Today’s dads undeniably play a bigger role in child-rearing, which is why the 14-day paternity leave given to fathers under the Expanded Maternity Leave can be a big help. It’s not just the kids who reap lifelong benefits with a hands-on father — according to a new study, taking a paternity leave can have a big impact in the health of a marriage or relationship.
The study, published in the November 2019 issue of Journal of Social Policy found that dads who take a paternity leave have more stable parental relationships. Researchers from Bell State University in Indiana looked at data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort. The sample size was approximately 6,000 couples with two-parent families in which the fathers were employed both at the time of and following baby’s birth.
Researchers found that fathers who spend time with their newborn and take a leave of one week are 25 percent less likely to experience failed marriages or relationships within the first six years after their child is born. Dads who take two weeks of leave or less are 29 percent less likely to see their relationship dissolve. Meanwhile, researchers found that the stability of relationship was not affected for fathers who take a leave of three weeks or more.
“Results suggest that increasing access to parental leave for fathers—and encouraging fathers to take this leave—may help to increase family stability,” said Richard Petts, the study’s lead author and a sociology professor at Ball State, in a press release.
He adds, “If taking leave provides fathers with time to learn to be an engaged parent, and parents’ time to establish equitable co-parenting relationships, it seems logical that more time on leave would be better for parents and help to strengthen parental relationships. However, it is important to consider the cultural norms surrounding parental leave and the implications of taking more time off than is expected, or accepted, within a society.”
Since the study was done in the United States, Petts pointed out that most American dads take a short period of time off work when the baby is born, since the societal norm is for him to be present during childbirth and after. However, it is unlikely for fathers to take an extended leave of two weeks or more, because this leads to career penalties and stigmas.
In the Philippines, a recent survey found that while bulk of the parenting load still falls upon women, men realize and acknowledge their partners’ needs. They worry about getting the right childcare support for their kids, too.
Petts’ suggestion to expand parental leave policies in the U.S. is something Filipino companies should also pay attention to. “American parents need greater access to paid parental leave in order to take advantage of the benefits that parental leave provides, such as more stable parental relationships,” he said in the release.
“For the full benefits of parental leave policies to be realized, U.S. culture needs to be more accepting of fathers taking leave. By doing so, we may be able to work towards greater gender equality by encouraging — and providing opportunities for — mothers and fathers to share more equally in childcare.”
Moms also get significant postpartum health benefits when dad is present at home for longer! Click here to know more.