Is it REALLY Okay to Take Paternity Leave?

credit: by David Castillo Dominici

credit: by David Castillo Dominici

According to a Forbes article, dads don’t take much time off from work after the birth of a child. About 75% without paternity leave take a week or less off, and 16% are unable to take any days off. About 13% of employers offer paternity leave, but even for dads who work for such companies, many do not take it or don’t take the full allotment of days.

There has been a bit of an uproar recently in the New York sports media world. Daniel Murphy, a baseball player for the Mets, took 3 days of paternity leave which is the amount allowed by the collective bargaining agreement between the players’ union and Major League Baseball. Murphy flew down to Florida and arrived in time to witness the birth of his first born child on Monday. He returned to work on Thursday, missing two games. Apparently some fans as well as sports radio talking heads didn’t think this was acceptable.

“One day [of paternity leave] I understand. And in the old days they didn’t do that. But one day, go see the baby be born and come back. You’re a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help” – Mike Francesa of WFAN

Francesa said that he went back to work right after the birth of his children. He said his son was born at 9:00 a.m. and he worked that same day (I believe his radio show starts in the afternoon). He asked, “What was I gonna do, sit with my wife in the hospital?”

It’s crazy that he’s so proud of the fact that he was there for the birth of his child, gave his wife a high-five, and went back to his all important job talking about sports on the radio. Doesn’t sound like he’ll be winning any husband or father of the year awards. He did agree that the husband should be there to experience the birth, but that being a MLB player was a unique job. Sure professional athletes often get paid millions of dollars and only work part of the year, but they’re still human. I mean baseball has 162 games, two games in the beginning of the season are pretty inconsequential. Plus, it’s the Mets. It’s not like they’ll be competing for a World Series ring this season (sorry Mets fans!)

If those comments weren’t enough, Francesa continued to rail about paternity leave as it related to the policy at the radio station where he works. He learned that his employer allows new dads to take 10 days off for paternity leave, and called it a “scam” and a “gimmick.”

Boomer Esiason, a former NFL quarter back who co-hosts a sports radio talk show, also made some outrageously critical comments. I actually like the guy and hope the comments were taken out of context, but it doesn’t look good. He acknowledged Murphy’s right to take paternity leave, but said that he would have handled the situation differently. “Quite frankly, I would’ve said, ‘C-section before the season starts, I need to be at opening day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money, this is how we’re gonna live our life, this is how I give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.” Really? You’ll force your wife to undergo surgery so you don’t miss a game. And contrary to his argument, it is not about money. Murphy was on paid paternity leave. (Update: Boomer has since issued an apology for his statements).

There is a fanatical nature to sports which seems to blind people to reality. But I’m sure some of these thoughts are also on the minds of employers and managers in the working world of regular dads. Many probably still believe that work should come first for men, while women handle child care issues. They just know that it is not politically correct to say such things. Just by looking at the statistics above, you can infer that dads don’t think it’s really okay to take that much paternity leave, even if it’s available. It can be for fear of losing status at work, of a layoff, being perceived as not committed in your career, and losing out on a promotion.

I took off 7 days after the birth of my son, with the intention of taking more days off after the first month, as my mother-in-law was able to help out. My son’s arrival into this world was pretty dramatic. Basically, my wife and I were sent home twice by the hospital, telling us she was not ready to deliver. Well, they were wrong because he decided to come…after we returned home! I’m glad I was able to be there for my wife during the labor, the delivery and the days following. After my wife returned to work, I worked Mondays to Wednesdays, taking off Thursday and Friday for about a month and a half, taking off a total of 12 days. I took those days pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act as my employer does not offer paid paternity leave. I did have enough annual leave so I was still paid for those days off. It was definitely very precious father-son bonding time that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

While many companies are now offering paternity leave, many are scared to take advantage of this benefit. So is paternity leave really a benefit if many don’t take it? Does the corporate world frown upon fathers taking time off to care for their child? How many days did you or your husband take off?

87 thoughts on “Is it REALLY Okay to Take Paternity Leave?

    1. Post author

      Yes…it’s 2014, can’t believe so many people still have that mindset. It seems like it’s mostly the older generation though (but most managers/bosses are from that generation).

  1. Kemkem

    I’m kind of torn on this. I have no kids so maybe my opinion shouldn’t count. I think it’s great that it’s offered and people should take it if they want, but seriously l don’t think it’s that important for the husband to be there after the birth. For one, l would assume the woman would be super tired after such an ordeal, so he would be twiddling his thumbs in the waiting room, even the first week or so, the mother is still bonding with the baby. I think maybe men would be better off being occupied by work instead of being underfoot. They mean well, but often are just in the way. At least that’s what l see with my friends with kids. I don’t agree with the guy suggesting a scheduled C-section, what a bonehead. One of my friend’s sister did exactly that though because she had a “very important” bikini party and wanted to look good. I felt like clocking her!!!! The kid was an inconvenience…people like that annoy me!
    Kemkem recently posted…Budapest, Part 1 … 4 days were not enough!!!!My Profile

    1. Dave @ The New York Budget

      That makes sense and I feel as though you are free to handle the situation as you see fit. I don’t think there should be any stigma against men who choose to take the paternity leave, though. Especially the baseball player in the example who only took 3 days!

      Either way, the guy is trying to make the best choice in his life – that should be respected.
      Dave @ The New York Budget recently posted…Escape New York: Breakneck Ridge HikeMy Profile

    2. Post author

      I feel like the husband and father plays a pretty important role…sure it’s not as important as the mom. The woman is super tired which is why the husband/dad is there to help out. And back in the day, the father would pace around in the waiting room and then hand out cigars after the fact, but most dads today are more proactive and involved even during labor. I know I was. Yes scheduled C-sections for convenience are ridiculous…health and safety are the priorities.

    3. Well Heeled Blog

      I don’t have kids, but I know that if/when I do go through childbirth I would absolutely want my husband to be there. He can bond with the baby, change the diapers, grab groceries, leave time for me to take a shower, etc., etc. It’s important that fathers take an equal role and feel equally capable of taking care of a child, and that step begins at home.
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  2. Dave @ The New York Budget

    That is really shameful of those talking heads. Just because they choose to be terrible parents doesn’t mean that they have any right to comment on the parenting choices of the players. Plus as you said, there are 162 games in baseball – WHO CARES! Opening day is just one more game in the grand scheme of things. I bet if this had happened in the middle of the season, nobody would have cared. The MLB has manufactured this holiday because they are bad at managing baseball as a sport and now the talking heads have bought in so hard that they are forgetting that the players are human beings.
    Dave @ The New York Budget recently posted…Escape New York: Breakneck Ridge HikeMy Profile

    1. Post author

      You’re right…many athletes have taken time off but no one cared because it was some random game in the middle of the season. There was an uproar because it was opening day.

  3. Income Surfer

    Our son was born two weeks ago Andrew. My wife and I are very happy I’m not working a traditional job right now. I don’t know how she would have been able to care for herself and the little one, if I wasn’t available to help. Plus, i loved sharing in the amazing miracle that was his birth and and is his life!

    I think many of those same critics art probably work-a-holics. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I believe that families need husbands/fathers. I can’t think of a higher responsibility than being there (physically, emotionally, etc) for my family :o)
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    1. Post author

      That’s great that you were there for your wife and little one. I’m sure your wife appreciated it. I’m all for working hard but there needs to be a balance. I place a high priority on family!

  4. Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life

    It’s sad that people feel the fathers don’t need to be there. Paternity leave should be given and used. The father makes up an important part of the family unit. Kids should know that there father was there to see them born and there for the first few hours, not that work overshadows everything else.
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    1. Post author

      Exactly, the father is very important and it’s sad that most people don’t see it that way. Work is important but birth of a child has got to be higher on your list…especially in this circumstance.

  5. Kathy

    If I were a business owner I would absolutely want my male employees to take paternity leave. A family should come before a job and it is a shame that this belief is not shared by more. Indeed, it seems like in the U.S. fathers are not considered important, and this philosophy is perpetrated by the government, women’s rights groups, and the business community. Having the father home for the first few days goes a long way to create an emotional bond that only grows from there.

    1. Post author

      It’s definitely very important to build that bond with your child. Long gone are the days were the father waited in the waiting room and passed out cigars after the birth. I think it’s important that businesses recognize that allowing fathers some paternity leave will benefit both parties.

    1. Post author

      Yea, the sports fanatics can be really illogical sometimes. It does feel like we’re a time warp when we hear those comments.

  6. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction

    I would not be impressed (to put it mildly) if I had a child and my fiancé wasn’t there with me afterwards, and it was expected from society that he shouldn’t be around. A lot of the times women have some battle scars (that we don’t need to get into) but that make things difficult in terms of lifting the baby, or walking around, or… how about the fact that they just had a baby. Period!

    1. Post author

      Yep…having a baby is tough…props to all moms! I’m sure there are lots of things the husband and new dad can do to help out.

  7. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    I think taking paternity leave is a personal decision that each family needs to determine for themselves. However, in the case of the Mets player, I am on the side of his critics. He is paid a great deal of money to play baseball and that is his first commitment. And his family should understand this after all, his job supports their lifestyle. They knew for months that their child was going to be born during the baseball season and they should have planned accordingly.
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    1. Post author

      I see what you’re saying and I know they do make a lot of money. Sure, there might be a different standard for athletes making millions, but I’m still on his side on this one. If it was football where there are 16 games only and you’re only working half the year…okay, don’t take 3 days. Maybe if it were the playoffs or something like that. He fulfilled his “commitment” to his contract as the collective bargaining agreement allows for paternity leave. You can debate whether he fulfilled his commitment to his team and to the fans maybe…but this is the first 2 games of a 162 game season. Should he have planned the birth for the winter during the off season? Should all players do that?

  8. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

    Wow. That’s crazy! It wasn’t like he missed the world series or even play off games to make it to the world series. I think many dads would like to take paternity leaves but don’t because even if they are offered, they are not widely accepted. It’s interesting when people say dads don’t need them. In fairness, that is true. At the same time, most women could return to work a few days after giving birth too. But we don’t. It’s obviously a very personal decision but a man shouldn’t be ridiculed for wanting to be with his wife and new baby.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…Want to Be Financially Literate? Follow These BloggersMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Right, I don’t know what the uproar is about…just because opening day seems like it’s so important (that some people wanted to make it a national holiday). But it was not a playoff game or world series. It definitely is a personal decision that should be criticized by others.

  9. EL @ Moneywatch101

    I agree with taking days off because its an important time for your family. I have twins and I took 2 days off as well after the birth and week off before they hit 3 months old. I question if that was enough at times. I wish I could have taken a month, but its non paid time for me.
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    1. Post author

      Wow twins…double the trouble! I feel the same way as you…wish I could have taken more time, but you also have to be a provider too. Have to get paid…which is why I’m so motivated to reach financial independence.

  10. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I have no kids, but I do hope to take off probably two weeks when we have our first child. A guy on my team took off 3 weeks and we covered for him during close (we’re accountants) and I know many others wouldn’t even consider missing close. I think some of the comments about the baseball player are outrageous. He missed two games! If it was like, 3 full weeks you might have an argument. We don’t have paternity leave here but you can take large chunks of pto without backlash if it’s for something like the birth of a child.
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    1. Post author

      Just curious, did the other people in your team say anything about your co-worker missing close? There are some similarities as it was argued that the baseball player let his team down. Did you guys have to pick up the slack for him or did you get more assistance? And yes, it was 2 games!! Don’t know what the drama is…2 regular season games…

  11. E.M.

    I agree that just because they’re MLB players doesn’t mean they’re not human. That’s ridiculous it’s being looked down on. There’s been a decent amount of times I’ve watched games and the commentators are saying someone is dying in their family and they’re *still* playing! I understand dedication is important, but this is a bit too much. He was just taking advantage of the benefit being offered. My dad was with my mom for at least four days while I was in the ICU (complications).
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    1. Post author

      Yes, sometimes we forget that they’re human too. It’s definitely a personal decision…people deal with birth/illness or death of a family member differently. Who are they to judge them? Glad your dad was there for your mom. My son was in the NICU too because he was born outside of the hospital. It made it more important for me to be there. For some odd reason, the NICU was on a different floor and faraway from where my wife’s room was. The first day or two, I had to wheel her to the NICU to see our son since she was so tired and still recovering.

  12. Tom @ Finance and Flip Flops

    I think part of the problem, in particular with sports, is that there’s a very macho attitude that’s prevalent and so you have these fanatics who’s lives revolve around their team and think the athletes OWE it to them to be at every single game. They’re so stupid they think they are more important than the athlete’s new born.

    Sometimes I think these same fans take a loss harder than the players. Oh and Francesca is a tool.

    1. Post author

      Yea, Francesa is a tool…I guess there isn’t much competition out there. He’s so rude to the callers. People are pretty fanatical about sports. I love sports but some people need to realize that ultimately…it is just a game!

  13. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    WOW. So, just because you’re a professional sports athlete your job should come above your family?? I have to say, I’m speechless here at how this poor guy was criticized by his colleagues. Anytime we start putting our jobs above our marriages/families, it never turns out good. I guess this is why so many pro athletes are divorced? My husband was selfless enough to take off a full week each time we had a baby. It was a huge help to me as I recovered from the birth, especially when there were other children to care for. Andrew, you’re so right when you emphasize how important a father’s role is to his children – and also a husband’s role is to his wife. We’re not perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination, but our kids know full well that family is a very high priority to us, and that although he’s a super hard worker, my husband puts his wife and kids above his job. Another great post, Andrew.
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    1. Post author

      Too often, jobs are higher on the priority list. Glad that Rick was able to take off a week to help out…I’m sure it was nice having someone to help out. You guys are great and I’d definitely want my family to know that they are high on that priority list!

  14. John @ Frugal Rules

    Wow, just wow. What a crock!! I don’t follow baseball much so I hadn’t heard of this. In my opinion, (while admitting freely that it’s a personal decision) this is so so sad. I love sports, especially football, but come on. My question to these talking heads is does this make you more of a man because you left after giving your wife that high five as opposed to spending that precious time with your spouse and child?

    I know that many athletes get paid millions of dollars, though the amount they’re paid is a moot point in my opinion because they’re having a child. Anyway, at the risk of writing a whole post in your comments 🙂 , with our last child my employer was not very freely giving of time and in fact said I couldn’t leave until my wife was actually in the hospital and that if she went into labor during the day then oh well. Suffice it to say that was a major nail in the coffin for me to leave. Thankfully I had enough paid leave saved up that I could take about two weeks. That said, great post Andrew and very thought provoking.
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    1. Post author

      Happened in football too, Charles Tillman of the Bears a few years back was criticized when he said he would not attend the game if his wife went into labor at game time. Mike Florio criticized him: but later apologized. Although Tillman never had to make the choice as his wife gave birth a different day. It sucks to hear why your former employer said, and I’m glad you don’t to work there anywhere. Unfortunately some people have less options.

  15. C. the Romanian

    Even though I am self employed and spending most of my time at home, getting short breaks to see Baby Romanian and certainly spending a lot more time with the little fellow than the people with traditional jobs, I still feel that I spend so little time with him. When he was born, there was nothing else that I wanted to do than be with him and I gave me a one week “paternity leave” (aka I didn’t work) just to be there and help and hold him and bond. This is what families are all about, not about being that old school cowboy dad who chews tobacco and says just three words to their sons in their entire lifetime. The kid is not the mother’s responsibility, nor one for a nurse. It’s a family thing. And family is more important than anything else in this world.
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    1. Post author

      Me too. I’ve been lucky to spend a good amount of time with Baby LRC, but I really miss spending that time with him. The weekends are great, but it’s usually so rushed as there’s is often so much to do and so little time. I know what you mean about the old school dad…that’s not the type of dad I want to be.

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  17. debt debs

    I’m not even gonna weigh in on the sports daddy debate. LOL

    In Canada, as you probably know, we have more generous maternity and paternity government benefits which are paid by Unemployment insurance. Some companies top of wages, but not all and not that many, I’m hazarding a guess here, could be 50%. The father is entitled to 8 weeks paternity benefits if the mother does not elect to take them. Otherwise, the mother can take those eight weeks bringing her total maternity up to almost a year.

    And lastly , all I’m going to say is wow! She had the baby at home!! I know it wasn’t planned that way. Some good story telling about that birth, I predict!
    debt debs recently posted…Top Ten List – What I Don’t Like About My InvestmentsMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Sounds like we have a lot to learn from our neighbors up north. I think the U.S is one of the least generous when it comes to maternity/paternity when you take into account the industrialized world. And yes! Baby at home…unintended! In the birth certificate under “attendant at birth,” it says my wife’s name. “Facility” where the hospital name usually appears, it had our home address. And it was checked off “home birth” and under “intended” NO! Pretty cool story in hindsight, but you can bet I was freaking out at the time!

        1. Post author

          Crazy story…not to get too graphic, I realized that we didn’t to go to the hospital ASAP!! I ran into the bedroom to get the bag and next thing you know, I hear a baby crying.

    1. Post author

      You’re right, work is important, but family still comes first.

  18. Done by Forty

    Awesome topic, Andrew. I am always intrigued by issues that specifically involve our male gender, and paternity leave is a fantastic one. It’s far less acceptable to take paternity leave than it is to take maternity leave: there’s a stigma and, often, consequences, for doing so. I can’t imagine the damage done to one’s career if a man took 3 months off for paternity leave.
    Done by Forty recently posted…What Are You Going to Do When You Retire?My Profile

    1. Post author

      Thanks DB40. You’re right, I think there still is a stigma associated to a father taking more time off, and very likely career consequences.

  19. anna

    “Plus, it’s the Mets. It’s not like they’ll be competing for a World Series ring this season (sorry Mets fans!)” – LMAO! I think there’s sadly a stigma about men, especially in the U.S., taking paternity leave, and the sports industry probably amplifies that. I agree it should be okay for men to take paternity leave, for both the bonding and to help out. Even if someone is well off enough to hire a nurse – you can’t replace the experience of those precious first few days.
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    1. Post author

      That’s a great point, the sports industry definitely amplifies it, though I think the mindset is still somewhat there for traditional jobs. And no a nurse is not the same as a father.

  20. KK @ Student Debt Survivor

    I’m not a parent, yet, but I love this post. I think it’s wonderful that that baseball player put his family ahead of his job/team. Your child is only born once and those first few days of bonding are incredibly important. I’d never put my job ahead of my family and I hope that my husband will feel the same way (not married yet).
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    1. Post author

      Those first few days are tiring, but seeing and bonding with your new born really is an amazing experience.

    1. Post author

      Glad to hear your husband will be able to take time off to help out.

  21. Raquel@Practical Cents

    This was quite the controversy here in the Tri-State area. It even made National news. I thought it was so ridiculous. Even my husband who is a Mets fan thought it was fine that he missed a couple of games for the birth of his child. I mean we are talking about an entertainment job, he’s not out there saving lives!
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    1. Post author

      Exactly! He’s just a baseball player and it was the beginning of the season. Glad to hear your husband felt the same way too.

  22. Chattanooga Cheapster

    Great Post! The Cheapster Family is expecting a child in June, and I’m taking about 6 weeks off. Combination of Sick Leave, AL, and unpaid FMLA.

    I took off 4 weeks for our first child, and my boss at the time didn’t like it one bit. He told me about the time his wife gave birth on a Saturday and he was back to work at 6am on Monday. I responded – “Maybe that’s why you have such a bad relationship with your family.” I knew I was leaving the job right after my leave, so I had the courage to say it. This guy complained about his wife and kids all the time. Afterward, I had a couple of men thank me for blazing a trail for them.
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    1. Post author

      Thanks! Wow, what was your boss’ reaction when you said that to him. It must have felt good. You are a trailblazer!

  23. Connie @ Savvy With Saving

    I think it’s sad that paternity leave is frowned upon, especially in the sports examples you mentioned. I totally get that thousands if not millions of dollars are being tossed around but for Dan Murphy, it was well within his contract and the games weren’t crucial to the team’s season. Some sports fans can get out of line sometimes – I think the birth of his child is more important than a couple games…
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    1. Post author

      There are definitely some fanatical sports fans who don’t think logically.

  24. Mr. Utopia

    This is a topic very relevant to my life right now. We had our first child 19 months ago and are expecting again in July. I never really considered using the FMLA act to take time off because some of it would’ve been unpaid and another big portion only partial pay. We weren’t in a position financially to do that. My company did offer 5 days of “new parent leave” (of course, that was increased to 10 days the year AFTER the birth of my son – go figure). What I ended up doing, though, is saving up a bunch of vacation days and was able to strategically take them so that, in effect, I was able to spend nearly a month at home with our son. I did have worries about being out of the office too long and planting the thoughts that my position wasn’t critical, but I actively kept up with work e-mails in order to counteract. I hope to do the same thing with the upcoming birth, but not sure if it’ll work out this time.
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    1. Post author

      It definitely is a lot tougher to take leave if it is unpaid or only partial pay. Pretty cool that you were able to take almost a month off. Congrats on the upcoming birth…hope you’ll be able to spend some time with the new baby too.

  25. Kevin H @ Growing Family Benefits

    Daniel Murphy had a contract paying him to play baseball (when available), and a collective bargaining agreement that calls for him to be paid even when injured, or on family leave. He took his three days and still got paid.

    Most families don’t have the same luxury. If paternity leave is allowed, it is often unpaid – as is most maternity leave scenarios. Three states provide for paid family leave for private workers, five cover mom’s maternity leave. The rest go without pay.
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    1. Post author

      Thanks Grayson! Glad to hear your company is pretty flexible…hopefully you have a decent amount of PTO.

  28. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    The US has the whole work vs family concept completely backwards. Parental involvement is what is going to keep our kids in school and on toward productive lives. I would certainly not mind paying an extra tax like Canadians do to cover extended maternity or paternity leave.
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    1. Post author

      Absolutely agree that parental involvement is integral to the development of productive kids in our society.

  29. David @ Simple Money Concept

    In hindsight, I should have taken more than a week off! In fact, one of the things I regret the most is not taking more time off when I could have. Babies change so much in the first two months, and those memories are priceless. You can always make more money later on. Cherish the moment now.

    1. Post author

      You’re right, they do change a lot. When I look back at the pictures of my son’s first few months, it’s just amazing how much he has changed.

  30. Kay

    Wow, I completely missed out on all this uproar and am glad I hadn’t heard any of these comments from the pro-sports community. I feel terrible for these guys wives. My husband was able to take 2 weeks off after the birth of our son and I’m glad he did. It was a tough start for us since I had post-partum depression and had a really difficult time making the adjustment. I don’t know what I would have done if he was not able to be around as much as he was in those first months.

    1. Post author

      Sorry to hear about the tough start, but glad that your husband was able to be there with you and your son.

    1. Post author

      That seems pretty unfair. Was it because of the position that person held, or was it a busier time, or was the supervisor just playing favorites?

  31. Anthony @ Thrifty Dad

    Wow! How did I miss this one! I took 6 weeks of paternity leave and yes, I got plenty of looks and jokes from the guys, but I’m happy I did. My wife needed the help and emotional support especially during the first few weeks. Here in Canada, dads are able to take up to 35 weeks off and mommies can take up to a year at half pay. We can’t be fired for doing so (unless there are mass layoffs at the company). But when I’m at work, I work hard, but my family is my priority. It doesn’t mean I’m any less committed to my job. For my first one, I had the same fear and used up only 1 week of my vacation time. More dads are taking an active role in parenting, so I think it’s only a matter of time, before the thinking shifts.
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    1. Post author

      Great that you took time to help out your wife and baby. Canada is definitely more similar to Europe in that respect…hopefully the U.S can improve on this. I do notice that many dads are taking a more active role in parenting, which is a good thing.


    I’m a huge sports fan, and the outcry against this Mets player is ridiculous. 3 days seems like a drop in the bucket for a baseball season, plus it is the birth of your child. This guy is likely to play more baseball games but how often will he have a kid born? Our priorities sometimes get jacked up in our sports obsessive culture. I’m also a Boomer Esaiason fan and I’m glad he apologized, he needed to. When we bring our kids home (we plan on adopting) you can bet I’m taking some paternity leave. recently posted…GRAND – Find the BalanceMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Exactly, I guess it was opening day which is why there was some fan uproar and the topic came up on sports radio. I love sports too, but it really is crazy how obsessive people can get about their team. Love and attention are the main needs of a little one…it’s not something you can do when you don’t get to see him or her much.

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