City Dads Group members took to social media Tuesday to support efforts in Washington, D.C., to convince U.S. lawmakers of the importance of paid family leave and erasing the stigma of fathers taking time off to care for their children.
Nearly 50 of our dads and other fatherly friends used #Dadvocates, #PaidFamilyLeave and #PaternityLeavePledge on Twitter and Instagram to tell their stories about the need for parents to receive paid time off from work to care for their children, especially in those critical early weeks.
The online onslaught backed “Dads Day of Action,” an effort by longtime City Dads partner Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States), a national organization campaigning for nationwide paid family leave laws by 2022. PL+US had been asking for people to share their family leave stories to strengthen its case for change.
“Dads Day of Action” saw a group of more than 40 fathers and other “Dadvocates” from across the country on Capitol Hill Tuesday lobbying key members of Congress on the issue. Many of these dads talked at length about their struggles to take time off when their families needed them and the challenges they faced balancing home and work life as new parents.
The group, led by advocate Alexis Ohanian — a co-founder of Reddit and husband of tennis superstar Serena Williams, held more than 20 meetings throughout the day, including ones with: U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Majority House Whip U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., representatives from several Democratic presidential candidates, and others to push for action.
Ohanian became committed to the paid paternity leave movement following his experience caring for his daughter following her 2017 birth and the many health complications his tennis star wife experienced following it, including being confined to bed for six weeks after her Cesarean section. He admits to being fortunate to being able to take advantage of Reddit’s 16-week paid family leave at the time.
The group’s work spreading the word received high praise on social media from celebrities like model Christy Turlington and prominent people such as philanthropist Melinda Gates.
In February, DM+C began a campaign pushing for paid paternity leave across the United States. It included asking individuals and businesses sign a Paternity Leave Pledge encouraging the creation and use of paid time off policies for new fathers. About 36,000 people signed that petition, which was presented at the Capitol on Tuesday.
The men’s grooming products company also:
- Created a Paternity Leave Fund that offers $5,000 grants to new fathers so they can spend time with their children without the financial worry of being away from work. The company plans to distribute $1 million in grants over two years.
- Launched Advocates for Paternity Leave, a closed Facebook group, for people wanting to help change federal laws. The group has more than 1,100 members.
Only 15 percent of U.S. men have access to paid paternity leave benefits and, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, most new dads don’t take their full time off — paid or unpaid. Recent studies by DM+C and others show that almost two-thirds of fathers surveyed said they have quit or would consider changing jobs to be more involved in caring for a newborn or adopted child during those critical early days, weeks and months.