Dads Are Parents Too! Brits DiscoverJanuary 18, 2011 No Comments
The UK is looking into extending their paternity leave — increasing from 2 weeks to 26 weeks. This would make the time off seem less like an extra holiday for new fathers and actually give them the ability to participate in the baby’s childcare.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has suggested following some European systems, which allow parents to share the leave equally between them. If the mother goes back to work after 20 weeks, the father can take 26 weeks of paternity leave. If maternity leave is 30 weeks, then the father is entitled to 16.
“Despite the fact fathers can request flexible working, many feel reluctant to do so,” said Clegg.
- There is still a stigma attached. And, when a child is born, men are still only entitled to a paltry two weeks of paternity leave. These rules patronise women and marginalise men. They’re based on a view of life in which mothers stay at home and fathers are the only breadwinners. That’s an Edwardian system that has no place in 21st century Britain.
- Mothers are expected to take on the vast bulk of childcare themselves. If they don’t, they very often feel judged. If they do, they worry about being penalised at work. So it’s no surprise that many working women feel that they can’t win.
- Children suffer, too often missing out on time with their fathers. Time that is desperately important to their development. We know that where fathers are involved in their children’s lives they develop better friendships, they learn to empathise, they have higher self esteem, and they achieve better at school.
- And men suffer too. More and more fathers want to play a hands-on role with their young children. But too many feel that they can’t. It’s madness that we are denying them that chance.
It’s fantastic that political leaders are beginning to recognize that fathers are parents too. They have just as much to contribute to their child’s life as the mothers do, and not just when the kid is old enough to toss around a football.
Who knows if these proposals will ever become law, but at least it is a step in the right direction. Sure the UK is behind the rest of Europe, but at least they acknowledge that babies need their moms and dads. Some countries don’t have any parental leave at all!
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