Dads Want Kid Time, Too

Family ranks high among working fathers

by Kevin Enochs | 09 Oct 2015 at 4:37 AM

True story: A good friend, working his tail off as an associate at a law firm, needs to leave an hour or so early to attend his kid’s baseball game.

The boss tells him: “At some point, Joe, you’re going to have to decide if you want to work here, or be with your family. You can’t do both.”

He quits two months later. Good call, friend.

For him, it meant taking a stand about not only the kind of father he was going to be, but also the kind of company he wanted to associate himself with. This is important because, as all of us who have had children know too well, we have no automatic paid paternal or maternal leave when we have a child.

Related: The Man of the House

Who does? Well, nobody other than the entire industrialized world in various forms, ranging from two weeks of paid leave upwards.

Plainly stated in a 2015 Boston College study was this dressing down of the U.S. “For virtually every developed country in the world … this time is acknowledged and supported through paid leave for mothers, and many also provide paid leave for fathers. The United States is a highly visible outlier, offering no national policy on paid leave for mothers or fathers.”

Ouch.

Now, I’m not a guy who expects companies to do anything other than make money. At the end of the day, if the federal government doesn’t force these companies to offer paternity leave, why would they or should they?

But the times they may be a-changing — and you can thank dads for the change.

The Boston College study surveyed 3,000 dads on the subject. More than 75 percent said their family and kids are the top priority in their lives. That is certainly true of the fathers I know. Also, more than half said they think raising kids should be a 50-50 proposition among parents.

The Boston College study surveyed 3,000 dads on the subject. More than 75 percent said that their family and kids are the top priority in their lives.

A survey isn’t reality, of course, and saying the family comes first doesn’t mean it’s actually happening. But changing attitudes is a big step.

The study notes that 64 percent of fathers whose companies provide leave take all they can. And a majority of dads surveyed take at least one week of leave to be with their children, even if they’re not getting paid.

Also, Amazon.com got a fair amount of heat about its corporate practices after a New York Times article about the “bruising” corporate culture at Amazon.com. When other news organizations followed up, it turned out that Amazon also doesn’t offer any paternity leave.

But, perhaps surprisingly, Amazon is the odd man out when it comes to U.S. tech companies. Google recently took the No. 1 spot in Fatherly’s “50 best places to work for new dads.” According to Fatherly, Google offers seven weeks of paid paternity leave. Facebook and LinkedIn in were in the Top 10. Twitter, Microsoft, and Yahoo made the Top 20.

The more we refuse to accept the false choice of family over work, the more we force the environment to adapt to us.

Back in the day, the mantra was: So goes Ford, so goes the nation. Future dads can hope that in the 21st century the corporate world is taking its cues from Google.

Related: Best Thing a Dad Can Do

Back to my friend who quit rather than choose his work over his family. He is very, very good at what he does, and the company he left lost value when they lost him.

He didn’t have to look very hard for another job, and he has worked steadily ever since. He’s made progressively more money in the 20-plus years I have known him. He didn’t give up anything to put his family first. But the company he left lost a trained worker who billed big bucks, as well as an honorable guy. The more of us who refuse to accept the false choice of family over work, the more we force the environment to adapt to us.

This goes for the ladies as well. If we parents don’t work for the store, the store doesn’t make money. Now that’s power.

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  8. paternity-leave

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