Aug 7, 2023 - Business

Why fathers should take parental leave

Meredith Briggs lays in her crib wearing an Axios onesie at 3 months old.

James' daughter, Meredith, is an Axios fan at 3 months old. Photo: James Briggs/Axios

I start parental leave this week and will be mostly gone until October, which means I have a relatively exclusive benefit.

By the numbers: Only 25% of all workers have access to paid family leave. And 11% of workers can't even take unpaid leave, Axios' Erica Pandey writes, citing the recruiting platform Zippia.

  • After welcoming a new child, 76% of fathers return to work, full-time, in less than a week.

Why it matters: Workplace culture can be unforgiving to parents and a barrier to people having families.

Between the lines: Mothers are burdened by a lack of paid leave — and doubly burdened when fathers can't, or don't, take time off.

  • Women who take long leaves are viewed as uncommitted to their jobs, which makes them less likely to get promoted in contrast to men, Harvard Business Review found.
  • Mandating parental leave for fathers "could reduce the amount of time women are absent from work and also make it more normative for both men and women to use leaves."
James Briggs holds his daughter, Meredith, in a rainbow-colored swaddle in the hospital after her birth.
James and Meredith in the hospital on May 3, the day after she was born. Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Briggs

💭 My thought bubble: I bought into toxic, anti-family culture in my 20s when I took pride in working harder and longer than other colleagues and looked down on people who left at 5pm to care for children.

  • I was a jerk.

Reality check: Working full-time with a baby is the hardest thing I've done, and I can't keep up with my smug younger, childless self.

Yes, but: Balancing career and family is not a weakness — it gives me new perspectives that increase my value (for instance, now I know some things about pre-K).

What's next: Now, I'll spend my days seeing how my 3-month-old daughter, Meredith, smiles in the morning and watching her learn to roll over.

  • Also, pushing her stroller all over town and telling her I love her a million times.

The bottom line: I'm thankful Axios understands the importance of this opportunity. I hope your organization does, too.


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