5 best and worst places for moms
May 6th, 2011
04:26 PM ET

5 best and worst places for moms

The best country to be a mom is Norway, with its generous maternity leave, lowest infant mortality rate and high preschool attendance rates.

The worst place is Afghanistan and several sub-Saharan African countries, where female life expectancy is low and women endure multiple high-risk pregnancies, according to Save the Children’s annual rankings  released before Mother’s Day. The photo above shows a baby born in the maternity ward of a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The health rankings were based on lifetime risk of maternal death, percentage of women using modern contraception, the presence of a skilled attendant at birth, and female life expectancy.  The Mothers’ Index compared the well-being of mothers and children in 164 countries.

The United States ranked number 31 out of 43 developed countries.

Many find it shocking that the U.S. is ranked so far back, said Mary Beth Powers, Save the Children's chief of the Child Survival Campaign.

“Kids don’t go to preschool, women who die in childbirth and we lose more newborns than most developed countries,” she said about American motherhood.

Only 58% of U.S. kids go to preschool compared with 98% in Iceland, 95% in Norway and 82% in Australia.

Compared with other developed countries, U.S. scored dead last is in the issue of paid maternity leave, Powers said.  In the U.S., the typical family leave is 12 weeks compared with  six months to a year in Europe, where mothers can bond with their babies and establish good breast-feeding practices.

In more resource-strapped countries, the criteria varied.

In countries like Afghanistan, women had poor access to basic health care, endured high risk pregnancies and didn’t have access to midwives or medical facilities during delivery.

Compared with five to 10 years ago, conditions are improving, said Powers.  The death rate of children under the age of five in Afghanistan dwindled to 20%, from 25%.  But more efforts has to be made to improve health of mothers and children, Powers said. The complete list is available at Save the Children.

Top 5 places for mothers:

1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Iceland
4. Sweden
5. Denmark

Worst 5 places for mothers:

164. Afghanistan
163. Niger
162. Guinea-Bissau
161. Yemen
160. Chad

soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Dee

    There are a number of ways we could improve our maternal/child outcomes. First of all, implement a midwifery model of care for healthy, low-risk moms (backed by an OB practice). Second, reduce too-early inductions and c-sections (those for convenience–not talking about true emergencies and clear medical need here). Third, figure out ways to promote breastfeeding, especially in poor, rural communities. Fourth, offer some better benefits for new moms–longer paid leave would be a great start. I think just those 4 things would make a huge, beneficial impact.

    May 6, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lala

      where is the like button?

      May 6, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • Croco3

      True, True, True and True!

      May 6, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
    • momof3

      Add me to the chorus. I totally agree.

      May 6, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • Kristin

      Dee for president!!!

      May 7, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      So true! I was utterly shocked a couple of months ago when I saw the c-section numbers. It is way too high.

      May 7, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Home nursing visits and assistance the first couple weeks after birth have also been shown to help reduce infant mortality.

      May 7, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
    • Ami

      Agree, agree, agree, but would add – why is it a minus for fewer kids to be in preschool, rather than home with their moms? Why do we seem to think the sooner our kids are in someone else's care, the better???

      May 7, 2011 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      homebirth has 3 times the infant mortality as hospital birth. i don't encourage homebirth for everyone. get to a hospital with a built in birth center, that way during emergencies, the moms and babies can get the help they need.

      also, the c-section rates are very much a lot of times the mom's fault. you're not suppose to eat for 2 during a pregnancy, sit on a couch. you're suppose to excercise, eat healthy and only about 3-400 extra calories a day. if you make a 10lb baby, i won't get it out for you and i got no choice but send you over to your ob.

      next, we need to give more maternity leave so moms and babies can bond. also, the low preschool number is NOT a reflection of mortality. i do research on this, it's called a cofounding factor, it's most likely more strongly correlated to our social outlook on education.

      May 7, 2011 at 22:21 | Report abuse |
    • me

      to linda:
      Just wanted to say, c-section rates are NOT the moms fault. Lets try ignorant doctors.

      May 8, 2011 at 03:21 | Report abuse |
    • BB

      MIdwives should be outlawed. Babies should be born in a hospital. The threat of complication is too great. NO baby should be born at home its stupid & selfish. As far as C sections are concerned they save both the lives of the MOm & the baby. I know both of these thongs first hand. to encourage anything else is selfish, stupid and ignorant!!!

      May 8, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • wanted children

      The best way to improve maternal and child outcomes in the USA is to make sure each and EVERY child born is wanted by BOTH parents who are equipped in every way to raise that kid properly. Basically, that means our society has to get comfortable using reliable birth control EVERY time and if they have an accident, decide if adoption or abortion is better than trying to raise a kid by yourslef with no money or support. It's not just about prospective parents, it's about the kid. Mothers: get off alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis and all prescription drugs. That is the best start to improving outcome in this country and it's the cheapest and easiest to implement.

      May 8, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
    • Graiae66

      BB, glad to hear about your wide knowledge of thongs. C-sections can and do save lives, but the WHO estimates that only about 15% of c-sections are for this purpose. The other 15% in the US are often done for reasons of convenience and profit margins, and fear of litigation, not for saving lives. Moreover, many midwives do work in hospitals. Some do homebirths, and others do not. You and Linda need to do some reading...and not about thongs, either.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
  2. erin

    I'm surprised the U.S. ranked that HIGH on the list. We're certainly the last among industrialized countries. What with our lack of universal health care, the frightening high rate of unnecessary c-sections, the low rates of breast-feeding, the high cost of child care, and especially our pitiful, pitful maternity leave status.

    May 6, 2011 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. PreschoolAChoiceForAReason

    Why in the world would preschool attendance rates have anything to do with whether the U.S. is one of the best places for moms or not? I choose not to enroll my 3 year old in preschool, because I take my role seriously as her first teacher in life. I am her mother and I love being her mother. Should I place in her a classroom of 15-20 children...and take a chance on her getting a teacher who can actually pay enough attention to her, nurture her, and teach her the basics for school? At the age of 2 1/2, I taught her all of the A,B,Cs (identifying letters in books, easily, not just singing the song), identifying numbers and counting up to 20...not just learning colors and shapes, like most in preschool. She has a huge vocabulary for her age and is curious and well-spoken. In addition, we socialize with children her age every week...in playgroups, museums, playgrounds, kids concerts, libraries, art/music/soccer classes. Why does "Save the Children" feel like something is lacking in our lives because I choose not to put pressure on my child by putting her in the hands of total strangers at such a young age. The United States allows me to make this choice...and I feel the fulfillment a stay-at-home mother feels in guiding her child during the tender years of her life. I waited quite a long time for this moment, after many years in the work world. The U.S. should get bonus points for that, I think, allowing moms to make such a choice...not negative marks.

    May 6, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • amber

      Access to preschool is the key. Children who have access to preschool usually do better in school later on. Preschool is a way for children to develop social skills, which is critical in the 2+ years. If you are able to do these things on your own, you are the exception rather than the rule. Most likely, you are a stay at home mom, a convenience not all mothers have. So, it is better for these children to be in preschool, rather than a daycare situation, where they aren't learning ABC, 123, etc.

      May 6, 2011 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Whether children attended preschool or not was most likely significant in regards to whether preschools in the surveyed nations were state-funded or not. In most European countries, they are, and so children attend preschool because it's considered a normal part of a regular primary education. In the US, most preschools are either run by non-profit organizations like churches, or they're private preschools where parents have to pay tuition.

      It's fine for parents to view preschool as optional... what's NOT fine is that preschools in the US are not publicly funded. While some parents, such as yourself, have the luxury of forfeiting a paying job completely to focus on raising your child, the majority of parents aren't so fortunate. Being able to start their kids in school a year earlier takes some of the pressure off of them, as well as giving their kids a jump-start on their academic careers. Considering that the US is trailing so far behind all of the other industrialized countries in academics, this subject perhaps deserves more serious consideration.

      May 6, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      Right. If my husband's salary was enough for all off us I would be stay at home mom (but just for 1 year). Unfortunatelly this country (so proud of freedoms, ha!) was not giving me that choice. I had to return to work when my baby was 1 month old -because I had to use half of my maternity leave when I was pregnant and on bed rest. In Europe, most mom work and most of them have year long maternity leave and most kids go to preschools at age 2-3. And most studies showed that way is the best. Why not here? That is why USA has so bad ranking and that is why I have only one child.

      May 6, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
    • Amy Stephenson

      I think the statistic is telling in that the majority of children at home at that age are not cared for by a mother such as yourself. They are in front of a TV or home daycare and not getting proper socialization and interaction.

      May 6, 2011 at 22:08 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      I agree– there must be a reason for it to be on the list, and they should have explained what that reason is. But for most Americans who don't put their child into preschool, they are doing it out of choice, I think, which is very different from places that don't offer it, or it's only for the rich, etc.

      May 7, 2011 at 01:49 | Report abuse |
    • MsAledella

      Amber - social skill development is an interesting subject. Studies show that real social development starts on the family unit level - learning how to respect others' time and space, learning to read other people's emotions and how to react to them, developing a sense of self, responsibility, etc. In a preschool, children are taught how to wait their turn, share, etc. in a room of 15 or so other children approximately the same age. What I see on the playground and other places w/ a lot of preschool-aged children is way too many children who learn (at preschool) how to manipulate to get what they want, push their way to the front, exclude children who aren't their 'friends', a lot of bad language and a host of other negative, unattractive social behavior. Of course a child can have lots of negative behavior sans-preschool - I definitely notice a huge difference in the majority of non-preschooled children vs. those staying home at that age. The ones that stay home are in general more well-mannered, well-spoken and thoughtful than their peers. However, these may unfortunately not be the best qualities to help them climb the corporate rungs in this country. In terms of social development, preschool gets a thumbs-down in my book!

      May 9, 2011 at 07:59 | Report abuse |
    • Conrad Shull

      Because this report was put together by confirmed and dedicated Statists.

      May 9, 2011 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
  4. Amazedmom

    Totally agree with you, preschoolachoiceforareason.
    My daughter is 4 and we have chosen not to send her to preschool. These years are so short and move so quickly. I am her first teacher and am glad I have that choice. I am masters educated and have chosen to stay home with her. In no way should preschool attendance have been a part of this list. I know it was probably included for things such as school readiness, etc. But the same can be provided at home by loving parents if they chose. Preschool is great. I am not knocking it, but I don't feelnit should be on this list.
    Excuse any typos.. Typing on my phone while my dd draws a injured person falling off her bike and a medical rescue chopper with a doctor and ivs to help her. Lol. I love kids imagnations

    May 6, 2011 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ade

      Thanks for the site. My youngest is 5 so we'll be doing a liltte bit more this year, but still need moments to fill. Up until now it was puzzles, bug your siblings, coloring, bug your siblings, painting, bug your siblings until mom finally pulled out the cartoon babysitter. Then we'd start the next day with new hopes:)

      May 24, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse |
  5. MountainMama

    Excuse me, but you women sound highly educated and rich. Most moms don't have the money to be able to stay at home and spend all the time with their preschoolers. Many of those kids end up in sub-standard day care situations. These women don't exactly have a choice in the matter as you claim. You only have a choice because you can afford to.

    May 6, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LEB

      Good point. It would certainly be preferable for a child to be able to enroll in a public preschool at age 3 or 4 than to be in a less-than-ideal daycare situation because that's all their parents could afford. The US lacks both public preschools and public daycare services, which makes it harder for parents (especially single parents) to balance work and child-rearing. Yes, in an ideal world we'd all wait until we were married and had a family income of $100K+ before reproducing, but life is seldom so neat and tidy. Heck, in a perfect world, both parents would be RETIRED before having kids, and then there'd be nothing to distract from childcare. However, giving up a paying job just isn't an option for the majority of parents, and in the US there just aren't enough public resources to support families in balancing their lives. This isn't good for families, or for kids.

      May 6, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      I find it interesting that now so many people complain these days. My parents weren't rich and both had to work. I was in a standard daycare center, and still managed to do well in school and stay out of trouble, and go to college. I think my life turned out pretty well.
      Also as for people arguing about socialization from preschool, what ever happened to actually playing with the kids in your neighborhood? If they aren't "good" enough then maybe people should be moving somewhere else.

      May 7, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • Drinker

      I was a stay at home mom when my husband made $35,000 a year 11 years ago. The cost of living hasn't changed that much. We owned our house (w/mortgage payments) and had our priorities straight.

      May 8, 2011 at 02:43 | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      For many, it is the matter of their own choice. It does not matter how much money you have – you'll always want more. The house has to be bigger, the car has be newer, the whole image MUST be better than your neighbor's... Taking care of your child reqiures a lot of hard, unnoticed work. We want rewards now. It is simply easier to make somebody else responsible for our failures, so let's send all our kids in day care while we fulfil our dreams in our jobs, pay teenage babysitters in the evening when we "connect" with our husbands... Guess what? Outcome is not your achievement. Win or lose – somebody else raised your kid.

      May 9, 2011 at 00:21 | Report abuse |
  6. limbo

    Giving moms a 6 months vs. 12 week maternity leave helps with transition. Your baby is usually sleeping through the night (or sort of). I was still in shock at 12 weeks. It would also help if your boss didn't say, "Uh, so do you think you are actually going to take 12 weeks of maternity leave? I mean, that's a long amount of time."

    May 6, 2011 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JehseaLynn

    @AmazedMom Gosh, your darling daughter's picture, drawn as you fiddled with your phone, depicts, according to you, "an injured person who fell off her bike being rescued by a medevac chopper with a doc and IVs"...sounds to my fine educated self as if she is clearly ANXIOUS she cannot count on gadget-obsrssed MOMMY if she gets hurt. You might want to re-think your views on letting her enjoy her peers at a good preschool.

    May 7, 2011 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nicci

      I think you are projecting your feelings of being a "lesser mommy" onto this lady. How rude! I doubt the daughter is frantic about Mom protecting her. How do you know she didn't just come home from a field trip to the hospital, or just watched an episode of ER with Mom, or has a Dad who is a doctor? Saying this mom is bad because of one picture her daughter draws is kinda rude. As, I'm sure this reply to you could be seen as rude. Sorry, but I agree with the Mom raising her daughter at home. There's "usually" always a way to balance a budget and keep Mom at home.

      May 9, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
  8. dokysmommy

    Bottom line, I made the choice not to send my daughter to preschool. She watches no TV. We nuture her, we taught her to read and write. She has great communication skiils. She is way ahead of kids in her kindergarten class. We have sacrificed our previous lifestyle so one of us is always with her. But we were lucky. For many, this would not have been a viable choice.

    May 7, 2011 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BB

      Let her watch SOME TV for goodness sake. Its not all bad be selective.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse |
  9. SAM

    BARS should be on the list

    May 7, 2011 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. felipaervin

    I would recommend this health insurance plan i found through "Penny Health Insurance" to anyone with a growing family who is looking to minimize their medical expenses.

    May 7, 2011 at 07:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. jim burrgess

    I find it interesting to note that Cuba is number one on a list of 79 countries on the second list,but you will never see this mentioned on CNN or any other news outlet.

    May 7, 2011 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T3chsupport

      Of course not. Only evil, commie b@stards take such good care of their citizens!

      May 7, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
  12. Fletch

    Well, so much for my dream of the wife and I moving to Chad.

    May 7, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Deanna

    Sorry, but I don't think businesses (or taxpayers) should bear the burden of someone's decision to raise a family. If they want to offer generous maternity benefits (such as Google) then great. But I don't believe they should have to. If more people financially planned for their families and saved $$$ to be able to stay at home with their babies, we would all be better off.

    May 7, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T3chsupport

      If Ifs and Buts were candies and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas.
      As it is though, stating what you'd like the ideal to be hasn't ever made it so.

      May 7, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse |
    • Deanna

      Yes, that's true. But the ideal of having all moms stay home with their babies at either the taxpayers cost or the business cost is not an attainable idea either. We can barely afford K-12 education...there is no way we can afford free top-notch preschool for every kid. The countries in the top 5 have significantly smaller populations than ours with far lower immigrant populations as well. We simply can't afford to provide the same kind of maternity benefits. But the fact is, even if we could, I wouldn't want to. Again, people need to take responsibility for their decisions to have a family.

      May 7, 2011 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
    • Oakley

      ahh....such naivety. If only we live in such a world where people are so responsible then,,,not only are you right but we don't need any prisons or even military except for humanitarian reasons. Sadly we do not live in such a world and as such we need to choose the lesser of two evils! Because people are NOT responsible, BECAUSE many mothers DO NOT plan financially we CANNOT just say oh heck with it let them all fare for themselves!
      You see those 5 countries at the bottom 5 on that list? Guess what? their leaders think EXACTLY the same as you do that's why they are there! in other words if you have a kid you fend for yourself and your baby! don;t expect a single dime from the government or society! heck we expect you do be back at work tomorrow!

      May 7, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
  14. nina786

    waw ..an interesting shared.....:)


    May 7, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. ohokay

    31 out or 43 hmmmm verrry interesting; the same percentile ranking on the SAT will make for a laughing stock to any college admissions officer....

    May 7, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Oakley

    most posters here are very tunnel vision, thinking only of their own familiy etc instead of looking at the study in a holistic manner and form logical conclusions based on the entire country.

    May 7, 2011 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. sue

    2011 and the federal government doesn't give any leave,,,, they tell the states they must,, but for thier own workers NADA, and if you take too much OF YOUR OWN ANNUAL LEAVE,,, you can get in trouble... yup we got it great

    May 7, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Dee

    Thanks for the awesome compliments above! Made my day! To others: One way, in my opinion only, that we can ascertain the 'advancement' of a given society is to look at how said society cares for and cherishes its children/young and its elderly. I am afraid we don't have the greatest track record on either. And some of the changes I suggested are not costly ones...

    May 7, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Zoroaster

    So it appears that the best thing a mother can do for her well-being is to move to an overwhelmingly white country, and then pray that it stays that way.

    May 7, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vinay

      Cyndy,Workboxes are neat. I made up some a few years ago (before they were called wxorbokes). I need to switch them around to give him something new to work with. Thanks for your good ideas.

      November 16, 2012 at 02:03 | Report abuse |
  20. r

    Alone driving in your car is a pretty good place too.

    May 7, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. lola81

    Preschool is important because it exposes young children to educational material at a time when young brains are growing and developing.......For me it is not a matter of my child being "better or smarter than the next child".....Education is important to me.

    May 7, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pre-school

      exposure to someone else teaching is a benefit of preschool, social of sharing toys, eating snack is also a benefit, different toys

      some of this can come from friends and playgroups but the 'school' paid relationship of pre-school to family is a good segway to the next step of public school

      May 8, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  22. Lin

    i wouldn't enroll my kid in a preschool, their toys are chewed on by every single kid for the last 5 years, they don't give them individual attention. heck, american education system, i say the lower the number enrolled the more we care about educating our kids.

    May 7, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rita

      I sent my kid to pre-school. It was a wonderful place for her to learn and form friendships. SO what if the toys are chewed or used. Yes colds are a common problem as well. Her personality developed much more than the withdrawn kids who stayed at home. Needless to say she is no longer in pre-school and has done better in school than children who never received early education. Of course, the choice/kind of the pre-school is important.

      May 9, 2011 at 08:22 | Report abuse |
  23. Jaki Bros

    Children who are kept at home without preschool attendance are fortunate ONLY if their mothers take time to educate them. Unfortunately this is not the norm across the country and that is why our we are low statistically. It is the reason our young people rank much lower in education internationally. Until the American public truly invests in education and makes it a priority and pressures the political system, our ranking will not change for many years to come.

    May 8, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • education is paramount

      Jaki: your comment is bang-on accurate. The USA has already lost the race to stay at the top and for two reasons: (1) greed-driven outsourcing and (2) loss of value in high education for our kids and society. Interestingly, everyone else in the second and third world knows the value of education. Look at US graduate and medical schools: they are populated largely by foreign nationals because US citizens no longer want to be educated and work hard for a living. Wake up America! It isn't about having a nice life any more, 1950s style. It's about survival and getting a job competing with highly, highly educated foreign nationals here on visas. If a kid from India can start from farmer parents who can't even read to top-level scientist in the USA a ta top university, SO CAN YOU! Hit the g#*@^ books, no excuses!

      May 8, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  24. Childless of Australia

    I'm not sure if this report takes into consideration how much CHOICE mothers have. Here in Australia (ranked second in this report), you might have access to better medical care, but it's a total nanny state. The government recently controversially removed women's right to have a midwife-assisted homebirth unless a doctor signed off on it, essentially forcing women to see doctors whether they want to or not, and in many cases forcing them to have hospital births. Then there's the issue of forced post-natal depression testing; the right to refuse anti-depressants without it being implied that you're a bad mother and risking losing your children; the right to not vaccinate your children etc.

    I know not everyone will agree with parents having all those rights, I'm just saying that this report should also be considering issues surrounding patient choice. A medical system which doesn't allow patients to refuse treatment is just as bad as one which denies medical treatment to a patient.

    May 8, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kaili

      Childless of Australia,
      Your knowledge of the pros and cons of the Nanny state is intriguing.
      I myself was not aware of the things you stated.More people here in the states need to know these things.then maybe so many would not want to have the Universal healthcare etc.This speaks volumes to me,thank you for sharing this info.

      May 8, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
  25. Kaili

    Publicly funded daycares and preschools may sound sweet,but if you are one of the taxpayers paying for it,it certainly isn't great.The money does not fall from the sky,someone's paying for it,unless you are poor,you will be.

    May 8, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mahesh

      Funny, I was so busy reading all the palllaers between the book and my own experience that I missed the overarching message against expensive boarding schools. I did think that the educational benefit was missing from the book, or did think that Avery was supposed to be a blow off school. But I also thought that Ellen's belief that sending her son away would make him be safer was naive. How could sending your child away ever make him safe? The only reason to send your kid away is if you think it will be a better opportunity, something he can't get at home, like Anna thought with the arts. Did you think the headmaster character was a little weak though? I couldn't get a clear sense of his motivation and he seemed to be the catalyst of everything happening.

      November 16, 2012 at 01:57 | Report abuse |
  26. Joan in Orange County

    I don't see where the "stay at home" vs " preschool" conflict occurs. Preschool is available without a daycare option, meaning that it is usually only a few hours per week. Typically the schedule is 3 mornings for 3 year olds, 4 mornings for 4 year olds, and 5 mornings for kindergarten. After sleeping, naps, eating, driving, you still have at least 50 hours per week to spend with your children if you are a stay at home mom.
    When my children were small our family was among the fortunate few. I am well educated, but still needed to work, so I taught college classes 2 evenings per week. The rest of the time I was a stay at home mom, AND my kids went to preschool! Beginning at age 3 they attended for 9 hours (3 mornings) per week. The next year their enrolled hours increased to 12, and kindergarten was 15 hours per week. The rest of the week I did all the fun stuff with them – lots of time outdoors playing, "play dates" with other moms & kids, arts & crafts, cooking, etc. etc
    I agree, turn off the tv, stay off the cell phone & the computer, and you can send your children to preschool for all the wonderful socializing and learning experiences. My kids made lifelong friends in preschool. I met other moms with whom I became friends and we planned great family activities together. My kids (25-40) still talk about how much fun they had!

    As for healthcare choices, do a little research on the "choices" you will have when you have NO INSURANCE, and of course, in the wonderful USA, no government funded health insurance unless you are very poor, or over 65 (wealthy or poor). Most people are against "universal" government funded healthcare UNTIL they lose their private policies. And then they experience the complete lack of a "safety net".
    If government funded health insurance is so awful, then why is the enrollment rate in Medicare for 62-65 year olds 100%? Did you ever meet anyone of any income level who turned down Medicare & Social Security? If these programs are such a bad idea, then why does VIRTUALLY EVERYONE who is eligible for them sign up for them, whether they could pay for private insurance or not? Billioniares, millionaires, working executives of large corporations – none of these people NEED Medicare & Social Security, but they all sign up!
    I am looking forward to it! I was forced out of a job (they hired a young guy who lasted 6 months). I started a business with large corporations for clients which was very successful for 10 years, until 2008. Then my clients cancelled my servies and my business failed. I am 63 1/2 & have no health insurance after enjoying the ability to pay for it myself, or having it provided by my employer my entire life. In 18 months I will no longer have to set my own broken toe (didn't have $2,500 for doctor's office visit, x-rays, & orthopedic specialist) and I will no longer be the only non-Spanish speaking patient at the local "community" clinic which only charges me $125 for office visit & lab test to renew my thyroid medication (which costs $4/month to fill at the pharmacy).
    Just call your local hospital & ask what the cost of a typical emergency room visit is if you have a job and have personal financial assets, but your employer has decided to no longer offer health insurance, or you were laid off 2 years ago & no longer qualify for COBRA. Do you have $5,000 (or more) for that visit? What if you need a cholesterol lowering prescription renewed? Do you have $250-500 for an office visit & lab test? Filling the prescription won't cost much, all the big pharmacies will fill it with a generic for less than $20 per month.
    Visit Canada – it is close by, not expensive to visit & ask the average person there how they feel about government provided health care. Listen carefully. They might complain about some aspect of it, but do they want it cancelled? Canada is a democracy, the people could vote to cancel it, but they haven't & they won't. All over the world most countries regard some type of universal governement funded health care a necessary service to provide their citizens, along with education, roads, water, electricity, emergency services & a police force. It's one of the hallmarks of a successful country!

    May 8, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rita

    The US should also be on the worst list. Women who have children are restricted. A lot of women in top positions either have no children or have children after 40. It is very difficult to have kids and get promoted unless you have a 24 hour nanny. If you are in middle income group and qualified and capable to get into the high income group, there is very little chance as you get typecast easily. All it takes is I need to leave early or come late because of a doctor's appt and that's it. You are looked down upon especially by other women. The situation for working women with children and no 24 hour nanny and no family in the US is very very difficult and leads to very high incidences of post partum depression.

    May 9, 2011 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric

      Wow! Thank you so much I am starting to keep a blog to reorcd my own thoughts and ideas on our journey, and I hope that my reflections can help others. Thanks for making me aware of the Secular Homeschool site; I think that I will be adding it to my blogroll as soon as I get the time!

      November 14, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse |
  28. Crazy Canuck

    Please come to visit – we love playing host, especially on the East Coast. 'Joan in Orange County' is quite correct in that most of us living in the 'Great White North' (myself included) would complain about the health care system in terms of wait times and prompt access (from a patient's perspective) to specialty services; however, we wouldn't want to change the fact that we have universal healthcare. Another poster had a very good point in that a society's success and failure is often linked to how it cares for those who are unable to care for themselves. I understand the 'American Dream' is about self-determination and that an individual's hard work and perseverance is possibly rewarded by wealth and privilege, but you can actually sustain that ideology and provide care for those who may be underprivileged and who, possibly through no fault of their own, find themselves without the resources to access proper health care. There are definitely some 'adjustments' that should be made in the Canadian system, but moving towards a system that is not publically funded would not be one of them. I should mention that I am not a communist, a socialist. or any other "ist', but rather a person who has varying views depending on the subject matter – I like to think for myself and not follow along with the proverbial herd. As an example of our system, when my twelve-year old son was born, my wife and I were in a private room, had continuous nursing support (a nurse was in the room with us for the majority of the time), were offered and accepted an epidural (had to get the anesthesiologist), and when my son was born the doctor called for an assessment team (another doctor and two nurses) to assess him as he had excreted meconium into the amniotic fluid, and could have had issues with his breathing. Thankfully all was well and after a couple of tense moments, I held him in my arms for the first time – WOW. After a restless night in the hospital and some great professional nursing assistance in regards to proper breast-feeding techniques we made our way home for the first time as a family. Anyway, the cost for the whole experience was a whopping $7, which we paid to move from a semi-private room to a private room. Life is just quite a bit better when you have one less financial worry to contend with. Hope to see you all coming for a visit sometime soon!!!

    May 9, 2011 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Crazy Canuck

    I forgot to mention that my wife took a six-month maternity leave that was paid for by the government at 55% of her salary. The next year, the government extended the leave to a full year. I can't imagine how a woman could possibly go back to work after anything shorter than a three-month leave. I know in some cases in the US, women get even less time off after the birth of a child. It makes me think that American 'big business' has more control over the American government (having people on leave would create a huge loss in perceived productivity) than the people (I'm pretty sure someone in a large top hat once said "Government of the people, by the people, for the people...") do... Scary thought!!! Remember, Canada is located north of the 49th parallel, so come on up for a visit sometime soon...

    May 9, 2011 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Maryland Mom

    what this article doesn't mention is that maternity leave in many European countries is not only long, it is also PAID. here in the U.S. moms typically get ZERO, forcing us to go back to work as soon as possible because we can't afford to be out of a job. yes, the government says we get 12 weeks off, but who can afford 3 months without her salary? some U.S. moms are fortunate to have short-term disability insurance, which helps a little. I love my job, but I really resent being essentially forced to go back to work so soon because there is no paid maternity leave. the Feds give tax breaks to huge oil corporations – where are the tax breaks for companies that give moms paid maternity leave? seriously, our values in this country are very screwed up.

    May 9, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HR Mom

      FMLA does pay you a portion of your salary after 21 business days.

      May 9, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
  31. Karen Foster

    Its about time we looked at the truth of parenting and family life in this country. The data does not jibe with the idealistic image we have of ourselves. I am just glad I figured this out before I had kids. As the author of "No Way Baby! Exploring, Understanding and Defending the Decision NOT to Have Children" I site this very hypocrisy as a driving force behind the decision to forgo parenting. As a counselor I have had countless women tell me they regret having children because of the realities sited in this data. For them it is too late.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mike

    The name of the survey is kind of misleading. I don't think "kids don’t go to preschool" is one of the things people are thinking of when they hear about a survey about "best/worse places for a mom." Plus, surveys like this are assumed to be more survival-related, not quality-of-life-related.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mama Bear

    More paid maternity leave sounds great on the surface, but how will it be paid for? Just make a law to make companies do it! Except then companies are going to be even less likely to hire women, and be even less likely to pay women as much as men. Paying people to not work hurts their business, and while some corporations are profitable enough to handle it, it's enough to really hurt others. Different companies do have different maternity plans, if you can, find a job with a good one. Not that easy? There's a reason for that. Heck I would be happy to find a job with good and affordable medical insurance at this point.

    November 1, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Stephanie

    I find it amazing that all the comments here are about maternity leave and preschool. I understand that these issues are important, but I'm just stunned that there was no discussion at all about the horror of being a mother in the worst five. I mean, here you people are saying, "Oh, I wouldn't send my child to preschool either." If women in underdeveloped countries could have this forum, some would probably be saying, "Oh, my husband also forced me into a seventh pregnancy that nearly killed me." I'm shocked by the lack of perspective here.

    November 4, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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