To summarise, to improve birth rates, Germany is considering more and more to adopt a system closer to the french one. In the french system, mothers can go back to work really fast, leaving their 3 months old babies in someone else care. Society consider that an accomplished woman should not let having kids get in the way of her career and she should/can do both. In the German system, a good mum is an at home mum. With no obligatory school until children are six, it is very difficult for mums to go back to work after having children. And even primary schools often stop at 2 pm so someone need to pick up the kids. Thus, many women chose to have only one child or none. The focus of the article is that only the positive points of the French system are presented and discussed : Mothers can go back to work. No one asked French working mums what they think and feel. After interviewing french mothers, psychologists, pediatricians, ... the authors conclude that many mums feel pressured to go back to work but would rather stay at home longer, the first year maybe. Many mums would love to have more time at home with their children and not leave them in daycare for so many hours. In many cases, they are afraid to admit it because they would not be seen as valuable to society if they ONLY took care of their children. So not all French women think it is a perfect system.
How do I feel as a French mum in Germany? How do the mums I know here German, French or else feel about it?
I am really happy the German system gave me the opportunity to stay home with Papoï for a year. It was not how I saw things before being pregnant, but I feel happy being a home mum. I also realised early that I needed time for myself. It means that Papoï is going to daycare twice a week since he is 8 months. I had no jobs, if I had one maybe I would have like to go back to work... When? maybe when Papoï was six month old.
And there goes the problem. It would have been very hard for me to do so :
# There are no easy daycare system before babies are one. Most take only one year or older babies. We were very lucky to get a place for Papoï.
# Even daycare (or kindergarten or primary school) is only until 2 to 4 pm depending on the daycare. So both parents can't really work full time.
# What I really don't like, society here mostly thinks the mum should stay home or she is a bad mum. And if she has a carrier she should not have kids. This I heard from many mum, women not only German ones.
# However, in international couples I know this is not so clear cut. Yes, the German partner often thinks that the baby should stay home at least a year. Among my friends, it meant that the mum (not German) would take six months of parental leave and then the dad would follow.
# I also hate the idea that a stay at home mum is not a complete woman. That it is not a valuable job. Being a mum is a wonderful & tough job.
What I would love is that mums and more generally parents have a choice. The possibility to stay home with your babies if you want it, the possibility to work if you want it. Having children is an amazing experience. It is also very different from family to family. Each family should be able to find its way, without society telling if it is good or bad. No system is perfect of course. But a system where both parental leave for mums (AND DADS) and a good daycare possibilities are available seem a minimum for me. Yes this may be utopian.
Furthermore, what I find so sad is that so little is said on dads. Now a day, parents should be equals. There is no reasons why the dad's job is better or more important than the mum's job. In theory, in Germany mum or dad can share the 12 months of parental leave (the mum has 2 additional ones after birth). In practice, I see and hear most men take one, two months at best. To be optimistic, among our friends, yeah for the dads: they care!!! They take months of parental leave to stay home with wife and babies, or alone with babies. They go pick up kids at day care. They consider the work choices of their wife. They share free time, working time, children time. So it is possible ! Yes most are international couple, or couples who have been living abroad, or/and with careers in science. It may make them more open-minded more aware of "equal" parenting in a working society. I believe we would live in a better world if this would be the norm not the exception.