Whether the quality of the product or the quality of the environment for workers, sacrifices will indeed be made. Because of an intense focus on winning, it is easy to ignore “quality of life” questions like, “How are women treated if they want to have a child?” And because so few companies master this quality of life component, women electively delay or forgo parenthood.  

A 2015 report released by the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that American women are waiting later in life to have children. Between the year 2000-2014, the number of first-time mothers who were 30 to 34 years old rose from 16.5 percent to 21.1

Research also indicates that sex education and accessible contraception has helped reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, thereby validating the shift. However, it is equally important to note soaring inflation rates during this same time period. In 2014, it cost $1.37 to yield the same products afforded by just $1 in 2000, representing a 37 percent inflation rate.

More women are simply waiting until they can afford to have children. The word afford seems odd when discussing human life but when you note the rising cost of major staples like housing, gas, food, healthcare along with unpaid time off, a baby comes with a figurative price tag.

Every day, women literally pose the question, Can I afford children? When the vessels of human life start asking whether they can indeed carry out their biological function, then we enter dangerous territory.

Just as the effects of global warming slowly rear its ugly head, childbearing as a financial decision will cost us in the end. With no condescension intended, America needs a refresher course in biology and economics.

America chose capitalism. Women bear children. Children become leaders. Leaders develop great nations. The more difficult we make it to usher life, the more at risk our civilization becomes. Ivanka is not the worst person in the world.

She is simply a billboard for our collective failure to protect the circle of life.  In vying for the “greatest nation” title, populating that nation without propelling families into poverty should come standard.  

Farrah Parker is a Los Angeles based public relations consultant and former Executive Director for the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women. She started her career with the Los Angeles Lakers and holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication Management from the University of Southern California.   


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.