There is no shortage of sentiments based around the value and importance of motherhood. From the earliest signs of life there is an unbreakable bond that forms between a mother and her child long before that child ever sees its first moments in the world. On the flip side the traditional view of fatherhood has been much more of a silent foundational supporting role. No one would deny the importance of a father's place in the family structure but in many cases, it does come across as secondary to the direct emotional connection and maternal care that comes from a mother.
Fortunately, those classic gender roles and family classifications are changing and becoming very flexible with the times. Businesses have understood the need for mothers to bond and heal with their newborns and as such maternity leave has been a common part of the business world for many years. It is only recently, that paternity leave has been recognized as a valuable facet of family bonding as well. The assumption that fathers do not need or want to take time out with their newborn is changing. As businesses start to allow men that special time away from work, society overall should evolve the way it looks at fathers in the workplace.
“A 2018 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found the U.S. dead last among 41 countries for parental leave laws, with all other countries guaranteeing between two and 21 months of paid leave. All the United States offers is FMLA paternity leave, and that is an unpaid benefit,”
Only nine states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington) offer—or will offer—paid family medical leave (PFML). Roughly 20 nations have mandatory paid maternity leave with some countries, like Japan, offering over a year of paid time off. In comparison, the average paid time off for fathers is generally between 2 - 8 weeks. Japan is again one of the global leaders offering new dads up to 30 weeks off.
Not only are there less options available but in the United States, most fathers do not take advantage of the time they do have available due to a lack of knowledge about paid leave or fear that paternal leave threatens their masculinity. What worker wouldn’t be more productive and driven to work when his job shows an actual concern for his life outside of the office? It’s a win/win for all.
Society should change the perception that fatherhood is solely providing for a family financially. Before birth, babies take in all that is happening around them; voices, music and more are internalized. When that child is born the process continues. Bonding with the baby takes place with both parents regardless of gender. When available, take paternity leave to bond with your new child, support your partner and for your mental health. Use every day of it to create family moments that you will carry forward your entire life.
Written By Lola LePaon