Last week, our NYC Dads Group participated in an engaging and meaningful discussion on fatherhood with Jeremy Adam Smith (a dad, journalist, blogger, & author of The Daddy Shift). Jeremy (who flew in from California to meet with our dads’ group among other things) is a wealth of knowledge and has a handle on the big picture. Therefore, he made for a great facilitator to our discussion. The conversation included sixteen dads (a few of them pictured above) who convened in a residential buildings’ conference/boardroom. This location was ironic because several of us used to spend a good portion of our workday in these types of rooms participating in “important” business meetings. Now, we sat in that boardroom participating in more important and rewarding meetings – the business of being better dads. Overall, most of the dads in our group actively participated and shared personal & sensitive experiences that their families are going through: dad-life balance, empathy, parental leave policies, changing role of dads, and shared parenting.
The powerful conversation about the lack of paternity leave in the U.S. still resonates with me. In Jeremy’s book, he compares the rare U.S. parental leave policies to more exemplary countries like Sweden. He writes that “the federal government does not require employers to offer paid paternity leave, and only 13% of American companies do, but it is true that American men often do not take the full leave available (pg. 69).”
Of course, it would be great if more employers offered the benefit of paternity leave and increased this percentage from 13% to 25 – 50%. Consequently, if American men do not take advantage of this perk, then why would more companies be inclined to offer it? For one thing, the philosophy of the American dad needs to change so it becomes an accepted practice that when a child is born, the dad can have some well-deserved time off to enjoy their new journey. I remember the days of being in Corporate America – working later hours because your boss was still around, showing some ‘face time on the weekends, and rarely taking all of your annual vacation time. We have made some progress lately, but we certainly have some more learning to do!
Dads/Moms – please share some thoughts on parental leave policies.