Should More Men Join The Fight For Paid Parental Leave?

May 12, 2015  |  

All of this talk about maternity leave and the United States lagging behind other countries is quite depressing. One would think as a top nation in the world we would have our stuff together.

Guess not.

As someone self-employed, the concept of paid leave tends to go out the window. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. This was a harsh reality I had to come to terms with upon the arrival of my first child. Thankfully I was able to work ahead and find a balance so I could take the time off I needed to dedicate to my newborn.

With friends working for different industries and corporations, it’s crazy to think there’s little to no flexibility in this category. New mommies need time to bond with their baby and recover from labor and deliver. One simply can’t expect them to jump back up ready to work, and yet, the policies in place almost encourage women to do so.

A lack of maternity leave makes it hard for women to support their families and even come back after time away from the job. According to reports, only four states have publicly-funded paid maternity leave that can offer several weeks out of the office and a little more than half of their salary. Late last year President Obama encouraged Congress to develop some sort of parental leave that would help families welcome a new addition without sacrificing their jobs. Democrats created a bill that would provide federal employees with paid leave that’s a far cry from the 12 weeks of unpaid time off currently available.

With Hillary Clinton now in the presidential election mix, one can only hope the powers that be create a solution that helps out new mothers. Now the question becomes whether dads can join the fight for parental leave.

Sure men don’t carry a child for 40 weeks and have to give birth to them, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed time off to help with their own child. Many countries across the globe include both men and women with parental leave. Heck Prince William is currently enjoying–not including those late night wake up calls–six weeks paternity leave from his job. Having another set of hands and a parent at home to help with a newborn would be ideal for many new mothers, especially if the time off was paid.

Lord knows I’m thankful for my husband, who telecommutes full-time to work. Having him in the house was a huge saving grace when our son was born, and will be much needed in a few weeks when I give birth again. That man can change a diaper like no other and warm up breast milk faster than you can blink an eye. This allowed me to sleep in the middle of the night and catch my breath so to speak after a natural childbirth.

Even with our current setup, he’s one of the biggest advocates for paternity leave. Men who want to help and bond with their child are often left behind as an afterthought. Thankfully there are companies that are providing this option to their employees.

“I know I didn’t carry the baby, but I did help make him,” my husband jokes. “It would be nice to at least get a week or two of paid leave to be able to help my wife and child.”

Yes some men might shy away from the concept of paternity leave, but the option should be on the table for them to take.

What do you think about parental leave? Should it include both parents or just focus on mothers for the time being? We’ve also included John Oliver’s Mother’s Day rant below, which is a must-see.

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