Congratulations, Daniel Murphy, on the birth of your new baby. And an even bigger congratulations on your understanding that parenthood is a partnership, and one that both spouses are equally involved in, which is an idea that appears to be lost on many of your professional sports colleagues.
Murphy, the second baseman for the New York Mets, has been under a ridiculous amount of criticism from professional sports broadcasters over his decision to take 3 days off after the birth of his first child, causing him to miss two games.
Radio broadcaster Mike Francesca went on a diatribe about the player skipping town to be with his wife and child, saying there was “nothing” a father could even do for those first few days, so what was the point? “I don’t know why you need three days off. I’m gonna be honest. You see the birth and you get back,” he said during a radio show. ”What are you doing the first couple of days? Maybe you take care of the other kids? You gotta have someone do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, you do. Because your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days. You know that. You’re not doing much those first couple of days with the baby that was just born.”
Former football player Boomer Esiason had an even better idea, stating that Murphy should have forced his wife to have a C-section before the season started to make sure her birth didn’t interfere with his work. “Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry. This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”
Murphy has responded to his critics by noting that it was a decision that he and his wife made together, and that, due to her inability to travel because of the birth, it made sense for him to stay the extra day, missing an additional game, knowing that it would be the last time he would see his wife or child for a month. “[T]hat’s the choice of parents that they get to make. That’s the greatness of it. You discuss it with your spouse and you find out what you think works best for your family,” Murphy told ESPN.
The league’s parental leave policy is sparse as it is, with new fathers allowed to miss only three days after a child’s birth. For perspective’s sake, that may not even cover the entire period of the hospital stay in an uncomplicated birth, depending on how long the labor is. In comparison, baseball’s season is as much as six months long, with games starting in April and extending potentially into October if a team makes it into the World Series. That’s over 160 games, of which Murphy was pilloried for missing just 2.
The criticism he received makes it clear that among sports personalities at least, there is still an assumption that as the “earner,” a father is unnecessary in parental roles, as he can always be replaced by paid help, such as a nurse, and that his most important role is to provide the monetary means to be “successful,” which in this case appears to be good schools, college educations and other things money can buy. No doubt those are all good, but what children really need to succeed is positive role models, people who are there as a presence in their children’s lives, and know that supporting a spouse, bonding with a new baby, and shouldering responsibility for parenting their children is as important if not more important than any financial assistance. They especially need to know that daddy wouldn’t make mommy have an unnecessary and risky surgery just to make it easier for him to get to work.
So, again, congratulations, Dennis Murphy. It looks like you are already well on your way to being an excellent father.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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