A feature on Tuesday’s “ABC News Nightline” intrigued me as a parent (http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/sweden-land-stay-home-dad/story?id=11918278&page=2).
Not only do moms in Sweden get time off after they have a baby, so do the dads.
In that Scandinavian country, couples who give birth are given the opportunity to split 14 months of parental leave between them. The government pays 80 percent of their salaries as a result. Fathers are required to take at least two months of the leave — known as “daddy leave” — once their babies are born; if they don’t, they forfeit the pay and time off.
Sweden instituted this policy in 1995, and couples have embraced it. Since then, the Swedes are having more children, more women are working and the divorce rate has dropped. The feature notes that 85 percent of Swedish fathers take advantage of “daddy leave.”
It’s unfortunate that the United States does not have a set parental leave policy like this in place. According to the “Nightline” feature, California offers fathers up to six weeks off, but only 25 percent of new dads do in the Sunshine State.
Most employers offer mothers maternity leave in the U.S. It is usually only six to eight weeks, depending on whether the birth was a natural one or a Cesarean section, but other statistics show it can be up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. While some employers do enable a paid maternity leave, other would-be parents either have to save up for the mother’s time off or go without pay for that time until she returns to work.
When you think about it, six to eight weeks isn’t a long time. It would be nice to have a policy like the one in Sweden to enable the family to bond for a longer period of time and share in the many milestones a baby achieves in his first year.
One gentleman interviewed for the “Nightline” feature enjoys the time he is given with his son.
“You gain so much from being home,” said Martin Mellin, a police sergeant in Stockholm. “If he’s hurt he doesn’t go ‘Mama! Mama!’ He says. “Dada! Dada!’ It’s a nice feeling, being that needed.”
If the United States offered parental leave like the one in Sweden, would you embrace the opportunity? Post your thoughts, and thanks for reading!