Some People Are Crowdfunding Maternity Leave Now

When your company doesn’t cover paid leave, would you turn to your friends and family for money?

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

Paid parental leave is great if you’re comfortable taking it. Unfortunately, it’s a benefit that isn’t widely offered, leaving new parents in a bind. The FMLA-sanctioned 12 weeks of unpaid leave is helpful if your company provides some compensation or if you’re able to get disability insurance to make up for the money that you’re not making But, as Bouree Lam over at The Atlantic points out, our country’s lack of “a blanket policies that offer wage replacement during parental leave is at odds with what most Americans want — and say that they need.”

Some people — a “loud minority,” as Lam is quick to point out — are crowdfunding their maternity leave instead.

Turning to Baby Registries to Subsidize Parental Leave

Using websites like Babylist, which exists as an online baby registry for showers and the like, people are registering for maternity leave cash, to cover expenses, and in some cases, to cover part of the salary the new parents are losing out on for taking a full 12 weeks.

Kimberly McClellan, another user on Babylist, felt that being explicit about her ask for leave funding the request more comfortable. “The biggest worry was how to manage all the new expenses of a baby while I was off work and without pay,” said McClellan, a 36 year-old marketing specialist in Denton, Texas, in an email. “I thought it would be great to give people the option to just contribute money if they chose to, but I wanted to make it clear that any cash donated would be used for salary replacement while both me and my husband were off work to care for the baby. I felt like that would be a more understandable request than just for cash to be used for anything and everything.”

That it’s come to this says a lot about the sad state of parental leave in this country and the fact that we haven’t been able to get a standardized practice in place across the board. Lam points out that asking for cash on a baby registry is increasingly common — “Cash allows families to spend more time with their newborns, while other gifts will soon be outgrown.” Giving money for big life events like marriage or a baby isn’t really the norm in the United States, but it’s clearly the most practical gift a new parent could use.

Asking for money as a “salary replacement” to cover the fact that both parents are taking leave feels a little bit…different. I will gladly give money or a cheese plate or diapers or a lasagna and my free time to a friend who has recently gotten married, had a baby or some combination of the two — as a friend who loves my friends and is happy for their life choices, I will show my happiness in the ways that I’m comfortable with. I just don’t think that I’d donate to a GoFundMe to cover the salary of someone else whose company has a terrible family leave policy. But that’s just me.

Cash registries for weddings and baby showers — good, bad or neutral? Would you be inclined to donate to a fund that essentially covers someone else’s salary while they take their parental leave? Is asking for money tacky in situations like this or do we just need to pull ourselves together and get over it?

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