Men Are Scared To Take Paternity Leave Because Working Parents Are Still Punished

by Mike Julianelle
Originally Published: 
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Many dads are scared taking paternity leave could hurt their careers

What does it mean to be a man? Sure, providing for your family by bringing home the literal and figurative bacon is a big part of it. Protecting your family, too. But so is raising your children. At least, it should be. Somehow, not everyone agrees.

A new survey from Deloitte reveals that despite more and more companies offering paternity leave as part of employee benefits packages, not all men are taking advantage of it. Why? Because they’re being shamed for it. Where do these guys work, 8th grade?

The survey findings show over a third of men are afraid that taking time off to care for their infants will “jeopardize their position” with more than half claiming it would be seen as a lack of commitment to their jobs. 41% are concerned about losing out on opportunities at work while they’re on leave.

Jezebel is playing the world’s smallest violin for those scaredy-cats: “No shit, reply the vast majority of women in their childbearing years. Welcome to the club! Now that parental leave is being made available to men, they’re discovering that all too often it comes with terms and conditions and all sorts of strings attached, because America talks a big game but systematically fails to give a shit about parents and babies.”

I’m a dad, but I’m all too familiar with this problem. I literally just went through it. When my wife gave birth in January, she got three months off. I got five days. Neither one of us felt that was enough. I understand a dad getting less time than a mom, after all, we don’t breastfeed, and our bodies are still intact from not expelling a human being. But taking time off after a baby is born is not just about the baby.

Labor is grueling, and caring for a newborn is constant. Those five days I got were as much about trading off with my wife so we could both get some rest as they were for taking care of, and bonding with, the baby. Five days is not much time to bond. And those three months come to an end just as your child is coming into his own. The United States is far behind most of the rest of the Western world when it comes to respecting parents. This new survey bears that out.

We may be late to the game, but we’re making progress. At least, I thought we were, with a lot of companies starting to come forward and making paternity leave a thing. And then I read this survey.

It’s understandable that a man would worry about losing out on opportunities, because it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, whether you’re a man or a woman, and it sucks to miss out on something good except you know what it’s worse to miss out on? Your kids’ childhoods.

Work is important, obviously, but what’s the saying? “Work to live, don’t live to work.” Unless you’re gonna get fired for taking some time to both bond with your new baby, enjoy fatherhood, and help out your wife, you should definitely take advantage of whatever time off you get and you should revel in it. Time at home with a newborn is far from a vacation, but it’s still better than being stuck in a cubicle with some boss’s coffee breath breathing down your neck.

And if doing your duty as a father and a parent is being perceived as a “lack of commitment” to your job? Spray paint a big “fuck you” on the wall of your office and flip over your desk on the way out of there because what the hell, it’s 2016. If the definition of manhood doesn’t include being a loving and involved dad, then I’m going to freeze myself Walt Disney style. Someone wake me up when this macho bullshit is finally dead, once and for all.

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