Most people understand both the necessity and importance of maternity leave. It gives new mothers a chance to rest and recuperate while giving their babies the best possible care. It’s also an important bonding time in both lives.
But, paternity leave is just as important and beneficial.
Unfortunately, it isn’t often viewed that way. That’s one reason why the average length of paternity leave in the U.S. is just one week. Compare that to the six weeks new fathers in the European Union get, and it’s clear we’re not acknowledging the real benefits of paternity leave. If we did, as a country, those numbers might be different.
That starts with keeping yourself well-informed. Whether you’re a father-to-be, a business owner looking to change policies, or just want to know the facts about paid parental leave, understanding the importance of fathers getting time with their newborn can change the way you think.
So, what are those benefits?
A Bonding Experience
Mothers aren’t the only ones who need time to bond with a new baby. Not only can it help to develop secure attachment in your child, but fathers experience benefits from bonding, as well. Research has shown that fathers who spend more time with their newborns have:
- Less stress
- Boosted confidence
- New perspectives on life
- Increased mental wellness
This special time can help to set the foundation for the way fathers care for their children. Paternity leave allows new fathers to learn both short- and long-term skills and gives them the confidence they need to be more engaged and involved.
Furthermore, a father’s bond with their baby can end up helping the child later in life. Strong father-child bonds can help to counter depression, and those children are more likely to do better academically, socially, and be less likely to get involved with drugs or alcohol. Fathers need to bond with their offspring early on – even in the newborn stage – as it can lead to lifelong personality and behavioral traits for that child.
A Stronger Partnership
New mothers have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They have to take care of a new life while still recovering from giving birth. Even when the delivery goes smoothly, it still takes a while to feel “back to normal”. Then, factor in the idea that anywhere from 10-20% of new mothers experience depression after giving birth, and many more deal with the “baby blues”.
Many times, women aren’t even getting the paid time off they deserve, especially in a fast-paced career, like in the tech world, which struggles to attract women no matter their familial circumstances.
Needless to say, it’s not uncommon for moms to feel burnt out.
So, fathers must step in and do their part to balance out the responsibilities. That doesn’t mean coming in to be a “babysitter” for a few hours so mom can get a break. It means valuing an equal partnership. More support from fathers will largely benefit a new mother’s well-being, making it easier for her to emotionally and physically recover.
As a bonus, it can strengthen the romantic partnership, too, allowing both individuals to lean on each other while standing in awe of the life they’ve created. It can even increase the attraction and appreciation couples have for each other. It’s somewhat of a “primal” response, admiring a partner taking care of their child.
If you’re a business owner, a stronger paternity leave policy can make a big difference in both hiring and loyalty. As more people see the benefits of paternity leave, it will become a greater demand in the workplace.
But, you shouldn’t wait for that demand to occur before you start making changes. Offering more paid time off for new fathers can actually benefit your business, especially in such uncertain times. So, in addition to offering more paid time off, ensuring your employees that their safety is a priority will help them feel happier and more comfortable about where they work. Consider offering a few extra “perks” to new fathers, especially in this time of COVID, including:
- Remote work options to extend their “leave”
- Employee health monitoring
- Health and safety precautions in place for their return
- Extra information about what your business is doing to keep everyone safe
If you’re an employee, review your company’s paternity leave policy. If it’s not what it should be, don’t be afraid to ask for change. Or, consider that it might be time to make a career decision and work for a business that takes paid time off for fathers seriously. As the topic of paternity leave continues to come to the forefront, businesses will either have to get on board or fall behind, which will leave them struggling for new hires.
As you can see, paternity leave benefits just about everyone, from the baby to both parents, and even businesses. No matter what your role is in this matter, don’t be afraid to do your part to make paternity leave more prominent and more equal in this country.