Mother's Group Wants 'Progressive' Family Solutions

By Kate Monaghan | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - The Democratic Party should adopt "family values" and provide "progressive" solutions to family issues, according to an organization co-founded by one of's creators.

"MomsRising" believes taxpayers should fund "family leave ... childcare and healthcare for all children." Critics call the group's goals "noble" but say their proposed solutions are misguided.

"This is really about building a movement." said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, who co-founded MomsRising with Joan Blades, who also helped create

Rowe-Finkbeiner and Blades are calling on Democrats and "progressives" to adopt "pro-family" positions like federal funding of paid leave for new moms.

"We're really hoping to provide some extra grassroots support to push known policies that we know can help provide solutions forward into the national political dialogue." Rowe-Finkbeiner continued.

Those policies and solutions include "paid family leave, flexible work options, excellent childcare and healthcare for all children, and to stop the wage and hiring biases that penalize so many working mothers today," according to a MomsRising press release.

The group outlines its agenda in a book entitled "Motherhood Manifesto" co-authored by Blades and Rowe-Finkbeiner. Among the complaints lodged in "Motherhood Manifesto" is that non-mothers earn 90 percent of the wages earned by their male counterparts, mothers earn 73 percent of that wage, and single mothers earn only between 46 to 56 percent of males doing the same jobs.

According to an analysis by the conservative think tank Concerned Women for America (CWA), titled "Comparable Worth/Pay Equity: Sacrificing Equal Opportunity," women can earn as much as men, but often pursue different goals.

"The fact that more women work in lower-paying professions is not due to rampant discrimination, as the feminists charge," the CWA study argues. "Many women choose such professions voluntarily because they have decided to keep their families the top priority in their lives."

Still, John DeGraaf, a filmmaker working with MomsRising to communicate their message, believes "progressives" can offer better solutions for families than Republicans.

"We think it's high time that progressives and the Democratic Party address these family values and present progressive solutions to family issues," DeGraaf, director of the group's "Motherhood Manifesto" film, said.

The 65-minute documentary tells the stories of women trying to balance work and motherhood in America. DeGraaf said the documentary begins with a summary of its message from an unlikely source.

"The film actually starts out with President Bush speaking at the 2004 Republican Convention and at that point he makes, really, the message of the film when he says, 'Two-thirds of all moms now work outside the home. You have the right to support your family, have a good family life, have a rewarding career, and government must take your side.'

"We think that sums up what this film is about," DeGraaf added. "We don't think Bush is doing that."

DeGraaf also criticized Democrats for not promoting a similar message at their 2004 convention.

"We certainly hope that progressives and Democrats will start to do that," he added, "because this issue was absent, completely, from the Democratic Party's speeches [in 2004]."

Janice Crouse, senior fellow of CWA's Beverly LaHaye Institute told Cybercast News Service that MomsRising, "looks to me like a very informal kind of union for moms."

"While so many of these groups are begun by women who have very good ideas and a very idealistic view of things, when it gets right down to it they are asking for special treatment and they are asking for set-asides, they are asking for union type of action," Crouse said.

"For instance, they're wanting childcare, healthcare, and leave, and all of these things that would take taxpayers' money," Crouse said. "What they're asking for is support for motherhood."

But government-subsidized parenting, Crouse contended, is not a core American value.

"When you get right down to it, that's not what America is all about. It's not about financial support. It's about providing opportunity for people," Crouse argued. "I don't think we want to live in a country where people get paid to be moms."

Crouse says MomsRising is confusing the roles of parents and government. She said the solutions to problems facing today's families are cultural rather than governmental.

"We really need to develop a society that is sensitive and appreciative and respectful of motherhood," Crouse said.

"I think when you get down to specific issues like fighting for wages for mothers, and for healthcare and childcare and all of those kinds of issues, you're pushing family concerns onto the government and blurring the distinction between government responsibility and individual responsibility," Crouse added.

Crouse appreciates the concerns expressed by MomsRising but maintains that their approach does not offer the proper solutions.

"This is an instance where they have very noble goals," she concluded, "but what they are doing is confusing processes and confusing policies."

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