Is Paternity Leave Working for Working Dads?
Lack of Paid Leave and Supportive Environment Still Obstacles for Many Fathers
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act has given working fathers more opportunities than ever to take time off to bond with their children, but many men are still not opting for paternity leave. At the same time, many fathering experts say paternity shouldn’t be the sole barometer for measuring a man’s commitment to his family.
Chipper Bro wasn’t about to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime when his son Nathan was born four years ago. For him, spending a couple hours with his newborn before and after work or even taking a few days off wasn’t good enough.
Luckily for Bro, he had the right employer. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company in Ventura, Calif., grants employees up to eight weeks of paid leave when a child is born or adopted.
“My two months off was the most awesome experience ever,” says Bro, a receptionist at Patagonia. “I got so much out of it – the bonding, the close relationship I still have now with my son. Plus, it allowed me to give his mom a break.”
Not only was his boss supportive of his decision to take time off, Bro says it didn’t hurt productivity at work or his job status. “I never did check into work. I never had to.”
If Bro’s story sounds too good to be true, that’s not surprising. Countless studies have shown how both father and child benefit from early bonding. But due to many factors – sacrificing income, a strong work ethic or fear of hurting their careers among them – most men still opt against taking an extended time off to be with their newborns.