Why can’t fathers take more time for their family?
In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act was passed, primarily to allow mothers to take time off from work to have children without losing their jobs. But the wording of the act also allowed a rather revolutionary idea: fathers could take time off for the birth of their children as well. At the time, some fathers were already allowed this opportunity but is wasn’t exactly encouraged.
Since this act’s passage, many fathers have taken advantage of provisions not only to be there for the birth of their children, but also to spend a least a couple days caring for mom as well, should they be so disposed. All these things are positive changes for the good of families, encouraging men to take more active roles in their children’s lives from day one.
Some people don’t agree with this mindset, however. Some men still see the man’s role to hold a job, make as much money as possible. Basically, a material provider while mom handles all the emotional squishy stuff.
In the middle of this debate is New York Mets star, Daniel Murphy. This man missed a the first couple games of the season, completely within Major League Baseball’s labor agreement, to be there for the birth of his child and see to his wife’s welfare. Pro sports commentators railed against this. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason even went so far as to say, “Quite frankly I would’ve said ‘C-section before the season starts.” Never mind the very misogyny of telling your spouse what to do as opposed to deciding as a family, C-sections are not something you should do for convenience.
The sad thing about all this is it shows how behind the rest of the world the United States is when it comes to family. There are only three other nations besides the US that don’t mandate paid family leave, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland. Most industrialized nations are much more positive in protecting families having children. In Russia, women receive 140 days, 70 of which are to be taken prior to birth, with 70 taken after birth, with up to 100% of salary at a ceiling. The maternity leave is mandatory. In Spain, mothers can take 16 weeks paid maternity leave, six of which must be taken, immediately after birth. If they wish, mothers can transfer some or all of the optional ten weeks leave to the father, if eligible. In addition, upon return to their same position, employers must provide returning mothers with two paid, half-hour breaks for breastfeeding the first nine months after childbirth. Also, mothers and fathers can each take up to three years of child-care leave, and parents receive the right to work part-time until their child’s eighth birthday.
In a previous post, I mentioned how many kids are growing up without a father or father figure in their lives, and the damage it can do. So many politicians in our country exhort us about the sanctity of family, yet very few have the will to provide the means for men who want to take time to strengthen their families and be there for them at important moments. How different would this nation be if children in this nation knew, not just by material things but physical presence, that their fathers loved them? Daniel Murphy reflects what is good about a father. He realizes money is not everything, and it cannot buy a single moment of the beginning of a new chapter in his family. Hopefully, more men will realize this and raise stronger families for the betterment of our nation, and our world.