At our family doctor this week, I learned something that I have suspected in family counseling practice – that the way many people are working in the current economy is making us sick. Stress has grown for many in the workplace who are either being asked to meet deadlines quicker or do more as fellow workers have been laid off.
Family therapist and author William Doherty is on the Board of Take Back Your Time that is taking a firm stand on issues concerning the American workplace and its effect on the family. Take Back Your Time cites a report by the Project on Global Working Families called “The 2007 Work, Family, and Equity Index: How Does the United States Measure Up?” This report gathered data from 177 countries representing a wide range of political, social and economic systems found that:
- 84 countries have laws that fix a maximum limit on the work week. The U.S. does not.
- 139 countries guarantee paid sick leave. The U.S. does not.
- 96 countries guarantee paid annual (vacation) leave. The U.S. does not.
- 37 countries guarantee parents paid time off when children are sick. The U.S. does not. Plus 163 of 168 countries guarantee paid leave for mothers in connection with childbirth. 45 countries offer such leave to fathers. The U.S. does neither.
How do such policies effect the family? I saw firsthand, the effects of stress on American men when I co-facilitated mandatory domestic violence training for men who had gotten caught up in the court system. So many times, I witnessed men brought up to be breadwinners who were caught up in the “emotional box” of what their upbringings had taught them it meant to be a man. When stressors such as unemployment, under-employment, or substance abuse, combined with the high speed at which we are being asked to live at today hit, domestic difficulties and incidents resulted.
We taught these men to slow down and care for themselves. Only by putting their own wellbeing first, were these men able to make beneficial changes in their lives and relationships. As a society, we would do well to heed this message.
— Neal Brodsky