Last week, Alexis Ohanian, Serena William’s husband, voiced his support for more generous paternal leave in the U.S. in an essay for The New York Times titled, “Paternity Leave Was Crucial After the Birth of My Child, and Every Father Deserves It.”
Serena Williams applauded her husband and voiced her support for more general parental leave as well, opening up to People in an exclusive interview about her experience after the birth of her first child, 23-month-old Alexis Olympia.
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“That so important…I’m telling you, it’s so hard to be a mom,” she said of taking leave. “I have my own job and I make my own schedule, but even then, I still have commitments, and I can’t imagine moms that get two weeks off and have to go back to work.”
“It impossible. I couldn’t have done it. I literally couldn’t have done it,” she added. “[Parental leave] is so important for both parents.”
She told the magazine that motherhood “makes it just so important to have a really good support system.”
“It’s hard. You’re in a marriage, you’re in a relationship, you have a kid. It’s not easy to just pick up and walk away. It’s not, and I know hat now,” she said. “I feel like [that’s] even more reason that I can speak to it.”
Williams has been working with The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Program to raise awareness about the seriousness of financial abuse. She recently filmed a PSA with the organization.
“My hope is that we can encourage the public to learn the signs of financial abuse and start conversations to help millions who are trapped.”
Like Williams, Ohanian is a vocal advocate for parental leave. In his essay, the Reddit co-founder wrote, “Nothing could have dragged me away from my wife and daughter in those hours, days and weeks — and I’m grateful that I was never forced to choose between my family and my job.”
Ohanian noted that only 9% of employers in the U.S. offer paid paternity leave to all male employees, and 76% of dad are back to work within a week of the arrival of their child.
“Our culture makes it difficult,” he wrote. “The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t mandate some form of paid family leave.”
He voiced that many dads and parents in general may not take time because they fear their career will suffer. However, “spending a big chunk of time with Olympia when she was a newborn gave me confidence that I could figure this whole parenting thing out.”
He encouraged new parents to “talk to your bosses and tell them I sent you.”
We love to see high-profile people like Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian advocating for parental leave for all families, for men and women. It’s such an important cause!
We agree that all parents should be given the opportunity to spend as much time with their kids as possible. As Williams said, being a mom, or a parent in general, is hard. And kids grow up so fast. Work will always be there. At the very least, it should be an option for all parents who do want that time with their new babies. Keep fighting the good fight, Serena and Alexis!
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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