Fear Of Being Mr. Mom? Why Men Turn Down Paternity Leave

August 7, 2013  |  

As much as we try to push for gender equality, it always seems like there are certain ideals we just can’t get over. Take the birth of a child for example. It’s almost assumed that a mother will take all of her company’s provided maternity leave, and for good purpose. But what about the fellas?

I was surprised to find out that more companies in the U.S. are considering paternity leave so fathers can also bond with their newest additions. According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal, 15 percent of companies are offering paid leave for new fathers. Bank of America for example allows 12 weeks of paid leave while Yahoo! leaves eight weeks on the table for guys to take.

And let’s not forget new daddy Prince William who opted to take advantage of his company’s paternity leave to spend time with wife Kate Middleton and their son, Prince George of Cambridge. Granted Prince William can basically do no wrong in the public eye (and kind of do whatever he wants since he’s the future king), but he has nonetheless received praise for his efforts to put his family first by taking paternity leave.

At least in the U.S., the idea of becoming “Mr. Mom” is often frowned upon by men and even some women, which might explain why the concept of paternity leave is not a common one in the workplace. It also shouldn’t be a shock that the average guy would decline paternity leave from his company. Most were trained from birth to be more of a provider and less of a nurturer in the home. For this reason men who do take paid leave are often mocked by their peers for choosing family life over their job, making them feel like less of a man. Because of this, a good chunk of our men are reluctant to spend time at home with their child.

And let’s talk about black men in particular, who already have stereotypes associated with them keeping a job and being a dad. Would their desire to take paternity leave be considered a Prince William move in favor of family, or just an excuse to collect a check without doing work?

What’s worse is that it’s not always society that thinks this way. We, too, hold on to these gender ideals and expectations of how a black man should be. I have seen black women firsthand turn their noses up at the thought of men of color choosing to stay at home to take care of the kids. He’s lazy. He can’t hold a job. Why is he mooching off his lady? What’s funny is that a few times, he turned out to be a working father who took advantage of his paternity leave to assist his woman. Sure you may see him during the day with his children, but you don’t know the back story and how a person’s household works for them.

How many of us pray and cross our fingers for a good man who will not only hold things down, but also step up on the parenting side and be the ideal father? If so, why not give them the opportunity to do so by encouraging them to take the paternity leave? In the end, it only helps us out as constant feedings and nurturing a newborn is a very taxing responsibility for one person. This is a beautiful opportunity for new dads to bond with their children and studies have shown dads that take the leave are even more involved in their children’s life. Plus it’s paid leave!

Though it’s not mandated in the United States, paternity leave should be encouraged if the opportunity exists. There is nothing sexier than a proud father who wants to spend more time with this kid.

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