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Are Parental relationships improved if fathers take time off work after the birth of a child?

arawondar 1 / -  
Nov 8, 2022   #1
The Department of Labor and private sector employers should mandate programs making paid paternal leave equally available to fathers and mothers of newborns to help boost family ties.

Alice A Oyeniyi

English 102

Professor Jean Akers

November 07, 2022.

As a woman, I have witnessed increased rate of depression amongst other women who are nursing mothers. It is no secret that giving birth to a child changes lifestyle. The effect of carrying pregnancy to term alone is mentally demanding. A nursing mother requires constant emotional, psychological, and physical support from another person while they experience the feelings of depression, panic, frustrations, and hopelessness after childbirth. The statistics are growing, as more and more women complain about childbirth aftermath. Even my preliminary research shows that most American employers do not to offer adequate assistance to mothers and fathers in workforce who are in this situation (Casper). Most provide paid leave from work for mothers; but the fathers aren't in such luck. The most obvious source of support for a mother after childbirth is through the husband. My research will focus on what can be done to make fathers instantly available for support; how employers can make provisions so that fathers are compensated for a limited time to care for their newborn. My thesis will focus on why the Department of Labor and private sector employers should mandate programs making paid paternal leave equally available to fathers and mothers of newborns to help boost family ties.

Most women have shown signs of depressive mood after having a newborn baby. This observation is independent of race, ethnicity, age, or social class. Mounting evidence shows connection between having a newborn and developing depressive mood afterwards. After a baby is born, there seems to be experiences of emotional swing from cheerfulness to worry amongst mothers. The relief of having endured carrying the baby for months, transitions into the need to care for the baby. This can trigger certain unwanted signs and symptoms within the nursing mother. This feeling has been studied and is being called postpartum depression. According to Mayo Clinic, these symptoms include loss of appetite, crying, mood swings, insomnia, and sadness ("Postpartum Depression"). Due to the long-lasting aspects of the symptoms, it is considered a serious consequence of having a baby. It does not necessarily mean that the mother is of weak character or that she is easily susceptible to these symptoms, if she were not a nursing mother. This phenomenon is becoming an expectation upon giving birth nowadays. Hospitals do have follow-up programs for mother and child to ensure adequate breast feeding of the baby and to ensure the mother is living without a prolonged exposure to postpartum depression. This is a problem because, being depressed could lead to baby being under fed and lacking adequate cuddling time ("What is Postpartum Depression?"). Also, the overall health of the mother is at risk. It is important that the nursing mother understands the needs of the baby during this time, as well as their livelihood. As much as the evidence lead to postpartum depression upon delivering a baby, there must be adequate support for mother and child to mitigate this experience. The father of the baby has a bigger role to play in combating these depression symptoms.

The primary individual available to support nursing mothers emotionally and physically is the husband. Evidence shows that nursing mothers need emotional support from the father of the baby, after giving birth. The father of the child being there to support is not only vital for the mother, but also for the baby. The father also benefits of being there to accustom with the newest member of the family. According to Jessica Ciccone, Fathers taking time off work has numerous health benefits for both mother and child. For the purpose of this statement, emotional and physical support is the health benefit. The one problem is availability. Most fathers do not get to take time off work in order to provide support for their nursing mother and child. The mother is expected to be on maternity leave from work. This is rarely the case for fathers. Considering the aftermath of delivery, the mother and child needs regular hospital visits for doctor checkups, immunizations and house chores. If the father was able to take time off work, he would be available to assist with the postpartum activities. In a situation where the women utilize fully paid maternity leave, men are not offered to take off too many days. Partly because it is unpaid leave, or because it is not a job-protected leave. Since the father is the obvious support person for mother and child, it is vital that paternity leave be paid and equally available as maternity leave. The nursing mother needs time to rest and free of depression, allowing the father to take over and support (Ciccone). Most couples depend on the idea of sharing baby caring duties especially at night. The father and mother take turns in nursing the baby (Wood, Mary. (2022)). This team effort enhances strong family ties and should not be underestimated.

Foundations for strong family ties lie with each member of a family playing their part to support one another. The role of the father in providing emotional and physical support for the mother and child is significant. Newborns need motherly bond as well as fatherly bond upon birth. Studies have found that new mothers and fathers create intimate and emotional bond with the newest member of the family in the ensuing weeks after birth. This is a reason why fathers ought to be available during this time via paid paternal leave. According to Lynda Gratton, parental relationships improve if fathers take time off work after the birth of the child. The father might be experiencing the feeling of being a father for the first time. This is his moment and one he would cherish for the longest time. How fitting would it be to be unrestricted from reveling in this experience? Afterall, having a baby is what most people experience once, twice or thrice in their lifetime. This is not a regular event that happens ten or twenty times in one's life. After the birth, the father gets to spend bonding time with the newborn child. The father also gets to participate in understanding the baby's needs, feelings, and emotions. It creates the feeling of togetherness between the father and newborn baby (Corey). Growing up, the child receives adequate love and compassion form both parents because they are both there from birth. So, the benefit of paid paternal leave enables the father to have an immersive experience with his newborn child. Not just for his benefit, but for his family's benefit collectively.

One of the reasons why paid paternal leave is scarcely available is because employers are not positioned to offer it. This may be due to lack of financial resources available to support employee families. Employers are expected to provide short term paid leave every year in form of vacation, bereavement or sick leave to their employees. However, paternal leave is usually very short (five days or less) or never offered. If maternal leave can be paid and lasts a few weeks, paternal leave should too. For families struggling financially, the father cannot afford to be out of work for too long upon birth of his child without income. If the father was granted unpaid leave that lasts equally as maternal leave, it would be detrimental to family's finances. Therefore, it would be impossible for the father to take part in his child's post-delivery activities. Paid leave mandate for parents of newborns who are struggling financially is needed for situations like this. This would need the United States government intervention in ensuring the widespread availability of programs to support struggling families. Employers as well, ought to instill work-family balance for their employees regarding paid paternal and maternal leave. According to Donald Roth, the United States seems to be lagging in these aspects despite being ranked a developed nation. One would assume a developed nation like the U.S. to have tax incentive programs for employers and employees making paid paternal leave readily available. The department of labor makes provision for certain workers to obtain job protected leave from their employers. One of the missions of Department of labor involves FMLA. This states "FMLA [Family and Medical leave Act] provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year." ("Family and Medical Leave"). Getting job security from family leave is great, however not so great if the employee needs constant flow of income to cope. Knowing your job is protected in the event of family leave is very encouraging, but only partially encouraging. A struggling family will not be keen on such provision. Despite being a powerhouse, the U.S is without federal paid leave, according to the conversation. There is a widespread support for this benefit in the United States, but it has not come to realization yet. Meanwhile, the Australian government made programs to care for the workforce aiding work-family balance. The Australian government services states "a continuous paid parental leave period of up to 12 weeks... in most cases, your employer will deliver your parental leave pay or we pay you directly" ("How much can you get"). The people of Australia are protected should they need this help from their government. Why isn't the U.S. on the same level? Perhaps the U.S government does not have any more room to grant this benefit. The fact that there is an overwhelming support for this benefit should trigger an action from the government and to work out a plan. It is great knowing that we have job security and job protected leave for families. However, it is better to have paid paternal leave available for up to 12 weeks after the birth of a child. There are families who could severely benefit from this. Such benefit will strengthen family ties, health and wellness of both mother and child.

As much as paid parental leave is wanted by many, there as some sects of the population who are neutral to the idea of paid parental leave. Evidence shows that some parents do not and have not relied on their employers for paid parental leave. They come to an agreement over unpaid family leave and job-protected leave. This gives them the ability to be off work for extended period. During this time, the employer can temporarily reorganize to accommodate changes in their code of operations. The employer is not losing money and the employee is happy to be off work for the agreed time. Most employers allow employees extended job-protected leave which is unpaid, should a family emergency occur. From an interview with Victoria Joseph, she says "I'm fully prepared and invested financially in the event of having a baby." This suggests that without the financial burden, Victoria and her husband do not need to worry about finances when their baby arrives. Both are fully invested and can live off their investments for that period upon birth of their child. In this situation, Victoria and her husband are in a strong position to ask their respective employer for an unpaid family leave for as long as they need. Victoria continues, "All I ask from my employer is job protected leave [unpaid], doesn't matter if I get paid or not". A lot of people almost certainly fit into this situation. Self-employed people are in a different category. They can decide what is best for themselves. Some people in workforce do not want their employers getting involved with their work-family balance. My interview with another nursing mother, Amy Rodriguez, who also had similar intentions. Amy says, "My husband and I were offered paid leave from work, but it was too short. Our bosses told us we can get longer time off, but it will be unpaid". The fact that most employers can be flexible about granting leave for longer period is a positive milestone. It is one way of caring about the welfare of their employees. In another interview with Laura Edmund, she states, "I chose to work for an employer that allow flexibility in scheduling. Even if I don't get paid for taking time off work. I can cope financially". It seems that certain employers and employees can come to agreement on the length of time off while unpaid, some employees cannot afford to be on unpaid paternal leave. Therefore, there is widespread call for paid paternal leave for those who really need it.

The overall deduction from this research is to reinforce the importance of having a balance in work and family affairs. A lot of people continuously depend on their source of income on a weekly basis to survive. Having a baby tips the balance for most families. The American workforce is dominated by people with young families or just starting a family. Research shows nursing mothers need emotional support in order to cope with caring for newborn. The reported data on postpartum depression is alarming and a huge way to eradicate this, is to ensure the mother gets the support she needs. Having the husband around the nursing mother almost certainly lessens the contemplation of postpartum depression. The husband can be with the mother and baby every hour of the day for the first couple of months. Most families cannot afford to be off work and unpaid during the time required to bond with the newborn. This makes it impossible to prioritize health and wellness of the mother and newborn child. Fathers are equally in need of time off work following the birth of their child. The U.S Government could mandate plans for families, especially the ones that are struggling financially. Paid Paternal leave must be considered highly, with the same esteem as maternal leave is. Studies show instances of granted paid paternal leave ranges only from days to maximum two weeks. Meanwhile paid maternal leave can be up to twelve weeks. This difference in the length of maternal and paternal leave is the reason for calling on the government to bolster the plans for paid family parental leave. If we can have adequate support for paid paternal leave, to match paid maternal leave, the risks of postpartum depression will diminish. This will work towards creating a balance between work and family life. The health and wellness of the nursing mother, newborn and nursing father will be satisfied. The call is on the government as well as U.S employers to align with some other countries who already have a robust plan in place for paid paternal and maternal leave. How can the government commence this and identify families qualified for assistance? By using the same methods used by the Department of Social Services (DSS), also called the Department of Economic Security (DES) in some states. The DES is known to strengthen the welfare of citizens in need of help, providing them with free health insurance. The government already uses this organization to document financially weak families and updates family records annually. They can unite the purpose of the two departments: the Department of Labor and the Department of Social Services (DES or DSS). The DSS, can provide the data of families on their books to Department of Labor. This can then ensure paid paternal and maternal leave is available for an extended period when they have a baby. From my point of view, this is how the government can work out the plan for families together with their employers. Perhaps the government can conjure up a different plan to align with their budget. The budget is a consideration. The cost is probably a reason why a sturdy plan is being delayed or not implemented yet. Paid paternal leave for struggling families is necessary so that fathers can get as much time to benefit from the experience of being a father while also contributing to the society. It is time the government made this work.


"Postpartum Depression." Mayo Clinic, 24 May 2022

"What is Postpartum Depression?" Postpartum Depression. March, 2019

"Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)". U.S Department of Labor.

"How much can you get?" Services Australia. 1 July 2022

Joseph, Victoria. Interview. Conducted by Alice Oyeniyi. 26 October, 2022.

Campoamor, Danielle. Study Confirms What Most Parents Know: The Cost of Parental Leave is Devastating. 27 July 2022

Edmund, Laura. Interview. Conducted by Alice Oyeniyi. 26 October, 2022.

Schultz, Kristen. Ono, Hiroshi. Paid Family Leave Makes People Happier, Global Data Shows.
The Conversation. 6 April 2022

Rodriguez, Amy. Interview. Conducted by Alice Oyeniyi. 26 October, 2022.

Wood, Mary. Interview. Conducted by Alice Oyeniyi. 26 October, 2022.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,249 4652  
Nov 8, 2022   #2
The concerns of women regarding dealing with problems after pregnancy are well documented. These are actually publicly discussed, rehashed, and relit as debate topics. However, the concerns of men post pregnancy are not well known, little spoken of, and often times overlooked. There are studies and publications that actually focus on this very concern that most fathers have pre and post birth which could be properly referenced in this paper, and well it should. The problem with this paper is not the topic chosen for discussion, but rather the point of view it is being written from. It is about time that the point of view of men regarding the topic become the focus of the paper rather than the point of view of men, as interpreted by women. Women's concerns, wants, and needs after birth are most certainly not the same as a father's concern. Yes, relationships can be improved if they are given time off to help the new mothers. A strong family nucleus can be formed. However, discussing everything based on the point of view of the woman of what she needs from her man is not going to achieve the sort of considerable discussion that the writer is aiming for. To make this paper work better, the woman has to get out of the female / post partum mindset and get into the male pre and post birth mindset. This is only a slight adjustment to the presentation that will actually strengthen the overall information presentation if done properly.

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