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Daddy’s Home! Making Family Leave a Reality

Daddy’s Home! Making Family Leave a Reality

Shortly before my son was born, my wife and I made a practical decision. This was one of many practical decisions we made at the time, but one that, while practical in nature, seemed almost radical to many. While my wife’s job offered her three months paid maternity leave, we knew that at the end of those three months the job of being new parents wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, and someone would have to step up.

Considering the benefits of my wife’s job (healthcare, etc) and the fact that she actually pulled in more income than me, the writer (sorry to burst your bubble, but us writers are not rolling in dough). It was decided that I would fashion a sort of paternity leave and be the primary caregiver for our infant son. One snag, paternity leave had yet to be invented.

As of this moment, paternity leave is still a pipe dream in the United States, however the United Kingdom just approved a law that would allow fathers to take the place of the mother with six months leave (three months paid, three months not) once the child’s mother has gone back to work. The measure would allow mothers who earn more than their partners to return to work earlier, and would effectively allow couples to have a total of 12 months’ parental leave between them. The pay is about 200 dollars a week, not much, but better than nothing, which is what we paternity leave fathers get in the United States.

In 2004, California became the first state to offer paid family leave, which allows you to take up to six weeks at partial pay to care for your newborn. The Family and Medical Leave Act allows up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for family members (including fathers) which is nice, but doesn’t address the financial practicalities of being a new parent, nor issues of job stability (if you work for a company with fewer than fifty employees, you don’t even have the legal right to take a leave at all if you are a man). To give you a bit of a comparison, Sweden (that social utopia) provides about a year of paid family leave and some time specifically reserved for fathers.

Considering the shift in earning potential and the evolution of gender roles in the modern American family, isn’t it time the U.S. government took the role of fathers and the necessity of family leave a bit more seriously? Wouldn’t a law similar to this British mandate serve to strengthen the role of the father as caregiver? For a man/father, would paternity leave be seen as a respectable career move or would it be frowned upon in the workplace and indicative of a lack of ambition? Is it time the U.S. followed suit and provided a real (paid) family leave for mothers and fathers alike? Would this be an unfair economic burden on our already flagging economy, or would it be an investment with numerous unforeseen future benefits?

Read more: Babies, Children, Do Good, Family, News & Issues, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

60 comments

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4:54PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

7:38AM PDT on May 16, 2012

thanks for sharing

12:10PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

thanks for sharing

12:03PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

So sorry Teresa to see that for years you've been stuck here on care2 with posting your lies: "better to have a world without men" and "sex is disgusting".

As a survivor of sexual abuse, I do not even wish to imagine my world without the deep and special love of my boyfriend, my son and my father and the friendship of my male friends.

If you so desire, you too can become open to this manly love (its a very special gift).

2:43AM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

The world would be much better without men.

2:43AM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

I don't believe this article. It's pure fantasy.

10:51AM PDT on May 9, 2011

thanks for the article

11:17AM PDT on Mar 27, 2010

Is it time the U.S. followed suit and provided a real (paid) family leave for mothers and fathers alike?

9:32AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

Article is nice.Picture is tooo cute.I am not God,judge or jury.I have no opinion on this other than what I just said.

7:59AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

the fathers can be home if they want in sweden and more and more stay home with the child.it help bonding and equality at the same time.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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sounds like a great idea, and i am glad of it. thanks for sharing!

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