Now this is a viral Reddit post that will have you sitting at attention. Recently, a father-to-be shared that his partner presented him with a financial plan should they have children, which they've both decided they want to do. The most shocking part isn't that she expects him to hand over $50,000 as part of the deal—no, it's the fact that even after breaking down all of her (valid) reasons for the request, the guy still doesn't quite get it.
Let's back up, shall we? The author in question, u/husbandmaybefather (who has since deleted his viral Reddit post, but the internet is forever and so are screenshots), says he and his "wife" have been together for six years, and they consider themselves to be "spiritually married." Their union isn't legal, however, and they both split their finances right down the middle. The wife in this story fully believes that 50/50 split should also extend to having children. Since they're both "high earners," according to him, it shouldn't be an issue, right?
The wife's job offers maternity leave for up to a year, but only pays 50% of her full salary for the first six months—the second six months are completely unpaid. The post explains that she estimates she'll lose about $50,000 of her annual income simply by having their child and going on maternity leave. She believes it's a fair split of costs. He...does not.
“Since her work would not compensate her, and because this loss is something she is doing for the family, she is ‘comfortable splitting the loss of her income,’ and only asking me for 50 percent of her salary instead of 100 percent for the six-month period,” he wrote in the post, adding that the “idea, I guess, is that both of us ‘suffer’ half the loss of income for the second six-month period."
The husband admits that he's struggling to process his wife's logic, and says he thinks it's "a lot to demand" despite her reasons and the fact that they both are, by his own admission, high-earners. He even went so far as to say he thinks it's "gross" to have a payment plan in place for having a child, despite the fact that they're not married legally and she's looking out for not just her own best interests, but their future child's as well.
"In our situation, it makes logical sense, but there’s something so transactional about it that puts a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. Though he talks about how much he admires his wife for being independent, it seems that admiration is conditional.
Cue the comments section, where many, many, MANY people made many, many, MANY valid points about the financial burden of motherhood in America.
Here's the thing: Reproductive labor is, well, labor. Full stop. And not just because the end result is literal labor. Pregnancy is also a major health condition where any number of things can occur or go wrong. The husband here intentionally wrote his headline to his story to be hyperbolic, and, well, no one fell for it.
Because the fact of the matter is, a woman in a relationship with a consenting partner who is also on board to have children together should not be fully responsible for the mental, physical, emotional, or financial aspects of having children she didn't intend to create and raise herself. While the husband in this story may not be able to alleviate the physical burden of pregnancy on his partner, he can and should help with the burdens of parenthood.
Also, when you boil everything down, all this woman is really requesting is that she be compensated the same way she would if they had combined finances. It's not really outrageous when you think of it in those terms. (It is also worth noting that this man describes his wife's rationale as "cold," yet women are constantly told we're "too emotional" about everything under the sun.)
According to the National Woman's Law Center, there is indeed a "motherhood penalty" for working women in America. Even now, the pay gap between working mothers and their male counterparts is staggering—it costs women approximately $16,000 per year in lost wages. Moms in the U.S. make 71 cents for every dollar working men make.
Perhaps if we, as a society, collectively acknowledged the wage loss mothers incur when they have children in cold, hard, monetary terms—a request like the one in this viral Reddit post wouldn't seem so "shocking." Or, better yet, a request like this wouldn't even need to exist at all.