Pete Buttigieg took paternity leave and, apparently, that's controversial.
This has made national news for days, with plenty of people chiming in. We felt a responsibility to provide our view since this concerns paternity leave, which many people seem to be against.
Our entire purpose for being is to expand access to paid parental leave for both moms and dads, that’s at least 6 weeks long, preferably longer. Not only that, but we were founded by a man who doesn’t even have kids.
Pete Buttigieg, current U.S. Secretary of Transportation and former presidential candidate, recently welcomed twin premature newborns. Like any new parent, Mr. Buttigieg wanted to spend time bonding with his new children and through his employer was offered paid paternity leave, which he opted to take. Unsurprisingly, his decision was deemed controversial, scandalous, and, even, inappropriate as a non-birthing parent.
Controversial? Scandalous? Inappropriate?
Well, first there’s a societal misconception that paid parental leave means maternity leave and only birth moms need it. Fathers and adoptive parents find themselves all too often excluded from the narrative and overlooked in company policies. (By the way, is a huge compliance red flag and can even be discriminatory in many cases.) People just assume, incorrectly, that only mothers, especially birth moms, want or need paid parental leave.
But fathers and adoptive parents need, and want, paid parental leave too. A Pew Research Center study an uptick in stay-at-home dads among Millennials (ages 26 – 38) compared to prior generations as more fathers take on parenting responsibilities. And not only do fathers take on a more active parenting role, but 57% of fathers consider parenting an extremely important part of their identity. Unfortunately, society and American employers have been slow and unsure of how and why to roll out gender-neutral policies that give fathers the same coverage offered to birth mothers. The National Partnership reported that only 13% of private sector employers offer paid paternity leave to all male employees, even though it is highly sought after among millennial workers as the third most requested employee benefit, incentive, or perk.
In a society that values the importance of the family unit access to paternity leave for male employees shouldn’t be as controversial as recent headlines would make one believe. Research consistently shows that child bonding for both parents is correlated with improved cognitive and emotional development for babies, to increased career security and advancement for women in opposite-sex couples, and for household financial security. Every month of paid paternity leave is tied to a 7% increase in earnings for the household and increases the likelihood of women returning to work and staying in the workforce.
While Buttigieg has propelled parental leave, and the importance of inclusive parental leave policies, into the national spotlight, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. When more employees, and more men, want paid parental leave than they want a 401(k) match, it makes sense for more companies and organizations to offer it and more parents to take it.
It’s funny, this is a topic a lot of men have strong feelings about, often against taking leave. Parento’s founder is a man without children and still has dedicated himself to increasing access to paid parental leave. It’s in the best interest of everyone: child, mom, dad, caregiver, community, and employer. That’s what the data says at every level. Anyone who says differently just hasn’t read the studies on the impact of parental leave and is more interested in scoring cheap political points or proving their machismo than contributing to a society that values family.
For more information on Parento’s paid parental leave insurance program, policies built for every parent and every employer, visit parentoleave.com or schedule an easy, 15-minute discovery call.