Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg recently announced that she got some parts of her popular book, “Lean In,” wrong. Namely, she didn’t realize just how hard single parenting is until her husband died a year ago.
In light of Mother’s Day, Sandberg wrote a post on Facebook where she admitted that single moms get a raw deal–and much of their lives are determined by forces out of their control. Many work multiple jobs and don’t have access to paid leave. She wrote:
“I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home.
For many single parents, there is no safety net. Thirty-five percent of single mothers experience food insecurity, and many single mothers have more than one job—and that does not count the job of taking care of their children. A missed paycheck or an illness can present impossible choices. A single mother living in San Jose said that each month she has to choose between putting food on the table and paying her cell phone bill.
The United States is the only developed economy in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave. Almost a third of working mothers don’t have access to any kind of paid leave to care for themselves or their families if someone gets sick. Instead of providing support, we all too often leave the families who are struggling the most to fend for themselves. The odds are stacked against single mothers in this country. Yet so many give everything they have and go on to raise incredible children.
We need to rethink our public and corporate workforce policies and broaden our understanding of what a family is and looks like.”
It is scary, and absurd, to think about how many people in our own country aren’t valued enough to have adequate benefits, like paid leave. Sandberg does acknowledge her own privilege, as she does not have the same financial struggles many single moms face, stating that she should have written more about women raising children alone.
It’s rare for anyone, let alone a public figure, to sincerely admit when they were wrong, so I don’t take this admission lightly. I respect Sandberg for being so open and honest, as it takes a significant amount of strength to do so.