Blink and you’ll miss it. That’s how quickly paternity leave passes for most men. The standard one-two weeks leave is hardly enough time to help settle your new baby into a routine, or to get to know him or her. However, new laws extending paternity leave are now in place. It should be great news for new families but, a study found that fast approaching half (42%) of men are against the idea of shared parental leave.
Shared parental leave will mean that parents of all babies born on or after April 5 next year can apply to share maternity leave. Couples can mix the arrangements in whatever way they like for up to 12 months including alternating or overlapping leave.
It may be the case that some men are not able to care for their offspring in those early months in the same way they believe their wives can (if they are breastfeeding for example). It might seem overwhelming to men, but it could be that the mother feels exactly the same way and so sharing the responsibility could remove some of that pressure.
The point is that this sort of arrangement gives flexibility to the new family, it opens up options that would not have been available before now. It means that if women chose to they can start work with reassurance and safe in the knowledge their child is in the comfort of home being cared for by the father.
Of course for many families the traditional arrangement might work better, but having the option to discuss different possibilities surely goes some way to relieving certain pressures for new parents, especially mother, who can make flexible arrangements without the pressure and responsibility for care giving sitting solely with the mother.