Time is Love

A 2015 Pew Research study found that "fathers reported spending, on average, seven hours a week on child care--almost triple the time they provided back in 1965." [1]  

Recently, a good friend of mine explained that his company offers 6 weeks of paid paternity leave, 3 of which he spent when his son was newborn, and 3 more a few months later.  

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of total paid parental leave. Of those, 90 days are reserved exclusively for the father. In 2014, Swedish fathers took 25%, or 120 of the 480 days. Swedish fathers were entitled to 90 days, but took 120. [2]

In the United States, we join the ranks of Swaziland, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea, offering 0 days paid leave. Statistically, that means American men took, on average, 100% of the 0 days paid paternity leave entitled under the law--no days, not one. [3]

Indonesia, a largely Muslim country, offers 84 days of parental leave at 100% pay. Saudi Arabia, another Muslim country, offers 70 days at 50% pay. Our highly industrious British allies, who sent two divisions into Normandy, offer 280 days for mothers and fathers alike. [3] 

Working fathers have no legally protected, paid bonding time in America. For folks like me, this is not a concern. I am fortunate to work flexibly, for an excellent firm that provides paid time off and the ability to work from home. I doubt the same would be true if I laid brick, or rebuilt transmissions, or drove a tractor trailer--its hard to drive a tractor trailer from home. Why should the inalienable right of a father to bond with his newborn, without financial stress, depend upon a chosen trade?

I learned a lot this first week, mostly through quiet observation. I learned about changing diapers, about my son's noises and breathing patterns, and so much more, all of which required time. John Jr. learned about me--he studied me, his beautiful eyes bouncing around my face, from my eyes to my ears, from my nose to shaggy beard.

In his first week, we introduced him to the salty ocean air and our farm at sunset.

The benefits of newborn bonding are self-evident, and all fathers are entitled to the same. 

And so I am reminded of Josh Turner's song, "Time is Love."

"Time is love, gotta run,
Love to hang longer,
But I got someone who waits,
Waits for me and right now
[H]e's where I need to be,
Time is love, gotta run."

Yours truly, 

John Paul Fiske, Sr.

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/15/fathers-day-facts/

[2] https://sweden.se/quickfact/parental-leave/

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/maternity-leave-paid-parental-leave-_n_2617284.html