In the early days, babies are considered to be closer to their mothers than their dads. After all, it’s the mother who carries the baby inside her for nine months, goes through the painful childbirth, and then nurses and feeds the baby on a regular basis. In the past, the role of fathers in raising their children wasn’t given much importance either. But in modern times there has been a shift in the paradigm. Fathers are expected to assist mothers in this herculean task named “parenting”. No wonder that most workplaces have started encouraging paternity leave for fathers to be able to spend time with their little ones. Short sabbaticals can go a long way in helping families raise their little ones.
This is excellent news because like mothers, fathers are important too! It may not seem like a big deal, but the truth is, the father’s presence during this time can be crucial for the entire family and their wellbeing. The time has come to normalize paternity leaves, and here’s why:
Moms Need That Support
It helps when your partner offers the support you need. When fathers go on paternity leave and pitch in, it can go a long way in helping new moms. For example, we all know how mothers, shortly after they’ve had their baby, lose much of their sleep. If fathers are around, they could take turns to watch over the baby alternatively. Or, they could offer to cook when the mother has her hands tied with baby duties. In fact, research shows that husbands who show up during postpartum played a massive role in improving the mental health of their wives. These women felt less depressed when their better halves were around to provide the moral support they deserved (1). The father’s presence also helps form the father-child bonding which at times gets neglected.
Gender Equality For The Win!
For centuries the idea that the mother is the primary caregiver has been passed on. Some even consider that the role of the father in the child’s life is more of a strict teacher and not someone the child can be close and intimate with. But as Bob Dylan sang “times they are a-changing”, the customs and traditions also go through changes. In today’s world, let’s accept the fact that just like mothers, fathers too play a significant role in shaping their child’s life. Normalizing the importance of the role of fathers is the need of the hour. When men make use of their paternity leaves, they normalize a father’s role in caregiving.
It Helps The Marriage
Let’s face it, pregnancy and then the raising of your child can take the fizz out of the marriage. With your world revolving around the baby and the new changes that come along with it, your relationship with your spouse may take the back burner. Paternity leave can be a chance to redeem your marriage! When the father stays home and involves himself in the whole process of looking after the baby, he develops a better understanding of the various challenges of nursing and caring for a baby. Seldom, the hard work of moms is taken for granted, and all too often they aren’t given any recognition for their efforts. Fathers helping out at home, is a good thing for the entire family. So make the best of this time to spend some quality time with your darling wife and child.
Parenting Is The Responsibility Of Both Parents
Parenting is a collective responsibility. It’s not fair to assume that the mother alone should take complete responsibility for her child. Over the years, changing diapers, feeding the baby, and taking care of the household chores have all been labeled as the duties of a woman. On the other hand, fathers are expected to fend for the family and win the daily bread. Times have changed, though — in today’s world, it can work both ways, and it’s completely fine to be that way. Fathers and mothers can both work and take care of their babies!
Works In The Favor Of The Baby
The greatest benefit, perhaps, of dads going on paternity leave is that their babies benefit from it the most! It is true that the father contributes a great deal to the development of their baby. Skin-to-skin contact is one example of this. In this technique, the baby is placed on the father’s chest, and skin-to-skin contact is established. It helps strengthen the bond, provides a sense of security for the child, and even regulates your baby’s temperature.
A few other physical interactions that a father can involve himself in include diaper changes, burping, bottle-feeding, singing, and playing with the baby. All this can have a positive impact on the baby’s overall well-being and development. Studies go on to say that babies whose fathers were present during their early days of life had a higher IQ, as opposed to children whose fathers were not (2), (3), (4).
Dad’s Benefit From It Too!
Lastly, dads take away a number of benefits from paternity leaves as well. Fathers who take paternity leave and spend time with their baby and wife tend to be happier. They also perform better at work when they return after paternity leave.
Gender roles in the workplace are changing drastically. Past norms were that taking a leave of absence after the birth of their child would hurt their career objectives. Today, the opposite is true because men who did take paternity leave tend to enjoy better job satisfaction. It’s a relief that organizations are advocating a paternity leave policy for their employees, thereby supporting and keeping in line with this changing landscape (5).
The call for paternity leave is slowly but surely gaining momentum. It’s a good thing that it is happening. We need more fathers to be vocal about parenting, and one way to do that is by proudly claiming the paternity leave they are entitled to, so they can be amazing fathers! What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!
- Effect of paternity leave on maternal postpartum depression
- Skin-to-skin contact by fathers and the impact on infant and paternal outcomes: an integrative review
- Paternity Leave-Taking and Father Engagement
- Kangaroo care for the preterm infant and family
- Five reasons why paternity leave needs to get more attention