Posts tagged " childbirth "

How much of a priority is paternity leave?

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

The closing pitcher for tonight’s baseball playoff game is taking 3 days of paternity leave because of the birth of his daughter this morning. He will miss 2 games as a result.

Given that his wife had no medical issues with the birth, shouldn’t he be out there doing his job the next two nights?

Thomas P.

Dear Thomas,

We’re sorry to only get to your question now, although you submitted it closer to  October 2019, when Washington National player, Daniel Hudson, took paternity leave at the time of the National League Championship Series. However, the issue has cropped up before and since. This is not surprising when you consider that baseball teams are made up of men, many of an age when they are establishing families. In fact, baseball adopted an official paternity leave policy in 2011. Many players and officials made comments expressing the sentiment that baseball is important but family is more important.

That sounds warm and cuddly but it camouflages reality. These men are able to play professional baseball, not because it is important but because enough people enjoy watching them do so and are willing to pay for that privilege. As you suggested, this is a job.  Your local dry cleaner might close for a few days when his wife gives birth but he wouldn’t say, “Dry cleaning is important but family is more important.” The main reason he goes off to work each day is to support his family. If he has concerns that his livelihood might be imperiled if his store closes, then he will not take paternity leave but will stay open. If it came down to being with his wife and new baby for a few days or being able to provide them with a roof over their head and food on the table, there isn’t really a choice as to where his obligation lies. If baseball fans stopped attending games because their team, let’s say, loses the World Series because the star pitcher is off on paternity leave, the players will find themselves out of very lucrative jobs. That calculation should be an internal and unforced decision for the individual store owner or a baseball League to make. 

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Therapy as First Resort

January 27th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting 2 comments

Have you noticed a number of recent articles encouraging new mothers to consider therapy? Some of the articles reassure pregnant women that various emotions after childbirth are normal and a therapist can help work through them.  Others suggest that preventive therapy is a good idea. Line up someone to talk to so that when you have trouble coping you will have where to turn. The underlying message is that there is no shame in asking for help, a concept that is certainly true.

However, I have the same problem with these articles as I have with the terms, “terrible twos,” or “teenage rebellion.” They frame future occurrences in a negative light. We all know how often self-fulfilling-prophecies come to pass. That is entirely different from recognizing and educating oneself about upcoming physical, emotional and psychological developments and equipping oneself with tools to make these transitional times mostly positive and joyous.

Postpartum depression is a serious condition requiring medical and psychological intervention. Postpartum blues are a different matter altogether and are almost universal. Faced with massive hormonal changes, seriously impaired sleep, the disruption of routine and a new identity among other things, it’s no surprise that new mothers have trouble concentrating and find themselves weepy. This has been so for centuries. Why should women in our day need to pay a professional and fit extra appointments into their schedules, incidentally adding two additional sources of stress into a naturally stressful time?

I don’t have a politically correct answer. All I can suggest that we are structuring society in ways that set us up for difficulties when it comes to family life. We are causing many of our own problems and then providing solutions that may well be needed, but only because of our previous decisions and actions.

What do I mean? Ideally, new mothers should have support. Not only do their bodies need to recuperate from childbirth, but they often have little experience and confidence in their new role.  Watching family members calmly handling the newborn and having someone available to answer questions allows women to adjust. Simply having someone to give a hug and a hot drink can go a long way. Mothers, aunts, sisters and neighbors used to fill that function.  Today, geographical distances between close relatives are often huge and the women who would most naturally move into a caregiving mode are themselves busy earning money. It isn’t usually a question of choice anymore; taxation, the cost of living and a societal structure that presumes women working at an outside job rarely give women the option of helping out even if they yearn to.

Under these circumstances coping with a newborn does become more fraught with tension. It is completely understandable that a therapist might be helpful. Rather than seeing this as a welcome sign of progress, I see it as a sad consequence of years of devaluing the instincts and power of women and motherhood.

Why the different childbirth rules?

June 21st, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 17 comments

In Leviticus 12 it talks about the purification of women after childbirth.

Why is the woman considered unclean for twice the amount of time if she gives birth to a female than if she gives birth to a male? (I understand being unclean from a medical perspective of healing, but I thought it took the same amount to heal regardless of gender) 

Elin

Dear Elin,

Our egos are struggling here! It seems that you have not read every Thought Tool or Ask the Rabbi that we have posted. (Disclaimer: we are smiling as we write this)

One of the absolutely worst translation mistakes in Scripture substitutes the word ‘unclean’ for the Hebrew word ‘TaMEI’. If we could, we would go through all English Bibles crossing that word out.

Please look at these two posts where we refute the bad translation and then come back so that we can deal with your specific question.

https://rabbidaniellapin.com/sabotaging-success/

https://rabbidaniellapin.com/what-do-the-words-abomination-and-unclean-mean/

Having, hopefully, expunged that terrible translation from your mind, we want to preface our answer by saying that we cannot do justice to this topic in the format available to us, but we do hope to give you a glimpse into reality.

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