The defaults are as follows:
- Work till you drop: 50-60 hour work-weeks are routine; also common is having only couple weeks vacation per year.
- Long commutes to and from work: either long lines of traffic or many miles to reach place of work.
- Relative isolation from family: the concept of extended family does not really exist here. Many people move around to where the jobs are, not where their family lives.
- Complete disregard to the importance of motherhood: there exists NO guaranteed paid maternity leave to care for newborn baby, let alone paternity leave. I was shocked to see the list comparing US parental benefits with other countries in the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave
There are only 3 other countries in our same boat: Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland. Great company. It's just sad and wrong, and it makes me want to move to Sweden where new parents enjoy 16 months PAID time to be home with little junior!
- Lack of social support for child care, which is a basic necessity for working parents.
- Premium on material wealth. Bigger home, shinier car, newer clothes, brand name logos promise to bring happiness and popularity, but deliver on neither. They just drain bank accounts.
Where does this leave most Americans? Struggling to make ends meet while fueling this gotta-have-the-next-big thing lifestyle. Exhaustion. Lack of emotional support. Disconnection between parent and child due to the restricted amount of time they get to spend together during those crucial early years and beyond.