Fathers must ensure they take full advantage of their statutory rights
Almost two thirds of dads believe their relationship with their child will suffer if they are not at home after the baby is born
Research released today from Opinion Matters highlights that 91 per cent of dads with children under the age of five believe that it is important for them to have the option of paid paternity leave, with 62 per cent believing that the relationship with their child will suffer if they are not at home after the birth. Lisa Wynn, founder and CEO of Coaching for Dads supports this view as she believes that dads offer a different but very complimentary role in a child’s upbringing and it is important that they are involved right from the start, but warns other pressures could be stopping fathers from acting on their beliefs.
Lisa Wynn comments; “This research shows that fathers understand the benefits of bonding with their child from an early age, which will benefit not just the relationship with their child but also with their partner. However, after working with many dads over the years it’s all too clear that the pressures of work can sometimes take priority.”
It seems that many fathers would welcome the planned changes in paternity law, which is set to allow fathers to share take the second six months of their partner’s maternity leave, so they can indeed spend more quality time with children from an early age. However, the reality is that just under half of fathers are not taking advantage of their paternity rights as they stand.
Another report released late last year from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) highlights the difficulties working fathers are experiencing, with juggling their work and home life balance. “It found that 45 per cent of fathers were not taking their statutory paternity leave[ii], so although admitting that they would like to fathers are obviously worried about the growing stigma associated with taking the leave. So the pending change in paternity laws may not be taken advantage of if attitudes don’t change now”, explains Lisa.
By rejecting paternity leave altogether fathers are the ones who will end up missing out on the first precious weeks of their newborn’s life. Lisa Wynn offers some advice to dads who may be experiencing a dilemma about whether or not to take paternity leave.
• Talk to your colleagues and plan well ahead
In talking to fathers about paternity leave one major concern is that they will upset colleagues in taking time off as it will create a larger workload for them.
However, when I speak to people in the workplace about dads taking leave, they are generally very positive and want to be able to help. Talking to your boss and colleagues early on about your plans will show that you are open and are not simply leaving them in the lurch. Tell them you are planning to take paternity leave and want to make sure that it is as painless as possible for everybody else. Communication is key here; don’t ignore it until the inevitable happens.
• Do some financial planning
In the happy chaos of planning for the safe arrival of a new family member most parents seem resistant to proper financial planning for the delivery. However in order to maximise paternity, and maternity leave it is essential and will ensure you have financially prepared for a reduction or loss of earnings during this time.
I would encourage a couple to look at their current income and expenditure and examine how that would be affected if they took their desired levels of maternity and paternity leave. By cutting some of their expenditure on less important items during the pregnancy would help to build up a small surplus to supplement the maternity leave period.
• Talk with your partner about what is happening
Many men find it quite traumatic being at home with a new baby. They tell us that they can feel inadequate and that their partner seems to be coping much better than they can. Dads can feel left out and may even feel threatened by this new rival for their partner’s attention.
Try asking your partner to show you what she is doing and why. Demonstrate that you want to be more ‘hands on’ and involved, she will be moved by this and you will get far more from being on paternity than just simply watching her. It will also strengthen your relationship with your partner and the baby.
“Fathers in the 21st century are expected to be so much more than ‘breadwinners’ and in my experience they take these expectations very much to heart. They want to be successful at work, great dads and good partners and somewhere under all of that pressure they get a little lost. A happy healthy dad makes for happy healthy children, and support to achieve this is vital”, concludes Wynn.
About Coaching for Dads:
Coaching for Dads provides information, listening, challenge and support exclusively for dads and dads-to-be – all in a relaxed, non-judgemental way. Coaching for Dads supports men in becoming the person, dad and partner that you really want to be. www.coachingfordads.com
Lisa Wynn founder: “Having worked with a great many dads in my work as an Executive Coach, I am constantly struck by the pressure that so many - most - of them are under. The pressure they feel to deliver on their objectives at work is often nothing compared to the pressure they feel from home - and from themselves.
Dads in the 21st century are expected to be so much more than "breadwinners" and in my experience they take these expectations very much to heart. They want to be successful at work, great dads and good partners – and somewhere in all that pressure they get a little lost. Their own wishes, “me-time” and fitness get lost in the whole melee of expectations.
After hearing similar stories from so many dads, I decided that the time had come to create the space for them to get their thoughts straight and their aspirations in life clear – and then to support them in achieving those aspirations.