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Paternity leaves: Right or privilege?

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg recently took two months of paternity leave, stating: “When working parents take time to be with their newborns, it is good for the entire family.” But at a time when many countries don’t even have mandatory maternity leaves, is paternity leave the privilege only a few enjoy? Should fathers and mothers get equal time off to care for their newborn child? Gulf News readers debate.

Image Credit: Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News
Gulf News

Tradition

A father’s presence at home helps the mum and child

Right now, it definitely looks like paternity leave is a privilege but ideally, it should be a basic right, just like maternity leaves. For the holistic growth of the child, both parents are necessary, not just the mother. I understand that the mother has the primary role, but a father’s contribution is important, too. Even before a child is born, a father can take time off so that the mother can get some relief from the emotional and physical pain.

But once the child is born, a father should definitely take some time off as the first few months are extremely important. At least a month’s leave should be allowed.

I do understand that our work schedules are tight and we all have deadlines so it can be difficult to take time off. But if this is something you can do, you should definitely take time off.

It is also a misconception that offering paternity leaves would affect profits, because ultimately, the person’s body is at work, but their mind is back home with their family.

I am a traditionalist and I do believe that mothers are traditionally entrusted with the caregiving role. But while the fathers wouldn’t be directly involved in feeding the child, perhaps he can help the mum in other chores and also build a bond with the newborn.

From Dr Subas Pradhan

Psychiatrist living in Dubai

 

Society

Many cultures don’t encourage fathers to get involved in child care

I just had three days off as paternity leave, so I took a couple of weeks off from my annual leave quota when my twins were born three years ago. My perspective on paternity leave is that it is definitely good if companies offer it to employees. Honestly, some men might use it as just time off, but I feel that some father would definitely take advantage of this time to bond with their newborn.

My family was not around when my twins were born because everyone was busy in their own lives, and even though we had a nanny, with twins we definitely needed an extra pair of hands. But not everyone can afford a nanny, neither does everyone prefer leaving it all to a nanny. So, companies should be giving paternity leaves to everyone.

They say that the child doesn’t remember these initial months, but at least the father gets to bond with the child and appreciate how the mum manages everything.

My wife is Romanian, and they get a year off as maternity leave, which is great, especially when you consider the demands of breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, there are some cultures that don’t push fathers to be invovled with child care, but if, God forbid, your wife or nanny are incapacitated, how will you manage if you can’t take care of your own child?

If I could have, I would have preferred to spend even more time with my boys, especially in their early months.

Rashid Bin Hendi

Product sales manager at a bank in Abu Dhabi

 

Work

A 45-day leave can affect the pace of work

A mother is physically affected, so obsviuosly, she needs more rest. Also, from a biological perspective, the mother needs to bond with the child a lot more and the child needs the mother for a long time.

So, it is the mother who needs to be given priority because of the physical stress. As far as fathers are concerned, they need to be with the mother to help them recover and also it is a time for them to bond with their child. However, equal leave doesn’t make sense to me.

It is also too much of a burden on a company, if you look at 45-day paternity leaves. Not only does the company have to pay for that leave but also supplement that position. A person’s absense from work for 45 days, for whaever reason, can definitely have a negative affect on a company.

They have to find resources to cover the gap and the pace of work would also be affected.

While other countries do offer longer leaves, they are supported by governmental regulations and also have different economic and cultural conditions.

Rather than a continuous leave, a flexible leave policy during the entire term of pregnancy might work better. You can have a quota fo 15-20 days, which can be spread over different points in the pregnancy, when you need to accompnay your wife for check-ups or emergencies. Then, fathers can take a shorter leave once the child is born.

From Ms Ursula Manvatkar

Managing Director of a Dubai-based firm

 

Cross training

Perhaps, it is time to change the default roles given to a father and mother

The roles of parents has changed over time. Today, there are single fathers as well as stay-at-home fathers and I personally believe that paternity and maternity roles are on equal grounds. I am also a grandmother, so I have seen roles change over generations. Fathers and mothers both have roles to play in the household and, paternity leave, therefore, should be equal.

It should also not be a privilege for a few. It should be a right. I have studied child psychology and the child needs to bond with the father as much as the mother. The family is one unit and you have to equate the roles of the father and the mother for the child’s growth.

As for companies that do not offer paternity leaves because it might affect their profits, I would disagree with the argument. If you have happy employees, you have a progressive business. Your employees will be more productive, they will know you care enough about them and will be more willing to give a 110 per cent at their jobs.

When a child is born, he or she requires very high level of caregiving skills, but that does not mean that mothers should be given a priority. I have seen fathers that have strong maternal instincts. Having worked with cases of child abuse in the US, I have also seen the different ways in which fathers and mothers interact with a child. I do agree that mothers have basic maternal instincts, but fathers have very strong parental instincts as well, which are exhibited when the child is in danger and needs to be protected.

Paternity leaves would also be a great time for fathers to bond with their child because nobody allows fathers to do that. They only give him the role of the breadwinner and mother is always given the role of the caregiver. Perhaps, it is time for some cross-training because today you need both parents to do both jobs.

From Ms Diane Nobles-Eldakak

Operations Manager of a nursery in Abu Dhabi

 

Poll Question: Should there be equal paternity and maternity leaves?

Yes 75%

No 25%

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor

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