Going to work was never intended to be a free pass, but for some men it became one. For decades, the societal perceptions of fatherhood have eroded people’s opinions of what a father’s role should be in the life of a child. Some men take refuge in the stereotypes, slamming down what a man does versus a woman’s “job” like a bulwark to hold off the oncoming horde of responsible actions. They wear adult skin, but pout when their hamburger comes with pickles. Like all vocal minorities, their extreme behavior is viewed as the standard practice in a discussion.
Meanwhile, there are uncounted other men who want to be a part of their child’s life. They may not have a Pinterest board overflowing with nurseries that they could not possibly recreate or recipes for the top ten seaweed baby smoothies, but they try to learn in their own ways. The difficultly is that they are faced with a culture that has given up on fathers as parents. New parent resources, advertising, and workplace policies sometimes accommodate men, but were not made with them in mind.
Let me be very clear, I am no expert. This year alone I nearly electrocuted myself both hanging and taking down my Christmas lights. In college I lived off Totino’s pizza and waffles dipped in mayonnaise. I could go on, but it just gets embarrassing from there. The point is, I have an opinion and you can take it for what it’s worth. I think our society is desperately in need of fathers to be a part of their children’s lives, especially in the formative time of a newborn’s life. The bonds that stir a person to think about more than themselves are formed during that time.
In Partnership Parenting, Kyle Pruett MD and Marsha Pruett PhD say that children in family focused environments have reduced contact with juvenile justice, delay in initial sexual activity, reduced teen pregnancy, reduced rate of divorce, and less reliance on aggressive conflict resolution. They have higher grade completion, incomes, math competence in girls, and verbal strength in boys. There is greater problem solving competence, better stress tolerance, greater empathy, moral sensitivity and reduced gender stereotyping. (2009)
Fathers being present benefits mothers. In opposition, women have been lumped with the incredible burden of being the perfect mom. Everything must be perfect, they must be instinctual caregivers, and if that child does not eat vegetables, then what kind of mother could she possibly be? We have created overburdened mothers and under challenged fathers, then complain about how poor things have become in America. Somewhere we went wrong with fatherhood. Personally, I think it is when we started equating masculinity with a paycheck. Provision is an inherent trait in men, but until we convince ourselves that providing is so much more than a financial burden we will never reach our full potential. Social change begins when the hearts of fathers are turned towards their children.
Every business owner should take time to consider what parental leave means to not only a father, but the mother and your business. Should a business have to pay for it? That’s up to you. It is a tough pill to swallow from a business standpoint to be paying someone for not being there to further the business you are trying to build. People inevitably will take advantage of the system, they always do and always will. Make a law to prevent something and some schlep will find a way around it. Maybe that schlep could have been different with more of a father in his life.
The question I would ask is what are your business goals? Do they include giving back? There are two kinds of people in this world; those who talk about the way things should be and those who try to do something about it. If you look back over the course of our great nation’s history you will find that our best moments were when we thought about more than ourselves. Want to make America great again? Invest in a generation of fathers and see what comes out of it.