Here’s Daddy: Breaking the Stigma against Long Paternity Leaves

dad and child

New fathers, dads, and papas: Take your lengthy paternity leaves!

According to a New York Times article, only 90% of fathers take their time off and a lot of them are taking only less than 10 days off before going back to work. Compared to the 1993’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions, that’s 74 days too short of the maximum number of days they can file without getting fired.

If the current staff can’t handle the load, businesses often go to locum tenens to make up for your lengthy leave. If you work in a medical company, they may partner with a hospital staffing company to fill your position temporarily. So, you wouldn’t need to feel guilty if you had to take a paternity leave.

So, what’s making new fathers itch to go back to work already instead of spending time with their spouse and child?

A Stigma on Newly Minted Fathers

Parenting resource site Fatherly states that while FMLA provides federal backing to paternity leaves, this law itself is rather flawed in two ways.

Firstly, only 60% of Americans are entitled to leave under the FMLA due to one of its provisions where you have to have worked 1,240 hours for over a year in a company with more than 50 employees. Secondly, if you meet those requirements, then you still won’t have money to pay for your long parental retreat because the company isn’t forced to give you paid leaves.

In short, you don’t get support from the federal level. So, what about per state? If you live in New York, California, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., you’re in luck. These so far are the only states that implement state-wide paid paternity leave legislation in the country, according to Fatherly. Unless your company offers paid parental leaves, then you’ll have to take your leave unpaid.

Paternal leaves, from the beginning, aren’t an American norm and are more Eurocentric. Several studies show that new fathers taking paternal leaves get stigmatized, being viewed as “less committed employees” according to the University of New Hampshire sociology professor Rebecca Glauber, in an interview with New York Times. The damage can reach a point where their earning potential is affected by what would be a very beneficial time off.

Why Are Paternal Leaves So Important?

dad and kid

The miracle of childbirth spans hours of grueling pain, screaming and pushing—something that fathers don’t actively take part in. Of course, that’s not to say paternal leaves are just glorified lengthy vacation leaves. Aside from helping your spouse recover or changing your kid’s diapers, taking those weeks off has a myriad of benefits. These can affect you, your relationship with your spouse and your child’s early development.

Firstly, fathers who take at least two weeks of paternity leave reportedly have closer relationships with their children even nine years after their birth compared to those who didn’t partake. Divorce rates also drop during this period. In the long run, dads are likely to involve themselves in parenting with longer paid parental leaves.

Parents shouldn’t be discriminated against for taking their time off to raise their children together. Companies must challenge and overcome the stigma over paternal leaves through fair and equal protection opportunities for all genders. You need to be involved in your newborn child’s life, too. Make that bond and come back to work refreshed and ready to take on the world.

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