Mother's Work · Motherhood · Parenting · Toddlers

Parenting vs. learning to drive

Through my personal research on motherhood in the United States, I’ve come to agree with Susan Maushart and something she says in her book “The Mask of Motherhood”:

“…we devote more care to the licensing of automobile drivers than we do to preparing adults for parenthood. It’s a point worth pondering. Limiting our education for parenthood to prenatal classes is a bit like limiting driver education to defensive strategies for getting out of the driveway. No one would dispute their usefulness, but they can only take you so far.”

So as I read the new FSA health reimbursement guidelines that went into effect on January 1st as part of the recent health care reform, I find myself getting kind of angry:

Birthing Classes – Covered under certain conditions:
Expenses for Birthing Classes qualify to the extent that instruction relates to the birth and not the child rearing. The fees for the class should be apportioned to exclude instruction in topics such as newborn care. Expenses for the coach or significant other do not qualify. The Instructor/Facility that is conducting the classes will need to itemize these expenses out to the best of their ability, so the participant can submit this as substantiation for the claim as to the amount that they are requesting.

Ok, so I agree that the actual birth and the prenatal care are the “medical” aspects of having children, and that the purpose of the FSA is to cover medical expenses. But how can you talk about birth without addressing parenting, even a little bit?! And to expect the instructors to itemize the bill if they dare start talking about parenting… Since there are no other subsidies in place in our society to support becoming a better parent (unless you’re ordered by the court to attend parenting classes – but do you have to pay for those, too? I’ll have to look into that…), this might be a good place to include some assistance to humans to become better parents. There is, of course, no line item for “parenting classes” – the benefit of which just might reduce health insurance claims and expenses down the line and promote overall health.

As I scrolled down I also came across this one:

Breast Pumps – Covered under certain conditions:
Breast Pumps used for convenience are not eligible. If the Breast Pump is needed for a medical condition, it would be reimbursable under the plan. A note from a medical practitioner outlining the medical condition would be required.

I take huge issue with the word “convenience.” They’re opening Pandora’s box with that term. Given my low milk production and difficulty tandem nursing twins, I was instructed by my doctor, the pediatrician, and lactation specialist to pump after every attempt at nursing in order to encourage production and hopefully save up a bit more breast milk for my boys. No one called that a medical condition. Maybe I should have asked? Should I have to ask? Oh, and insurance did not cover my lactation consultant visits, either.

What about the mothers who have no other choice but to return to work after six weeks and place their infant in some type of childcare, but who want to continue to supply their child with breast milk? They buy the business casual nursing blouses and bras, tote the conspicuous breast pumps to work, and struggle to find a private area that isn’t the bathroom to pump, forcing them to take more frequent breaks than might be allowed at their job. Do you call that convenience?

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