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10 reasons dads should take paternity leave

Paternity leave isn’t just for mothers. Fathers, too, have been known to take days or weeks off after having a new baby.

But American employers aren’t as open about giving dads the time.

According to NBC News, 39 percent of American dads take two weeks off when having a child. But taking leave and getting paid has proved to be a problem for some fathers. NBC News reported that 14 percent of U.S. employers offer paid leave for new dads — which has made the country into the only developed nation that doesn’t guarantee the paid time off.

American dads really want paternity leave, too. A study by Boston College found that 89 percent of respondents thought getting paid paternity leave was an important issue. The group with the highest interest was the millennial age bracket, with 93 percent of respondents calling for better paternity leave, showing this is an isssue that the people of the future are looking to change.

In recent weeks, studies and articles have offered reasons why dads deserve to have the paid time off with family. Here is a list of 10 of those reasons:

Kids will learn more about compassion.

It was in July that columnist Kozo Hattori decided to try a new experiment — one that taught him to be compassionate above all else. Deseret News National reported on Hattori’s experiment, citing researchers and experts who found that learning about compassion and empathy are essential to helping kids grow into more humane and giving people. By staying home with the kids and teaching them from those early days, dads can help spread that message to their children.

“Efforts to boost empathy and compassion among youths may be important, considering research that shows it has been on the wane in American youths,” the National reported.

Dad will be more directly involved in child care.

The Organizations for Economic Co-Operation and Development released a study in January 2013 that found dads who spent more time with their kids — at least two weeks after birth — are more likely to be involved in their care in the years to follow.

“The study noted that fathers' use of paternity and parental leave was largest when leave was well-paid and designated specifically for fathers,” CNN reported.

Dad gets a break from work.

While there are certain benefits kids receive when their dads take time off, fathers are gaining something from it too. John Rossheim, a career expert, wrote for monster.com that taking paternity leave is something many men will do if they full understand the benefits of it. And one of those benefits is getting the time off and being able to step away from the office for a couple of weeks.

Whether and how much working fathers continue to labor while on leave “varies per person and according to circumstances,” said Maryella Gockel, a strategy leader in accounting a Ernst & Young. “If you’re in the middle of a big (business) deal, the transition to leave may take longer.”

Mom gets a break from child-rearing.

Wahm.com — a work-at-home mothers information website — expressed one important part of dads taking paternity leave. It offers moms a break from always doing the child-rearing. Stresses and complications that a mother experiences in the early days of raising a child can be relieved by the dad stepping into that role, wahm.com noted.

“If the father were able to get paternity leave, it would take a huge burden off your shoulders,” reads wahm.com. “You would still be able to help in the raising of your child, but the father would be there to help change diapers, feed the baby and make sure they are down for another nap. This would enable you to focus a little longer on your work and get some projects out of the way (or make a business call without worrying about being interrupted).”

It will change the perception of dads.

Do dads get a bad rep? Critics have said in the past that dads aren’t as caring of their kids, but that changes when they take paternity leave, Time magazine reported. So paternity leave will actually offer men a chance to learn from feminism, relieving dads from having to stick to the stereotypes that culture has often associated them with — being uncaring and not as dedicated to kids as the mother, Time reported.

“Paternity leave is a practical lesson in why men should be feminists, not just because it’s right and fair but because feminism — in its simplest sense of treating people equally and not constraining them with artificial gender roles — benefits men too,” wrote James Poniewozik for Time.

Dad gets an enriching experience.

Craig Melvin wrote for MSNBC about his experience as a dad who took paternity leave. He explained that he was lucky to get the benefits of paternity leave from his employer, and he was even more blessed to learn what it’s like to be a father from the get-go.

Melvin noted that dads sometimes have to play catch up with learning about their kids and their habits, attitudes and patterns. But with paternity leave, he was quick to understand what his child would be like.

“Having experienced it first-hand, I would argue that a modest investment that encourages fathers to start off on the right foot is a more than worthwhile. We all pick up the tab down the road when children whose fathers weren’t there start growing up,” Melvin wrote.

Think of the children!

Paternity leave isn’t just good for mom and dad, but the kids, too. Fathers, Work and Family, a blog by family expert Scott Behson, highlighted research done at the Australian Institute of Family Studies that found paternity leave can help kids a considerable amount. Fathers being home during their child’s early lives will help them get better at activities like reading and taking naps.

“The first few weeks of a child’s life should be an intense bonding experience for dad and baby,” Behson wrote.

Dad gains confidence in the home.

Behson also explained that by helping kids learn and develop — and seeing the positive benefits of such — dads will become more confident in their parenting ability. Taking care of the family and raising the kids in the right ways will give dad an extra pat on the back, telling him that he did right by his family, he wrote.

“Being able to take time to care for a newborn can give unconfident dads the experience they need for future childcare and parental involvement,” Behson wrote. “In short, the whole family benefits — dad, mom and baby.”

Daughters gain confidence outside of the home.

Being on paternity leave will surely put the dad in scenarios where he has to stay at home and help do some of the housework. And according to recent research, that has made daughters become more successful in the workplace. A study published in Psychological Science found that kids will look up to their dads and emulate their behavior if they see them taking the initiative.

Parents are happier.

Staying at home and helping the family has proven to be good for a dad’s psychological state. Researchers at the University of Texas Austin looked into how stay-at-home dads feel about doing housework and taking care of kids, and it seems dads are taking kindly to it.

“The results of our study offered a very positive representation of changes in gender roles and parenting. More people are doing what makes them happy and determining what’s best for their families rather than worrying about society’s expectations,” said Dr. Aaron Rochlen, a psychologist who participated in the studies of stay-at-home dads. “An increasing amount of men are shifting their ideas about what it means to be a ‘provider’ and most of those we surveyed seemed very content in their new role.”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com Twitter: @herbscribner