Paternity Leave, What's That?

The Prince William Effect



Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Prince William is taking a two-week paternity leave following the birth of son George Alexander Louis. He's taking a break from his job as a Royal Air Force Search & Rescue Helicopter Pilot to go be a full-time Daddy in these first precious weeks of his son's life, and in doing so, he's making a huge statement to fathers and the companies that employ them, everywhere – and hopefully, over here in the States.

When my husband attempted to finalize the details of an unpaid paternity leave from his former job that will go unnamed (cough, cough . . . a huge multinational bank – from Britain . . . cough, cough . . . GOLF) to help me and our brand-new fifth child settle in at home and recover, he was ultimately let go, which was, at that time, disastrous for us financially. While Prince William definitely doesn't need the paternity pay that men receive under British law (about $210 a week), I'm certainly glad he made this move.

Currently, only two-thirds of British men use their paternity leave. What!? Only 13% of American workers are even offered the option. I'm totally loving the example set by Prince William. So far, he looks the part of what I hope is the new "modern father." He walked his swaddled baby out the door of the hospital, placed the carrier in the car and now, most importantly, is going to be 100% present for baby George's first two weeks of life. While this might not seem like a big deal to some, to me and many, many mothers the world over, it's huge.

Everything this couple does is scrutinized and talked about to no end. While I do think that the "modern father" has been in the works in other ways already (or at least in my house, Dad has no problem changing diapers, making midnight nightmare calls, watching all five kids so MOM can work and taking the kids to the park, etc.), I think that this paternity leave move of Prince William's will really get people here in the States talking and thinking about what is so right about paternity leave and what is so wrong about the fact that it's hardly an option in our country.

Question: If your husband's company offered paid paternity leave, would he want to use it? If yes, why? If not, why?

EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. This post is adapted from her blog, Four Little Monsters, at FourLittleMonsters.com. 

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