american paternity leave – it exists, sort of

Finally, an American story on paternity leave.  Finally.

You can read the whole story here.

For Estrada, Perez, and myself — along with thousands of men in similar situations across the country who shrug off doubts and take paternity leave — the experience often meets resistance from within the workplace and our culture. It suggests that America still isn’t quite sure what to make of the balance between work and family, especially for men. In most modern workplaces, maternity leave, even if unpaid, is fairly common and uncontroversial. But a man, taking extended paternal leave months after a baby is born? In many offices, that idea is nothing short of radical.

Bravo to all the guys who take leave and buck convention.

But, still, the story made me feel all the more like I have entered an alternate universe.

For the time units of American paternity leave seem to be weeks and days, not months or even years.

For instance, when NK was born in upstate New York, I took six weeks of (unpaid) parental leave – more than the author of the story.  I took another six weeks spread through her first year.

Pretty progressive, right?  Thank my Swedish wife for that one.

But that was nothing.

When NK was 19-months-old, I took six months of parental leave.  In four weeks, I will embark on eight or nine months of leave for my son.

I fully realize how different my world has become, how far into the forest I have wandered from an American perspective.

I only hope I can find ways to bridge the cultural and practical gaps, to make my Swedish life understandable, even attractive, to people back home.

Because, guys, it is cool.  Take the time you can.  Fight (your employers, your wives) for more.

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One thought on “american paternity leave – it exists, sort of

  1. I am very interested in your sunlamp. I am about to buy some full spectrum bulbs from viva-light and am drooling over one of their therapeutic lamps.
    Also, we very much identify with this horrible stigma on fathers and their vital role in caretaking. we are looking forward to a time when he can take off some of this parental leave after he gets a little more settled at his job. you may not have seen my comment after your museum entry.

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