Like many dad bloggers, the topic of paternity leave fascinates me. Maybe it’s because it’s so scarce — similar to my fascination of the rare Honus Wagner tobacco card — most American companies don’t offer it.
“Spending extended time with a new baby allows bonding and a chance to learn the many unexpected, frightening and wonderful things that come with parenthood. It can be the best few weeks or months you’ll ever spend,” sounds like it was written by a mom. However, these are the words of John J. Edwards III, in his recent Wall Street Journal: The Juggle article, Figuring Out Paternity Leave. (As usual, Matt S. provided this article for me) Edwards III, does a nice job of describing the positive tradeoff of some parents juggling work and family in regards to parental leave. Well, I can attest to this as well. I did not take a paternity leave, per say, from the NYC Department of Education. It is termed a “Childcare Leave of Absence” which affords a tenured teacher, like myself, Unpaid time-off to be home with their child. What was supposed to be a one year gig easily increased into a second year of quality bonding time with my son. In my experience, the public education system is very friendly with their parental leave policy in regards to time off, but not in paid time-off.
In sharp contrast to the U.S. policy (or lack thereof), a news producer recently told me about some interesting parental leave information taking place in Norway. The news station interviewed Norway’s first male Minister of Gender Equality, Audun Lysbakken, about why women’s rights should be men’s right’s too. Lysbakken has fought for mandated paternity leave in Norway , where couples get 56 weeks of paid “parental leave” for the birth of a child, which can be divided however the couple sees fit – but at least 10 weeks must be used by the man. Wouldn’t that be something?
Edwards III concludes his article with some thought-provoking questions: “Readers, if you’re fathers or expecting to be, how much time did you take off for the births of your children, or how much do you intend to take off? For the mothers out there, how have the men in your lives approached leave? What factors went into the decisions, and what were the results at home and work?” Please feel free to comment on these questions.