Paternity Leave Is For Every Father

Fatherhood stories, experiences and advocacy of fathers taking paternity leave didn’t exist in the past and conversations on insufficient parental leave policies are gaining momentum lately and for good reason, it’s time to support working mothers by strengthening paternity leave awareness, access to paid benefits and do away with stigmas for fathers who want to take advantage of benefits.

The U.S. government law doesn’t require companies to have PAID parental leave. A company can provide ‘parental leave’ but not require to have those weeks paid. In comparison, other developed countries’ governments have advanced to enforce paid parental leave policies. Progress in the U.S. to enforce parental, family leave benefits to be provided and PAID has been slow. However, visibility of company CEOS, celebrities who are fathers advocating for the need for stronger parental leave policies does help move the needle. Fathers can definately be influential in the advocacy. of paternity, parental leave policies, ‘paid benefits’, and for these benefits to reach every father regardless of job position, hourly status and earning brackets.

In order for men as fathers to become more involved, parental leave policies need to change for mothers and fathers combined and strengthen at all organizations, of all levels – small sustainable businesses must be incentivized to provide ‘paid’ family leave benefits, for the betterment of all types of families. More awareness of family benefit programs need to speak to fathers so one can become more aware of the importance of taking paternity and/or parental leave.

Family planning? Fathers can initiate by inquiring with workplace human resource offices and/ or state agencies for available options.

Here Are The Basics:

What is Paternity Leave?
Like ‘maternity leave’  – is paid paternity leave, time away from work for fathers with newborns. Parental or family leave is time away from work, usually paid or unpaid depending on your status with an employer. It is time taken by parents allowed in order to look after families, includes maternal, paternal and adoption processing.

Why it is important for fathers to take paternity/parental leave.
With both newborns and the mother, it benefits both if the father is involved and invested in the newborn’s care and overall positive development. Research specifically on Latino fathers may also offer important insights into culturally specific practices that may promote children’s positive development. Parental leave or family leave can be used for any family matter that will require your presence – for a child’s illness or a surgery.

Does Your Workplace Offer Parental Leave Benefits?
If you and your wife are family planning, it might be worth reviewing your company’s benefits on paternity/parental leave. Roberto Santiago, a father to three kids, shared the steps he took:

I was able to take 4-weeks of paternity leave when my son was born. It was a no-brainer for me. First, it was lucky because my wife was put on two-weeks bed rest right after delivery, so it was good that I had already planned to take leave. I also really wanted that time to bond with my son and get used to the rhythms of being a parent. 

Roberto Santiago, father to three kids

I did it by combining two programs available to me here in California. In CA, parents can take leave time paid by the state through the state disability system. Basically, having worked in CA for most of my life, they had been taking disability from me in every check. That’s the money I was able to access. Others may get different payments, but for me, I was able to get 60% of my salary for 4 weeks. For the rest of the time I used my vacation and sick leave from work. All together, I was able to take off a little more than 4 weeks by combining my paid leave from work and what I was able to get from the state. 

I can’t be more adamant in suggesting that new fathers explore their options for paid family leave. It’s an important time for us to bond with the baby, and support our partners. It was great for me, it was great for my wife. I hope it was great for the baby.

What Holds Fathers Back From Taking Paternity/Parental Leave?
What others will think. That’s right, fathers care so much about being good dads, but are held back by what others think.

“Helping Dads Care” a report by Promundo partnered with Dove Men+Care discovered 40 percent of men do not take paternity leave despite the need to want to be with their new family. So what gives? Why are fathers failing to take paternity leave? Talking with Josue, a Latino father, he shared that his mostly Latino family, the tias, the mothers were conditioned with traditional gender role views believed that the man should ‘bring home the bacon’ and should not walk away from working. Despite Josue’s family looking down at his decision to take advantage of his company’s paternity leave benefits, Josue moved forward with no regrets.

What To Do If You Are Low Income or Under Earning At The Moment?
Fathers may feel tremendous pressure to provide, but unable to under certain circumstances. While a majority of higher earning men in established corporations have access to paternity, parental or family leave and unlimited vacation benefits – those who work for small businesses or work for themselves don’t have that kind of access. Explore your options – seek short-term assistance from the State, local community organizations that specialize in family planning and assistance.

For fathers in California, New York, TexasNew Mexico, Arizona, Florida agencies.
Check with your state if not listed. Ask other government programs that your partner may use like WIC for referrals.

How To Advocate For Parental Leave In General
The United States is the most developed of societies falls behind when it comes to parental or family leave, for all. There are no national federal mandated laws enforcing parental leave policies. Many working parents do not have access to paternity. parental or family leave. How can a developed country, with some of the world’s most powerful corporations, companies not provide this basic need for parents?

Society at whole needs to support fathers to take paternity leave – when fathers are supported, by both family and overall community – it comes full circle, in how we support women too. Both father and mother can succeed at home and at work, more so, mothers feel supported with their careers, if they too have support at home.

Here is a simple way to support and advocate for overall parental leave – as a father, let people know you are on paternity leave – from posting on Facebook to a conversation with other family members. By letting people know you have taken time off to focus on family – you send the message and signal that it’s acceptable for fathers to do so. It can encourage other fathers or fathers-to-be to pursue parental benefits when needed.

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