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This Mother's Day, Wouldn't You Like to Be French?

As we prepare for American Mother's Day, the French are just starting to think about how to honor their mothers at the end of the month. (In France Mother's Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of May.)Mother's Day was instituted in France after World War I, to help rebuild the French population. In fact, mothers of eight or more children received gold medals from the French government for their contribution to society. Don't tell Octomom Nadya Suleman; I think she'd be jealous! France isn't giving out medals anymore, but after years of zero population growth, they sure are doing a lot to encourage women to have children. In recent years, France has added new and improved family-friendly laws to what many already considered to be generous policies (in place since 1970). As a result, France now boasts the second-highest fertility rate (1.94) in Europe. Check out these stats cited by Tracy B. McGinnis in her online article, One More Reason French Mothers Have to Be Thankful:

In France:

* French mothers receive 100% of their salary for six weeks prior to the birth of their baby and 10 weeks after.
* Maternity leave ranges from 20 weeks for the first child to up to 40 weeks for the third child.
* Paternity leave (introduced in 2002) grants fathers 11 days full pay.
* Parental leave (introduced in 1997) is available to parents who have been with a company for at least one year, and gives mother and/or father the right to take three years' unpaid leave. At the end of that time the employer must take them back under the same terms as before.
* Tax breaks based on the number of children for French families.
* Monthly childcare subsidies.
* Inexpensive summer camps.
* Long paid vacations. (Anywhere from 4-8 weeks.)
* Free child care centers for children ages 3-Kindergarten.

Happy Mother's Day to moms all over the world - we salute you! You may not be able to enjoy the same legal benefits as the French, but we hope that each and every one of you gets a chance to kick up your feet and benefit from eating some gourmet chocolate bon bons!

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