Oh, Dad, Poor Dad! What to Do About Skimpy Parental Leave?
Source: PublicDomainPictures 17908 / Pixabay Guest post by Michael Schroeder Professionals working in the United States who are starting or growing families face a unique challenge. Unlike their counterparts in all other industrialized countries,...

    PublicDomainPictures 17908 / Pixabay

Source: PublicDomainPictures 17908 / Pixabay

Guest post by Michael Schroeder

Professionals working in the United States who are starting or growing families face a unique challenge. Unlike their counterparts in all other industrialized countries, Americans do not have federally guaranteed paid time off to be with their newborns.

Employees may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year and still have a job to be found under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. But not all workers qualify for this, and many of those who do are simply not able to take this leave. (The FMLA allows states to provide more extensive coverage than federal law, and a handful of states have their own provisions; but only California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island offer paid family and medical leave. .)

As a result, parents rely heavily on the paid parental leave policies of the employers who offer them. But the vast majority of employers do not offer paid parental leave; and those which provide much less paid leave for fathers than for mothers. This, experts point out, creates additional hardship for working fathers and mothers.

"I think these policies imply that mothers are and should be primarily responsible for the care of children and the education of children," says Richard Petts, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Ball State University who studied close parental leave policies. He adds that the imbalance makes it even more difficult for fathers to take time off, as they can face stigma, as well as career sanctions that mothers encounter. Others say such an imbalance in policies providing parental leave leaves working mothers without support and sends the message that fathers are not needed.

This is because a traditional male-centered employer model treats men not as working parents but as employees with no family obligations. Women who take leave may also miss pay raises, opportunities for advancement or, for those taking extended leave, find it difficult to re-enter the workforce successfully or find themselves underemployed when they do. In parental leave policies, women are generally viewed by default as the primary caregivers. And experts say these company policies, by offering less parental leave for men, assume that their partners - usually working mothers - will shoulder the lion's share of childcare responsibilities.

Survey data, therefore, shows that new fathers tend to take only about a week off after childbirth, while women take less than three months. Neither work from home during COVID-19[female[feminine pandemic a solution for dads or moms, given the convenient care (read: distraction free parenthood) newborns need.

A recent study which provides an overview of the genre disparities in parental leave looked at examples in the industry: Fortune 500 companies. These top-earning US companies set the bar for everyone else. As such, Gayle Kaufman, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Petts and David College, found it useful to assess the precedent these large companies are setting with their parental leave policies, and in particular with regard to the differences between the sexes in these policies.

"The good news is that a majority of Fortune 500 companies offer some form of paid parental leave," notes Kaufman, who led the study published online in Community, work and family in August. Kaufman, who has also done extensive research on parental leave policies, and Petts, co-author of the research, found that 72% of companies they were able to get detailed information about had leave policies. parental. But only 17% of all Fortune 500 companies listed in their research offer the same amount of paid parental leave to fathers and mothers.

Of the companies that offer paid parental leave, half offer at least twice as much leave to mothers as to fathers. That works out, on average, to about 10 weeks off for moms and five weeks for dads, says Petts.

Understanding the importance of dads

This is all based on a Mad Men-an idea that women can take time off after childbirth because they have a husband who is the breadwinner, says John Badalament, director of programs for The paternity project at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. It ignores the modern reality of women in the workforce and the science that supports the powerful impact of the fathers involved.

“The hard research is that dads in the early years make a huge difference,” Badalament points out. “The quality of their relationship and the time they spend with their baby… it has a huge impact on the development of the child (and) on their marriage.” There is still a gap in understanding the importance of fathers, he says.

The generally gender unequal paid parental leave policies put parents at odds. “Companies that come up with lesser policies for fathers are doing themselves a terrible disservice - besides fueling fires of gender inequality - by pitting mothers and fathers against each other, instead of leaning over. on research on workplace retention, ”Badalament says.

He adds that employers have been shown to be family-friendly and offer fair parental leave policies and take direction by encouraging employees to use these policies, they increased employee retention and satisfaction rates, not to mention being seen as more socially responsible. But fathers in the workforce often have a much more strained experience of their perceptions - and often the reality - of what employers expect of them. Experts say it goes against a work-life balance and is out of step with what parents want and need to be.

For his book, Fixing parental leave: the six-month solution, Kaufman spoke with some fathers about barriers to taking parental leave. (According to the book's title, she ultimately suggests a leave policy that allows all working parents to take six months off to spend with a new child.)

A father, Gabriel, who worked part-time at a movie theater while attending school, explained having a sick baby and dealing with an impatient boss. His boss pressured him to return to work while his son was still in the hospital. “With a part-time job, you don't get any benefit, you don't have any paternity leave at all,” he told Kaufman. "I was clearly not emotionally available to work in every sense of the word." He feared losing his job for taking time off to be with his newborn son.

Even when men have paid parental leave, they often feel pressured not to take it.

Finn, a doctor, chose to take two weeks off and wanted to work part-time for several more weeks to spend more time with his child. As Kaufman detailed in his book, Finn said it was not going well with his supervisor and his friend pushing him back, even contacting him continually while he was on leave to return. “I felt compelled to come to work,” he told Kaufman.

Ultimately, what is needed, many experts say, is not just a change in parental leave policies. Rather, a culture change is needed when working fathers and working mothers are treated as such - not categorized in one capacity or another, but supported in everything they do.

Copyright @ 2020 by Michael Schroeder

Michael Schroeder is a freelance writer, former health editor at US News & World Report, and father of four in Westfield, Indiana. He has always taken the full paternity leave offered by his employers, while still struggling to find the best balance between family and work obligations. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

CREDIT : HEATHER WESTONSet Smart LimitsTake charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely. Don’t clip your child’s wings. Your toddler’s mission in life is to gain independence. So when she’s developmentally capable of putting her toys away, clearing her plate from the table, and dressing herself, let her. Giving a child responsibility is good for her self-esteem ( and your sanity ! ).

Don’t try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child’s minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Pick your battles. Kids can’t absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like fashion choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter -- that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.

Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.

Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad -- early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals -- like bedtimes and game night -- that you do together.

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right ? Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship styles, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your emploi to set a great standard.

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, ' You’re great, ' try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, ' Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience. '

Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.

Gossip about your kids. Fact : What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child ' catch ' you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.

Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad père.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, chances are you’re right. Just say ' No. ' Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect. Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life -- your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter -- to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.

Ask your children three ' you ' questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, ' Did you have fun at school ? ' ; ' What did you do at the party you went to ? ' ; or ' Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon ? ' Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.

Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, ' How did that feel ? ' and ' What do you think would make it better ? ' Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.

Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community. Don’t raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind : Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.

Talk about what it means to be a good person. Start early : When you read bedtime stories, for example, ask your toddler whether characters are being mean or nice and explore why. Explain to your kids why values are important. The simple answer : When you’re kind, generous, honest, and respectful, you make the people around you feel good. More important, you feel good about yourself.

Set up a ' gratitude circle ' every night at dinner. Go around the table and take turns talking about the various people who were generous and kind to each of you that day. It may sound corny, but it makes everyone feel good.

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it. Avoid food fights. A saine child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect -- a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop saine eating vêtements. Let your kids place an order. Once a week, allow your children to choose what’s for dinner and cook it for them.

Say ' I love you ' whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day. You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible. Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people. Savor the moments. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting emploi on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now -- it will be over far too fast.

Teach your baby to sign. Just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean there isn’t lots that she’d like to say. Simple signs can help you know what she needs and even how she feels well before she has the words to tell you -- a great way to reduce frustration. Keep the tube in the family room. Research has repeatedly shown that children with a TV in their bedroom weigh more, sleep less, and have lower grades and poorer social skills. P. S. Parents with a television in their bedroom have sex less often. Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Get your kids vaccinated. Outbreaks of measles and other diseases still occur in our country and throughout the world. Protect that smile. Encouraging your kid to brush twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste will guard against cavities. Be vigilant about safety. Babyproof your home thoroughly, and never leave a child under 5 in the tub alone. Make sure car seats are installed correctly, and insist that your child wear a helmet when riding his bike or scooter. Listen to the doc. If your pediatrician thinks your kid’s fever is caused by a virus, don’t push for antibiotics. The best medicine may be rest, lots of fluids, and a little TLC. Overprescribing antibiotics can cause medical problems for your child and increase the probabilités of creating superbugs that resist treatment.

Keep sunblock next to your kid’s toothpaste. Apply it every day as part of the morning routine. It’ll become as natural as brushing her teeth. Put your baby to bed drowsy but still awake. This helps your child learn to soothe himself to sleep and prevents bedtime problems down the line. Know when to toilet train. Look for these two signs that your child is ready to use the potty : He senses the urge to pee and poop ( this is different from knowing that he’s already gone ), and he asks for a diaper change.

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