Review: Taking an Extended Paternity Leave
3 Reasons to Take an Extended Paternity Leave (if you can)
In the United States, paid parental leave is not mandated, making an outlier from many developed countries.
So there’s that.
But let’s say you’re fortunate enough to have options of any type of leave whether it’s PTO, paid paternity, FMLA etc. Take it.
I did, and here’s why.
To meet the baby.
We’ve been communicating through the bump for months, but who are you really, baby? This question and more can indeed be answered. The first 7-10 days are joyfully flooded with visitors. Noticing their features, new habits, and many first reactions is so fun. I wanted to get as much as that as possible, which happens in the many moments after the commotion dies down and you’re left with the new, and adorable, normal.
To help my wife.
The ‘there’s not much I can do’ argument is false. If you say that now, it will probably never change, making the other partner the expert and you a passenger. That’s not teamwork. Advice was given to me that extended presence in the early weeks can help keep the knowledge base equal, and therefore tasks equal(ish), and therefore both of us feeling more supported and fulfilled. And a little less tired. I found this to be true.
Note: this isn’t to say if leave isn’t an option, you can’t catch up.
Why yes, I can change a diaper in record time. Full disclosure: not an expert, still learning and always will be, started out with less baby-knowledge than many new parents. Learning happens through immersion and repetition, and focusing during an extended period of time pays off.
So while our society could use a re-calibration (imo) in the guaranteed duration and terms of maternity and paternity leaves, perhaps it can start with more dads, who have the option, making the choice to go to greater lengths to take part. And those who don’t, ask and demand it.