My mother died in 2006, so of course my Dad means ever more to me.
Funny how growing up, I never really concerned myself with my father, because he wasn’t around much. I was one of seven, so he was always working to keep us fed, clothed and in shoes. My father worked in a factory without union protections and certainly without family sick time, I remember coming home from half-day kindergarten to the strict order that if I answered the telephone and someone asked to speak to Carl Sandberg I was to say he was sick and could not come to the phone. (He was home taking care of us when my mother was too sick with bronchitis to get out of bed for a few days.)
I think of this as a read this report about state policies that support families. It identified the top states for new dads. The report shows that fathers with access to, and who take, paid leave in connection with a child’s “arrival”, are more likely to be involved in that child’s direct care long term. For those who think that’s wasting money, the study also found fathers who have access to paid leave are also less likely to receive public assistance and food stamps in the year following a child’s birth than fathers who do not take any leave. YES, they controlled for factors like that obviously fathers with access to paid leave might have more education or advanced training.
Despite these benefits, the report found that 18 states do nothing beyond what federal law requires to offer new fathers or mothers leave from work to care for a new child. Another 18 states have laws in place that only help new mothers or state employees.
How do other countries do? At least 66 countries ensure that fathers either receive or have a right to paid leave when a new child arrives; at least 31 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave. Among 21 highly competitive countries, the United States ranks near the middle by guaranteeing fathers 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the federal FMLA, but only about half of the workforce is eligible and many cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.
Just something to think about with all the ranking that goes on. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, grandpas, and bless you, great-grandpas out there.