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Research Paper: Paternity Leave Essay

There is about a six week to six month period right after a child is born where forming a bond with your child is quite significant. This period of time will help the child with setting a certain healthy routine, getting the house set for the child, and adjusting to the new life in the household. The value of having both parents by the child’s side can make a difference in how the child is raised or even how the child may perceive their own life. There has been occurrences where people feel worthless without one parent in their life. The bond that you create with your family in those six weeks or so is important to uphold and will make for stronger families. Those children that have been through divorces or not even knowing who one parent is in the first place may be pressed with difficulties in their life. In “Leave Practices of Parents after the Birth or Adoption of Young Children” it is explained, “Children whose mothers did not report taking any leave (10% of the total) were more likely to be from a lone-parent family.” I was raised by a single mother and when I was born my mother did not take any leave from work or school. She had me on the weekend and was back on a Tuesday. I was raised mostly by my grandmother at the beginning of my life. Growing up without a father has always been a difficult obstacle for me to overcome.

When I was younger I could never understand why it seemed like everyone else had something I could never have. There have been men who come into my life and try to fill the role of a father to me, but there is always still a void. There is not a day in my life that I don’t think about my father: who he is, how he looks, or if I have brothers and sisters. Many people that I have come by in my life have a bond with their father that seems unrealistic to me because it is unattainable. Even though I do not have a father, I can tell that bond is extremely important. Paid paternity leave is an exceptional way to promote a healthy family and be able to form that very special bond.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary paternity leave is, “a short period of authorized absence from employment granted to a father after or shortly before the birth of his child.” Paternity leave is very close in definition to maternity leave but it is the leave taken by the father instead of just the mother. I believe that the father should always be able to take his six weeks and have it be paid for so that the he can still help support the family. Another term that is very pertinent to my argument is explained on the United States Department of Labor website. The term is the Family and Medical Leave Act which discloses, “The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.” The website also discloses that employees will get twelve work weeks of unpaid leave within a twelve month period.

Even though this act is beneficial to working parents, it does not entitle parents to any sort of paid leave. Even though there isn’t much evidence of the impact of men at home, the bond created between the parents and the child is not replaceable by any means. In the article “Fathers, Parental Leave Policies, and Infant Quality of Life: International Perspectives and Policy Impact” the author Margaret O’Brien states, “. . . parental leave has the potential to boosts fathers’ emotional investment and connection with infants as well as the support of their mothers.” There is a couple I know personally where the father was only given a total of three days after his son was born. He has already taken all of his vacation days for work and could not call off even if he wanted to. Those vacation days were not even paid for and sometimes it caused their family to have to struggle to make ends meet. Situations like this could be avoided if men were always given the choice of paid time off. In time past, paternity leave has not been socially acceptable in the workplace.

Men were to provide for the family, while woman were supposed to be the caretakers. As everything in our world is becoming more modern the idea of paternity leave is becoming more acceptable for men to take but it is not exactly what men always do. The article, “Without Taking Away Her Leave”: A Canadian Case Study of Couples Decisions on Father’s Use of Parental Leave” explains, “More than one in four Canadian fathers now takes some paid leave at the birth of a child.” While this certain explanation is shown in a positive perspective, more fathers in the workplace should be taking hefty advantage of paid parental leave particularly to form the bond in the first six weeks. While in countries like Canada in the province of Quebec, paternity leave is more accepted by men than it is in countries like the United States. In the United States it is more likely for a father not to take any time off after his child is born.

One might argue that taking too much time off after the birth of a child might take away opportunities in the workplace, but because paternity leave is becoming more accepted, it will be normal for a man to take time off. It is likely that they will have to use vacation time which might leave room for not being able to call off for an emergency. In most cases, taking twelve weeks unpaid could really hurt a family. That is why those first six weeks should be paid for. The idea will become even more accepted, more men won’t feel as obligated to not be around as much as they want to.

Ariane Hegewisch, and Yuko Hara, the authors of “Maternity, Paternity, and Adoption Leave in the United States”, express, “Job-protected parental leave is crucial for the health and economic security of pregnant women, and new mothers, and their families.” That security is what will represent a stronger family. Men will be more involved with their children and create a bond with that child in the same way that a mother does. It will help the mother and father see eye to eye and make decisions for the child together. A reporter from CNN interviewed a father, Joe Schroeder, about his three month paternity leave in the article “Paid Leave Lets Dads Build Parenting Foundation”. Joe stated, ‘”It made me a lot more aware of how fundamental parental leave is to family stability,” Schroeder said. ‘It made me lament the fact that it’s not a right that everybody shares.’ This quote from this man shows how important it can be to take paternity leave in the case of building a stronger bond. He also helps reveal the importance of issue of men not being able to have this right. There are instances where even women do not receive a parental leave as well and if they do they may not even receive pay.

If men take paternity leave it will help support women in the workplace. Women will more likely return to work, and men will also become more involved with their kids and be caretakers as well. Women won’t feel so pressured to stay at home if the father helps her out the first few weeks setting up the foundation of the child’s routine and feeling stable enough to come back to work. The article “The Daddy Track” positively reinforces this statement. The article states in reference to paternity leave, “. . . is a brilliant and ambitious form of social engineering: a behavior modification tool that has been shown to boost male participation in the household, enhance female participation in the labor force, and promote gender equality in both domains.” Fathers will be more likely to help around the house; they may help clean, and spend lots more time with the child or children.

The women will more likely return to their job which could lead to more raises, and job advances. Women will also more likely not have postpartum depression because they will not feel as pressured. If the paternity leave that the man took was paid for, it wouldn’t lead to women never returning to work because they would still have financial security. In the article, “Who’s Bathing the Baby? The Division of Domestic Labour in Sweden”, the authors provide explanation to my last point as they conducted a case study on parental leave. The study revealed, “Men’s participation in child care and household chores increased as the women went back to work, most dramatically when women returned to work. . .” In the past, there has been inequality between men and women. Promoting paid parental leave for both sexes will definitely help balance the scale and will give the workplace more of a sense of equality.

The United States is more of a modern country than most other countries but is actually one of the least evolved in paid paternity leave. Countries such as Sweden or territories in Canada promote an extended amount of time of paid paternity leave. According to the Pew Research Organization, “At the other end of the spectrum, Poland, Estonia, Spain, Lithuania, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, France and Finland offer three years or more of protection for leave related to motherhood. The median amount of protected leave for new mothers among these countries is about 13 months.” The Pew Research Center is comparing these other countries to the policy that the U.S. has. The U.S. provides the least amount of time and doesn’t even make paid parental leave required by companies. It is surprising that the United States isn’t as evolved in parental leave policies as other countries since it is such a modernized country that tends to promote equality. The men and women should have equal roles in a household, and a child should be able to feel close to both parents. Research shows that the longer amount of parental leave will help the fathers take more time off, as well as what was stated before, help more around the house. The country that I want to focus on most is Sweden.

They have a large amount of time given out to parents for leave, and it is paid for. Men are required to take a certain amount of days to care for their child and promote the women taking on roles in the workplace. “The Best of Both Worlds? Fatherhood and Gender Equality in Swedish Paternity Leave Campaigns, 1976-2001” states that, “Moreover, a significant feature of paternity leave campaigns, 1976-2001, was the frequent reminder of what men could gain by using their right to paternity leave.” The campaigns in Sweden for paternity leave promoted many aspects of why taking paternity could help no only the child but the father as well. If the United States adopted more of a leave policy like Sweden, there would be more acceptance of the policy with many great benefits not only in the workplace but at home.

There are the stereotypes in the image of the family. The father is to take care of the family by going to work and bringing home the money. The mother is to take care of the children, and take up household chores. According to Wall Street Journal one of these stereotypes said by Jennifer Berdahl is, ‘Active fathers are seen as distracted and less dedicated to their work—the same perception that harms career prospects for many working mothers. . .’ Our country has advanced from these types of stereotypes. Men should be able to feel they can take paternity leave despite the stereotypes of before or now. Promoting the use of paternity leave can be the basis for equality in the workplace and at home. The women will also be supported in the workplace and that will also promote equality. Also the first six weeks should be paid for because the idea of the stereotypes will be shed; it will also help with the stability and strength of the family. Compared to other countries, the United States is lacking in its parental leave policies. Evolving the policy to have six weeks paid off, will help make advances in the work world and social aspects as well.

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